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This network is full of up-to-date knowledge regarding more and more different topics. I don't know any other knowledge base (global brain) with similar properties and options and minimal redundancy. Only alternatives seem to be:

  • searching the web with Google (problem of spam, duplicates, imho much less ordering as no social & semantic rating/tagging)
  • reading scientific literature (without good background knowledge of topic and terminology hard to grasp, often paywall)
  • hiring/asking (finding) an (true) expert

What I especially like about SE is the possibility to introduce yourself rapidly in a new topic by reading the most important Q&A that you should/have to consider (by sorting via votes/tags). You don't need to know the appropriate search terms as with many other search services.

You might answer "just search SE with Google like most boards/forums lacking a good built in search" But I'm quite unsure this is the most productive way here or if the Google algorithm is even falsifying drastically the social/semantic ordering of the important knowledge here in its page rank.

In short, what methods/operators offered by the SE network and other services (there are e.g. even a lot of third-party search apps for Twitter's second class built in search) should I use to minimize search time and gather valuable information that I'm actually seeking for on SE?

I currently use mostly

  • the operators here for site specific search, unfortunately you cant search tags or tag-synonyms on all SE sites(?). Or can I search with Google somehow for tags on a single Q&A site?

  • for searching all sites with Google and mostly use Google intitle:keyword and AROUND(x) operator to get a not too falsified results ranking.

Are there better ways to look for standard knowledge & questions on a new topic (for yourself) and staying up to date (subscribing to SE tag-feeds)? The features of SE are constantly optimized and increased; so you may miss a lot. How do you use our second brain in a productive way?


As this question got some interest and fav-bookmarks I wrote my own answer (I found by chance) how to use SE brain productively when e.g. introducing yourself to a new topic. Other problems would imho be:

  • updating your knowledge with SE (e.g. you were in holiday for some weeks)
  • sort questions somehow by basic/advanced/expert knowledge (maybe high reputation of user asking & answering)
  • staying up-to-date on specific questions/problems (productive use of SE filter, search, rss, ... -options)
  • staying up-to-date on feature updates of our second brain (e.g. sort by this tag or look this thread)
  • how to reduce redundancy on your subscribed SE RSS feeds with SE tools?
  • how to become aware of knowledge streaking a topic you follow but you don't know it's actually important (e.g. for future-planning, maybe its better here to follow one of the SE well-known experts here on a specific topic (if this is possible somehow - e.g. show questions a expert made at least a comment or an answer), on twitter this is the common way)
  • 3rd-party tools to use SE (some examples)
  • hidden features of SE
  • ...

If you know a good way to solve these issues, please post.

share|improve this question
This almost feels like it should be on meta. Could go either way though so waiting to see what the answers look like. – Jeanne Boyarsky Aug 13 '11 at 23:15
@jeanne you mean meta.stackoverflow? Isnt meta.SO more for feature requests? Probably i get more answers there as more traffic. Personally everything saving time and optimizing knowledge managment is productivity related to me. Thats why i asked here (and cause of this… :) In best case we get a bit more traffic here ;) ) Also im asking explicitly for 3rd party services/apps and not only SE built in methods to manage SE knowledge base. – Hauser Aug 14 '11 at 11:15
I actually meant meta.productivity.stackexchange. But I have mixed feelings about it and it depends more on how the answers go. I'm hoping they stay focused on productivity. – Jeanne Boyarsky Aug 14 '11 at 22:11
@Hauser: Meta Stack Overflow is not only for future requests; it is also for discussion, bugs and support. Our meta is for exactly the same things, but related to this site rather than the whole Stack Exchange network. I'm not really sure where your question should be, I feel like it belongs on all the three places (it feels like productivity as well as meta). – Tom Wijsman Aug 15 '11 at 21:34
Actually Google search is quite good at indexing SE. Questions are indexed within minutes and I often see StackOverflow among the top search results for my searches about programming topics. – Jan Doggen Apr 23 '14 at 14:41

Your focus is on search. It can be much more productive to ask a question.

The SO functionality to detect duplicate questions works quite well and I often find answers there.

Explain the problem that you are trying to solve rather than asking how to do X. Then you get the benefit of the creativity of those answering the questions.

share|improve this answer
say you want to introduce yourself into javascript programming. Alot of knowledge already here. Asking question as a beginner would probably result in alot of duplicates. So what are the best options/methods/3rd party tools i have to find the important Q&A for a JS newbie in minimum time on different SE sites? As a newbie you dont know what actually the interesting and important questions/problems are. Thats what i like so much on SE relative to e.g. a long detailed book costing alot of time/money. Is there e.g. a hack to search with google for tagged/high rated Q&A on several SE sites? – Hauser Aug 15 '11 at 15:51
@Hauser: – Tom Wijsman Aug 15 '11 at 21:35
@Tom +1 thats cool and kind of answers/tips i was hoping for. I didnt find a thread on SE describing all the technical options to use/search/filter/subscribe SE, so i thought making a question here would be good idea to gather this info. We can also make this community wiki to gather tips how to stay up to date, introduce yourself to a new topic with help of SE. – Hauser Aug 15 '11 at 21:43

For introducing yourself into a new topic:

I found today the pretty useful tag-synonyms feature on StackExchange. Say you want to learn Javascript programming, there are alot of Q&A on different "Trilogy" SE sites. So a good start would be to look up the correct Javascript tag-synonym on this list yielding

and then search via [javascript] on SE sites concerning programming (Superuser, Stackoverflow, Programmers,...) and sort by votes.

Additionally its a good strategy is imo to use the votes:10 SE search operator to filter out posts with high agreement (minimum of 10 votes) implying basic knowledge & big agreement.

This way one should get some of the vary common questions & problems & fallacies concerning Javascript.

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