Not long ago, a couple separate people I approached with questions asked if I’d shared my problem on StackOverflow. I told them that, while I always search StackOverflowExchange and find it extremely helpful, I would never ask a question myself because I see the abuse heaped on those who ask and answer questions. I’m a pretty sensitive guy and there are too many other places on the whole wide internet I can find help without the risk of pretentious pricks. I’ve never seen anyone be anything but totally polite and extremely helpful on, say, Reddit and in the 17 years I’ve been on the Adobe Forums. It’s bad enough that I get worked up about how I see others getting treated — I’ll pass, thank you.
Then this happened …
Because some articles I read said that some potential employers look at your StackExchangeOverflow reputation along with your GitHub participation, once in a while I search for unanswered or inadequately answered questions where I might try to help. Also, because my reputation is still low due to my lurker-level participation prevents me from voting on things, etc.
I reached for this low-hanging fruit …
Oh my gosh, I thought … there are a billion questions like this one and I know of a single, perfect site that I always direct people to. Yes, I could give him the answer but this site explains it perfectly AND dozens of other related issues. So …
Then I saw this …
This morning, I had an email from StackExflowOverChange and I was eager to see whether or not I helped the person. I was SO hyped that to see that green checkmark yet, “rather perplexed that the answer is marked as correct but has a negative score.” I immediately figured somebody (or a couple somebodies) didn’t like the fact that I didn’t answer the question so much as pointed him to some treasure that included the answer plus oodles of other stuff I knew painter would love.
But then I noticed the history of my points … my answer had earned 15 upvotes followed by not just one, but, apparently, 17 downvotes!
Then I noticed this …
Let me preface this by saying that little green checkmark put me over the moon where I still am so I’m not lashing out at these two guys … just throwing them out there as examples of why I don’t ask questions. I won’t stop looking for opportunities to answer because A) I want the reputation and B) Someone needs to be helpful and encouraging to counterbalance this poor behavior and these poor experiences by those who do ask.
First, The Prick
I think I may have been the first person to respond, so after I posted my answer, some guy — what I’d consider a stereotypical but not-as-bad-as-they-can-be StackOverEx Bully — first takes the time to criticize the question then take a shot at someone else who tried to answer it (I’m not @Uday and their answer was no longer visible by the time I got there this morning). Again, this OverStack bully isn’t anywhere near as obnoxious or offensive as they can get but it’s still just unnecessary to dig at people asking and answering questions.
Then, The Pathetic
While I would never solicit a greenCheckmark or upvote, I certainly understand why someone would — I’m there for the reputation myself, not to help humanity. The reason I point it out is … I wonder if the question’s zero score is because that person deliberately did not upvote the question because they didn’t get their answer upvoted or, worse, maybe the question had a point or two and this person vindictively downvoted it. Then I wondered … did this guy downvote my answer out of spite? Did he go tell 16 of his friends to downvote it? In the real, adult world that might sound paranoid or whatever but … this isn’t the real world, it’s the WWW and it’s a site filled with infantile behavior.
It Reminds Me of a Poem
The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith
- People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
- If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
- If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
- The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
- Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
- The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
- People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
- What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
- People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
- Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
That’s more for me than you. Not because of OverStack but because I’m in my cubicle at my soul and spirit killing, mind-numbing day job.