Where does the time you spend on Stack Overflow come from?

My number 1: My projects take a couple of minutes to compile and run, so that gives me the time to help people or find some answers (or to learn something by browsing interesting questions).

Some other answers I can imagine (which don't apply to me):

  • Getting paid by the hour and you just charge your client.
  • Favorite spare time activity.
  • Being a n00b to programming, you don't have a choice but to visit (Stack Overflow is the best).
  • Questions about the site itself belong on the meta site, meta.stackoverflow.com.
    – Ether
    Aug 5, 2010 at 18:03
  • 1
    Good question. I have been wondering that myself.
    – Jeff Davis
    Aug 5, 2010 at 18:32
  • Too bad they migrated it. It would have gotten more answers on Stack Overflow itself.
    – Jeroen
    Aug 5, 2010 at 20:01
  • 2
    no, it wouldn't have, because it would have been closed. :)
    – mmyers
    Aug 5, 2010 at 20:50
  • @mmyers: So true! Thanks for pointing that out!
    – Jeroen
    Aug 5, 2010 at 21:19

8 Answers 8


I made a commitment to myself a year and a half ago to spend a little time every day answering questions that I thought were interesting. I tend to do this over breakfast in the morning, which I find to be a good way to start the day. Many days, it acts like a warmup exercise before I head into work.

I also like to replace the time that I would have wasted reading various blogs with doing something constructive on here. It's still fun, but at least I feel like I'm accomplishing something.


I can't speak for anyone else, but my time comes from a magic hourglass I keep on my desk. When I want some Stack Overflow time, I flip the hourglass over and life is immediately paused for everyone in the world except me. (They never notice, though.) I hit SO and the SE sites I like, and race against the hourglass to do my thing. Usually I finish before the sand runs out and life continues.

  • 5
    – mmyers
    Aug 5, 2010 at 20:52
  • 2
    This is similar to my approach, except that my hourglass runs all day long. :-O Aug 5, 2010 at 21:25
  • @mmyers: You'd think it would help me be FGITW occasionally ...
    – John Rudy
    Aug 5, 2010 at 21:56
  • 1
    How do you post answers if the SO servers are paused? Does your hourglass have an Ethernet connection?
    – user102937
    Aug 6, 2010 at 2:41
  • @Robert: It stops time for people, not machines! Think the bad guys in Dark City ...
    – John Rudy
    Aug 6, 2010 at 17:44

During lunch... or on the crapper :)

  • 4
    You can't even put your laptop down to use the crapper?! And I thought I was bad. Also, that seems unsanitary. I hope you're the only one using it. Aug 5, 2010 at 18:44
  • Who doesn't bring their smart phone into the bathroom during work to do a little non-work reading/researching?
    – NPike
    Aug 5, 2010 at 18:56
  • Who owns a smartphone?
    – Pops
    Aug 5, 2010 at 19:45
  • 1
    @gnovice: the crapper, or the laptop?
    – devinb
    Aug 5, 2010 at 19:49
  • @devinb: The laptop, or phone for that matter. I don't want either of mine that close to water or feces. Aug 5, 2010 at 19:57
  • @Pops Three years later, everyone has a smartphone.
    – tbodt
    Sep 14, 2013 at 0:10
  • @tbodt Heh, even when I posted the original comment, most people had smartphones. That said, even today, I do know a few holdouts who insist on not upgrading. (And yes, I'm talking about IT/programmer-y people, not general population.)
    – Pops
    Sep 14, 2013 at 1:28

Between contracts, when I am not working, and at night time, after my son has gone to sleep...


After midnight, courtesy of my caffeine addiction!


Similar to waiting for the compiler, I often visit whilst the server restarts.


When my brain starts hurting from staring at code or being in too many meetings I go to SO to take a break.

So, I suppose it comes straight out of work time, but I wouldn't be very productive doing anything else with that time.


When I'm having my coffee (or hot chocolate if I don't need a caffeine hit) at the start of the work day. Though I usually finish the coffee before finishing on new ruby questions.

  • cocoa has caffeine
    – Otaku
    Aug 6, 2010 at 4:42

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