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I've been on Stack Overflow for less than a year, and (quite frankly), I've noticed the Stack Overflow has the effect that Google once had years back (i.e., if you don't understand something, google it...).

My question is: How effective/productive has Stack Overflow been for you? Some companies have strict Internet regulating rules and monitoring. Have Stack Overflow been an issue at work? (The reason I ask is that I've seen the same occurrence of responders, such as the legend - Wait for it -Dary, Jon Skeet, are quick and ready to answer Java/C# related questions).

How do you balance Stack Overflow with your work environment and will Stack Overflow replace Google (for developers)?

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IMHO, Stack Overflow has been immensely useful as a source of definitive and best practice answers, and fills a niche where reference (MSDN, W3Schools, BOL, etc.) and blog sites (opinionated, sometimes untried) can waste your valuable time.

All in all, you get a nice mix of ivory tower academics strong on theory; and salted developers strong on experience, best practice, and pitfalls.

The result is that average Joes like myself can quickly find a productive and effective balance which is generally acceptable to most.

Best of all though, is that reputation is on the line - posters are accountable for their answers and less likely to guess or be vague as is common in our industry.

And as you mentioned, you have a real chance at getting an well-known guru to help you out of your current predicament (Skeet, Gravell, Atwood et al)

There is some downside to your employer - IMHO we need to be aware that the allure of rep and badges on Stack Overflow can be fairly addictive and wind up answering questions (like this one) instead of earning our pound of flesh at work....

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Google is a front interface to SO. They live in symbiosis, where Google is a huge host animal and SO is a small thing living in its skin. Or something. :-)

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    You're quite interesting.
    – Alex Essilfie
    Oct 1, 2010 at 13:16
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I've found SO to be very useful and make a point of keeping it open in a separate window at work. If questioned about using it then I think I could quickly provide measureable benefits to management as to why its usage should continue. To make sure that SO continues to be a useful tool some of this time must also be spent answering questions.

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Like everything else there is good and bad.

Stack Overflow is as good and productive as you make it. In my case it has helped me a great deal in solving work related programming issues. However, you can waste time easily by "trying to gain reputation points" ;). It is addictive once you start getting your first set of reputation points from easy questions. Then you go question hunting, and time flies by.

So my two cents is, moderation is key.

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