It’s amazing that I received two really good answers to my question about an algorithm 10 minutes after I posted it. The rate and helpfulness of some developers continues to amaze me. Where else do you find people who readily read and figure out the answers to your questions, reply to them and don’t receive compensation? Does the feedback (eg. votes on questions, ‘badges’ received, views received) motivate these developers? Or are they doing it out of an altruistic impulse? Or because they want to show off their knowledge? Or because they simply believe that an online ‘community’ ought to help one another? This is definitely a question I want to continue to pursue and make note of as I ask for help in learning this stuff.
I’m also still trying to figure out the conventions of these forums. After having my question voted ‘down’, I learned some things about asking question in developer forums. Clarity and precision of questions are important because there are so many language-specific issues. Also, when adding more correct tags to the question, you can involve more people to help. Adding
python, for example, will involve people related to
python to help. You can accept and vote on the answers. This reflects on your acceptance rate in the community. If it’s high, more people will try to help you in the future.
Below, I’ve copied and pasted some of the forum’s conventions that are explained on the site (under FAQ)
What is reputation?
Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about. Basic use of the site, including asking questions, answering, and suggesting edits, does not require any reputation at all. But the more reputation you earn, the more privileges (see below) you gain on Stack Overflow .
The primary way to gain reputation is by posting good questions and useful answers. Your peers will vote on your posts, and those votes will cause you to gain (or, in rare cases, lose) reputation:
answer is voted up +10 question is voted up +5 answer is accepted +15 (+2 to acceptor) question is voted down -2 answer is voted down -2 (-1 to voter)
A maximum of 40 votes can be cast per user per day, however, to reach the maximum you must vote on at least 10 questions. You can earn a maximum of 200 reputation per day. Please note that votes for posts marked “community wiki” do not generate any reputation, while accepted answers and bounty awards are not subject to the daily reputation limit.
The other way to gain reputation is by suggesting edits to existing posts as a new registered user. Each edit will be peer reviewed, and if it is accepted, you will earn +2 reputation. You can only earn a maximum of +1000 total reputation through suggested edits, however.
Amass enough reputation points and Stack Overflow will grant you additional privileges:
15 Vote up 15 Flag for moderator attention 50 Leave comments† 100 Edit community wiki posts 125 Vote down (costs 1 rep on answers) 200 Reduced advertising 250 Vote to close, reopen, or migrate your questions 500 Retag questions 1000 Show total up and down vote counts 1500 Create new tags 2000 Edit other people’s posts, vote to approve or reject suggested edits 3000 Vote to close, reopen, or migrate any questions 5000 Vote to approve or reject suggested tag wiki edits 10000 Vote to delete closed questions, access to moderation tools 15000 Protect questions so only registered users with 10 rep on this site can answer 20000 Vote to delete negatively voted answers and stronger question deletion votes
† you can always comment on your questions and answers, and any answers to questions you’ve asked, even with 1 rep.
If you are an experienced Stack Exchange network user with 200 or more reputation on at least one site, you will receive a starting +100reputation bonus to get you past basic new user restrictions. This will happen automatically on all current Stack Exchange sites where you have an account, and on any other Stack Exchange sites at the time you log in.
At the high end of this reputation spectrum there is little difference between users with high reputation and ♦ moderators. That is very much intentional. We don’t run Stack Overflow. The community does.