Next month I'm starting my career at a big finance company. This will be my first real job. At university, I used Stack Overflow extensively. It helped a lot, and I learned a lot from it.

At the workplace however, these sites are blocked. I could only use them from my cell phone, but I think It would look really bad If people saw me using my cell phone.

Do I have to learn to live without Stack Overflow?

  • 7
    You need to talk to the team you'll be working with, not us - we can't tell you what is our isn't acceptable in a specific workplace. Apr 3, 2016 at 15:00
  • 1
    Is StackOverflow your only reference? For example, if you have a question X, and you can't find a good answer, please tell me you have a choice #2 for finding answers.
    – Brandin
    Apr 3, 2016 at 15:23
  • No, of course it is not my only reference, but I suspect, that everything is blocked.
    – Lanza
    Apr 3, 2016 at 17:34
  • 1
    @Brandin but useful to anyone in the same situation
    – jmorc
    Apr 4, 2016 at 12:42
  • 4
    While StackOverflow is unbelievably useful, quite a lot of development work happened in the world before it existed. There are these things called books that have weird search engines called tables of contents and indices. They're quite primitive, but they never need recharging. Also, we used to ask the people we work with for help. That said, I work in financial services, and StackOverflow isn't blocked. Information Security is though, go figure.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 4, 2016 at 13:26

4 Answers 4


Do you suspect that StackOverflow.com is blocked, or do you know it for a fact?

If it is blocked, then your employer doesn't want you to go to this website while you are at work, so don't visit it. Including from your private phone. You may think it's a stupid policy, and I would agree with that, but don't violate their policy.

Obviously you can try to change the policy. Tell your manager that this site is useful and you would like to access it. If this changes the situation, you are fine. Once you're at home, you can use the site as much as you like, so you don't have to live without it completely.

  • I only suspect it.
    – Lanza
    Apr 3, 2016 at 17:35
  • 16
    I suspect your suspicion is wrong... There may be policies against posting and even voting, but it would be unusual to block a Reference site.
    – jimm101
    Apr 3, 2016 at 17:55
  • 16
    Blocking Stackoverflow in a shop even remotely related to software development is about as dumb as blocking google, which is very.
    – Magisch
    Apr 4, 2016 at 6:06

First, check that it actually is blocked before anything else.

If it is then there is a policy in place forbidding it's use, in which case, don't use it at work. If you have only just started it's not a good idea to be asking for things straight away that everyone else is doing without.

Stack Exchange is great but it's not necessary, I can at a pinch get through with reference books and I'm not really a developer. I would ask the other developers for any tips on how to get the information and reference stuff you need. They're already experienced with company policies.

But check that it's actually blocked first.


If you are going for a technical position, I highly doubt that you will be blocked. You may not get access to workplace or area51 at work, but I am pretty sure that stackoverflow, superuser, security, unix, etc. will be open for access. Of course, spending your every work hour on these sites will raise ire, I am sure, but if you are checking a solution for a problem you have a few times a day, it should not be considered wasting time on the Internet. Again, this is your suspicion and it may not come true. If it is, I strongly suggest you get a cell phone plan with unlimited data as well as a 6 inch or larger screen, so that you are able to get the info you need in a pinch.


First, check if it is blocked. You want to use it for a valid work purpose, so it should not cause a real problem with your boss even if it hits the filter. So it should not be risky to check it.

Next, if it is blocked then talk to your boss about getting IT to unblock it for the developers. Most places, IT will not unblock things for you but need your boss's approval that it is necessary for work.

It is a very useful tool to have in your pocket. Likely if it is blocked it was because someone was spending too much time on it. So if you get it unblocked be very sure not to spend all day on it.

If your boss needs convincing, show him something you want to find an answer to and then show him the answer on your phone, so he can see for himself how useful it is. It would be weird to have a boss who is not already aware of this, but if it happens it is most likely in a place where the site is blocked.

As an aside, using it can be a bet different in the corporate world. It is better to use it as a guideline rather than blindly copying and pasting as many students do. If you think something will solve your problem, but don't understand what they did then ask further questions or dig into the books or other Internet sources such as the technical manuals for the software you are using until you understand. You want to get better for having used it not just keep having to ask or look up the same questions over and over. You are going to have to support that code over time, so you need to make sure you understand it.

If you can't find your answer and have to ask a question, then make sure you give enough detail for the potential answers to understand the issue, but disguise things so that there are no corporate confidential pieces of information (actual URLs, database table names, etc.) being given out. And don't ask someone to just code your answer, your company isn't paying us they are paying you.

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