Stackoverflow, one of the many StackExchange community of sites has been one of, if not the most, influential resources for my coding career. If you're not familiar with it, Stackoverflow is a Q&A-style site for asking and answering questions related to programming.
By answering (and asking) questions users earn reputation when their answers (and questions) are voted-up by other community members. There are also badges, earned by accomplishing certain feats - like answering old questions, editing questions, voting on questions/answers and more.
Stackoverflow (SO) also has a Jobs section with many of the most highly sought-after employers advertising open positions. My past 2 positions, both of which I've loved, were found through Stackoverflow Jobs, and I receive interview offers nearly every month from interesting start-ups and companies. I highly recommend it to job seekers, especially if they're active on SO due to how easy SO makes it to tout your earned reputation.
For example, let's say your active in answering questions about the Ruby language. Over time you'll build up reputation and SO will begin showing your rank against all other members. If you're good enough you'll break into the top 20%, 10% or even top 1% of users for specific languages, and SO will show this to employers. This independent verification of your skills is a great way to land an interview.
Over the last few years (6 years and 4 months as of writing this) I've found SO to be extremely helpful in helping me learn, whether it be asking or answering questions. To date I've:
- asked 49 questions
- answered 361 questions
- earned 68 unique badges
For more stat's here's my full profile.
SO provides other metrics in addition to your rank for specific languages and topics as well. One of those is the number of people reached - defined as:
Estimated number of times people viewed your helpful posts (based on page views of your questions and questions where you have highly-ranked answers).
This isn't super accurate but it is definitely interesting. The higher the number the more people you've likely helped.
And this week I finally passed a huge milestone related to people reached:
Never in a million years would I imagine my questions and answers would help anywhere near this many people. You see, I'm sure my first visit to SO was like most others...
I was most likely stuck on a coding problem and had lost all hope. I probably did some google-ing and stumbled across a search result linking to some site called Stackoverflow.com. I clicked the link and realized I wasn't alone, someone else had a nearly identical issue, and some random person had volunteered their knowledge.
With my problem solved I probably left the site and carried on. But over time I found myself coming back for more help until September 3rd, 2010 - the day I took a huge leap and answered a question. Through dumb luck (which is exactly how I phrased it back on that fateful day) my solution was upvoted 4 times.
It took another 6 months for me to answer my next question. Unfortunately it has yet to be accepted, though it did receive 8 upvotes. And it wasn't until May 29, 2013 (and 50 more answers) that I asked my first question.
Over the last 3.5 years I've continued to answer and ask questions, leading to ~1M people reached. And it's crazy to think there are people viewing my questions/answers today who are just starting on their path to reaching 1,000,000 people through their own questions and answers.