10 replaced http://stackoverflow.com/ with https://stackoverflow.com/
source | link
  1. Interest in the topic.

    This is where we all start. At this point, if Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic you are interested in, it probably doesn't exist.2 It's also the moment at which intrinsic motivation is at it's maximum. You don't come to a Q&A site because of its awesome community or a karma system or to get swag; you come to find the answer to your question.

    This is also where the vast majority of people end their involvement. Once you find out why your table insert is so slowwhy your table insert is so slow, there's no particular reason to come back. In fact, many more people will read the answer to their question and never need to create an account. In general, that's just fine: the Internet has become marginally better.

    But some people cause problems even at this stage. The most obvious (to me at least) are students who ask homework questions, but have no real interest in learning the material. What you find is that they lack even the most basic intrinsic motivation that a Q&A site requires for operation. Individually, they aren't a big deal, but taken in aggregate these folks are a huge aggravation. For as long as I've been on the internet, people have been barging into existing communities without reading the FAQ, and I don't see why SE is any different.

  2. Interest in the site.

    It's probably obvious, but if a site is to become a locus for people to indulge in their interest in a topic, they are going to develop an interest in the site itself. Almost by definition, interest in the site is extrinsic motivation, since it's not the topic. At best, via a harmless indirection, the user focuses on the site as a means to the end of learning about the topic.

    Now there is nothing wrong with a little system to encourage users to continue interacting with the site. There's also nothing wrong with getting to know the other participants and even making friends. There's nothing wrong with thinking about rules of interaction. But there is a problem with losing your first love: the topic itself. That was the thesis of this question, so I won't rehash it here.

    But there are plenty of other bad behaviors that stem from decreasing intrinsic motivators. For instance, there are all sorts of tricks that one can use to obtain high reputation without adding value to the site. Trolls of various species thrive on the attention they can garnish from undermining the community. Ordinary folks tackle boredom by creating polls, shopping questions, puzzles3, joke posts, and so on. All of these are cancers, some malignant and others benign, that will kill a community if allowed to spread.

  3. Interest in the community.

    Every now and again, for certain people at certain times, something changes subtly. Instead of the site being the locus for learning about the topic, the community becomes a home base. At that point, it's entirely possible for intrinsic motivation to disappear, which is troubling. If you've ever been at a meeting with someone who just enjoys hanging out with everyone else and doesn't care about the subject of the meeting, you've witnessed the problem.

    On the other hand, it's at this point that truly selfless behavior is possible. "I care about the community" is often the same thing as "I care about somebody else's well-being as much as I do my own". That's powerful. It touches something far deeper than any of the individual topics represented on Stack Exchange. In some ways, an extrinsic motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation.

    Rather than wax philosophical, however, let me point to one definite area where interest in the community is unambiguously positive and altruistic: ♦ moderators. On a small-town site like Biblical Hermeneutics, being a moderator is mostly fun. We get to be a little bit like Andy Taylor: people mostly respect us and appreciate the work we do. But on Stack Overflow, ♦ moderators are more like parking enforcement. Nobody would take that job unless they were paid, but there are currently 15 volunteers15 volunteers doing just that. For the life of me, I don't know why except that they really care about the community.

  1. There's a good chance my thinking on this comes from The Four Loves.

  2. Or it needs more support on Area 51.

  3. MyMy particularparticular vicevice.

  1. Interest in the topic.

    This is where we all start. At this point, if Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic you are interested in, it probably doesn't exist.2 It's also the moment at which intrinsic motivation is at it's maximum. You don't come to a Q&A site because of its awesome community or a karma system or to get swag; you come to find the answer to your question.

    This is also where the vast majority of people end their involvement. Once you find out why your table insert is so slow, there's no particular reason to come back. In fact, many more people will read the answer to their question and never need to create an account. In general, that's just fine: the Internet has become marginally better.

    But some people cause problems even at this stage. The most obvious (to me at least) are students who ask homework questions, but have no real interest in learning the material. What you find is that they lack even the most basic intrinsic motivation that a Q&A site requires for operation. Individually, they aren't a big deal, but taken in aggregate these folks are a huge aggravation. For as long as I've been on the internet, people have been barging into existing communities without reading the FAQ, and I don't see why SE is any different.

  2. Interest in the site.

    It's probably obvious, but if a site is to become a locus for people to indulge in their interest in a topic, they are going to develop an interest in the site itself. Almost by definition, interest in the site is extrinsic motivation, since it's not the topic. At best, via a harmless indirection, the user focuses on the site as a means to the end of learning about the topic.

    Now there is nothing wrong with a little system to encourage users to continue interacting with the site. There's also nothing wrong with getting to know the other participants and even making friends. There's nothing wrong with thinking about rules of interaction. But there is a problem with losing your first love: the topic itself. That was the thesis of this question, so I won't rehash it here.

    But there are plenty of other bad behaviors that stem from decreasing intrinsic motivators. For instance, there are all sorts of tricks that one can use to obtain high reputation without adding value to the site. Trolls of various species thrive on the attention they can garnish from undermining the community. Ordinary folks tackle boredom by creating polls, shopping questions, puzzles3, joke posts, and so on. All of these are cancers, some malignant and others benign, that will kill a community if allowed to spread.

  3. Interest in the community.

    Every now and again, for certain people at certain times, something changes subtly. Instead of the site being the locus for learning about the topic, the community becomes a home base. At that point, it's entirely possible for intrinsic motivation to disappear, which is troubling. If you've ever been at a meeting with someone who just enjoys hanging out with everyone else and doesn't care about the subject of the meeting, you've witnessed the problem.

    On the other hand, it's at this point that truly selfless behavior is possible. "I care about the community" is often the same thing as "I care about somebody else's well-being as much as I do my own". That's powerful. It touches something far deeper than any of the individual topics represented on Stack Exchange. In some ways, an extrinsic motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation.

    Rather than wax philosophical, however, let me point to one definite area where interest in the community is unambiguously positive and altruistic: ♦ moderators. On a small-town site like Biblical Hermeneutics, being a moderator is mostly fun. We get to be a little bit like Andy Taylor: people mostly respect us and appreciate the work we do. But on Stack Overflow, ♦ moderators are more like parking enforcement. Nobody would take that job unless they were paid, but there are currently 15 volunteers doing just that. For the life of me, I don't know why except that they really care about the community.

  1. There's a good chance my thinking on this comes from The Four Loves.

  2. Or it needs more support on Area 51.

  3. My particular vice.

  1. Interest in the topic.

    This is where we all start. At this point, if Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic you are interested in, it probably doesn't exist.2 It's also the moment at which intrinsic motivation is at it's maximum. You don't come to a Q&A site because of its awesome community or a karma system or to get swag; you come to find the answer to your question.

    This is also where the vast majority of people end their involvement. Once you find out why your table insert is so slow, there's no particular reason to come back. In fact, many more people will read the answer to their question and never need to create an account. In general, that's just fine: the Internet has become marginally better.

    But some people cause problems even at this stage. The most obvious (to me at least) are students who ask homework questions, but have no real interest in learning the material. What you find is that they lack even the most basic intrinsic motivation that a Q&A site requires for operation. Individually, they aren't a big deal, but taken in aggregate these folks are a huge aggravation. For as long as I've been on the internet, people have been barging into existing communities without reading the FAQ, and I don't see why SE is any different.

  2. Interest in the site.

    It's probably obvious, but if a site is to become a locus for people to indulge in their interest in a topic, they are going to develop an interest in the site itself. Almost by definition, interest in the site is extrinsic motivation, since it's not the topic. At best, via a harmless indirection, the user focuses on the site as a means to the end of learning about the topic.

    Now there is nothing wrong with a little system to encourage users to continue interacting with the site. There's also nothing wrong with getting to know the other participants and even making friends. There's nothing wrong with thinking about rules of interaction. But there is a problem with losing your first love: the topic itself. That was the thesis of this question, so I won't rehash it here.

    But there are plenty of other bad behaviors that stem from decreasing intrinsic motivators. For instance, there are all sorts of tricks that one can use to obtain high reputation without adding value to the site. Trolls of various species thrive on the attention they can garnish from undermining the community. Ordinary folks tackle boredom by creating polls, shopping questions, puzzles3, joke posts, and so on. All of these are cancers, some malignant and others benign, that will kill a community if allowed to spread.

  3. Interest in the community.

    Every now and again, for certain people at certain times, something changes subtly. Instead of the site being the locus for learning about the topic, the community becomes a home base. At that point, it's entirely possible for intrinsic motivation to disappear, which is troubling. If you've ever been at a meeting with someone who just enjoys hanging out with everyone else and doesn't care about the subject of the meeting, you've witnessed the problem.

    On the other hand, it's at this point that truly selfless behavior is possible. "I care about the community" is often the same thing as "I care about somebody else's well-being as much as I do my own". That's powerful. It touches something far deeper than any of the individual topics represented on Stack Exchange. In some ways, an extrinsic motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation.

    Rather than wax philosophical, however, let me point to one definite area where interest in the community is unambiguously positive and altruistic: ♦ moderators. On a small-town site like Biblical Hermeneutics, being a moderator is mostly fun. We get to be a little bit like Andy Taylor: people mostly respect us and appreciate the work we do. But on Stack Overflow, ♦ moderators are more like parking enforcement. Nobody would take that job unless they were paid, but there are currently 15 volunteers doing just that. For the life of me, I don't know why except that they really care about the community.

  1. There's a good chance my thinking on this comes from The Four Loves.

  2. Or it needs more support on Area 51.

  3. My particular vice.

9 replaced http://christianity.stackexchange.com/ with https://christianity.stackexchange.com/
source | link
  1. Interest in the topic.

    This is where we all start. At this point, if Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic you are interested in, it probably doesn't exist.2 It's also the moment at which intrinsic motivation is at it's maximum. You don't come to a Q&A site because of its awesome community or a karma system or to get swag; you come to find the answer to your question.

    This is also where the vast majority of people end their involvement. Once you find out why your table insert is so slow, there's no particular reason to come back. In fact, many more people will read the answer to their question and never need to create an account. In general, that's just fine: the Internet has become marginally better.

    But some people cause problems even at this stage. The most obvious (to me at least) are students who ask homework questions, but have no real interest in learning the material. What you find is that they lack even the most basic intrinsic motivation that a Q&A site requires for operation. Individually, they aren't a big deal, but taken in aggregate these folks are a huge aggravation. For as long as I've been on the internet, people have been barging into existing communities without reading the FAQ, and I don't see why SE is any different.

  2. Interest in the site.

    It's probably obvious, but if a site is to become a locus for people to indulge in their interest in a topic, they are going to develop an interest in the site itself. Almost by definition, interest in the site is extrinsic motivation, since it's not the topic. At best, via a harmless indirectiona harmless indirection, the user focuses on the site as a means to the end of learning about the topic.

    Now there is nothing wrong with a little system to encourage users to continue interacting with the site. There's also nothing wrong with getting to know the other participants and even making friends. There's nothing wrong with thinking about rules of interaction. But there is a problem with losing your first love: the topic itself. That was the thesis of this question, so I won't rehash it here.

    But there are plenty of other bad behaviors that stem from decreasing intrinsic motivators. For instance, there are all sorts of tricks that one can use to obtain high reputation without adding value to the site. Trolls of various species thrive on the attention they can garnish from undermining the community. Ordinary folks tackle boredom by creating polls, shopping questions, puzzles3, joke posts, and so on. All of these are cancers, some malignant and others benign, that will kill a community if allowed to spread.

  3. Interest in the community.

    Every now and again, for certain people at certain times, something changes subtly. Instead of the site being the locus for learning about the topic, the community becomes a home base. At that point, it's entirely possible for intrinsic motivation to disappear, which is troubling. If you've ever been at a meeting with someone who just enjoys hanging out with everyone else and doesn't care about the subject of the meeting, you've witnessed the problem.

    On the other hand, it's at this point that truly selfless behavior is possible. "I care about the community" is often the same thing as "I care about somebody else's well-being as much as I do my own". That's powerful. It touches something far deeper than any of the individual topics represented on Stack Exchange. In some ways, an extrinsic motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation.

    Rather than wax philosophical, however, let me point to one definite area where interest in the community is unambiguously positive and altruistic: ♦ moderators. On a small-town site like Biblical Hermeneutics, being a moderator is mostly fun. We get to be a little bit like Andy Taylor: people mostly respect us and appreciate the work we do. But on Stack Overflow, ♦ moderators are more like parking enforcement. Nobody would take that job unless they were paid, but there are currently 15 volunteers doing just that. For the life of me, I don't know why except that they really care about the community.

  1. Interest in the topic.

    This is where we all start. At this point, if Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic you are interested in, it probably doesn't exist.2 It's also the moment at which intrinsic motivation is at it's maximum. You don't come to a Q&A site because of its awesome community or a karma system or to get swag; you come to find the answer to your question.

    This is also where the vast majority of people end their involvement. Once you find out why your table insert is so slow, there's no particular reason to come back. In fact, many more people will read the answer to their question and never need to create an account. In general, that's just fine: the Internet has become marginally better.

    But some people cause problems even at this stage. The most obvious (to me at least) are students who ask homework questions, but have no real interest in learning the material. What you find is that they lack even the most basic intrinsic motivation that a Q&A site requires for operation. Individually, they aren't a big deal, but taken in aggregate these folks are a huge aggravation. For as long as I've been on the internet, people have been barging into existing communities without reading the FAQ, and I don't see why SE is any different.

  2. Interest in the site.

    It's probably obvious, but if a site is to become a locus for people to indulge in their interest in a topic, they are going to develop an interest in the site itself. Almost by definition, interest in the site is extrinsic motivation, since it's not the topic. At best, via a harmless indirection, the user focuses on the site as a means to the end of learning about the topic.

    Now there is nothing wrong with a little system to encourage users to continue interacting with the site. There's also nothing wrong with getting to know the other participants and even making friends. There's nothing wrong with thinking about rules of interaction. But there is a problem with losing your first love: the topic itself. That was the thesis of this question, so I won't rehash it here.

    But there are plenty of other bad behaviors that stem from decreasing intrinsic motivators. For instance, there are all sorts of tricks that one can use to obtain high reputation without adding value to the site. Trolls of various species thrive on the attention they can garnish from undermining the community. Ordinary folks tackle boredom by creating polls, shopping questions, puzzles3, joke posts, and so on. All of these are cancers, some malignant and others benign, that will kill a community if allowed to spread.

  3. Interest in the community.

    Every now and again, for certain people at certain times, something changes subtly. Instead of the site being the locus for learning about the topic, the community becomes a home base. At that point, it's entirely possible for intrinsic motivation to disappear, which is troubling. If you've ever been at a meeting with someone who just enjoys hanging out with everyone else and doesn't care about the subject of the meeting, you've witnessed the problem.

    On the other hand, it's at this point that truly selfless behavior is possible. "I care about the community" is often the same thing as "I care about somebody else's well-being as much as I do my own". That's powerful. It touches something far deeper than any of the individual topics represented on Stack Exchange. In some ways, an extrinsic motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation.

    Rather than wax philosophical, however, let me point to one definite area where interest in the community is unambiguously positive and altruistic: ♦ moderators. On a small-town site like Biblical Hermeneutics, being a moderator is mostly fun. We get to be a little bit like Andy Taylor: people mostly respect us and appreciate the work we do. But on Stack Overflow, ♦ moderators are more like parking enforcement. Nobody would take that job unless they were paid, but there are currently 15 volunteers doing just that. For the life of me, I don't know why except that they really care about the community.

  1. Interest in the topic.

    This is where we all start. At this point, if Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic you are interested in, it probably doesn't exist.2 It's also the moment at which intrinsic motivation is at it's maximum. You don't come to a Q&A site because of its awesome community or a karma system or to get swag; you come to find the answer to your question.

    This is also where the vast majority of people end their involvement. Once you find out why your table insert is so slow, there's no particular reason to come back. In fact, many more people will read the answer to their question and never need to create an account. In general, that's just fine: the Internet has become marginally better.

    But some people cause problems even at this stage. The most obvious (to me at least) are students who ask homework questions, but have no real interest in learning the material. What you find is that they lack even the most basic intrinsic motivation that a Q&A site requires for operation. Individually, they aren't a big deal, but taken in aggregate these folks are a huge aggravation. For as long as I've been on the internet, people have been barging into existing communities without reading the FAQ, and I don't see why SE is any different.

  2. Interest in the site.

    It's probably obvious, but if a site is to become a locus for people to indulge in their interest in a topic, they are going to develop an interest in the site itself. Almost by definition, interest in the site is extrinsic motivation, since it's not the topic. At best, via a harmless indirection, the user focuses on the site as a means to the end of learning about the topic.

    Now there is nothing wrong with a little system to encourage users to continue interacting with the site. There's also nothing wrong with getting to know the other participants and even making friends. There's nothing wrong with thinking about rules of interaction. But there is a problem with losing your first love: the topic itself. That was the thesis of this question, so I won't rehash it here.

    But there are plenty of other bad behaviors that stem from decreasing intrinsic motivators. For instance, there are all sorts of tricks that one can use to obtain high reputation without adding value to the site. Trolls of various species thrive on the attention they can garnish from undermining the community. Ordinary folks tackle boredom by creating polls, shopping questions, puzzles3, joke posts, and so on. All of these are cancers, some malignant and others benign, that will kill a community if allowed to spread.

  3. Interest in the community.

    Every now and again, for certain people at certain times, something changes subtly. Instead of the site being the locus for learning about the topic, the community becomes a home base. At that point, it's entirely possible for intrinsic motivation to disappear, which is troubling. If you've ever been at a meeting with someone who just enjoys hanging out with everyone else and doesn't care about the subject of the meeting, you've witnessed the problem.

    On the other hand, it's at this point that truly selfless behavior is possible. "I care about the community" is often the same thing as "I care about somebody else's well-being as much as I do my own". That's powerful. It touches something far deeper than any of the individual topics represented on Stack Exchange. In some ways, an extrinsic motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation.

    Rather than wax philosophical, however, let me point to one definite area where interest in the community is unambiguously positive and altruistic: ♦ moderators. On a small-town site like Biblical Hermeneutics, being a moderator is mostly fun. We get to be a little bit like Andy Taylor: people mostly respect us and appreciate the work we do. But on Stack Overflow, ♦ moderators are more like parking enforcement. Nobody would take that job unless they were paid, but there are currently 15 volunteers doing just that. For the life of me, I don't know why except that they really care about the community.

8 replaced http://gardening.stackexchange.com/ with https://gardening.stackexchange.com/
source | link

You might remember that about a year ago I planned to participate on Philosophy and GardeningGardening. It turns out that I don't have many questions about gardening as I only have a couple of windowsills, a balcony and a deck to work with. G.SE is a good site, but not about a subject that tickles my interest very often. And it turns out that asking philosophy questions is extremely difficult. Rewarding, but hard to do well. I'm in the middle of reading Plato's Complete Works, and if I could find the time, I'd ask more questions there.

You might remember that about a year ago I planned to participate on Philosophy and Gardening. It turns out that I don't have many questions about gardening as I only have a couple of windowsills, a balcony and a deck to work with. G.SE is a good site, but not about a subject that tickles my interest very often. And it turns out that asking philosophy questions is extremely difficult. Rewarding, but hard to do well. I'm in the middle of reading Plato's Complete Works, and if I could find the time, I'd ask more questions there.

You might remember that about a year ago I planned to participate on Philosophy and Gardening. It turns out that I don't have many questions about gardening as I only have a couple of windowsills, a balcony and a deck to work with. G.SE is a good site, but not about a subject that tickles my interest very often. And it turns out that asking philosophy questions is extremely difficult. Rewarding, but hard to do well. I'm in the middle of reading Plato's Complete Works, and if I could find the time, I'd ask more questions there.

7 replaced http://philosophy.stackexchange.com/ with https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/
source | link
6 replaced http://meta.stackexchange.com/ with https://meta.stackexchange.com/
source | link
5 replaced http://meta.philosophy.stackexchange.com/ with https://philosophy.meta.stackexchange.com/
source | link
4 Copy edited. (its = possessive, it's = "it is" or "it has". See for example <http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Its-and-It%27s>.)
source | link
3 Migration of MSO links to MSE links
source | link
2 typos
source | link
1
source | link