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I want that too - motivation to answer programming-related questions. What is yours?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Shadow Wizard, hims056, Martijn Pieters, Hugo Dozois, Mołot Nov 21 '13 at 14:48

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.

This question appears to be off-topic because it is a poll question. – Shadow Wizard Nov 21 '13 at 11:31
@ShaWizDowArd - That means primarily opinion-based?? – hims056 Nov 21 '13 at 12:07
@hims056 to say the least, lol! – Shadow Wizard Nov 21 '13 at 12:17

28 Answers 28

Narcissism. We all crave praise and like being told how smart we are by people upvoting our answers.

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Hmm, although I pretty much agree with you, would anyone suggest an evolutionary reason for this? I mean, why would one wish to increase the size of their ego for things that are almost trivial (or which have subtle materialistic value (e.g. value that doesn't correlate to sexual reproduction/acquiring greater finance/control over others/etc))? – user784446 Jun 6 '11 at 5:28
narcissism is good way to determine ones own self worth in comparison to everyone else. thus you know how much you can "bet" on yourself when trying to survive in this world. its especially good if you can narrow it down to a particular area of expertise. – ColacX May 21 at 22:30

I have an inferiority complex which SO helps to alleviate.

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C'mon, Jon, don't be too hard on yourself. Just repeat after me. "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." – GalacticCowboy Jul 9 '09 at 12:25
@GalacticCowboy You don't? – Mateen Ulhaq Apr 11 '11 at 5:05
After a thorough psychological evaluation, the good news is, you don't have a complex! However, the bad news is, you are inferior. – Flimzy Oct 27 '11 at 7:55

The big number next to my name is totally awesome.

Oh, and that warm fuzzy feeling that I get when helping people through their problems.

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Funnily enough, the ponies next to TXI's name are the reason I stick around. He goes right, I go left. Go figure. – Eric Jul 9 '09 at 2:10 :)

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1) There's a certain rush when someone puts you on the spot and everyone else is going to see your answer.

2) It's like a mini project with a sense of completion for only a couple of minutes work.

3) I end up learning a lot just by trying to answer in a way that's clear to someone other than me.

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The project i'm working on won't give me real satisfaction for months yet (and it's been running for almost a year). An accepted answer is, exactly as Traples says, like a nano-project, with a tiny hit of satisfaction at the end. – Tom Anderson Jan 4 '11 at 0:31

I like being right :)

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And more than that, i don't like someone else being wrong. I have to fix that when it happens. – Tom Anderson Jan 4 '11 at 0:33

Money Rep for nothing and chicks badgers badges for free.

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Maybe get a blister on your ...index finger. – Andrew M Jul 9 '09 at 8:22

Someone told me that once you hit 50K, you can trade it in for a pony!

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Going for the necromancer? – juan Feb 22 '10 at 2:56
It was only transferred an hour ago. – Tyler Carter Feb 22 '10 at 3:43
Perhaps it retains the creation date – juan Feb 22 '10 at 13:32
+1 for an answer that comes the closest to being objectively, factually, provably correct. – ЯegDwight Sep 29 '10 at 11:30
@RegDwight: When I hit 50K, they offered me a bottle of glue--telling me it was ponies :/ – OMG Ponies Sep 30 '10 at 1:49
That info is wrong. It is actually: "When you hit 200k rep you get a free poney painting signed by SO" – BrunoLM Jun 5 '11 at 13:27


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(And I hate bad code.)

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Semi-altruism. I want there to be answers when I have questions. So I answer the questions that I can answer. A kind of "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." Although someone else usually types the answer I would have typed in much faster than I can.

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For me it's

  • Reputation
  • To learn from others
  • To help others in need
  • To learn about other languages
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I enjoy helping other people learn something new or solve a problem. For quite awhile I was thinking about getting my PhD and becoming a teacher for this reason. Turns out that I like actually writing software too much to give it up. SO is one avenue to fulfill that original desire of mine to teach. Blogging, which I've only recently taken up -- partly due to enjoying SO so much -- is another way. This way I have the best of both worlds -- and I don't have to write a dissertation!

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Maybe the strong programmer's vices that I tend to see something and I go "Wait! I could solve that!!!"

And proceed to waste about 10 minutes to hours to craft out a perfect solution (in my own eyes, anyway) and relieving the programmer's pride.

(Confidence level: +10)

... Probably the fuzzy feelings like helping others come later that we could rationalize off to other people to hide the real fact.

(... and yes, earning reps and badges are fun, sort of like toys inside packets of junk food meant to lure impulsive kids :p)

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I like to help people when I can - especially when it doesn't take much effort, and results in some level of appreciation/recognition ;-)

And it gives me the illusion that I'm doing something useful (instead of actually working).

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  • Help people
  • Share knowledge
  • Camaraderie
  • Improve the "state of software"

Rep is a secondary interest to me.

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+1 not everybody operates with completely selfish motives. Many people realize that helping others is a reward in itself! – maerics Aug 24 '12 at 23:08

To help form a more active and reciprocal community where more developers, including myself, can find help asap when in trouble.

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Definitely the reputation.

What I have found that I do is answer a question as quickly as possible, trying to be the first person to answer. Then, I'll go back and edit it with a better example or more details, hoping to continue to get voted up.

I've found that it takes a lot of effort (for me) to gain a decent amount of reputation points. To get where I am I spent like two days with Stack Overflow open all day on one monitor constantly monitoring new questions and trying to jump in. That's just way to exhausting and time consuming to do on a regular basis though.

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I like to write, and I believe it gives me much easier and cheaper motivation to write than my Blog does. The topics are generated for me, and I feel much less need to justify my writing - I already have a waiting consumer.

It also feeds directly into new blog topics from time to time.

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I like to solve problems, especially programming related problems. At the same time I learn new things about programming and how to write english better.

That's my motivation.

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Because when you teach something to someone, then you yourself learn new things

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I answer and ask because I like to learn, I like logic, I like to solve things, I like to know the best way to do things, I like to do things...

My knowledge increases each time I answer or ask questions. It is like putting points on knowledge.

And I know I can trust this community by their reputation and by the votes cast. If I am uncertain of something I wait until people cast votes telling me: "yes, this is right, go for it" or "no, this is wrong, go the other way". And there are a lot of experts living here.

The idea discussed on the latest podcast is really great, to have a lifetime reputation. Because that is what best describes what I really know.

My main goal is to learn and in second place is the reputation. Reputation can show others how much you answered, asked and the quality of your answers and questions. And it shows other things as well. If you are from a contry where the main language is not english you already have "oh look, he speaks spanish but he has high rep on SO, his english might be pretty good".

Reputation will probably help me to find a great job someday. I am centain of this because: "IT IS OVER NINE THOUSAND!!!!!"

And of course, the magic unicorn power overflowing from this website motivates me.

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Help people.

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Coming here, you learn a lot from other programmers. Of course, nothing is built on SO without the users, so what's the harm in answering a question while you're visiting? I usually get that "Oh! I know the answer to his problem!" feeling, and I know that by submitting my answer, I add onto the circle of life that exists between all programmers on the site sharing knowledge.

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I'm hoping to land the best job ever, obviously.

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Shiny baubles and my addictive personality.

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Judging from tag counts, people ask questions if they have a C#/.NET problem.

Unanswered Tags: * c#× 2512 *× 1831 * .net× 1573 * java× 1225

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Seeing an unanswered question I know the answer for definitely motivates me to answer it, regardless of rewards.

(Especially when the question is unanswered for months.)

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