An “Yearling” on Stack Exchange (Historical rant)…

How did all that happen?

Each time I praise advertise about Stack Exchange to someone, they ask me, “How do you know about this website?” Well, I was a computer geek when I got outta my high school. People may usually wonder, “What’s so special about this?” Though I got my first PC during my 8th grade, I had a lot of restrictions (I was sandwiched between some walls like no internet connection, only 3 hours and that too – only on Sundays, extrinsic motivation too, like when I luckily get good marks, etc.) till I graduated from high school, which is a horrible tradition followed in our state. Somehow, I managed to learn a lot of things from the internet during my vacations (just before college). So, I was a geek…

I was always curious about computers, the operating systems, games, programming and stuff. I learned a few basics on HTML, C and C++ and so, I loved programming for a while. A few weeks later, I got an idea of cracking WinRAR’s password

I tried a lot of crappy things. Finally when I realized that I totally got sucked up, I googled a query something like this. Now, it shows IT Security & Server Fault. But, the last time, it showed only Stack Overflow. I went in, created an account and asked my question, which I still remember. I was encouraged (got 2 votes). I got notified that I had removed my new user restrictions. A few minutes later, I noticed a “11” near my name…

It was all about reputation…

I figured out that I get points (formally called the reputation score) for votes on my posts, and badges for some achievements. As a game-lover, I liked the scheme of this site (encouraging users by giving them points). So, I started asking questions for the sake of earning these points. Stack Overflow (being the mother of all sites) has a lot of wonderful, contributing programmers. I really freaked them out, by my idiotic questions (An example, I asked “What’s 404 – Not found error?” in a programming site), which got downvoted and closed. Can you guess the ridiculous quality of my questions? Finally, I deleted my user account there (as I can’t bear the strong tenderness), and created another one at Physics Stack Exchange on August 5, 2012.

(Err… I still remember the exact date because that was the night before I joined college)

So immature…

I struggled (in asking questions) for two months, as my forever-motto was to ask questions earn points and jump out of the chair in joy. Whether it looks good? Is it useful at all? Whether you the read the answers? Who cares? We get reputation points. Whenever my easily googleable question gets closed, I get angry. I shout at the people, I shout at the mods. I hate them as if the whole world has burned up. This sort of behavior simply blinded me from looking into what I did wrong. But still, I read the answers written by others, because I was liking Physics more & more, while hating my engineering course, at the same time (but, that’s totally a different story)…

An analogy of how I was…. (Go on… You should really click that to see how I loved unicorns)

I loved unicorns

What did I observe?

Next month, I started answering questions. I thought a lot, research a lot in the internet, whenever I try to answer a question, because I don’t want myself to go wrong a downvote on my post. Still, it was about gathering reputation. After 2 or 3 months, I started to comment, flag, “tried to edit” posts (though I was warned sometimes, by my idiotic awful English), and finally entered the chat room.

Live chat..!!! How can I cope with these people? I had some leftover “thumbs up”. I saw a few people who were always active and started bugging them (you can’t be productive unless you start bugging the professionals in the field). A few days later, I read the whole FAQ and discovered a lot of features in the site. I really got amazed by it. They don’t just develop and go away. They keep track of site’s development, care about users (their suggestions), allow users to propose sites, appoint mods from the crowd, provide T-shirts to the contributors.

In this way, I learned a lot of new tricks on the “art of writing”, my way of responding in English, etc. Sometimes, things went wrong. But, I got used to ignore them.

Sometimes, things may go wrong

Then, other stuff followed automatically – chatting with others, interact with fellow members, participate in meta, have a discussion and help improve the site, etc…

What did I achieve?

I don’t really know. But, I do know that a whole lot of me has changed so much. Nowadays (for the past few months or so), I don’t really care about these reputation scores (Affectionately, I can’t declare it straightaway like that..!!! I’m still addicted to this gamification scheme), badges, votes, etc. All I wanted is to learn new things everyday (of course, there were a lot). Almost all of my intuition & knowledge in Physics got reworked (cleared misconceptions), my terrible English got repaired (well, you can differentiate my first SO post and now… this blog post), I became relatively quite matured (not well enough though). So, I’m really not the real “me” which I was last year…

Indebted to fellow members…

So, I’m an Yearling at Physics.SE. Whether I care about my academics or not, I care a lot about my contribution there. I’m always indebted to my fellow physicists. I always thank, thank and thank them for repairing and bringing my “real me” out. Truly speaking, this blog you see here right now, is “the” result of my experience (really a guy’s question shot at me). Now, I know how to write. At least, I know the threshold way-of-writing in the internet.

A special thanks to Jeff Atwood, Joel Spolsky and their mates for creating this wonderful network, which connects different IP addresses across the world...

My Schedule

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4 thoughts on “An “Yearling” on Stack Exchange (Historical rant)…

  1. Nishant.iniyan August 22, 2013 at 10:20 PM Reply

    Good work da….. keep learning and keep teaching……

  2. Mark September 20, 2013 at 10:56 PM Reply

    Haaa..!! I see myself in you when I get first into SO but I’m still new here.
    Also my academics are down now because of this programming.
    Anyway, I don’t care too 🙂

    Nice post btw.

  3. Akilesh September 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM Reply

    Hey buddy!!! This is awesome.. You are surely a geek. Yeah!! That’s true about the restriction. But,as child, throwing question and answering it yourself as an adult makes you more informative. This is a good start and Congrats for that.. Keep going!!!!!

  4. Laura June 9, 2015 at 2:27 PM Reply

    I just found your site and want to thank all the contributers; thanks for the well-written questions covering a variety of physics topics. your questions ask for mathmatical truths, imparting an understanding of our physical existence and of the physical nature of the matter which makes up physical universe.
    also, thanks for those who answer questions, improve on answers & the moderators’ maintaining this site so we can learn & grow. then, as we become confident in our grasp of these mathematical truths, we can contribute to others’ growing knowledge in this forum and out & about.
    thank you all that your questions and replies are explained well and that the language and graphs used clearly show how conclusions are reached and not at all difficult to understand from we newbies to physics veterans 🙂
    I’m a fan!

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