Today I had some time and felt like writing a relatively good answer on Stack Overflow; explaining both the underlying mechanisms and good practices, unlike usual declarative answers in a "do that" style.
It took me like an hour of time, $50 if I were free lance. It'll bring me nothing but 3-5 occasional views, and - if I get lucky - some ignorant comments.
You know, it's quite discouraging.
Instead of pride for the job that was done, I feel frustrated. I know, this answer may offer help to the OP, if he ever notices it (being already satisfied with other answers). So the only fate the answer will meet is to sink forever, below thousands other questions, falling like snow.
So, being a programmer, I am thinking of efficiency. It's a waste of time to spend so much effort to answer one question when there is no way to [actually] reuse it. So, I wouldn't do it again but just turn back into short answers mode without explanations.
Seeing other answers, I don't think I am only one with such feeling.
The current policy is driving knowledgeable and educational users away, yet it attracts inexperienced ones in numbers. Ones who will tell you to use [some technology] which they never have laid their hands upon. Ones who write answers just because they have learned some "good practice" from other questions, and this "knowledge" becomes an endless source of rep points.
The idea of Stack Overflow is rotten. It was excellent when trees were high and traffic was low. It turned bad now; it has become a honeypot for all the "enthusiast programmers" of the world, eager to share their 2 cents faster than you can say the word "close".
You're killing a great resource. Despite all the nice words and proper declarations, it discourages the reuse of the knowledge. And encourages fast on-site answers.
Of course, the rules will tell you contrary. It's all nice and proper (if you don't mind it's strict mutual exclusivity). But mechanically, technologically it works in the way I described.
I tried to write a tag wiki. You know, it was biggest waste of time in my life. As a matter of fact, it is not a wiki at all; you can't even link to a certain section. Not to mention that nobody ever has the idea to read tag wikis.
Reference questions? Don't make me laugh. There is no good mechanism to store and categorize links. Favorites, although intended for the different purpose, are a chunk of crap when you want to use it as a reference. So, you can't compete with 30-seconds answers: a question will get 5 answers before you can even find an appropriate link.
Okay, I can organize links myself but, there are some problems:
- I am just a human. I cannot remember everything
- I am just a human and I cannot answer questions at rate of 1 qpm.
- One person cannot fight the Tide. It's helpless. When technology makes people writing fast [incomplete] answers - no good will of proper declarations can do a thing.
- Even if a question gets finally closed, it won't hurt anyone - the hydra grew two more already.
You'll call me a brute for insulting honest users and innocent volunteers, but that's fact:
There are much more inexperienced users than experienced ones. And inexperienced users have much more spare time to hang over than experts who have their job to do. So, from that fact we can conclude that most of the answers on Stack Overflow have a low quality. Nobody cares. But I do.
- There should be a technical way to limit the activity of not-so-knowledgeable-yet-eager-to-answer users.
- There should be a technical preference for the closing a question over answering it (have a silly answer for the silly question? welcome to comments).
- There should be a technical solution to accumulate and structure knowledge, a system that lets you choose a good answer instead of writing it by hand.
That's the only way. Otherwise Stack Overflow will remain an automated dispenser of bad practices.
Well, I just felt like letting it out again.
Thank you for reading.