But, you know, side projects aren’t for everybody, right? So today I’d like to add a further tip for the list — start answering programming questions. If that makes you think of Stack Overflow, you’re forgiven :) Stack Overflow is indeed a great place to ask and answer programming questions, but its flaws are well documented and it’s not for everybody. Instead, I’d like to suggest an alternative — SitePoint forums.
“But why would I even want do this?” I hear you cry. Well, for starters, explaining a concept to someone else is a great way to cement it in your own mind. Or maybe you’re not quite sure if your preferred method of solving a problem reflects best practice. Answering a question will encourage you to read up on it before replying. Plus you’ll be helping people and engaging with the community — you even might learn a trick or two along the way.
To turn this on its head for a moment, the SitePoint forums are an equally great place get help with a particular coding problem. On the main site, I often see people asking coding related questions in article comments. If the question has a simple answer, then sometimes they’ll get it, but more often than not, their issue remains unresolved. Had they gone to the forums, it might have been a different story …
That’s not to say that you can turn up, say “jQuery don’t work” (without providing any further context) and there will be droves of people waiting to help. There won’t. In the same vein, SitePoint forums isn’t an untapped pool of devs just waiting to do your work for you (so please don’t turn up with a wish list of functionality). But if you have a problem, can demonstrate what you have tried and explain what doesn’t work as expected, then it might be the right place to seek a solution. The community is certainly very friendly and eager to help.
There has been a lot written about the correct way to ask a question, so I’ll not go into that here. However, if you can provide an SSCCE (Short, Self Contained, Correct, Example) which demonstrates the issue you’re having, you’ll not go far wrong.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re looking for a way to get involved in the community, a way to keep on learning (and to keep it fun), or a way to get help with a coding problem, pop along and give SitePoint forums a try.