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Getting the most out of Stack Overflow

Project: Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is the single greatest repository of coding knowledge in the world. Now approaching five years old, its community-moderated, strict Q&A format has made it far more useful than other similar sites.

Contributing to it, however, can be intimidating. The questions of new users are often voted down or closed with little comment, or edited by the community in was the original poster doesn't understand. Answering is even worse. How do other people manage to post a detailed answer to a specific question in minutes, or even seconds? How could I possibly know so much about such a broad range of topics, even within a single programming language or framework?

Over the past three years, I've learned a lot from contributing to Stack Overflow. It has honed my research, technical writing, and rapid prototyping skills, as well as greatly expanded my knowledge of the Python ecosystem, standard library, and CPython internals.

I'll share not only how to use the site to learn, but also how to compete effectively with the thousands of other programmers who answer questions there on a daily basis -- we all like to win. I'll talk about what goes into a good answer, as well as a good question. I'll also talk about how contributing to Stack Overflow is like contributing to any other open source project in many ways -- in what you gain, as well as what the community gains, partly because of the CC-by-SA licensing used by the Stack Exchange network of sites.

Adam Forsyth

Adam is a full stack developer working at Braintree bringing awesome payment APIs to the world. While his day job mostly involves Ruby on Rails and JavaScript, he is still a Python developer at heart. He's contributed to Open Source projects in C, C++, PHP, and Java as well Python and Ruby. He's also answered hundreds of Python questions on Stack Overflow, and so released many code snippets out into the world as well as helped stumped engineers everywhere. He's an active member of ChiPy, the Chicago Python Users Group, where he speaks regularly and communes with his Pythonista brothers and sisters.