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Has SO ever taken a poll to search for commonality amongst top answerers? I would be very interested to know things such as:

  • Languages Known
  • Degrees Had, if any
  • Place of employment or self employed
  • Books written
  • Knowledge of compiler development or other very low level concepts

Or any other interesting tidbits that us tadpoles can chew on.

For the top 100 answerers or so.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Lots of time on their hands...

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2  
I'm sure many of the more modest answerers would say the same. But, people like Jon Skeet, Eric Lippert, Hans Passant really know what they are talking about, get things done that we can see and use, and still manage to gather points like pinball machines. –  P.Brian.Mackey Apr 20 '11 at 18:44
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just to be clear I'm not trying to be glib, but you really do have to have quite a bit of time on your hands to have built up as much rep as they have –  Daniel DiPaolo Apr 20 '11 at 18:54
    
+1, see for example the tale of Valued Associate Nick Craver, who rose from 4265th to 1st in the yearly leagues by spending time on SO rather than WoW –  AakashM Apr 21 '11 at 9:40
  • Genuine interest in helping others learn and improve.
  • Willingness to look stupid.
  • Experience.
  • Willingness to sacrifice your time in order to answer questions.

In regards to your specific questions, as far as I am concerned:

  • Languages Known - Spoken: Hebrew, English. Programming: C#, VB.NET, VBScript, JavaScript, BASIC.
  • Degrees Had, if any. None. Working on getting a computer science degree through the Open University in England.
  • Place of employment or self employed. Was self-employed for a long time, now with TopTable.com (owned by OpenTable.com).
  • Books written. None, and none in the works.
  • Knowledge of compiler development or other very low level concepts. Not sure what this means... I guess all my knowledge is rather high level.
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+1 Thank you very much for taking the time to answer. The "compiler development" is hard for me to clarify. I was looking at a few unique qualities amongst you gentleman and did notice a few extraordinary details with some. Some Published books several guys who read through the entire language specifications for C#, MS MVPs, VB.NET and C# knowledge, some with many years of C++ then onto C#, just anything thats unusual. Eric Lippert does compiler dev for C# and inspired the idea. –  P.Brian.Mackey Apr 21 '11 at 0:49
    
@P.Brian.Mackey - glad to be of service. I was hoping to see other top 100s answer too. Though some of us (?) have done some extraordinary things, I think you will find the most extraordinary thing most of us did was get into the top 100 ;) –  Oded Apr 21 '11 at 20:05
  • Interesting amounts of free time
  • Genuine interest in helping others learn
  • A drive for more reputation and badges
  • Egos

By no means do all top answerers have all of these, but bits and pieces are undoubtedly found in all Stack Overflow users.

For the second part of your question...

  1. Clearly they all know English.
  2. Degrees don't necessarily matter.
  3. You can learn on your own without the paper. Not sure that your current job matters other than the amount of time you get to spend on Stack Overflow.
  4. Not all answerers are authors, but some certainly are. Stack Overflow provides a good Q&A platform for readers to interact with authors.
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If this was intentionally copying Oded, I think he was answering as one of the top 100 –  Daniel DiPaolo Apr 20 '11 at 21:55
    
Copied? Does this look the same? You got to do better than that. –  RSolberg Apr 21 '11 at 15:43

What about:

  • Able to type fast
  • Able to write good english fast
  • Good at explaining things
  • A lot of time
  • Know a lot about something that a lot of questions are asked about
  • Willing to help other people

When I have looked at the list of answers from the top people, it is the number of answers with 1 or 2 upvotes that stands out.

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