How To Read A Stack Overflow Question And Answer

May 11, 2019

I teach at a web development bootcamp and new developers often spend too much time on a single Stack Overflow question and answer.

They spend time trying to understand the original poster’s specific problem.

I advise them to skip the question and go straight to the answer.

The steps are:

  1. skip the question title and body
  2. look at the number of points for the first and second answers
  3. read the answer with the most points
  4. if needed, read the answer’s comments and read other answers in order of point value

The first answer is what the original poster marked as their solution. But occasionally the second answer has more value due to either a better quality answer or the passage of time has changed what the best answer now is.

Most importantly, don’t read the original question: it’s likely not worth the amount effort it takes to get into the head of a distant struggling programmer’s problem.