This post may look like re-inventing the wheel, but when it was initially published in company’s intranet to aid junior programmers. That’s why :)

Every tech specialist divides his time into two categories:

  • time when he looks for solutions to his unique and special problems
  • time when he’s sleeping
We’re all ambitious people and everyone prefers to solve all the puzzles on his own, but there always comes a day when you realize that it’s far more efficient and faster to utilize other people’s experience and knowledge. Yea, we all know how “to google” - the only problem is that using web search you can find only what was written and published before. So, if Google retrieves zero hits - what can we do?

  1. First option I could recommend is “StackOverflow” (http://stackoverflow.com) also known as “Facebook for geeks”. It’s a powerful website created by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, where tech experts around the world ask their questions and gain eternal fame by responding to other people questions. It’s designed in a very smart way - you gain credibility by answering questions, you rate answers and questions as well (depending on fact if they are clear and make sense overall). Everything is tagged and categorized, so it’s very easy to browse and search through. As this portal is very well known (and respected) in Community, there’s a huge number of people who can really answer your potential questions (and they can do it really quickly!).


  2. The other truly valid option is quite specific as it’s focused on Microsoft only. Microsoft Developer’s Network (MSDN) isn’t only about publishing product documentation, but it contains forum section as well. There are so many tech-related forums, why should you use that one then? Due to two main reasons:


  3. There are plenty of Microsoft employees browsing and (what is most important) answering questions on those forums.
     


  4. If your Microsoft passport (the one you’re using to log into MSDN) is linked to MPN and / or MCP, your name will be tagged accordingly (for example as a “Partner”) - believe me, that makes them feel the urgency to respond to such a person and treat you with appropriate respect. 


And now something I’ve found out just recently - our helpful collegues from Avanade (disc: this was written as Accenture employee). Or rather their topic-oriented discussion mailing lists. I have subscribed to 2-3 of those something like 2 weeks ago (I don’t think it was possible earlier) and I am positively surprised with the level discussion - many competent people spend their time and effort to help each other in non-trivial situations and share their experiences. I’ve already had an opportunity to ask my own question and the response was very fast and very helpful.

 
Don’t be a lone wolf, use the power of the hive.