I am a longtime StackOverflow lurker. Regularly checking it for an answer to today's problem. But despite being a regular at the StackOverflow's bar of questions and answers, I never bothered to participate. Always having a drink without paying. Until now, that is.
A month ago I finally, after many years, signed up to StackOverflow. And I gave myself a challenge. Answer a question a day for 30 days straight. And I did.
Every day I searched StackOverflow looking for questions to which I could answer. A few of the days I found such questions rather quickly. But, most of the time, I struggled. I struggled to find questions to which my answer would prove useful.
There is an endless stream of questions on StackOverflow. However, most of them are answered or flagged in half an hour. I feared that my challenge might be harder than I thought. Damn those pesky programmers always helping out!
My initial strategy was to answer as quickly as possible. To beat the other answerers. But that resulted in somewhat forced, quick answers. This was neither helpful nor fulfilling.
I improved my strategy by constantly updating my Watched Tags and Ignored Tags. Now I was being shown only questions completely specific to my domain. At last, I could find questions to which I could provide a helpful, meaningful answer.
But it was not all smooth sailing from thereon. There were a few hiccups. I experienced some of the common problems pestering StackOverflow, such as, Fastest Gun in the West Problem, many duplicate questions, and discouraging negative ratings.
One of my answers was downvoted without any explanation. How could someone not appreciate my clear and excellent answer? Joking aside, that was pretty demotivating. Nevertheless, I stopped sulking after a few days and let it go.
Despite the problems, I completed my challenge. In 30 days I posted 32 answers. Some for the sake of answering, some even wrong at first, and some helpful, I hope. I even answered a Crystal language question, even though I have never used Crystal.
In pursuit of reputation points and completing my challenge, I provided some lacking answers. The Fastest Gun in the West kind of answer I mentioned before, contributing to the problem. I know better now.
Now that I am done with the challenge, I intend to answer only questions that are interesting to me and to which I can provide a definitive and well-researched answer.