23

What do I need to know to get the most out of this site?

  • 2
    Please help to improve this guide to newcomers. It's an idea "stolen" from meta.askubuntu.com/questions/257/… – Maniero Nov 7 '10 at 9:16
  • Everybody is free to improve this guide. – Maniero Nov 8 '10 at 2:02
  • interesting... this same question can attract 10 downvotes with 1 comment: "read the FAQ", but got 22 upvotes, maybe because the question sounded humble. – user5487 Oct 19 '11 at 22:21
16

Basics

  • Go through the tour.
  • You can log in with your Google, Yahoo, etc. user by clicking the on icon of the service you have an account on the Login page.
  • Unlike forums and mailing lists, this concentrates on highlighting the good answers, and downvoting the incorrect or bad answers. It's not a replacement for discussion, just a more efficient way to get answers.
  • After you get some reputation make sure you are voting good posts up, and bad posts down!
  • A ton of value comes from finding a question and answer via a search engine. We want a good answer to be the top hit for "How do I use the me menu?" Don't worry if the questions are scrolling by too quickly on the front page, this isn't about tracking discussions.
  • What is Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow? Joel's announcement for stackoverflow.com mentions the motivation behind this method of Q&A. More information on Stack Exchange in general can be found in the Stack Overflow community FAQ (much of it is general, some is specific to Stack Overflow).

Asking good questions

  • People will upvote your question based on its quality, so put some effort into it.
  • Use tags to classify your question. This makes questions easier to read on the front page and brings up related questions on the sidebar.
  • There's no need to bump a question — if your question is unanswered the community user will bump it on occasion. Consider adding a bounty if you want to attract more attention to your question.
  • Feel free to continue to work on your question; edit, edit, edit. This will give it a natural bump, and people will be able to watch your progress in adding more detail. People tend to help/upvote people who are actively trying to investigate their problem.
  • As you add to your question, if you end up finding the answer, then answer your own question so that future generations can benefit from it!
  • If someone answers your question, accept it as the answer. This is an important part of the process and rewards the people trying to help you.

Giving good answers

  • Don't only link to random sources on the Internet. Any person can type their answer into Google and do that. If the information is good and under an open license, just put it in the answer (don't forget to link to and attribute the author).
  • Edit, edit, edit should be your mantra. — If you've got a good answer and someone adds more detail, integrate it, and remember to always respect an individual's work.
  • Comments are like "meta" for the answer. Don't ping pong back and forth in comments with new data, when someone leaves a comment with more information or something, just add the information to your question directly. If people post updates to a comment ask them to add it to their question; that's where the power of Stack Exchange comes in: updates on people answering their question happens in the answers and the questions, so that when you are finished people don't have to track the conversation, just the final answer and solution.

Spread the word

  • We need help getting the word out, we have some ideas on how you can help, especially in places where users are already asking you for help.
  • +1. Excellent answer. – Peter Mortensen Nov 13 '10 at 13:04
  • @Roger Pate: what does bumping refer to in this sentence: "There's no bumping" (section "Asking good questions")? Is it a property of some other web sites/systems? Or should it be "There's bumping" (negation) or perhaps "There's automatic bumping"? – Peter Mortensen Nov 13 '10 at 13:06
  • @Peter: Bumping is artificial activity on a question just to make it look active, which "bumps" to the top / to the front page. – Roger Pate Nov 13 '10 at 18:45
  • @Roger Pate: should it be "There's bumping" instead of "There's no bumping"? (Section "Asking good questions".) – Peter Mortensen Nov 15 '10 at 7:05
  • @Peter: The artificial activity is the key, and that should be discouraged; for an example, see revisions 3-10 on this question. "Bumping" is used both for this artificial activity and for what happens to the post on real activity, but it's the former meaning intended here. (This text was copied from the question to an answer, but the question copied it from elsewhere, where the intended audience included many familiar to "traditional" forums.) – Roger Pate Nov 15 '10 at 7:19
  • @Roger Pate: ahh, you mean if the question is good from the beginning then there is no need for a large number of revisions (large number = artificial)? – Peter Mortensen Nov 15 '10 at 7:21
  • @Peter: Please, edit to make it better. I'm credited with posting the answer, but all I did was move the content from the question into an answer. – Roger Pate Nov 15 '10 at 7:21
  • @Peter: It says "there's no bumping" meaning "do not make arbitrary edits whose purpose is to bring the question back to the front page." For comparison, on some forums it is common to see one post a day with a nonsensical message or the word "bump", if the poster wants more attention — and that's not appropriate on this site. – Roger Pate Nov 15 '10 at 7:23
  • @Roger Pate: thanks for the insight into bumping in forums. I will edit now I understand what was meant. – Peter Mortensen Nov 15 '10 at 12:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .