Everyone has their own stories, no? The time that Wikipedia made you understand something a textbook couldn’t,
Stack Overflow is a programming help site. The site is heavily controlled by its community; as users gain points and achievements for contributing to the site, they gain more administrative power.
I’ll admit, I went through a period where I watched the questions page daily, looking for something I could answer. However, I found that every single time, somebody gave a better answer much quicker. I’m sure it is eventually discouraging, but in my experience it made me competitive. If you don’t get the first answer, at least get a higher rated response. Programming is an endless process of puzzles and problem-solving, so it’s good to know that there’s a place where one in need can get help within minutes. As Jeff Atwood notes in the tweet above, it’s quality help too.
Clay Shirky has a wonderful talk about this phenomenon, wherein he argues that passion (or ‘love’) is a resource that is unfairly underestimated. He uses the example of support for the open-source programming language perl: in an absence of commercial support, there are more than enough passionate perl users online to fill the need. Watch it below.