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