Recently I read this article on A List Apart about how to react when somebody in the web developer world mentions a topic that you haven’t had any experience with. What do you do? Pretend to know about it so that you look smart? Admit that you don’t know anything about it and maybe look dumb or uneducated in your field?
I’m a new software developer at a company in OKC with about three months of experience. So almost everything my boss tells me to do is new to me. I don’t have to pretend like I know all about it because my boss knows that I’m new and the point is for me to learn as I go. So I figure stuff out. I try not to be too dependent on my boss by asking questions. Mostly I try to find the information I need on my own, and this means, of course, Googling stuff. My Google-Fu isn’t too shabby, so I usually learn what I need to know pretty quickly.
Another option if I’m desperate and can’t find what I’m looking for on Google is to ask a question on a site where people know a lot more about computer stuff than I do: Stack Overflow. A lot of really smart, really experienced folks read Stack Overflow and respond to the questions asked. But the downside to asking questions on Stack Overflow is that the people will typically chew you out for asking dumb questions. They usually think that whatever you’re asking has already been answered (even though you looked and didn’t find the answer.) And it is well known by Stack Overflow users that noobs get chewed out. So my recommendation is that if you need some info and can’t find it Googling, ask your question on Stack Overflow. Word it carefully, do some research before asking it, be respectful, and then try to take the complaints you inevitably get with a grain of salt.