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Is answering questions on SO good for you? Why do people do it?

  • to feel smart?
  • to build up karma, so that when they ask questions, they feel like they have earned it?
  • to pass the time during make or sudo make install?
  • to learn new things?
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jan 13 '10 at 23:12

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by fretje, Lance Roberts, Ether, Shog9, random Jan 14 '10 at 0:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10092/… –  Brandon Jan 13 '10 at 23:15
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For money, fame and women, of course. –  Shog9 Jan 14 '10 at 0:35
    
Yes, but if your karma is 'normalized' [stackoverflow.com/questions/2004472/… it could only build up to 1. –  pavium Jan 14 '10 at 7:07

6 Answers 6

Having to explain something to someone makes you put your own knowledge "in order". In fact, to be a good teacher, you have not only to explain the solution of the problem, but also know why the problem existed in the first place.

Hence, giving explanations to people on SO makes my knowledge stronger. For instance, I try to follow all questions on SharePoint and have been doing this here for half a month - and I already feel I understand many things in SharePoint deeper than I did before.

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+1 to reading about other ppl's problems - they can jolly well become your problem one day. –  icelava Jan 14 '10 at 2:02

Maybe a bit of all that, but also, amongst other things :

  • To help people
  • As a way to "give back" to a community (thinking about PHP, for instance : I don't contribute code to the PHP codebase, but helping people here on SO and in other places is a way to help spread PHP)
  • As a way to increase my chances of working with tools / languages I like : if there's more help available, companies will most likely see PHP as a great tool, which means more chances of working with it
  • Because solving problems is fun
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It's good for you alright - it puts hair on your chest.

Honestly, tell the kids today - they don't believe you.

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To get more reputation.

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if only we could exchange reputation points for money or discounts at the local grocery... –  icelava Jan 14 '10 at 2:00

Trying to bang out the best answer in a short time is a great way to stimulate your creative juices.

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Supposedly, according to "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", we men like to solve problems. (In the book they tell you to try commiserating instead of attempting to solve.)

It's enough of an explanation for me. I've asked several questions and any time I can help someone out, I try to.

Since Meta won't let me add a comment in reply to the commnents, I'll update here:

No, I don't think only men answer questions. Nor do I think that the book I reference above is necessarily a good or bad book - it's just something I heard about.

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Men? You don't think some of the people answering questions on SO and related are women? –  thursdaysgeek Jan 13 '10 at 23:40
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-1 That book sucks. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Jan 13 '10 at 23:47
    
@Tom: of course it does, with advice like that! Women should be accepting our answers, not starting discussion questions... @thursdaysgeek: there are no women on The Internet. A woman told me that, said she learned it on The Internet - so it must be true! –  Shog9 Jan 14 '10 at 0:39
    
Oh sure, NOW it lets me comment here. Of course I realize that both men and women answer questions here. I was attempting to fathom why I, being the only person I can really speak for, answer questions here. Also, me referencing a book on a topic doesn't mean I endorse the book, I couldn't care less about it one way or the other. –  Mark Allen Jan 30 '10 at 0:41