I'm a half active user who has been mildly contributing to SO and SE, and I have watched the recent conflict arise over the last few weeks. Frankly, it disgusts me.

I'm not your top-of-the-bar high-rep user, I'm just an averagely contributing user, with a few answers here and there and some edits occasionally. I enjoy this casual participation and I have for the past year.

With the recent events I've started to lose faith in the platform. I positively contribute, like millions of others out there, and yet the company releases outlandish decisions and fails to listen/respond to the community. It's getting harder and harder for me to do my traditional contributions knowing there is a fire in the background that just keeps growing.

Here's my question that I'm asking as an average (not significant) contributor. What is my incentive to stay and continue to participate?

The reason I used to stay was because I liked the platform and I liked how democratic it was. But recently it seems like it's gone all down the drain. There's definitely better uses of my time and I can help others on other platforms more effectively.

This question really addresses the company as a whole: if you expect me to help others on your platform, then why won't you treat me (and the other users that do a whole lot more than I do) correctly?

Note: I'm not expecting a response from SE here. It would be great if they responded but that's probably not going to happen. So I'd also like to hear the community's thoughts.

  • 12
    "As a regular user, what is my incentive to continue to contribute?" - whatever you want it to be. If you like to continue, go for it. Otherwise, don't. If you get a lot out of the platform, that could be your incentive. Maybe work-related for that matter. Oct 28, 2019 at 20:25
  • 1
    Related on MSO, somewhat specific to contributing on MSO. Note that it predates the latest CoC change/sudden moderator firing, but the reasons stay: while SO/SE could do better, it's still the best by miles
    – Erik A
    Oct 28, 2019 at 20:26
  • 5
    I don't really see this as an appropriate question for MSE. If the question is asking about your personal reasons for participating, then we can't answer. Your reasons can only be determined by you. If it is polling all of us to ask what our reasons are for staying, this seems like a poll or POB. But if the latter you should make that clearer. Oct 28, 2019 at 20:27
  • 2
    "I'm asking why I should stay and what I should expect in return if I continue to contribute." well, you get virtual internet points what whatever value you assign that, along with helping people or finding help. So pretty much the same as always. Again, it's your time - if that's not "enough", you can always chose not to contribute. Oct 28, 2019 at 20:31
  • @connectyourcharger "and what I should expect in return if I continue to contribute" Virtual internet points and badges. What else would you expect? Oct 28, 2019 at 20:31
  • 3
    The answer to this question is highly personal to you. Anyone can make a wild guess as to what incentives you to continue to contribute. Without possessing the ability to read minds that's all any answer will be, a opinion based guess.
    – sphennings
    Oct 28, 2019 at 20:32
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    I think my question To stay or to quit: a conflicted user's guide is a better dupe target than "Why do you stay?" Oct 28, 2019 at 20:33
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    I continue to contribute to my site because I also take from it, I take some answers I need and I give some for others to use and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future. I know this whole CoC thing is a bit of a shitshow right now but most fringe sites are mostly unaffected by it and still have all they great content the had before.
    – Mark Kirby
    Oct 28, 2019 at 22:04
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    Reasons to stay are personal. For example, I participate on Code Review to get into the habit and sharpen myself, teaching myself how to explain things to people who know less, and a bit of satisfaction for the well-received answers. However, none of these need to apply to you. The reason is simply to personal, to unique. That's why I think this question should be closed. You gotta figure this one out yourself.
    – Gloweye
    Oct 29, 2019 at 8:12
  • Contribute if you want to contribute. If you don't, don't. Why should we have a say in whether you still want to contribute?
    – Mast
    Oct 30, 2019 at 13:26
  • 5
    Possible duplicate of Why do you stay?
    – dim
    Oct 30, 2019 at 14:00

9 Answers 9

  1. Procrastination. Relaxing and spending free time.
  2. Control freaking. Systematization and organization of knowledge.
  3. Gatekeeping. Demonstrating qualification and experience.
  4. Repwhoring. Sharing and gaining knowledge.
  5. Arguing. Communication with like-minded people.
  6. Power-tripping. Altruistic help to others.

Pinkie Pie Procrastination

  • 2
    What is that supposed to mean? The striken-out(?) items are the real reasons and the other are the socially acceptable reasons? Oct 30, 2019 at 12:37
  • 16
    @PeterMortensen It's open to reader's interpretation.
    – Athari
    Oct 30, 2019 at 12:51
  • Hi, there's an MSE post about the analogy to prostitution. I'm honestly still not sure exactly what its current status is supposed to be. But there's been a lot of learning going on recently. Perhaps we could take this as another opportunity to think about whether certain ways of talking could have an ill effect? Alternative possibilities here - "scoring points?" "internet points"? "cheevos"? "attention seeking"?
    – sourcejedi
    Oct 31, 2019 at 22:25
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    @sourcejedi Speaking of learning, let's learn how not to take offense.
    – user245382
    Oct 31, 2019 at 23:10
  • @House-'ReinstateMonica'-man I am struggling with communication, as might be clear from the second link. I don't want to be fighty, but am probably failing. Sorry. I asked for information about this apparent announcement, and was told to leave comments requesting edits. So that's what I've done here. I don't know how helpful "offensive" is, as a description of this term. Are people are trying to tell me the consensus ("I highly support banning this term") has changed since 2016? What's the process for clarifying that? Would a new Meta question be allowed to stand (not closed as a duplicate)?
    – sourcejedi
    Nov 1, 2019 at 10:09
  • 3
    @sourcejedi Look beyond words, see the true meaning — and you'll be enlightened.
    – Athari
    Nov 1, 2019 at 11:18

I don't know.

Each of us must do a cost/benefit analysis. The costs of staying have to do with how much aversion we feel towards supporting, however trivially, SE the company. The benefits of staying are how much we gain from our participation that cannot be gained in another way.

I too am a recreational user. I stumbled upon SE at a very bad time in my life, and it was better than tranquilizers in taking my mind off my problems. Then, like tranquilizers, it became a habit. I learned a great deal. For example, I came to terms with singular they nearly four years ago through an answer I saw on English Language and Usage, and that, coupled with what I learned about the changing nature of English made it easy for me to accept the more recent expanded meaning of singular they. Material I read on ELU also confirmed that one can be turned off by the neopronouns without in any way being turned off by their adherents.

The above was basically my answer to the earlier question Why do You Stay?

But that was then, which seems like a very long time ago. Much has happened, and I much of it has been disgusting. I am now repelled by the thought of continuing, but, (a) I have a habit to kick, and (b) I still have a kernel of hope that this mess can be resolved in a way that will wash much of the bad taste out of my mouth.

If not, will I be able to kick my habit? I don't know. There is one site that means more to me than any of the others (The Great Outdoors - TGO), because (a) through it I can to a small but perceptible extent relive my backpacking years, now inevitably coming to an end; and (b) because I feel more of an attachment to its users than to the users of the other sites; and (c) because long experience in The Great Outdoors means that I can make a non-trivial contribution to other users.

But I don't know.

  • 1
    This. I am not really staying and not really going. I have stopped clicking on the other sites and only check out meta now and again to see if things have been fixed yet. They haven't. I do miss my daily fix of SE but it's getting easier every day.
    – RedSonja
    Oct 30, 2019 at 11:49
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    And I must add, in the last few months the sites seem to be losing quality. Questions are not what they used to be. Answers are not what they used to be. So leaving is not as hard as it would have been.
    – RedSonja
    Oct 30, 2019 at 11:50

To improve the communities you're a part of.

The direct incentive is clear: to help others with their questions, and be helped with yours. It's pretty much the same incentive you have on any Q&A website. To the extent that the site continues to enable that, you can use it for that purpose. But your underlying question is more about why you should do that here instead of on another site.

Some sites might be more affected or less affected by the recent drama than others. Personally, as a mod of RPG.SE, I do what I do to make my part of the community a better place not out of some loyalty to Stack Exchange as a company or platform, but out of a desire to help the community I am a part of be a better place - both for asking and answering questions (on main site), and for making it a friendly and welcoming place for anyone who's part of the hobby (in chat).

That's not to say I don't have complaints about how things have played out. But one important reason I and other mods have stayed on - or come back after suspending our activity - is because we care about our communities, even if the platform they're hosted on acts in ways we strongly disagree with. I assume many longtime users have had the same considerations, though obviously there's less "tying you down" to Stack Exchange if you're not a diamond moderator.

Obviously, everyone's threshold for where they draw the line - and what is just a step too far for them to bear - is different. But I think this is fundamentally the main think you have to think about when you decide whether you want to continue contributing to sites on Stack Exchange.


You can still participate in the communities of interest to you, while at the same time show your support for transparency and kindness by changing your avatar, username and 'about me' text.


Improving the Community, despite SE, Inc.'s effort to destroy it

I'm mostly active on Information Security, and our current moderation team is down to two people. They're doing a fantastic job at keeping the site as organized as humanly possible, but their powers are limited (as far as I am aware).

As a result, I do my best to help the community. Do my best to be welcoming, to help new users get their questions into shape, to review bad questions and answers, etc.

I'm not doing this for internet points, because after you reach 10k rep there's not really and point to it anyways. I do it because Information Security is a topic dear to me. I want to get better at it and learn from people who know more than me, and I want to share the knowledge I acquired over the years.

I do this not because of Stack Exchange, Inc.'s "support", but despite their best efforts to make the site as hostile as possible for long-time users, by encouraging low-effort one-off posts and discouraging corrective behaviour, which aims to teach new users how the site works and what questions should look like.


Most likely, your goal was never to help Stack Overflow (the company) to begin with.

Simply put, regardless of my thoughts about the company, my incentives haven't changed: they have been, and continue to be, helping myself and other users.

Yours could be similar.


Gamification is still on.

You can still hunt upvotes and badges!

And make no mistake: especially those people, who know about the storm that is shaking the Stack Exchange network these days, understand what it means when a person has invested time and energy to gain reputation.

Meaning: the reputation earned by helping others will not lose value just because Stack Exchange Inc. does such a great job shredding its own reputation.


Is the content useful to you, or not?

There's your incentive. If what you find at SE sites, and the interactions with other users, fulfills your various needs then keep coming back. Do you like helping people with (some SO/SE topic-thing}? Does that make you feel better? Good, keep doing it.

If not, there's a whole 'nother world out there. To badly quote a movie from the 80's ...

The choice, Willow, is yours.

Context for this answer

There are a variety of internet sites (forums and such) that I invested a bit of time in over the years. But in some cases, I woke up one day and realized that they were behaving as time sinks and I was not accruing value. So I left them in my rear view mirror.

  • 2
    The only one I really need is Stack Overflow. So yes, the rest are just - hmm - time not spent coding.
    – RedSonja
    Oct 30, 2019 at 11:52

Only 1 reason I have now (apart from the general inability to stop coming back to look at the unfolding slow-mo car crash) and that's to have my rep and answers mentioned on my CV for the benefit of potential employers to look at and (hopefully) fawn over.

While SE continues to employ people who have shown such disdain for the users here, I have no other reason to help create the content they rely on.

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