Have you ever found yourself in a – not necessarily real life but non-SO – situation thinking “How many reputation points am I getting for this?” when being asked for help?

Help forums are built on altruism. They heavily depend on receiving help in exchange to giving help in another place.

Now when I spend time on software help forums apart from SO I noticed me wondering “Why can’t they ask that on SO? The answer is worth at least 50 rep.” I suspect me even taking less effort on answering questions on these forums.

I feel like my social behavior has been spoiled by SO. Call me Uncle Scrooge. Anyone else made similar experience? Perhaps we could set up a self help group…

  • You'll not get these red cents, commie! – random Oct 16 '09 at 8:18
  • Senator McCarthy around here? I... um... need to go – The Chairman Oct 16 '09 at 16:41

I answer better on other forums, since I started on SO. I treat my post like an answer on SO, which means make it concise and very helpful, rather than dragged out, and conversation-e.


What are these "software help forums apart from SO" of which you speak? There can be only one!!!

In all seriousness, I actually do wish that other help forums had SO-like mechanisms (voting, reputation, community moderation) to encourage more answers... it's frustrating that there are so few volunteers answering questions, and an SO-type approach would almost certaintly encourage broader participation.

When I'm on other forums, I wish I could downvote people who say something that's wrong or not useful. Better yet, it'd be nice if at the dinner table I could close out topics of discussion with a "Closed as subjective and argumentative."

  • 3
    Living with friends of the opposite political party really makes you wish for a "closed as subjective and argumentative" button. Sometimes I just don't want to argue about the morality of dropping the atomic bomb. – Super Long Names are Hilarious Oct 16 '09 at 8:45

Previously I'd have thrown in a piece and see if the other understood it. Then I'd try a larger piece. Until at the end (where I almost every time ended) I explained it in detail.

I think SO and it's siblings made me understand, that it is more helpful to provide a full answer from the beginning, even if it takes more time in some (rare) cases.

So no, I don't think it spilled my willingness to help. Au contraire. It helped me get better with my answers - or at least without confusing the questioner first :).

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