Interesting perspective. When I ask a question on stackoverflow, I, personally spend a lot of time making the question generic. Basically I want to write the long question that gets lots of views and years later still gets upvotes. Same with answers. That’s honestly not the most efficient way to get a high score on stackoverflow. I’m ok with that. I guess people that take the gamification very seriously will be more “efficient” about how they get points.
I recently quote tweeted Jeff Atwood adding my two cents to something he said because it spoke very deeply to what I valued most about stackexchange:
I wish more people understood that the goal of Stack Overflow is not “answer my question” but “let’s collaboratively build an artifact that will benefit future coders”. Perhaps SO could be doing more to educate people about this.
You made me realize that while some people see what Jeff said in that instance as a guiding principle, most go for easy points.
It is mentally exhausting to write a “great” stackoverflow question even for a white male developer like myself who considers himself an expert and like the sound of his own voice and keystrokes. It causes high cognitive load, expenditure of emotional labor, and is tiring. However, I’ve read so many great stackoverflow answers on great stackoverflow questions so its my way of paying it forward. I feel like its more efficient than blogging. Its also not the best method in all cases.
I spend a year or so writing PHP on the IBM i which used to be called the AS/400. The best smartest people to ask questions there are on the midrange.com mailing list. Its a community. People are generally nice. We learn from each other. However, I’ve rarely found an answer to a question I had in the archives via google. I asked a lot of questions there because of time constraints and “unknown unknowns.” Sometimes I took the time to update their wiki or self answer on stack exchange. I definitely got to “know” people on the mailing list better, and actual reputation enforced civility. So did the average age of the membership (probably 50+).
I learned a lot from my year or so on the midrange.com mailing list. I definitely helped others a little. I grew professionally. I just don’t think it had the “scale” or “reach” of my stackexchange questions and answers.