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Ingo Steinke
Ingo Steinke

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StackOverflow alternatives for web developers

Popular useful tools and platforms can cause addiction and become a single point of failure in our workflow when we rely too much on using them. I have been collecting alternatives to Google – as a search engine and as a provider of useful software like Google Maps, Docs, or the Chrome browser.

GitHub and npm are other services that developers tend to rely on too much, as we saw when a developer broke the internet by unpublishing his package of 11 lines of code required by nearly every contemporary JavaScript project.

StackOverflow is another example of a go-to resource that has become too big to fail (although it does in a way, and it has become less popular due to junior devs getting good enough answers to their beginner questions from chatGPT and coding assistance technology like copilot or tabnine).

Do you need StackOverflow alternatives?

It depends. Some people don't need it at all. Some prefer other StackExchange sites that are more specific to their work. As a web developer working with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and various frameworks and tools like React or WordPress, I am aware of and there even is, but most of the relevant web Q&A happens at the main StackOverflow site. When I refer to "StackOverflow" or "SO", I am talking about StackExchange in general.

Reasons not to rely on StackOverflow for your daily work:

  • You don't want to rely on an external website.
  • You want to train your brain instead of lazy copy + paste programming.
  • StackOverflow might be blocked by corporate security restrictions.
  • It contains misleading or outdated advice due to biased voting, moderation/reputation system and the fact that StackOverflow has been around for more than 10 years now.
  • It's no open source community but a business with economic interests.
  • Gatekeepers, haters or whatever they are: some people misuse their privileges – maybe in good intentions, maybe not – in a way that is often perceived as "toxic" today. That's been one of the most important points of criticism and ridicule for so many years it's not funny anymore.

Collage of cartoons about StackOverflow: Look, it's a new question! mob flogging at the question with signs saying duplicate. Second: Interview situation: So, Bob, why should we hire you? - That's a stupid question. - Welcome aboard! Third: Hand of a drowning person: me asking a question on stack overflow. Mods giving the high five. Note: closed. Person drowns.

Reasons to use StackOverflow

  • You can ask questions.
  • You can get good answers for free.
  • Many answers contain code snippets ready to copy and paste.
  • There is a lot of useful advice when you can tell good from bad.
  • The website has no popups or autoplay videos, and the ads are reputable and unobtrusive, at least compared to many other websites.
  • StackOverflow questions and answers are easy to find as they rank very high in search engine results.

The last point is interesting as that's how I first learned about StackOverflow as an alternative to Experts Exchange. Any new alternative would have to be either more popular, recommended, and linked, or more relevant to contemporary problems. It can't be cheaper, as StackOverflow is free of charge, while Experts Exchange required a fee to view an answer.

Stack Overflow founder Jeff Atwood cited Experts-Exchange's poor reputation and paywall as a motivation for creating Stack Overflow. [1]

Read-only: research and learning

Most people use StackOverflow "in read-only mode" so let's focus on this aspect first. Looking for alternatives, what would be our requirements?

We want useful, up-to-date information with ready-to-use code snippets that are easy to find using a search engine.

Short-term alternatives for web developers

All of this is true for many official documentation and high-quality tutorial sites. I don't know much about other fields of information technology, but as web developers, we have:

  •, maintained by Google, including posts by Chrome developers and other experienced experts,
  • MDN, the Mozilla developer network, features references, browser support stats and practical code examples
  • CSS-Tricks has a lot of high-quality content, but some outdated posts as time goes by, so have a look on the post date!
  •, reference, support, Q&A for WordPress specific topics, often also with code snippets
  • dto. for PHP-related stuff

What would a top JavaScript reference be? or does it depend too much on your requirements and environment? After all the old JS Q&A containing jQuery functions on StackOverflow, React could possibly become "the new jQuery" in the near future.

Long-term alternatives

When we don't need quick solutions on the same day, we can take our time and work through tutorials that can be found on many developers' blogs or invest even more time and some money to enrol in a webinar like on

Printed books (or e-books)

We might even read a printed book and leverage its unique feature that we can take it to some place without internet and electricity, sit down on a beach, on a sofa or on a bus and just read the book page by page like we would do when reading a fictional thriller.

Look at the beautiful book compared to my small vintage ebook reader. The book cover would look much better in color and on a larger scale!

Printed book and the smaller grayscale ebook reader plugged in to a power cable

The Intersectional Environmentalist by Leah Thomas (on the left) and The Opinionated Guide to React by Sara Vieira (on the right), see links below.

As you can guess from the picture, I don't own many printed non-fiction books anymore, but maybe I should. I'm already looking at computer screens all day. Printed books never need to recharge. I could also check out our local library to read more physical books again.

Reading recommendations

including some books that I have been reading or want to read in the future:

Further reading: more books to read for open-minded web developers.


Now that we have researched some alternative resources for learning and research, what if you want to communicate with fellow developers outside of StackOverflow and "tech Twitter"?

StackOverflow screenshot: We need to improve our communication. The communication tag is merely described as Communication is the activity of conveying information. That's not even a programming concept.

One alternative is right before our eyes (, and there are a lot of specific forums, GitHub issues, public boards (or closed slack chats, which I don't find good alternative as the information is not shared publicly), and we could talk to software authors and fellow users and reach even those who don't want to bother with StackOverflow's peculiarities.

Edge cases and other (mis)uses

Apart from research, learning, and communication, there are some more, probably less obvious, reasons for people to use StackOverflow:

SEO, marketing and job search

We can showcase our skills anywhere, like on your own websites, contribute to open source and engage in any of the aforementioned communication channels, including DEV.

I have got a few of my business contacts via StackOverflow. They could have found me on other websites as well, and I can say for sure that none of them cared about my SO reputation points. We might be proud of our achievements, but reputation is no accurate metric, and I would say that aiming for them is some kind of superstition.

Image of a shower curtain that resembles GitHub's activity stats. So my grandma is quite active on GitHub. r/ProgrammerHumor


Neither StackOverflow's tags quantity nor their yearly developer surveys can provide meaningful insights about market share, and they can't provide meaningful advice about what tech will be good for your specific situation, for the same reason that SO doesn't like questions that are likely to attend "opinionated answers".

Screenshot of a notice saying that a question has been closed as opinion-based. It is not currently accepting answers.

If you care about tech trends, check the State of JS, State of CSS, and State of HTML (which also covers web components and DOM API) survey results.


StackOverflow's greatest value isn't their collection of Q&A but elaborating on how to ask a good question and advocating the principle of a minimal reproducible example.

I have been drafting new questions, trying to anticipate critical inquiries and narrowing down my problem to reproduce its essence in a minimal codepen. Most of the time, I didn't have to finish and publish my question as I had found a solution thanks to this approach.

Alternative: CodePen, CodeSandbox. But in the end, we don't need StackOverflow or any alternative at all to use our brains and analyze the situation. (Further reading: Beyond Googling the Error Message


What is the best alternative to StackOverflow? One good advice that I learned on their site is that it doesn't make much sense to ask for "the best" out of context. "Best" might equal recommend or most popular, but popular recommendations might not work in a specific case.

It seems to be easier to agree on the worst tech websites: Those would state misleading claims using deceptive patterns and inaccessible code UI, show inappropriate ads that spread malware and sell paid subscriptions that add no extra value.

But what's "the best" depends on our requirements, and it can only help to define them before proceeding to find a quick solution for anything.

Top comments (8)

gabrielprrd profile image
Gabriel Afonso

My favorite thing about StackOverflow is not the answers, but the discussions under an answer. You can learn A LOT by reading some not-so-friendly arguments over a subject if it is popular enough to bring that amount of attention.

bogomil profile image
Bogomil Shopov - Бого

That article is a masterpiece. I do like the part about reading more offline books, but this could be applied to some general topics or to build a skill. I am not sure one could find a solution to a handy topic quickly in a book.

barrymichaeldoyle profile image
Barry Michael Doyle

I particularly relate to your "Thinking" section to this article. Those principles that StackOverflow is well known for enforcing has made me a better developer.

sqlmancerqueuellc profile image
SQLmancerQueueLLC • Edited

Maybe we should all RTFM :-)

doroness profile image
doroness • Edited

You can also use

A custom search engine for WordPress and web developers. It collect and summarize dev related query for you.

sreno77 profile image
Scott Reno

I didn't know about thanks for sharing!

virtualmachine profile image

I find discord communities centered around frameworks, languages or CS in general to be the go to

edimilsonassis profile image

Gosto muito do