Sunday, August 24, 2014

StackOverflow killed my blog

It's hard enough to have a full-time developer job and to also maintain a blog about development topics. Especially if you can't (or are not willing to) share content from your day-time job verbatim onto your blog.

But it gets even harder to maintain a decent presence on such a blog if you find yourself competing with the most fearsome competitor of all: yourself.

I've found that most of my relevant writing that is publicly accessible happens on StackOverflow. There is just something intensely satisfying about seeing a question there, figuring out what the person asking did wrong and then mentally diving into their brain and trying to understand why they did wrong what they did wrong.

Once I am able to figure out where the OP (Original Poster) went wrong, I try to write a comprehensive answer that doesn't just solve the problem of the OP, but hopefully will also help others in the future that make the same mistake. Because for every person asking a question, there will be 10 more people later with the same problem who are afraid (or unwilling) to ask the question on a public forum. And that is fine. StackOverflow will show up in their search results and developers tend to trust StackOverflow answers, especially those that have received a high number of upvotes.

I don't know if Google uses the number of votes on a Question/Answer as a quality indicator to determine the rank of a page. But if they don't, they certainly should.

Those votes also help StackOverflow users building reputation. And while the whole gamification frenzy luckily died down as rapidly as it started (remember "Office Hero"?), StackOverflow is one of those sites where it really still works.

So that is the long excuse of why I don't blog as much as I probably should. Or maybe I should say: why I don't blog here as much as I should. A technical blog is in part a medium to promote your own brand. And I think I've found a more efficient way to do that (at least as far as programming topics go) in StackOverflow.

I may start occasionally re-posting some of my answers (or questions) from StackOverflow here. Just to ensure that there is some curated list of "puf's best answers". Or to maybe expand on an answer beyond the scope that StackOverflow allows (although that seems less likely, unless I can start sharing more of my day-time job related writing here).