Using Google to look up Web Development Solutions

Rav Nachman said, “Saying I don’t know is negligent.” (Talmud Baba Metzia 35a)

In the age of Google, Rav Nachman’s statement can be extended way beyond its original meaning.  What do you mean, “I don’t know”?  You will be told to just Google it and sent a link that looks like http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=some+question.

But can you answer all your programming questions by turning to Google?  Will Google always answer “how do I do that”?  Some problems may be too specific to answer with Google.  There are still other issues that you may have to dig a little deeper to find the answer.

Asking the Right Questions

If you don’t get a good answer, you’re probably not asking the right question. One common problem  is getting the terms wrong.  For example, say that you do not know the term “checkbox”.  Instead you search for “switchbox” instead.  You will then get results that talk about boxes with switches instead of the type of form input you are looking for.  To look for the right term, you search for “form input types”.  You should now find out that the correct term is “checkbox”, and you can proceed to search for the specific information you were looking  for about checkboxes. While there is no substitute for professional knowledge, sometimes with some guessing and a few tries searching, you may eventually get to the correct term.

Another important tip is to include the name of the programming language or library in the search.  If you are using an outdated or not very commonly used framework, you are much more likely to be out of luck.  Usually, if your question is something that many other people have dealt with, you will find your answer once you’ve asked the right question.  Then again, if you don’t find the answer in your search, you may need to recheck your code.  It might just be your own mistake and not a common issue.

Useful Sites

https://www.google.com/ Needs no introduction.  Usually I can find my answer by Google-ing the question.

http://www.wikipedia.org/ Contains basic info on whatever I am totally unfamiliar with.

http://www.php.net/ or other language/platform specific sites.  It’s the official source defining the behavior of PHP, and the comments usually answer the questions the articles do not.

http://www.w3schools.com/ contains tutorials on most common open source languages.

http://stackoverflow.com/ Most of your questions have been already asked there, and if not, this is the best place to ask.

Methods that don’t seem to work

One thing that never works for me is asking my question on Facebook.  My high school buddies are just not the forum for such technical questions.  Even asking on LinkedIn doesn’t seem to cut it.  I usually need expertise beyond my narrow circles.  Same by spamming all my email contacts – just don’t bother.   You need the world’s experience and expertise, and that’s why you’re checking on the Internet.

 

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