Shared publicly  - 
 
In August 2008 (well, 31st of July to be exact), Stack Overflow (the Q&A site, with a voting system) launched: http://stackoverflow.com/.

Today, 21st February 2012, I realized I have been on Stack Overflow every single day.
For the last 1000 days.
Why? Was it worth it?

Short answer: yes.
It helped me discover and learn some new fields, meet an incredibly smart community and even get me a new job.

If you don't know what Stack Overflow is, listen to this recent episode of the Hanselminutes Podcast "Being a phony with +Jon Skeet" (#302, January,18th, http://hanselminutes.com/302/being-a-phony-with-jon-skeet), with +Scott Hanselman, starting at 15'30'' (definition of Stack Overflow at 18').

Context

Stack Overflow public beta ended September, 15th 2008 (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/09/15.html), and I managed to register juuust before the end (13th), earning one of the very last Stack Overflow beta badges out there (http://stackoverflow.com/badges/30/beta).

May, 27th 2009, the Stack Overflow team introduced a little counter to monitor the consecutive days you visited the site.
Sure enough, 30 days later (June 26th 2009), the first "Enthusiast" badges were awarded (http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/06/enthusiast-and-fanatic-badges/).
Today is one thousand days later.

I am an "IT support" guy, I help developer with their various tools (IDE like Eclipse or Visual Studio, Project management or audit tools, like Jira, FishEye/Crucible, Artifact repository like Nexus, Source repos like SVN, Perforce, ClearCase,...)

So the idea to randomly answer some technical questions about programming and tools used by programmer was very appealing to me: I starting doing it from day one like it was my job.
Well, because, in a sense, ... it was my job.

Learning new skills

The most "blowing my mind" feature of Stack Overflow is, at first, the incredible number of topics you can be exposed to when trying answering questions.
Today, it is 5400+ tags (with at least 100 questions for each tag: http://stackoverflow.com/tags?page=152&tab=popular).

When trying answering questions on SO back in 2008, I realized how "limited" I had gotten in my fields of expertise. I had gotten "lazy", used to some familiar technologies, and not exposed to new ones.
But with Stack Overflow, even on a topic you think you knew (and knew well), you cannot help but stumble upon giant parts of new techniques you didn't heard before.

For me? It was DVCS: Distributed Version Control System. The idea of replicating the full repository from workstation to workstation instead of communicating to a central server: http://stackoverflow.com/a/2563917/6309.
I never heard of it before, and I started answering questions about one of the up-and-commer tools then: Git (http://stackoverflow.com/tags/git/info)

Meeting top-notch experts

Now, that new expertise I gained (over the course of answering hundreds of questions: http://stackoverflow.com/tags/git/topusers) also allowed me to be in contact with awesome other contributors, on my topics or on others.
The Stack Overflow team helped too, with their SO DevDays 2009 (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/05/12.html), and I was there in London.

However, it was in 2011 I really had the chance of a long talk with the most motivated contributors of all Stack Overflow users: the ones who don't take no for an answer.
When I heard the SO DevDays 2011 were canceled (http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/09/devdays-2011-is-cancelled/), I just refused to let it go, choose a new venue (http://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/105449), and +Jon Dickinson took it from there (http://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/106432), masterfully organizing CodeKen London 2011 (http://london2011.codeken.com/).
I was a speaker, and presented my work (on Git: http://london2011.codeken.com/dvcs-git-daniel-chaffiol/), but mainly discussed with other SO members: their technical level was, to say the least, impressive.

Getting a new job

When my 9 years long mission ended with my first client, I didn't have to wait long before finding a new contract, one involving support for Paris users, but in collaboration with an London-based support team.
I discovered, to my surprise, that some of my colleagues with similar skill sets were not eager to have lengthy interview in English (with visio conference).

Me? After 3 years of interaction with a large community in English (and participating to other Stack Exchange sites, like http://english.stackexchange.com/users/110/vonc, to improve a bit my English), I was enthusiastic.
I got the job, and pointing to my resume at http://careers.stackoverflow.com/vonc didn't harm my candidature either.
Jeff Atwood refers occasionaly to the act of participating to Stack Overflow as "leaving breadcrumb trails for other programmers to follow" (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2010/06/the-vast-and-endless-sea.html).
In my case, it helped other employers and other users to give me their trust more easily, once I showed them some of my advises, already formalized as answers on Stack Overflow.

Thank you

To all of the Stack Overflow team, To +Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood, with their impossible dream of "making the internet better", thank you.
Special thank you for Jeff Atwood, soon gone from Stack Overflow (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/02/farewell-stack-exchange.html) with a new project: https://twitter.com/#!/codinghorror/status/165610532014002177.
He seems happy ;) (https://twitter.com/#!/codinghorror/status/168220972485312512)
5
8
Dan VonC's profile photoMichael Berkowski's profile photoVasyl Boroviak's profile photo
4 comments
 
Many congratulations. I'm still hovering at a mere 381 days...
 
I earned my first 365 consecutive days badge by having a script which requested the site main page from time to time. I hope you are not as bad as me.
 
+Vasiliy Borovyak : good point, I always found this "metric" (consecutive days visited) a bit fishy. As I twitted at the time (https://twitter.com/#!/VonC_/status/2345308368), the "fanatic" badge is the easiest one to get, hands down.

But no, those 1000 days are actual visits, with at least one answer for the vast majority of those days. No script involved here.

I would be much more interested in the record of consecutive visits with at least one answer (of that day) upvoted!
Add a comment...