[Okta Webinar] Learn how to a build a cloud-first strategyRegister Now

x
  • Status: Solved
  • Priority: Medium
  • Security: Public
  • Views: 97
  • Last Modified:

Why do people answer questions at EE?

I am refering to the Technical Topic Areas rather than P&R.

I'm sure some people here enjoy helping others, but I'd find it hard to believe that's the main reason. Contributors here are referred to by EE staff and regulars as "volunteers", a term which suggests some degree of self-sacrifice in favour of helping others, and implies a belief in doing some kind of greater good. There must be more self-orientated reasons why contributors (I prefer the word contributors to volunteers) contribute. "What's in it for me?" is the question that springs to mind. I can't believe that the business idea is based on purely on the desire to help others, cynical as that may sound.

I'm myself am here to ask technical questions rather than answer them, and my company pays a subscription for that. Occasionally I answer questions in Photoshop and do so partly because I enjoy the challenge and because it keeps me up to date. I am not really interested in getting points, except perhaps to show off by appearing in the league of top answers, but I don't really have time for that these days. Only very occasionally do I find myself answering technical questions at EE out of a genuine desire to help. That's probably because I work as a teacher as an IT-administrator where much of my time is spent on site helping students with questions about software, and files and other IT aspects, and in that sense I am helping others constantly. Perhaps this I why I don't do it so much at EE.

Anyway, would appreciate your thoughts.


0
Jason210
Asked:
Jason210
12 Solutions
 
Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Quite often in answering a question you learn. Nobody can know the answer to every technical question asked but often with a few minutes quick research you can gain the answer and pass it on to others. This is a great learning tool for everyone, experts and others alike.
In my 2 and a half years on EE I have answered many questions but also learnt much too. Thats my satisfaction from EE.
0
 
CluskittCommented:
I have many reasons for answering questions. In no particular order:
- Getting enough points each month to get a premium subscription
- Learning from other answers and even my own mistakes
- The challenge of harder things to achieve
- Some actual goodwill and desire to help others as I've been helped
- Some sense of "honour" of sorts, in which I try to keep the most "positive" ratio of answers/questions possible
- Sometimes even simple boredom can lead me to delve into unknown territories to answer different questions
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Cluskit
Some sense of "honour" of sorts, in which I try to keep the most "positive" ratio of answers/questions possible

Good point, I think that prompts me occasionally to help out.
0
Free Tool: Port Scanner

Check which ports are open to the outside world. Helps make sure that your firewall rules are working as intended.

One of a set of tools we are providing to everyone as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

 
mnrzCommented:
I used to answer ages ago but recently I dont and this is because I don't have time and no other reason.

My main reason is that, I had many problems in my tasks I was responsible to do them in the past and now and of course in the future and I was stuck and people helped me to solve them, then I said if  I can help someone who is stuck like me why not help??

Then after this, my mind said to me that, if people help each other, our progress will be expedite!... now I have a quote from myself: Help each other to reach the future faster!

Anyway, I think helping is not only self satisfaction, it can be from our humanity and the morality that we should help other if we can.

0
 
CallandorCommented:
Some people are naturally competitive, and EE's system caters to that.  It also gives bragging rights, and including standings on your resume can't hurt (but you do have to be in the top rankings).  If you benefit from getting answers on this site, it is an act of gratefulness to give back to the community.  And yes, some people do enjoy helping others out and getting the comments that someone has really appreciated their assistance.
0
 
Anthony RussoCommented:
All of the above.
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
When I look at some of the larger contributors here, I don't know how they find time to come up with all the answers they do. In these cases, do you think or do you know if there are any commercial / marketing motivations behind these accounts?
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
To repeat on others:  I tend to learn more from answering than I ever teach.  I've added SO many snippets to my little bag-o-tricks from the site.

Some I've figured out on my own, others I have taken from other Experts.

I also like the challenge of a really good question that I've never seen before.

I would also really like the T-Shirts if they weren't black!!!

I've not seen to many commercial motivations from answering but many Experts do have their 'Hire Me' buttons active and I know a few that have gotten some small jobs because of it.

For me, another reason is my EE profile link is on my resume.  What better way to 'prove' I know what I'm talking about?  People can go out and look at the quality of my answers and the breadth of skills.
0
 
leonstrykerCommented:
I do it for T-Shirts, because they are black.
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Some informative answers here, thanks!

The T-shirts are fun, but black? You can only wash black two or three times before it looks faded. White would have been better.
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
White is too plain.  With two 'yellow' dogs, black is a BAD color for a shirt!!!

Given the options (I've spoken to EE corporate about this), the shirt has to match the site brand/color scheme.  I don't think I would wear a bright orange shirt either.

>>You can only wash black two or three times before it looks faded

You might be onto something here:  That might be part of the master plan:  If you want non-faded, answer more questions to keep them fresh!!!
0
 
CallandorCommented:
>When I look at some of the larger contributors here, I don't know how they find time to come up with all the answers they do.

It's called addiction - a million points in one month, for example, by one of the savants.
0
 
leonstrykerCommented:
>>You can only wash black two or three times before it looks faded

WASH THEM????!!!! That’s sacrilege. They were earned by the sweat of my brow, and they shall be stained by the sweat of my back.
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
>>It's called addiction - a million points in one month

I'm addicted and can only manage 100 to 200K on a good month.

One mil is a shut-in, not an addict!
0
 
Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
I actually came to EE to ask some programmitic questions.
Later I moved to answering questions to help others.
For me it has never been about the points.
Than I found P&R, also the Lounge. After that I only use EE for fun or in my spare time.
I have forgotten about the IT sections, ever since.

-Muj ;-)
0
 
leonstrykerCommented:
I actually came to EE to ask some programmitic questions.
Later I moved to answering questions to help others.
For me it has never been about the points.
Than I found P&R, also the Lounge. After that I only use EE for fun or in my spare time.
I have forgotten about the IT sections, ever since.


Too true!
0
 
CallandorCommented:
>One mil is a shut-in, not an addict!

I don't think he's a shut-in, though it may seem that way to some: http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_302115.html
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
OH...   A3?  You cannot count him.  He's not human.

We share zones in common...
0
 
CallandorCommented:
>He's not human.

I've always suspected that, but now it's confirmed...
0
 
shahzoorCommented:
I learn a lot from this website
It really helps in teaching you new stuff and the experts dont abuse each other
Everyone is very friendly and guide each other towards the right solution
I am a new expert here and gaining day by day and i must say its an addiction

Further there is a huge knowledge-base to search in if you are having similar problems
I just love it
0
 
leonstrykerCommented:
Everyone is very friendly and guide each other towards the right solution
I am a new expert here and gaining day by day and i must say its an addiction


Hmm, I guess the second statement expalins the first :)

Overall, I agree.
0
 
Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
> Too true <

I am here for your entertainment ;-)

-Muj ;-)
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Good to see you again Muj!
0
 
Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
Thanks Jason210.

-Muj ;-)
0
 
PaulHewsCommented:
I think you are right.   While it may be in part altruism, in part self interest, in part love of puzzles, those don't entirely explain the addictive nature of EE.

I would liken it to "grinding" in World of Warcraft and other such pass times.  In WoW, people do ridiculously repetitive actions for small rewards that add up over a long time, and they pay 20 bucks a month for the privilege!  The reward is small, but, unlike in real life, it's immediate.  You push the lever and get an immediate little jolt to the pleasure center.  EE can be a lot like that.

0
 
leonstrykerCommented:
>You push the lever and get an immediate little jolt to the pleasure center.  EE can be a lot like that.

Now you see what you made me do!! I had to go and answer some real question to "get my fix"!
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
I would liken it to "grinding" in World of Warcraft and other such pass times.  In WoW, people do ridiculously repetitive actions for small rewards that add up over a long time, and they pay 20 bucks a month for the privilege!
Now that is interesting...
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Instant gratification. It seems to be a trend in the world today. A technological trend as well as a cultural one.

40 or 50 years ago, kids used to play with Meccano and crystal radio sets where every component was simple and fully understood. Look at the toys kids play with today - things with buttons that they press. You press a button and something lights up; or makes a sound. Instant gratification. The only learning value is you press this button and this happens; you press that button and that happens. It's fun for about a week, then the child is bored with it. T

hat's what we are doing now, as IT technicians, pressing buttons and hoping things will light up and feeling good about it when it does, and sad when it doesn't.
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
Also:  "Why do it myself when someone else will do it for me".

>>Instant gratification. It seems to be a trend in the world today.

Could not agree more and it SOOOO annoys me.

The EE upside:  I cannot tell you how many points I have received as the result of a 30 second Google.

It took the asker longer to type in the question than it took me to find the answer and get the points.
0
 
Anthony RussoCommented:
>>It took the asker longer to type in the question than it took me to find the answer and get the points.

Same.
0
 
tliottaCommented:
I'm pretty sure "instant gratification" has little impact on my participation. My zones often provide little response (except P&R and M&S, though I'm hardly a 'Master' of either). It can be weeks before any response appears. Often it's just a notice of abandonment.

I started here by clicking on some google link and noticed a large number of unanswered questions here. I had no real clue what typing answers would do, but I put a bunch in and started checking back to see if follow-ups were needed. I had no conscious thought other than that it looked like there were people having difficulty with things that I knew about. I felt that trying to add some illumination could only help the market niche I work most often. As a staff employee (technically nearing retirement), it wasn't going to do much for me.

It was quite a while later that I found that P&R existed. And here I don't do much but type opinions from time to time, usually just to keep some alternative concept from getting ignored or to add a voice to an opinion from someone else in order to show that it's not an isolated opinion.

At my age, the 'instant gratification' bug isn't particularly important. And I'm not at all clear on what is important about EE. Best I can say is "I like it." Not much different from what I can say about ice cream.

Why? I guess because that's how I'm put together.

Tom
0
 
CallandorCommented:
>as IT technicians, pressing buttons and hoping things will light up and feeling good about it when it does, and sad when it doesn't

Actually, I feel good when something doesn't work and I fix it ...
0
 
leonstrykerCommented:
>Actually, I feel good when something doesn't work and I fix it ...

Yeap, every morning as I wake up as say a prayer of thanks to Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Cisco, etc for building and designing crappy software and hardware, so I can go out and make a decent living by trying to make things work.

Thank you everyone who makes my life possible, and helps me put bread on the table. Thank you for all the untested software you released. Thank you for all the undocumented changes you made. Thank you for cutting corners to meet those artificial ‘to market’ deadlines. Thank you for the un-needed upgrades and vapourware features.

And a special thanks to all of you users, who give none existent, unrealistic requirements; as well as micro managing IT managers with yesterday skills, and HR personnel who hire unqualified staff

Thank you.
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
>>Yeap, every morning as I wake up as say a prayer of thanks ...

lol...

It's called job security!!!
0
 
ropennerCommented:
Mental stimulation.  A challenge of a problem unsolved.

One of the greatest challenges is often figuring out what is 'really' being asked in a question, since what they really want is often not what they think they are asking for.  That is fun, to read a question over again and then realize what the person is 'most likely' trying to do and has gone about it in an unexpected way.  Setting them on the path again is easy and gratifying if they are open to take it.

I like the feeling of standing along side someone who is moving under their own power and giving them a hand up ever so often on their/our journey.

I look for questions to solve that are interesting to me ... not necessarily ones I know how to solve already, but ones I want to spend the time looking at and implementing.  Might as well help someone else (who will test my solution for me) while learning how to do something I'm interested in learning about.  

This is why P&R is interesting to me as well because even if this response isn't of interest to anyone else... it is interesting to me to take the time to examine why I choose to participate here and write down those thoughts.... and revise them and reflect.

If there was no feedback (positive or negative) at anytime I think it would be hard to continue answering questions.

Reasons I don't answer some questions.... might be a good topic for another P&R.. like
questions that are too easy (googleable),
the lazy asker isn't even willing to put the effort to test answers,
non-concise questions,
'do my whole project for me' questions.
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Thanks for that, ropenner and everyone. Some very good responses here and I'm sure many people have found it interesting to learn what motivates them to respond.

I'll leave it open for a couple more days then if anyone wants to add anything.
0
 
Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]Billing EngineerCommented:
I see my profile is already linked, so my answer is already given :)
listening ...
0
 
ReneGeCommented:
@Jason210:

Thats a nice one!!!

For me, in a kind of borderline perspective, it's like helping others feels good. When we see someone crying. How do we react? F..k em! or we feel the pain in ourselves...? Would it be ok to make him/her feel better?

Immagine. You see a blind person walking and he/she is about to fall in a deep hole, or being hit by a car. How do you feel when we prevent it?

It's like an empathic mirroring response on how we feel when we are actually being helped. It's like when we help others, we'r feeling helped ourselves. For me, it kind of make sense because I am more prone in helping others when I'm in need and where I am emmotionnaly challanged.

This makes me wonder. How could Superman feel good about helping others, when he never experienced the pain of needing? Hmmmm...

But, when someone is helping someone that bytes in return, it's like feeding a pig and then, it poos on your balcony, this may be a very good opportuniry to make bacon ;)

MMmmmm bacon!!!

It was fun sharing my thoughts!!

Cheers,
Rene
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Some good points, there, Renee. In your case you seem to be motivated by a desire to help others, but somewhat too eager to eat bacon :-)

However, I do expect people, if they are engaged at all, to put a bit of effort into their responses, as I do when I respond to questions. I'm not too impressed by those who just post a link to a Microsoft ariticle some other web page they Googled up as that kind of thing is usually done just for points. I can do those kind of searches myself. When I ask for help I have already done all that searching and not got anwhere, and time is ticking. So I press my EE button. I do it I need an expert opinion or perspective. Links are ok if they are framed in an explanatory narrative. If the EE repsonse fails I have to get in an IT consultant.
 
Also not appreciated are sarcastic repsonses, or responses where people ignore my question and ask "Why are you doing that anyway, when you should be doing this? Most of the time such responses are asked because the respondee wants to get more information but it takes time to do that and sometimes it does seem like the respondee is assuming that I am an idiot and has no clue about anything, when he is in fact wrong. If I'm stressed or in a bad mood and someone does that I might respond with unpleasentness. Unfortunately it's weakness I have.



0
 
ReneGeCommented:
@Jason210:
Mmmmm bacon ;

Thanks for your post. I like discussions about the psychology of motivation and behavoir.

Quote:"..by those who just post a link to a Microsoft ariticle...google..."
Response: Me neither. However, Often people do not search well, or let's say at all. I find that a commented link is indeed nice. But sometimes, the link tells it all.

Q:...When I ask for help I have already done all that searching and not got anwhere...
R:Not a lot of posters do that. It is impossible to know that research someone did before asking a question. And then, what would be a balanced approach between just asking the question with some details, background, examples and hoping for the best, or writing all the research that was done before, including a posters I.Q. test results, resume and credentials before asking the question? I sometimes, could make some easy research to find my answers but prefer asking them at E.E. because I could feel like interacting with my peers.

Q: Time is ticking
R: Yeaaa, it's not an easy task to quantify the value of time. Which one is the most valuable. The one of a poster that is on a terrible dead line and need a good answer from an expert asap, or the one of the expert that has a full time job and still, finds some time to offer it freely? I think at the end, it's all about the humain experiance. The poster asking a question, hoping that an expert will feely give his/her time to help with a good will. And the expert that freely gives his/her time and abilities to help those in need, in a non selfish way.

Q:Also not appreciated are sarcastic repsonses
R:That is a tough one for me too. I usually say things on my mind.  Sometimes, it ends up sounding like either sarcastic or mean. It also happens when I give compliments. So, I learned the hard way. Text communications needs to be properly padded with all sorts of words so the receiver gets our intensions and emmotional state. And yep, sometime I overdue it and it makes me look like a fool. But I profer looking like a fool then sorry!!

Q:"...responses where people ignore my question and ask "Why are you doing that anyway..."
R:"It happens that a poster, without realising it, asks a missleading question, thingink that it's answer will lead to resolving his/her issue. For example, If the question is: "I need a batch file that will provide IP address to PCs on my network". I may ask: "why do you need a batch file? Have you considered DHCP?" I know my example is exagerated but makes the point. I sometimes see experts responding to questions litteraly. After passing through it, I find that the question was missleading and I make a batch file that seems "out of topic" and finally, the poster is happy.

Q:assuming that I am an idiot
R:(Humour) More I know, more I know that I no nothing. If I'd be as idiot as Forrest Gu-ump, I'd be rich today ;)

Q:If I'm stressed or in a bad mood
R:We'r all in I.T. We are all stressed, on multiple "end of the world" deadlines and mood challanged. When someone is helping me, I must always remember to humble myself and be kind.  Byting a helping hand is not cool nor healthy.

It was fun sharing my thoughts.

Cheers
0
 
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
>>I can do those kind of searches myself

You would be surprised how many do not.  This is the 'instant gratification' generation.  They choose to not do anything for themselves when someone else will do it for them

I cannot tell you how many points I've received from a 10 second Google.

For the questions that 'I think I can answer but do not have a working test case', many times I do not know all the answers myself and must go looking only to find an EXACT example of what I was going to create/post.

I post the link instead.

Trust me, there is a lot of talk at EE HQ and the Badgers (People with site privs) about Google Monkeys and how to deal with them.

To date there hasn't been any silver bullet.


>>Also not appreciated

You have to balance that with some of the other Askers/Users of the site.  Some should not even own a computer let alone be in the position they have based on the questions they asked.

The Experts here really have no way to gauge each askers background or abilities.  We ALL have a few that we know based on quantity of questions (good and bad).

I personally know a few that I know are in way over their head but truly want to learn and have shown a willingness.  I will go the extra mile for them.

There are those that have the attitude "I pay for this site NOW ANSWER MY QUESTION"!  Those get links and a little sarcasm.

If you get sarcasm that is unwarranted, a quick 'Request Attention' will bring in a Moderator to deal with it.

>>Unfortunately it's weakness I have.

We ALL do.  Another Senior Expert on the site openly states he was born without a "Brain Mouth Filter".

Just expect attitude back it you give it.  Experts volunteer and do not respond well to attitude when they aren't being paid to do it.

Just apologize and tell us you are under stress/etc...   Normally the Experts will understand and work with you.
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Interestingly, I got an email from EE saying that this is an abandoned question. I didn't know it was possible to abandon questions in the P&R section...
0
 
ReneGeCommented:
It's just that there were no activities. If you feel that the discussion is at a satisfactory level, feel free to accept multiple answers and split points.

Cheers,
Rene
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
Ok closing now - thanks for the input.
0
 
ReneGeCommented:
You'r welcome Jason!
0
 
Jason210Author Commented:
One thing is for certain, no-one answered this one for the points. 4 points to each of you!!
0
 
ReneGeCommented:
;)
0

Featured Post

Free Tool: Subnet Calculator

The subnet calculator helps you design networks by taking an IP address and network mask and returning information such as network, broadcast address, and host range.

One of a set of tools we're offering as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

Tackle projects and never again get stuck behind a technical roadblock.
Join Now