I LOVE SO and SF. They make me feel giddy, knowing that I can tap into a humongous pool of experts in the areas that directly affect me and my life. But, so far, I've introduced Stack Overflow and Server Fault to three of my colleagues, and I just can't understand why they aren't more interested in it. They take a look, maybe even create an account, and that is it. It doesn't amaze and intrigue them the way it does me. They don't follow up. Am I doing a poor job in explaining things to them? Do they think they already have the answers? What are your experiences with introducing others to the SO family of sites?
I also like SO. Mainly because I am very hungry on knowledge and always want to know the pros and cons of different technologies. And I want to learn everything related to computer science.
But there are software developers, that aren't hungry on more knowledge, they are fine with their job, and just want to do the work and get their salary. They think they don't need to know more or better to do their job. And I hardly belive that they are doing any coding in their sparetime, instead they take care of their family. They simply spend their time with their job and not on StackOverflow or ServerFault.
That's what I think.
You can show them the door, but they have to walk through it.
Everyone has different needs, interests, amount of free time, etc.
There are many ways users can interact with the sites:
- Asking a one-time one-situation question they really need help with
- Taking on a teacher role to help others
- Passively learn different things from the wide variety of questions that get asked
- Discuss and develop ideas and methods with the many experts that may not necessarily be available through any other channel, or at least not so directly
The truth is that you will never convince your colleagues to either (a) use the sites, or (b) use the sites in a way which makes the most sense for you.
As an indie developer and founder of my own company, I find myself constantly drawn to StackOverflow. Unlike most employees, I don't have to "do just enough to get my salary." I have to earn it. If I don't produce outstanding code, the users lose interest and I lose everything.
"The path to wisdom lies in knowing that you know nothing"... That's us, dude!
I know that I still have much to learn, although I have come an astonishing distance in the last three years. Therefore, I need somewhere to learn from.
Tutorials are okay, but the main problem with following a tutorial is that you just get stuck trying to apply what you learned in a specific situation to another specific situation. Trawling Google is boring, and most of the time you just find obscure forums where the question has been asked but nobody answered, or the answer is old and no longer relevant.
StackOverflow, on the other hand, is probably the most active interactive place of knowledge on the internet. You can interact directly with other programmers, teaching and learning from them. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen a question and realised "that'd be a really neat feature to adapt into my site". I love answering people's questions because I can be sure that most of the time my answer will contribute to the success of someone else's website. I don't ask as many questions myself, but when I do it is done in confidance that either I will get an amazing answer, or will be told why my idea is a bad one.
You just can't match the power of SO.
I notice you didn't mention SU. Does it not make you giddy? If it doesn't, what's wrong with you?
As we all learned in elementary school, every person is unique and special. People learn in different ways, have different interests, &c. There are probably dozens of valid reasons that any one person might not like SO; certainly, enough that it would be impossible to list them all here.
Honestly, I'm much more curious about why you "can't understand why they aren't more interested in it" than why they aren't more interested in the first place.
For many folks, what legitimizes a service is seeing that site come up in search results they naturally do anyway.
Are these the types of people the kind that would be doing web searches that would eventually land them on SO, SF, and SU?
The best way you can evangelize the sites, honestly, is to do exactly what we're already doing -- generate a lot of breadcrumb trails of your awesomeness for others to eventually find.
In my environment some people just don't jump into SO because of their knowledge and proficiency (or lack of) on the english language.
They are affraid to ask, shy to respond, feel embarrased with the need to explain themselves.. They either just don't take it, or give up after a few attempts and never follow on.
For many, they'd love SO in their language.