How do you like to get help when you are stuck?

Just over a year ago I did some research to try to better understand how developers like to get help when they are stuck. I did three activities as part of this research work.

  • I looked at the the support channels offered by sites that had been nominated or won Devportal awards.
  • I ran a survey on the /devops subreddit (Yes I got permission from the moderators!)
  • I ran a poll on the website for my company’s automation portal.

Interestingly the results from the award winning sites conflicted with the results from the poll and survey that I ran. Although just because those sites were offering those different support channel doesn’t mean they are being used of course.

In this big age of self service, I would like to hear from the lovely Skycrafters community about where you go when you get stuck - or where you would like to go. And I would love it if you can help me understand why.

Providing the best support to others has always been a big passion of mine. I know what I do when I am stuck but I am always curious about others. :slight_smile:


So interesting! I wonder what those 10 portals were.

I guess any developer’s best friend is Google. At least it’s mine for sure. Which might lead to Stack Overflow, Blogs, etc…
However, when I’m not Googling for help, I go straight for peers that I know can help me.

I’m curious, though: What your preference order would look like?

I love this. I get stuck, quite frequently. As @raphabot mentioned Google magic is my go to. I favor sites like stack overflow and technical documentation for what solving what I am stuck on. Occasionally I have found help on YouTube.
I am interested in where everyone else goes to find answers as well!

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You probably mentioned my goto place that I forgot to beforehand, @jperkins … The actual service/product documentation.

Blogs are my go-to. Documentation being complementary to those posts. I often find that it’s easier for me to put the pieces together if I see a similar problem and how it was solved.

All this to say: TECH BLOGS ARE SO VALUABLE! If you’ve solved a problem and think it was a no-brainer and that nobody else would need to see or understand the solution, write the blog anyway. Someone somewhere is trying to solve the exact same problem.


I’ve discussed this with @the_ness_monster before but here are my thoughts on the matter.

Agree that Youtube is helpful. I’m an audio learner vs visual so it helps to have someone talk it out.

Blogs for sure. They can get to the heart of the issue or frankly tell you how it is. You don’t get the “company line”.

Company’s documentation. It depends. I honestly steer away from Microsoft’s documentation because I think it’s absolutely horrible. AWS’s is better.

Stackoverflow. This is the one that surprised @the_ness_monster. I will READ Stackoverflow but I would NEVER post to it. Call it ego, call if fear of the trolls or what not but I don’t want the whole world to know that I don’t know something.

If I’m at work, I leverage the company resources. Our online docs, old tickets, JIRA, our wiki, and of course our people. I will search slack for similar topics etc. People think I know more than I do cause I can search with the best of em.

Support. This one pains me because I’ve spent a good chunk of my life doing support. Opening a support ticket is a last resort. I’m always dreading the assumptions of I don’t know what I’m doing and them going by a script and asking the dumb questions. I get it on some level but can’t help being annoyed but it too.

I am the EXACT same way. I never post to stackoverflow, only read it. I think for me it’s an imposter syndrome thing. Am I looking for help on something that I SHOULD know that everyone else knows? That kind of thing.

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I look for blogs to find solutions as a start. I tend to stay away from Stack Overflow as they can be very condescending at times before trying to help.

And this is why we don’t POST to it, just read it. :grin:

My answer is 3-fold:

  1. In general, I prefer very short trainings (1hr/1day). I can’t stand those 5day courses. I feel that like I only retain 10% of the material. All the rest gets lost.
  2. for IT-related things, I prefer someone just tells me how it is done. StackOverflow is my preferred source. Its secret of success is that knowledgeable people can vote for the best answer.
  3. for more physical things I prefer youtube. Seeing people actually doing it is very helpful. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million