I recently reached 5K reputation on stackoverflow. It’s nothing mind blowing reputation-wise for sure, but it feels like a nice milestone that took some time and effort to reach. Thought I’d write a quick post summarizing my experiences on the site and share some tips & tricks I’ve found helpful along the way.
Teaching is the best way to learn
While you’re learning something new, look to answer questions on SO. Teaching helps you learn. This can work really well if you’re reading an in-depth book, for example. Various specific and esoteric knowledge will be fresh in your mind and you can help out other fellow newbs, not to mention further disseminate that knowledge online.
Be a good citizen
There are plenty of examples of bad or unproductive behaviour on stackoverflow. Don’t follow this example. Be nice. If someone asks what seems like a silly question to you, or posts an incorrect or misguided answer, be reasonable. Use your down-votes in a productive way.
Comment on people’s questions to point out helpful tips, even if you don’t know the answer. Help flush out a question that’s poorly articulated. I’ve added useful elaborations on correct but sparse answers in the comments for the answer. This helps fill them out and make them more complete. If you have something new to add, add an answer (or comment on an answer) in the original question. Help be a part of what makes stackoverflow a great and valuable community, not a toxic one.
Haters gonna hate
Trolling on stackoverflow is well documented. In a few instances, I’ve had some bad experiences. If I whipped up an answer too quickly, misinterpreted a question I was answering, had a small oversight, or well – just had a plain brain fart – I’ve been victim to trolls. Some people are just jerks. A down-vote just isn’t enough for them, a snarky or rude remark is required too.
While I don’t think I’ll ever really understand these people, I accept it is a sad reality of online communities. Don’t let the trolls get to you. If they do strike – be graceful, lick your wounds, and move on. The goal is to help people, help yourself, and demonstrate your knowledge and experience.
Gamification is fun!
I like to set little achievable goals for myself. If i’m at 136 answers, I’ll set a goal to get to 150. Then 175. Then 200. If I’m close to a badge, I work on getting that one badge. If I’m close to a round number reputation, I’ll work on that. Then there’s even more lofty goals: rising in the all-time ranks in my city, being the top all-time leeor (that’s right, i’m looking at you leeor from Haifa!).
It’s fun. Getting the green up-vote or new badge notifications just feels surprisingly, satisfying. I’ve never been a gamer (mainly because I suck at computer games), so this is as close as I will ever get to a playing computer game 😛
I find I get into rhythms on the site. You gather momentum. Sometimes I check for questions and can’t find anything to answer for days on end. Don’t get discouraged. Keep at it. You will eventually hit your stride and go on some rep streaks.
Tips on upping your rep and overall profile
To wrap up, here’s some tips I’ve found helpful:
javaanyway so you’ll be working your way towards both tags in one shot. By all means you can go general on tags, but you’ll get much more mileage from more specific focus.