While I was doing my usual site maintenance for The NINPOJineous, I was checking the Exits section to update my links section. Under the People tab, I had both Stack Overflow and Quora linked in there. I decided to delete both links out from my section for many reasons. One or a few of them are indicated below:

  • The so-called community over there at Stack Overflow and Quora are not very friendly to beginners and hobbyists.
  • Even if you post a very elaborate question, from the steps you made in trying to make things work to simply just giving up after trying several times, many members over there would give you somewhat of a half-assed answer, or would just reply with something unrelated, or worse: marking your question as a duplicate or a non-programming post by some stuck-up moderators there, which will eventually lead to deletion.
  • Females are often being looked down upon, giving us answers that aren’t just related to the question, but instead are turned into insults, reminding us that it’s better to just do “web designing” or some form of “designing” because development, programming, and engineering are just “too complicated” for our intellects. 😤

Much as I plugged those Q&A sites in my People section as sources where beginners and hobbyists in web development (and at times, designing too) can run to whenever they need help from the simplest issues to the more complicated, I sometimes do go to those sites to seek answers. And what I mean by seeking, I meant lurking while seeking. It’s the reasons mentioned above that I refused to post any questions and leave it open to discussion to those who would be willing to help. When I can’t find the specific answers I look for in a problem in both of these Q&A sites, I move on somewhere else.

Last night in one of my Facebook groups, someone linked to two of these articles from Medium regarding the decline and fall of Stack Overflow. Not much to my surprise, these illustrated the reasons why and are very much reflected the reasons I mentioned above. Please read them, and share your thoughts, whether you have had experience participating in Stack Overflow or not:

Now, these were written a few years ago, and at some point, the people at Stack Overflow may have done some adjustments, but the whole “brogramming ego” still exists throughout that community, even up to today. I was tempted to sign up for an account there to ask a question regarding a problem I had with a few of my Ruby projects, only to find another question similar to mine was asked, and rather than receiving some practical answers, the poor person was getting insulted instead with half-ass answers such as “Google it.” Answers such as “Google it” only defeats the purpose of Stack Overflow, don’t you think?

I also mentioned Quora on this post because it’s also becoming like this as well. Someone actually asked in there regarding the best tutorial sites or online programs where he/she can start learning PHP. Rather than receiving answers that are practical to the question, some members rudely reply with things like “PHP sucks, learn (insert some programming language here)!” or anything similar. There were a few other questions posted there also, and again, impractical, rude answers. Some of them were even marked for deletion too for flagging it as “non-programmer” related.

With Q&A sites being avoided by many because of trolling answers, many of us are stuck with our own issues, to the point that some of us just end up quitting our dream profession, not to touch it ever again. Luckily, I found a few places and tips on where you can find help and make them as your home. I’ll mention about that later.

Why is this happening in these Q&A sites?

Stack Overflow also has these rankings and upvotes for their members. Quora also has the same features too. If you think about it, what would be a more legitimate reason why so many of these members become so rude to beginners and hobbyists? The reason is simple.

Reputation. This is pretty much the same as spamming with useless, unrelated threads in general forums that some of us hobbyists would run. I know because I have run several forum communities in the past before WDC, and many of my forums have these ranking systems. Ranking systems for me just only displays who the more veteran members are, as well as a reminder for me of how long these forum communities have existed. I don’t understand why there are even rankings at Q&A sites in the first place when all you do is ask and answer questions regarding an unsolvable problem.

Also related to the reputation issue, those who have been active, or somewhat active, who do give elaborate answers, were being held out before the unrelated answers from the more reputable members are being posted. When their own elaborate answers do get posted, theirs was either ignored or simply marked as a duplicate answer, and eventually, get deleted.

For those entering computer science-related careers, just contributing to sites like these, whether through open source coding, contributing to reporting bugs, or simply helping others in community-like Q&A sites such as these do count as work experience in their resumes and portfolios. I sometimes try to contribute and participate as much as I can, however, as mentioned, the reasons above made me become more of a lurker than someone actually participating in the open.

Will this sitewide issue be fixed? Only the future will know.

Other places to lurk and seek answers.

There are other places that you can ask for answers for all your computer science-related issues without any form of prejudice and discrimination from trolls out there:

  • SitePoint Forums
  • DaniWeb
  • Hashnode (a new but promising alternative to Stack Overflow)
  • Various Facebook groups (Sign up for a Facebook account if you don’t have one, then search for these groups friendly to beginners, hobbyists, and self-learners)
  • Various Slack chat channels (Slack has been a good source of open communities for everyone as of late. You’ll just have to search for them)
  • Reddit (check out their subreddits. I’ve heard that there a lot of open and friendly people there. I haven’t tried it yet.)
  • Your bootcamp forums and chats (freeCodeCamp, Treehouse, and online bootcamps have their own forums and chats that you can join in)
  • Your former teachers, classmates, and alumni associations (if you have taken courses in a school or in an in-person bootcamp, you can still reach out to all your former teachers and classmates and alumni associations (if they have any) for help).

I’m still searching around for more, but those are a few of the tips I could share with you. If you have any good places to seek answers, please leave a comment and I’ll check them out.