I've been finding answers on SO for some years now.

However, I always found answers to my questions, so a quick look at SO was always enough. I never felt the need to create an account. Now after these years I thought "give something back", let's upvote good stuff and downvote bad stuff and comment maybe.

However, I can't write comments, I can't upvote, I can't downvote. I can ask questions, but they would be duplicates and give downvotes, bringing me even further from being able to do something. I could try to answer a question, but most of the questions I wouldn't know and the ones I can answer are answered so fast - I would seriously have to sit in front of the screen for hours and hunt for this stuff.

And I am NOT gonna do that. For me SO is a tool to get some work done, not some game to use up some hours of my life.

So, am I missing something or is this account thing really more for a game-like experience? I mean, can't you even answer or ask questions without such an account? I wouldn't need it at all then. Am I actually in the target group for accounts, the way I am using it, or should I just forget about it and go on?

PS Sorry if I may seem upset, but it felt like this to me:
SO: Hey I can help you! Do this and then that.
Me: Ok kewl, thx.
SO: You can also help me, by doing very small things.
Me: Nice, maybe later.
Me: Ok now, let's do it. I thought I owe you a little.
SO: Well I hope you brought lunch, we'll be out there all day.

  • You can answer questions unregistered, but it's cookie-based AFAIK. And really, the heart of Stack Overflow lies in Q&A - it's only natural that your primary, or at the very least initial, means of participation is through asking and answering questions. And it's honestly not as difficult as you've put it. Sep 16 '13 at 10:52
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    Related (dup?): meta.stackexchange.com/questions/164035/… ; Edits are a fine way to get enough reputation to at least vote up. Voting down & commenting will need quite a few edits if that's all you want to do, but it's certainly doable.
    – Mat
    Sep 16 '13 at 10:56
  • Doesn't that come down to your know-how? I mean yeah, I exaggerated, it's not impossible - but it would take A LOT more time than I'm used to spending here. Sep 16 '13 at 10:57
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    @Mat Yeah it's a total duplicate. Not on purpose though, I just didn't know the ingame-vocabulary like "lurker". Sorry for that. Sep 16 '13 at 11:00
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    @Raphus: Meta is notoriously hard to search sometimes because of that, and "lurker" isn't that common either (and rather negative I fear) - you don't usually hear about people that don't participate :-) In any case, it's fine to continue using SO (and the other sites) in "read-only" mode, there's nothing wrong with that and you certainly shouldn't feel "obligated" to participate if that's not your thing. Check out the other sites on the network though if you have a bit of time, maybe there's one or two you'd feel more comfortable with (different sorts of topics, and less "big city" issues.)
    – Mat
    Sep 16 '13 at 11:13
  • @Mat Well, I Google my problem and then find the answer in one of the hits from SO most of the time - I'm feeling pretty comfortable with that! :D So, yeah, Kudos to the page and all you people working on it, because it's awesome. So awesome that I thought a quick, anonymous help here and there, I could do THAT. But I'm having difficulties with commitment. ;) Sep 16 '13 at 11:28

Sure it does :) You might want to:

  • Keep track of favorite or ignored tags
  • Subscribe to certain tags, we have very polite newsletters
  • Suggest edits to fix things as you find things that need fixing (you can do this anonymously, but it's great to get rep and credit for it!)
  • Build up just enough rep doing janitorial stuff to vote on content that helps you
  • Have favorite questions

You can quickly unlock other privileges, like commenting anywhere - which is very handy if you stumble across something that almost works for you and you'd like to ask the author of an answer why they did something a certain way.

If you find stuff on Stack Overflow valuable, it's probably because you value your time and we saved a bunch of it for you :) If you're so inclined, give a little back by helping to keep the place clean, as you see convenient opportunities to do so.

Having an account means having an easier time using the site as a whole, so we do recommend it even if you don't intend to ask or answer anything. You can use our OpenID service, which you can also use to sign into any other OpenID enabled site.

  • Yeah ok. I now see how difficult it is to ask a good question. Now what you are suggesting is more a community thing, hanging around in your living room and spending some of your facebook-time on SO. Sorry for my A***ole attitude here, but I only wanted to help if it's quick'n'easy.The way I am using it is working on something, running into problems, then I need to solve it quickly so I can go on. Sep 16 '13 at 11:21
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    @RaphusSchmitz Not really, just use the time you normally use the site to fix a few things as you find them. Great answer with some grammar issues? Takes just a few moments to suggest an edit to fix that, and leave it even better for the next person. Doesn't take any living room / Facebook time, just a few seconds more while you're using the site.
    – Tim Post
    Sep 16 '13 at 11:23
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    Hrrrrggggmmmpff I'm kinda perfectionist when it comes to writing stuff, I rewrite mails 12 times and even watch for grammar and upper/lowercase in chats. I guess it would take me 15min at least. But OK, I'm gonna try. Sep 16 '13 at 11:33

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