The internet offers an incredible amount of information no matter what you’re looking for. Whether you want to find info on somebody, watch a tutorial to help with a complex procedure, or just look up fun facts, you can find it all online.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you search, you just can’t find any info on your exact question or problem. When that happens, your first stop should be the Stack Exchange group of websites. They offer a simple question-and-answer format for dozens of different interests.
Let’s look at some of the best Stack Exchange communities (out of 162!) and whom they serve, along with some advice about using them along the way.
1. Stack Overflow (13,000,000 Questions)
By far the most popular site of the bunch, Stack Overflow centers around computer programming questions. It caters to all types of programming, so whether you’re learning web programming, have trouble with Excel formulas, or want to write a mobile app, you can bring your questions here. Both professional and casual programmers are welcome.
I'm not a programmer I'm just a guy who compiles top answers from Stack Overflow and pray to god it all works out
— aj ?? ? (@ajlkn) January 30, 2017
Note that due to the large amount of questions, the community has some general guidelines you should follow to increase your chances of getting good answers. Make sure your title is descriptive, so “If-else statement never runs in C++” is better than “Statement Problem.”
Further, your question should be succinct and not open-ended or vague. It’s a good idea to provide some relevant code and explain what you’ve already tried, else potential helpers might think that you’re asking someone to do the homework for you.
- “Android OpenGL occasional stutter”
- “Why I get error convert from char to char?”
- “Query to count within intervals in a table”
2. Super User (338,000 Questions)
The second most popular site, Super User focuses on everyday computer questions. Whether you want to see if there’s a way to achieve some behavior in Windows, have a hardware problem, or need help with networking, this is the place to ask. Anything related to a computer that isn’t focused on programming belongs here.
Note that you’ll see a green box around the answers field on the list of questions when the question owner accepts a reply as the best answer. These don’t always mean the answer is absolute for everyone, but the person who asked found that it worked for them.
- “What kind of periodic maintenance should I carry out on HDD backup?”
- “How to close Google Chrome and have it save your tabs”
- “How do I PROPERLY map a keyboard key to a mouse button?”
3. English Language & Usage (79,000 Questions)
If all this talk of computer problems doesn’t interest you, check out the English Language & Usage community. This site gathers questions about finding words on the tip of your tongue, clearing up confusing gray areas of grammar, and understanding the origins of words and phrases.
You’ll find this one useful whether you’re learning English for the first time or still get confused by the many exceptions after speaking it for decades. Grammar lovers and wordsmiths will love this site.
- “Is there a word for somebody who cares for his/her child too much?”
- “Compound verb in: He likes to sing and play”
- “What are the correct plural forms of different fishes?”
4. Arqade (75,000 Questions)
Arqade is a place to ask anything about video games. Questions range from technical issues with PC games to help with a specific part of a certain game to discussions about a series. Questions are tagged by game, so you can easily find questions related to your favorite titles.
— Alternative Jess (@Cake_Tease) December 20, 2016
For more gaming discussion, check out the message boards at GameFAQS.
- “How can I check if a game has been used?”
- “Factorio graphics bug; black background”
- “How do I unlock the National Dex?”
5. Ask Different (79,000 Questions)
If you love your Mac or iPhone, Ask Different is the community for you. If you find Super User has too many questions for Windows users, have a look here for Apple-only content. You can get help with the Terminal, troubleshoot slow performance, or fix annoying behavior by asking a question here.
- “Should I use a Thunderbolt adapter or a USB 3.0 adapter for ethernet?”
- “Can iOS display a text message notification icon in the status bar?”
- “Would using an iPad as a second monitor be harmful to its battery life?”
6. Home Improvement (28,000 Questions)
Another non-technical community, Home Improvement is dedicated to DIY folks. Whenever you’re working on a project at home and need some advice, you can consult with the experts here. Users frequently ask questions concerning the best way to go about a task, how to nail down an issue, or if behavior of an appliance is out of the ordinary.
— David Robinson (@drob) March 7, 2016
We all have different skills, and if you aren’t good with your hands, it’s wise to get some help from this site.
- “If I drill holes in a door, would I then at a later time be able to conceal them reasonably well?”
- “Could my power strip have killed all my AFCI’s?”
- “Kill baseboard pests without killing dog”
7. The Workplace (13,000 Questions)
Not sure how to navigate the intricacies of working professionally? Come ask the friendly folks here. Whether you need some help not embarrassing yourself at your first job or have an awkward situation you don’t know how to handle, you can ask other workers about it and get some insight.
Turns out there's no way to not feel kinda awkward when you're hauling a brand new office chair out of your workplace after hours.
— Mikko Rautalahti (@MikkiRMD) January 17, 2017
If you’re going to ask whether you should leave your job to follow your passion, we can answer that with a huge yes.
- “How to prevent current employer from finding out I am job searching?”
- “My employer want me to do 5 minutes tasks outside business hours”
- “How to ask to continue with employer after an internship?”
8. Movies & TV (14,000 Questions)
Here’s a place where you can discuss your favorite movies with other fans. Like Arqade, posts are tagged by movie so you can easily get into a discussion about any film you’re interested in. This is a great place to ask about plot points you don’t understand, find out the name of a movie you can’t remember, or just discuss the film industry overall.
- “Identify a film where woman lives entire life in seconds before a car crash”
- “Does the Iron Man movie ever establish a convincing motive for the main villain?”
- “Why did filmmakers need permission to film in black and white?”
While you can often find the answer to your question by searching around online, sometimes there’s no replacement for asking specific questions to real people, and Stack Exchange sites offer just that.
There are several other great sites in the network like Personal Finance & Money and Travel. Some of them aren’t too popular and others might not apply to you, but have a look through the full list if you’re curious for more. You can also download the apps for Android and iOS to get answers on the go.
Even if you don’t have any questions, consider signing up for an account if you have some knowledge in one of these areas. You could make someone’s day by answering their question next time you have a few minutes to kill. When you’re ready to move on, continue your travels around the web with the best sites on the internet.
Do you visit any Stack Exchange sites? Let us know which ones are your favorites and if you contribute answers to any communities!
Image Credit: Kateryna Upit via Shutterstock.com
Explore more about: Online Community.