Why you should stop asking & answering technical questions via social networks

Aug 11, 2014

Read in portuguese on iMasters

When you start giving talks, creating open source projects, publishing articles or simply showing your work to the world, little by little people start to consider you as a reference on that particular subject. And when these people have doubts, it is you whom they search for. After all, you are the one who understands more about it (which in many cases is not true).

The math is simple: the more things you do, the more popular you get, more people turn to you when they have doubts. These questions are often asked via e-mail, private groups and messages on Facebook, Twitter DM's or wherever they can find you. Over time, you notice that this model simply does not scale. The reason is that generic social networks are usually closed channels and their content can not be found in any search engine. The conclusion is obvious: other people will not have access to that response.

To solve this problem the approach that makes the most sense nowadays is to use Stack Overflow. This type of channel accept posts not only in English but Portuguese too and have high relevance in search engines. Thousands of people access it constantly, which increases the chances of your question to be answered. And most importantly, the best answers are highlighted.

Anyway, regardless of the tool (Stack Overflow, Quora, GitHub), what I advocate here is that you think twice before asking or answering a question using a closed network. You may think you're helping others by responding those questions, but in fact you're just contributing to a community with restricted content to certain people.