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Part of a Community

January 5, 2009

I never really considered myself part of any software community or even worthy of contributing to one. Sometimes I did not even feel like a programmer. I would look for a solution to my problem then leave. Then I thought I have to start contributing because it will only help me grow as a programmer, so I joined SitePoint.

I used and tried to contribute to the site for about two weeks then I lost interest. Some months later I started really getting into reading software blogs like Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. That is when I was introduced to Stackoverflow and everything changed.

Stackoverflow is a programmers forum for programmers. This is not your standard forum, however, Jeff Atwood explains as

Stackoverflow is sort of like the anti-experts-exchange (minus the nausea-inducing sleaze and quasi-legal search engine gaming) meets wikipedia meets programming reddit. –reference

I know feel like I am part of a community by using and contributing to it. Stackoverflow does two things that keep people engaged.

  1. Easy to find topics – with a voting system, the reddit like format, tagging system, and the search utility finding topics of interest is easy and quick.
  2. A leveling system – they have taken this idea of building a profile using reputation. One can gain reputation by asking great questions and giving great answers. This pulls users in and gives them something to be proud of. A badging system is also used for particular milestones such as asking a question that was viewed over a thousand times.

I have become evermore aware of my reputation and the number of badges that I currently have. I find myself always trying to think of a great question and looking for questions that I can answer.

Stackoverflow has helped me grow as a programmer and will continue to do enhance my programming skills. I am now more confident to ask that “silly” question or give my opinion/answer that “nobody cares” to hear.

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