Over this past Christmas break I spent some more time on Stack Overflow, answering some questions in a few areas I felt I could contribute. As I answered and contributed more, I saw how the reputation and badges system can really draw you in. Not as a motivator per se, but it’s fun to get “kudos” when someone finds your answers or edits helpful.
Some conclusions so far:
- Some questions get answered very quickly – if you watch the most recent questions you’ll see a small number of page views, but a bunch of answers already. Must be a lot of people watching the newest questions and trying to contribute.
- Answering older questions is worthwhile if the originator has a decent accept rate. Corollary: it’s not worth bothering with really old questions asked by User1234 with only 1 reputation point.
- Editing tag (wiki) descriptions is a good way to contribute for lesser-known tags.
- Upvoting good quality questions and answers is a good way to keep up the overall quality level of the site