Sitting in the train I was reading through some tweets when one really grabbed my attention. Basically denigrating someone for putting a “thanks” after a post which has helped them, demanding they do something more meaningful. Take a step back for a moment and lets look at why someone posts. You certainly aren’t likely to get rich by blogging or answering forum questions, so why do it? My favourite website has incorporated game play and achievements into their system to encourage and years those who contribute. So do people play to win? Of course they do!
This drives many people and one may even argue that this is key to what drives our inner most desires, to get the food, the prettiest girl, the biggest house and car. Playing to win is the very definition of capitalism which we’ve all been assured is the best system available.
I subscribe to a different theory about why one might participate in these forums, a desire to leave the internet a better place than you found it. Knowing the frustration and time spent to track down a heisenbug. Trying to find the documentation on that obscure setting or cryptic description of it’s functionality. If you work as an engineer you know that little feeling that knaws inside of you if you can’t find a solution to a problem you have been assigned, or worse are responsible for. I hate that feeling and hope that I don’t experience it any time soon so naturally I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience it either. So if I can solve a tough problem or I’ve got that solution to that infuriating problem with the xml configuration file then I want to share it. I want people to know the solution so they won’t be stuck on it again. Then those people have more time to work on problems people haven’t solved yet. They might even feel compelled to do their part to give back to the community what they’ve found.
Hell, they might even say thanks!