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Google Groups out, Stack Exchange In

Recently I had a technical problem I was dreading having to find the answer to. It involved installing and configuring Java; that’s one of those topics where answers and resources seemed to be plentiful on google groups. But recently, google groups has been spammed to death, and my best bet was to find a forum or a mailing list.

This may sound as though I’m whining, but signing up for forums and mailing lists can be tedious and time-consuming. Then, there’s the problem of finding the right forum and/or mailing list. My question is too idiotic to ask on a java programmer’s mailing list, and forums tend to be for hardware/software/OS.

That is why it is with great relief that I have discovered several communities which let you post questions and search older answers.  On all of them you can browse by tags. They use the digg frontend to let you find interesting/important questions.

  • Stack Overflow lets you ask programming questions and hard setup questions.
  • Server Fault lets you ask system administration questions.
  • SuperUser lets you ask questions specific to an OS or piece of software. 
  • Doctype lets you ask web design and programming questions.

I really like the interface, and it seems that geeks have already gravitated to these forums. Also, there is practically no spam and my question got a reply fairly quickly.

Another thing. I confess that I enjoy browsing through the question lists. You can read a tutorial or article to learn something, but that’s only as good as how it was originally written. But when you read through questions dealing with everyday configuration and programming issues, you leave with a better sense of what is hard and easy to get done and which methods are the most powerful.

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