I am still new to this website but I am curious, what is the incentive for people to answer questions? It seems like there is a much higher time effort of people to answering versus asking, which surprises me (from a pure utilitarian perspective).
For me the answer has boiled down to a few basic categories:
- To gain reputation (this was novel at first and wore off after the first few days of using the site). Also rep can always be gained by asking questions, with the benefit of also obtaining information.
- To give back. I find myself doing this whenever I come to SO to search for/ask a question, and see something on the landing page I can answer.
- To correct the answer to an existing question. This happens when I find the answer on SO and after trying it find it to be incomplete/not fully correct.
I'm surprised how many people are willing to contribute so much time in answering questions with seemingly minimal reward. Is it just that the community is that friendly and people are acting out of the goodness of their hearts?