If you’re not familiar with Stack Overflow Careers, check out Introducing Stack Overflow Careers and Stack Overflow Careers: Amplifying Your Awesome.
In short, it aims to build a for-pay CV hosting and searching service on top of the success of Stack Overflow.
I have mixed feelings about Stack Overflow Careers.
No, I’m not questioning whether or not they should have built it, or whether or not they should charge money for it. I have no problem with Joel or Jeff using their interweb fame to make a buck like this guy seems to (Clarification: William’s beef isn’t with the for-pay aspect, but with the underlying system itself. See first comment.). If they want to, they should.
My quandary is whether I should make an effort to participate in Stack Overflow and Careers. I like the site and use it daily, but I don’t actually participate. I am a consumer, not a contributor. Should I eschew my natural introverted tendencies and force myself to contribute?
The Stack Overflow group of programmers seem to “get it.” On the whole they are smart, pragmatic, and can communicate in complete sentences (skills listed in reverse order of importance).
As a freelance programmer, I would like to be attributed with those qualities when looking for work. That’s the true value in associating a job search with Stack Overflow and is the reason why they can charge programmers to list their CV. If you’re recognized as a member of that community, you’re much more valuable to job searchers that are Stack Overflow-aware.
Maybe there’s some value in participating in the site and quantifying my association with the Stack Overflow type of programmer?
But, ultimately what am I trying to accomplish? Sure, I want to be known as a competent and gets-stuff-done kind of programmer. Stack Overflow is an avenue to quantify that I have these skills; it isn’t the method by which these skills are obtained.
Joel Spolsky himself said,
The great software developers, indeed, the best people in every field, are quite simply never on the market.
He goes on to explain that if you’re a great developer, you’ll be recognized as such through your work.
I think this says it all. I shouldn’t force myself to participate in a contrived system attempting to quantify competence. Don’t get me wrong, if you enjoy interacting and contributing to Stack Overflow, more power to you! But for me, if I’m doing the right things to further myself as a developer, the rest will take care of itself. More do-ey, less talk-ey.