I used to google for solutions for days and days until I found the solution. Looking back now, I think that was a bit too much googling. Now, I'm starting to just ask on stackoverflow and not google it at all. Is there an FAQ describing how much you should google, or is it based totally on my personal opinion and it's not a question?

  • 2
    You mean you don't even use the site search beforehand?
    – random
    Apr 14, 2011 at 0:25
  • 4
    I use the search that automatically pops up when I ask a question.
    – alexyorke
    Apr 14, 2011 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


In my eyes, the ideal approach when you have a question is:

  • If available, search the documentation (Thanks @Carlos)

  • Google. Try a few variations of your search.

  • Search on SO. Try a few variations of your search.

  • Once you have done that, and not found anything that you feel helps you, then ask on SO, but not earlier.

Asking something that could easily have been Googled is not a deadly sin, but try to avoid it. Otherwise, at some point, people start feeling like they're being used as mechanical turks for Googling, which is not the sites' point.

  • 2
    This makes the same assumption that the OP is making: that Google doesn't index SO. Odd. Apr 14, 2011 at 1:16
  • @Hans Why do you say that?
    – Justin
    Apr 14, 2011 at 1:22
  • @Hans when I see a question about a basic function (like, "how do I lowercase a string?") - and typing the question title into Google gives you the authoritative reference documentation with 100% certainty - I don't care whether it gets indexed by Google or not. It is not a question that should be on SO, and asking it is just abuse of the site. There are questions that shouldn't be asked, but Googled. Edit: maybe I misunderstood what you meant, in that case @Kragen is saying what I would say
    – Pekka
    Apr 14, 2011 at 1:24
  • 4
    @Hans The Google and SO search often return completely different results, for example try searching for "Using Beautiful soup from IronPython". The Google search does contain some SO results, but none of the ones that appears for the same search on SO. I often use google with site:stackoverflow.com, as the results are often more useful than the SO search results.
    – Justin
    Apr 14, 2011 at 1:26
  • 1
    Even Google returns different results from Google. Happens when you query it differently. Which is what you'd do when you research a question for more than, say, 10 minutes. If none of these queries turns up anything at SO then there's little point in searching SO separately. Ymmv. Apr 14, 2011 at 1:42
  • 2
    Now searching "how do I lowercase a string" in Google, give me this post though :P
    – YOU
    Apr 14, 2011 at 2:34
  • @Kragen, what you're saying simply establishes that Google and SO use different search algorithms. That's not exactly surprising and the :site suffix to a google search is useful for other things as well, including MSDN. The MSDN bit is surprising because it's run by a company that also has bing, a search engine. Apr 14, 2011 at 7:13
  • The 1st step should be to search (in) the documentation if applicable. It's obvious, but some programmers forget it to easily.
    – user141148
    Apr 14, 2011 at 9:11
  • @Carlos very good point, added.
    – Pekka
    Apr 14, 2011 at 10:51
  • Robots.txt on MSO indexes the answered questions only (and a few other things).
    – alexyorke
    Apr 14, 2011 at 19:22

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