Using Stack Exchange to be better at what you do
Some tips on how to get the most out of yourself on StackExchange
I have blogged before on the awesome internets that is Stack Exchange but I have to admit that I haven't been using the sites as much as I had been lately.
In an attempt to remedy this I decided to start setting myself little challenges on some of the sites, all points based and I have to say I immediately started to see benefits to doing it.
My first type of challenge is the most obvious one, writing answers that get upvoted and accepted. This is the easier of the two challenges but isn't as easy as just getting the question right. For example if you give a quick one sentence answer that will give the poster his answer quickly you may pick up an upvote from them and they may mark your question as the accepted answer. This is nice but has two draw backs.
The first is that you are unlikely to pick up any other votes from other people because your answer is not interesting or helpful in the general sense.
The second (and more important) is that it could potentially weaken the community, I have noticed a tendency that once an answer has been accepted for a particular question that there is unlikely to be more answers added. I guess the thinking is the person already has their answer so what is the point.
In order to be a good community member I feel that you should be striving not just to answer first, but to answer with the fullest, most appropriate answer you can, and you need to edit it as new information comes in. The community will be rewarded with an excellent answer and you will be rewarded with far more upvotes than just typing a quick one sentence reply.
The second challenge I set myself was to pick up more points from questions, getting points from questions is really very hard, because some questions are just too simple for people to deem them good, or if they are the right level of technical difficulty are not written well enough to be general enough to be considered a good question.
Without writing War and Peace you really do need to go the extra mile to ensure the answer is as full as it can possibly be, not only will you be likely to attract answers (the reason we are there in the first place) but you will also be better positioned to pick up some extra points.
The net result of these challenges has been that I have become more methodical when writing questions (and thus finding solutions to the questions themselves myself after applying some more thought to them) and have learned a lot from trying to write in depth answers to questions I wouldn't normally have tried to answer.