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How necessary or important is it? I try to keep a running list of blogs or sites to follow, but a lot of the time I pull up someone's profile and notice there isn't anything there. Is it really important?

I understand are different levels of programming (from C/C++ system programmers to Rails and even Haskell and J) and not everyone works in a language easily worked with for web based applications. Not everything is web-centric, however with the advent of many popular and sometimes free services I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a majority of programmers to have a personal site.

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I have a website. Actually, I have a couple. They're cheap. There's very little about code on either of them, though. –  TRiG Oct 15 '10 at 22:01
    
Seems like the answers have reached the dialectic contradiction. In that sense you must have two blogs - the one that you write and the one that you don't. :) –  user8685 Feb 15 '11 at 13:32
    
Its important, but, it also has to "add value", and not be just another blog. –  umlcat Oct 25 '11 at 22:22
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14 Answers 14

To what end?

Why would you want one? Some people use it as a way to sell themselves to employers. Others do it to help enrich the community and share information. Maybe both. I think you need to ask why you want a website before you determine how important it is.

If you want to sell yourself to employers, then yes a site or blog can definitely be of help. If you want to share something with the community then yes, a blog is a great way to do that. But you should only contribute if you want to contribute. Don't feel compelled to have a blog just because all the other "good developers" have one. If you like to write and have something good to say, go for it. Otherwise don't bother.

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+1 for both. that's why I have a site –  Matt Ellen Oct 15 '10 at 18:06
    
+1 except I think "[having] something good to say" is a matter of opinion. :-) –  Chris Oct 15 '10 at 19:26
    
@Chris well sure. I just mean that you should strive to post meaningful information that isn't obviously redundant. Don't blog for the sake of blogging. –  Matt Olenik Oct 15 '10 at 20:01
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+1 Well put. This is precisely my view on the subject. –  George Marian Oct 15 '10 at 20:17
    
Alternatively, if you're active on SO/StackExchange sites, you could use the API to display your posts on your own website like it is a blog. –  wildpeaks Feb 14 '11 at 22:54
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I say this with as much love as possible, but...

Do the world a favor, and maintain a blog or website only if you have something substantial to say.

I fancy myself a reasonably good developer, and I feel like my body of work on StackOverflow is pretty decent. But I don't have a blog. Why? Because there are many smart people out there who can write blogs much better than I can.

There is enough chaff on the internet already.

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I don't know about doing the world a favor... if you have a crappy blog, nobody will read it. No love lost. –  Note to self - think of a name Oct 15 '10 at 20:22
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@Note to self - think of a name, I agree. I started one so that I could have a central location for applications I wrote and anything I found interesting. If people read it, woot. If not, who cares? At least it was useful to me. –  Stargazer712 Oct 15 '10 at 21:54
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Hm ... if I refused to try to speak English based on the fact that I had nothing coherent to say for a while, then I would not be able to write this very note. I hate seeing garbage on the internet too, but I have noticed that confident professors/lecturers tend to start out as shy and stuttering teaching assistants. –  Job Oct 25 '11 at 22:04
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I don't see why you shouldn't have a blog.

I would recommend starting one for purely selfish reasons. I use my site to keep track of things I've learned so I don't have to go look it up again.

If you don't want to add your site as spam on the internet, then don't crawl it on search engines, and just leave it for yourself.

No harm no foul.

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That's what I have a 'blog for :D –  Matt Ellen Oct 15 '10 at 18:06
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I've been thinking of starting one for the same reasons. –  Kevin D Oct 15 '10 at 18:38
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I'm a freelance consultant/contract programmer, and have a website mostly to publicly post my resume. It's gotten me a fair share of business over time.

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Before I would have only said that Websites and Blogs only serve a valuable purpose if you work as a Web Developer or anything where having a Portfolio on-line would generate you business. But after much thought it became clear I was being extremely naive. Blogs as people have already said are a great way to track work you do and different things you may learn and great for looking back and reminiscing, but recently I discovered a much more valuable use. During your time working in technology I can guarantee you will be asked to demonstrate or convey your passion for technology and when that time comes you will hit out with the every cliché in the book, BUT if you keep a blog you can add it to your CV for employers to look at and use it when asked that all important question. It wasn't until recently when I worked for a world leading investment bank I discovered a sophisticated blog can be the difference between you and the next guy.

Even sites such as this , and giving consistent advice can help display a strong passion for tech.

So in my honest opinion it cant do no harm and if anything will personally benefit you, and can benefit you career wise aswell.

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Important in what sense?

Important to you, to be able to put your thoughts into writing and maybe get some feedback from other developers? Then sure, why not? There's no reason to not have your own website.

Important for your career, to have something to show for yourself? Perhaps, depending on your specific type of work. If you do web development, it would be nice to have a place of your own to show off what you know. If you do freelance work, it would be a great way to advertise yourself.

Important for the programming community? Not likely. Developer blogs are a dime a dozen and chances are yours won't be particularly noteworthy. I don't think anyone should feel compelled to have something to say. But again, no reason not to do so if you want.

It all comes down to why you think you should have a website in the first place. Plenty of developers do, and plenty don't. It's a matter of your own interests and motivations. If it's important to you, for whatever reason, then go for it. Otherwise, don't bother.

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I think having one is a great idea, both for yourself, and to increase the knowledgebase all around for everyone. Every problem has many different solutions, and it is unlikely that many of the specific solutions you find would be completely unoriginal.

That being said... if your site has your name on it and is something that clients/employers have access to and know that its yours, be sure to keep it up to date, especially aesthetically. I know as programmers we know that graphic design is a whole different field, but clients do not know that and could see your site as a poor reflection of your work. People who sell life-sized Han Solo figurines can use all of the BLINK tags they want (with black background and yellow text), but the same cannot be said for a developer.

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+1 for design, that was the hardest part for me. I ended up spending a few weeks tweaking a "clean" design and hoping that if it was really awful someone would tell me. No complaints yet I guess. –  Josh K Oct 15 '10 at 23:37
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Because Jeff Atwood said so...

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/02/how-to-write-without-writing.html

;)

I just reserved a domain name and will try it out. If it is bad, then I can flush it (though google may be able to embarass me with it).

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I would not say important, but, having your own website can be good. Posting some codes/snippets and sharing your views on different topics in a blogish way is nice. It can lead to new contacts, sharing ideas and maybe you'll get spotted by a potential customer/employer who likes your work, and your personality. Who knows :)

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I myself do not have a website but I have many friends who do. A lot of them use it to show what their web development skills are like , post their resume online, show their projects from inside and outside of class, and host a blog. None of them have all of those, but they all have at least one.

Having a copy of your resume online allows employers whom you haven't contacted to get in contact with you about a job. This is useful because it makes you aware of opportunities you would not otherwise be aware of.

Hosting a blog allows you to express your views in an open forum so they can see your opinions on software development. This way they can give you more specific questions or see you express yourself in writing (possibly advantageous if you have problems thinking on your feet or have a speech impediment).

Showing your web development skills and past projects is good because it lets them see your code. This might not seem like much, but it will show them where your strengths lie and they might think your a better fit. It will also let them see that you have actually worked on some of the things you claim.

In conclusion, it is not necessarily important in the sense of necessary, but it could make the difference in getting or not getting a job later.

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I believe writing in a website/blog is a good way to release what you have learned. I recommend having a blog, and blogging about daily life/programming. It's good to 'unload' your thoughts.

If you are worried that you might be posting something that don't want associate with you, post under a pen name. I do!

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Unless you have special content to offer (like your own little open source project you want to share), no. I think places like this one are much better if you just want to write about programming and share your experiences. There is a larger audience, and therefore much more feedback.

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More of an audience but remember that this isn't a personal blog and many subjects would be off topic here. –  Josh K Feb 14 '11 at 23:30
    
Josh K: I didn't want to do surreptitious advertising for forums.thedailywtf.com, but you leave me no choice ;-) –  user281377 Feb 15 '11 at 0:48
    
That would be a better place, but sneaking in my own little surreptitious link I prefer to keep everything in one place for consistency. Plus coding it was lots of fun. –  Josh K Feb 15 '11 at 13:27
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How necessary or important is it?

Important for what? If creating a public persona is useful in the work that you do, then by all means build a web site and devote some time to making it useful and keeping it fresh. A web site could be particularly useful for independent software development contractors, promoting software for sale, and otherwise making yourself and your work as visible as possible.

On the other hand, plenty of smart developers have more work than they can currently manage as it is. Spending time promoting themselves on the Internet is not necessarily time well spent. In fact, the more your customers like your work, the more likely it is that they'll want you to do additional work for them, or to recommend you to others. For such a developer, a web site may not be important at all. It may be an unwelcome distraction, or it might lead to a lot of annoying e-mail from recruiters.

Also, it's important to point out that not having a public web site is not the same as not having a portfolio. Sure, a web site can be a handy way to display your portfolio, but it's not the only way. Here are some others:

  • hand someone an iPod touch with a dozen apps that you've written
  • send them a message with links to the web sites or mobile apps that you've created
  • forward a list of satisfied customers

In summary, having a web site may be an important means to tell the world about yourself. Maintaining a web site is not an important activity in itself, and it's not important to have one if it's not doing something useful for you.

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Having your own website shows professionalism in what you do, online cv if this is not feasible or possible just keep to running a blog.

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