Possible Duplicates:
Why do you help in stackoverflow?
Why do you post to stack overflow?

Is answering questions on SO good for you? Why do people do it?

  • to feel smart?
  • to build up karma, so that when they ask questions, they feel like they have earned it?
  • to pass the time during make or sudo make install?
  • to learn new things?

6 Answers 6


Having to explain something to someone makes you put your own knowledge "in order". In fact, to be a good teacher, you have not only to explain the solution of the problem, but also know why the problem existed in the first place.

Hence, giving explanations to people on SO makes my knowledge stronger. For instance, I try to follow all questions on SharePoint and have been doing this here for half a month - and I already feel I understand many things in SharePoint deeper than I did before.

  • +1 to reading about other ppl's problems - they can jolly well become your problem one day.
    – icelava
    Jan 14, 2010 at 2:02

Maybe a bit of all that, but also, amongst other things :

  • To help people
  • As a way to "give back" to a community (thinking about PHP, for instance : I don't contribute code to the PHP codebase, but helping people here on SO and in other places is a way to help spread PHP)
  • As a way to increase my chances of working with tools / languages I like : if there's more help available, companies will most likely see PHP as a great tool, which means more chances of working with it
  • Because solving problems is fun

It's good for you alright - it puts hair on your chest.

Honestly, tell the kids today - they don't believe you.


To get more reputation.

  • 2
    if only we could exchange reputation points for money or discounts at the local grocery...
    – icelava
    Jan 14, 2010 at 2:00

Trying to bang out the best answer in a short time is a great way to stimulate your creative juices.


Supposedly, according to "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", we men like to solve problems. (In the book they tell you to try commiserating instead of attempting to solve.)

It's enough of an explanation for me. I've asked several questions and any time I can help someone out, I try to.

Since Meta won't let me add a comment in reply to the commnents, I'll update here:

No, I don't think only men answer questions. Nor do I think that the book I reference above is necessarily a good or bad book - it's just something I heard about.

  • 3
    Men? You don't think some of the people answering questions on SO and related are women? Jan 13, 2010 at 23:40
  • @Tom: of course it does, with advice like that! Women should be accepting our answers, not starting discussion questions... @thursdaysgeek: there are no women on The Internet. A woman told me that, said she learned it on The Internet - so it must be true!
    – Shog9
    Jan 14, 2010 at 0:39
  • Oh sure, NOW it lets me comment here. Of course I realize that both men and women answer questions here. I was attempting to fathom why I, being the only person I can really speak for, answer questions here. Also, me referencing a book on a topic doesn't mean I endorse the book, I couldn't care less about it one way or the other.
    – Mark Allen
    Jan 30, 2010 at 0:41