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The Importance of Posting Solutions

About 10 days ago I ran into a technical problem (looking for the git source and git-manpages archives) that wasted hours of my time because I wasn’t able to find a worthwhile search result. I pulled up MarsEdit and wrote about the solution I found, in anger.

Within three days of writing the post; I had used it as a reference four times. Without posting the solution it would have been worse for me because I would have had to dig through the entire day’s browsing history or my bookmarks to find the page again.

I’m sure almost everyone in a technical field has been in this situation:

XKCD #979

The original poster never posts the solution to his or her problem which is incredibly frustrating if it is a one-off thing (as most hard IT problems are).

The Stack Exchange network has been great for getting solutions to some of the problems I’ve had and I’m quite happy searching through it for some types of answers but it’s not perfect for everything. Small, short problem solution sets don’t really fit in very well; you, basically, have to ask the question and then answer it yourself. Which is fine, but, seems a little bit too much work for a quick problem/solution.

There’s something cathartic about posting the problem and solution to a problem somewhere. It can be Twitter, Github, Stack Exchange, a personal blog, Tumblr, or any number of other places. The important thing is that you do post the question and answer, somewhere.

Since the problem has already been solved the opportunity costs of 5-10 minutes to write it up are very low. So, take some time and post your solutions to the problems you run into; save someone else the hours you spent researching and testing…then charge consulting fees!