I can guess, that to the most of Meta residents I looks like no more than some irritating rascal, only good for raising unrest and harassing people.
That is not so true.
Great most of time I spend on Stack Overflow, writing useful and polite answers silently, without disturbing anyone.
So, this my job, along with some recent discussion, led me to a question:
What does Stackoverflow do to encourage writing of good answers?
Please note, this is NOT a question of sort "what is your self motivation".
This is a question of 2 parts:
- What does Stack Overflow do to encourage people to write answers in general?
- Same as above but for good answers that require some considerable efforts?
Only 2 possible things come to my mind:
- Most obvious one: a reputation.
Beside of the fact that this virtual number being totally useless itself, it doesn't work either. (an example has been removed as at attracts irrelevant attention)
- Another one: May be, some support from the authorities?
Sure. The only support you can get is mostly in the form of barking. Stack Overflow is good with whips but what about carrots?
While many people think that answering questions is just a sort of fun and entertainment, for the good answer it is not so true.
A good answer requires
- some time to get into question's conext (most people even have no idea of that, their answer just triggered automatically by a keyword found in the text).
- some research
- some time to write a code, run a code, debug a code
- some time to write an explanations
- for the non-English speakers it takes more time to write in English
Also, it requires some skills:
- some knowledge on the matter
- some experience to judge if particular knowledge is applicable to the particular question.
- some experience in answering questions and educating noobs. A noob require completely different answer than a pro. And just a pro can't answer noob's question properly. A perfect example can be seen in this question: 75k rep guy failed while I succeeded because I understand what is behind the scenes of the phrased question and how to explain it.
So, by bringing these skills and considerable efforts, what I get in reward? Some "narcissism" and vague possibility to get a better job by showing an employer my enormous rating (If I ever consider to find one, as Joel says in his book only 30% of programmers constantly seeking and the rest 70% just doing their job)?
Okay, to make this question more personal.
I am not really asking for the rewards. Don't make me that greedy. But what about support?
I often hear that I can be more valuable to the community if I rein my temper.
I dare to say that I am already valuable to the community. At least to these members who got enlightened by my answers. Real good answers.
But how a community being valuable to me?
Do I get any help when a question being swarmed with self-appointed experts who have no idea on the topic, nor practical experience, who even didn't bother to read the question throughly but eager to share their ignorant 5 cents and got angry when I merely point that out?
Do I get any help when I see completely wrong and misleading answer but it just looks more attractive to the unsuspecting noob?
Sometimes I have difficulties in communication, I have to admit. Do I get any help in this? The only threats of throwing me out.
To back from personal mode.
What are reasons for someone to spend considerable time, efforts, intellect and nerve to educate a stranger whom he never will see anymore?
Is education and enlightening among this site goals at all?
What are these official goals, by the way? To answer most simple questions in most big numbers, it seems.