The Complexity of Stack Overflow

As a new developer, and even as a seasoned veteran, you’re bound to run into errors or situations you’ll become unfamiliar with. And if you don’t, then you’re either the best at what you do, or you’re not growing your potential abilities as programmer. But when you come across situations where you need to look things up, the main hub where us devs go visit is to the wonderful website of Stack Overflow. There you’ll find the answers to all the questions you may have. Or so I thought…

I am a beginner Software Engineer, I started my venture a little over 3 months ago when I attended App Academy’s boot camp prep. It was a course that took 1 month to complete to prepare people for taking a full course Software Engineering boot camp. At my time there, we were learning all the basic fundamentals of Java Script and we had assignments that we would have to solve ourselves. That’s when I was introduced to stack overflow.

“Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers.”. That’s basically what I was told from one of my professors. They said that if we were confused or stuck on something, stack overflow is a top recommendation. My very first question I tried searching up on there was a simple `for loop` for JS(Java Script). What I was greeted with was an abundance of questions and answers on how to use said for loop through objects/hashes which was way beyond my level at the time and it was in either Python or Ruby, even tho I filtered the search. After searching for nearly 45 minutes I finally found somewhat of a coherent answer. It gave me the information what I wanted but was in the comments of someone elses’ Goliath of a code.

After that terrible first experience it took me about another week till I felt the confidence to go back and ponder around. During that second trip there tho I did start to notice something with the way the website was being used. A lot of the questions were posted with a goal, not to learn the functionality of their code, but to receive the full written code for them without them needed to do any work. But you know, Stack Overflow isn’t all bad

With the amount of information stored of this wonderful website, you can gain a lot of insight and implement some cool things to your own project. Sure, the issue with this is that it kinda intimidates new comers from wanting to use this site and a lot of answers are project specific but for the few people who see these answers are aren’t afraid of them, can actually learn about said project then maybe they’ll implement some personal twist to the code. It can be the start of an innovation and I think that’s pretty cool.

My suggestion to anyone who happens to stumble onto my blog is that if there’s something you are not familiar with, don’t run away from it. If you do, you’re limiting and selling yourself short. Look at the information being given to you and see if you can make it work, and if you don’t understand it, do a little more research on it because chances are, that one code snippet you saw may have been project specific but the way it `can` be utilized might just be what you need. And that’s something I can say I know from experience.

Full Stack Software Engineering Student at Flatiron School New York City