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I am writing a paper for my Senior Thesis that focuses on the motivations of SO users.

As my survey is apparently inappropriate, I'll attempt to break out the questions individually with more explanation.

Obviously people use SO to help answer programming questions (duh). The question I am asking is would people who answer questions be less likely to answer if they know they are in some far-fetched sense doing someones work for them. We know what SO users think of doing other people's homework. Yes there is a difference between no-effort questions and those that have obviously been given some thought. But even if I put 10 minutes thought into a question so that I can properly explain it, then post it. If a correct answer is provided in reasonable time my company gains some kind of monetary value. This is in the sense that I "solved" a problem with ~10 minutes work and went on to accomplish other things while waiting.

To return to the question, if I hypothetically employed this as a strategy (researching questions only enough to ask them well, then posting) to improve my company's bottom line. Would people feel less compelled to answer my questions if they knew it was contributing to my earning profit?

EXAMPLES

This question took very little time to "show effort". Yes I could have probably found the solution with enough work and debugging but was able to get the answer for free while increasing my productivity for the day.

Followup Ethics question

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Travis J, hims056, Azik, Aziz Shaikh, Martijn Pieters Oct 30 '13 at 9:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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What's puzzling to me about your question is that you seem to be asking it with this attitude that you're surprised that professional programmers engaged in for-profit work use this site - either directly or indirectly - for help with work. This despite as Jonathan Hobbes pointed out the prominent designation of the site as being for professional programmers. What angle are you pursuing here? Could you clarify your intention of understanding answers? –  Carl Veazey Oct 30 '13 at 3:58
    
It was leading to this question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/203501/… –  jth41 Oct 30 '13 at 4:06
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Truly using Stack Overflow to crowdsource, question-by-question, an entire software project would be extremely slow, extremely difficult, and have significant risk - it would be a terrible business decision, I'd wager. Is that what you're concerned with, though? (and honestly - if someone actually can write enough decent questions that lead to them building an entire project, more power to them, really) –  Carl Veazey Oct 30 '13 at 4:21

2 Answers 2

From About:

Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about programming.

A lot of us are professional programmers. Through programming stuff, we get paid, and any company we might be working to benefit profits. Most of us are keenly aware of this. Why would the thought that someone's getting paid for the work they're asking about deter us? It's a totally everyday thing.

To return to the question, if I hypothetically employed this as a strategy (researching questions only enough to ask them well, then posting) to improve my company's bottom line. Would people feel less compelled to answer my questions if they knew it was contributing to my earning profit?

No, but if the answer should be obvious to you at this point, you'll be downvoted for not doing your research, and if you're using us for a programming-for-hire service, you'll get downvoted and your question will probably be closed.

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...and eventually mods or community managers will eventually catch on and he could wind up with suspensions or a ban. –  Ben Collins Oct 30 '13 at 3:32

I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that most of the questions you're answering are going to help amateur or professional developers with commercial projects they are working on. This applies to both the OP of the question as well as to future visitors.

So in that sense, it is almost inevitable that someone will profit monetarily from your help. This doesn't really seem to discourage anyone from answering, although it does lead to higher expectations of askers seeking to benefit from community expertise. "Help vampires", or users who exploit the community by dumping all their problems onto the site, with no effort invested into debugging or clear communication, are looked down upon.

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