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When stuck, how quickly should one resort to Stack Overflow?

Its good that solution to almost every programming problem is available at my disposal, either someone has asked it before or programming gurus are waiting for me to post it..sometimes its just the matter of seconds after posting the question and someone points out the error-causing-line or proposes alternate (easier, lightweight and efficient) solution. But today it struck me "is this making me dumb?"

In good (umm..not so good) old days I used to figure out the source of my problem and then work it out myself, though it used to eat up lot of time but it helped in developing my logical thinking as it used to make an impression in my mind due to which I tend to avoid that situation in future codes.

Now, as soon as I encounter a problem I just give it a shot or two and head towards the community. Many times after looking at the solution it turns out that answer was all in front of me..all I needed was to take a break, hover it once and its solved. Both the approaches make me feel guilty, for wasting time when I could have asked and solved it within minutes OR being too lazy to look over it again before posting the code snippet.

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marked as duplicate by Yannis Rizos Oct 7 '12 at 18:44

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Its good that solution to almost every programming problem is available at my disposal

No, not really. In my experience, the really hard questions, i.e. the ones that I actually need answered are less likely to get an answer. I did receive some excellent answers to questions like this, but not always and certainly not withing minutes.

sometimes its just the matter of seconds after posting the question and someone points out the error-causing-line or proposes alternate (easier, lightweight and efficient) solution

(emphasis mine)

Yes, for questions like that, e.g. Why doesn't this code work? or What is the proper syntax for X? etc you will usually get correct answers really quickly. In my opinion most of these problems can be solved by proper debugging, code analysis, search through documentation and everything else we usually do in these occasions. Although it can be useful, I don't think that this is the best that SO can offer and personally I prefer to use it for questions that actually require someone else to think about it.

From there we get to:

Now, as soon as I encounter a problem I just give it a shot or two and head towards the community.

Exactly my point from the previous paragraph. As long as you ask questions only about things you can't solve yourself or when what you really want to have someone's else opinion, expertise you are fine. If you can solve it, you better do solve it. On the other hand, if you treat SO like a human powered cloud for resolving syntax errors and similar stuff and rely on that instead on yourself, then you are right - the consequence is exactly what you described.

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Yes I feel you and totally understand what you're saying. Appreciate the effort..I guess I really need to get over it. Actually I'm still in learning phase so my most of the questions are for alternate approach or regarding syntax..thats why I get quick answers. –  Ayush Goyal Oct 7 '12 at 18:10
    
@AyushGoyal: My point is that the similarity of your two approaches doesn't scale. As soon as you move on to more difficult problems this will become a non-issue, you'll see more clearly what is for solving and what for asking. –  Goran Jovic Oct 7 '12 at 18:13
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We need to accept that initially we just don't know much about anything. Instead of wasting time, we quickly need to solve the problem rather going to see the logic behind it. I do partially agree with you, as instead of going in depth of the problem, we get solution easily.

But what I personally feel is that this is the best way to learn, after reaching the saturation level you automatically start writing your own logic.

The Internet is just the resource. It depends how we are using it.

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+1 for "Internet is just the resource. It depends how we are using it." I really agree with this. –  Ayush Goyal Oct 7 '12 at 18:44
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The real question shouldn’t be whether you should ask questions on SO at all or not. The real question should be whether you have the capacity to learn from the answers you receive. If you get complacent and always race to the community for answers, you will be asking the same questions over and over again, you will be stuck on the same problems over and over again, and you will not grow. You will be stuck at a level and cannot progress to more advanced skills. But this is not SO’s fault. You can use SO to your advantage to acquire the skills that you want. You only have to make sure that you understand every answer you receive. The old adage, “Don’t use code snippets you don’t understand”, seems appropriate: if your project is a patchwork of copied-and-pasted SO answers, then you have no chance of understanding it.

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