Oussama Zeddam

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Oussama Zeddam
°Senior software engineer
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StackOverflow is bad for Freelance developers

November 21, 2020

Surprising title huh?

First, by choice, I come from a full-time Freelance background since 2008, in Fullstack development specializing in FinTech, eCommerce & Blockchain so I understand why StackOverflow is very important for developers and especially freelance developers and why is that because on freelance platforms for example generally, deadlines can be very tight, and to meet them one must use all the available resources to do so, by nature platforms reward the ones who does and punishes who don’t. so the ones who don’t use StackOverflow are left behind. and knowing this they are forced to use the stack for their debugging needs
but is this the optimal way to progress? I doubt it.

Now the most contradicting thing I’ve seen recently is that one of the biggest freelance platforms has launched online certification programs that discourage developers from using StackOverflow and using it will cause the tested developer to fail the certification this is understandable when you are trying to test the skills of a given developer, although the same freelancing platforms encourage profiles that finishes tight deadlines and complete more work per day/week/month than others

Stack Overflow has been swooping to the rescue of all types of developers since its founding in 2008. Since that time, developers have asked millions upon millions of different questions, within all areas of development.

i don’t think there is a developer that disagree with that, StackOverflow has been like the fireman for many developers especially those with deadlines,

But is StackOverflow creating weaker software engineers/developers generations? is Copy & Paste solutions good for our industry?

Let’s start from the very beginning what is the main important skill in my opinion programming

What is problem-solving in programming?

Before we begin, it might be worth nailing out what problem-solving tends to mean for programmers.

According to the School of Computing at the University of Utah, it is often defined as:

“Problem-solving [is] solving problems is the core of computer science. Programmers must first understand how a human solves a problem, then understand how to translate this ‘algorithm’ into something a computer can do, and finally how to ‘write’ the specific syntax (required by a computer) to get the job done.”

And for me at least, programming is really about problem-solving, memorizing a given programming language syntax, functions ..Etc won’t make you a programmer coupling syntax with problem-solving skills will.

If you think about it, StackOverflow is eliminating exactly that, with its Question/Best answer format producing lazy developers and freezing their problem-solving abilities

in my opinion, StackOverflow is so good that it became bad for developers, and you need to be self-aware about your level of problem-solving at a given time and to put that into perspective, try to not use the Stack in your next outside comfort zone project, you will get a nice wake-up call if you are used to the stack for your debugging

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