|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
Until the Internet came along, I never considered that anyone would seriously pursue something as inherently unrewarding as a career, or, the production of a commercial-grade software product or module, for any sort of “instantaneously achievable” reward. Such as, say, PerlMonks “XP,” or any of the equally childish, absolutely Pavlovian “rewards” that are found say on Facebook. The entire notion of instant gratification is quite strange to me. Yet, this is what this superficial level seems to boil down to: the little bell is going dingy-dingy, therefore, salivate? Absurd! Irrelevant!
An Internet knowledge-base (like PerlMonks) is not about “you.”
Do I care about the “votes” concerning a post? Nope. Ask me in five years, because I still derive great value from five-year old posts. I still appreciate the questions that were asked and the answers that were given many years ago. It may seem quite strange (or not) if I step out so far as to say, I really don’t care what the “regulars” think ... because, I’m not writing for you. I don’t even know who I am writing for. The resource is greater than any one of its many contributors.
What? Am I being “defensive?” Get over it: the truthful answer is... “no, and that’s the point.” It is the collective knowledge-resource that matters; not the individual(s). Not the “points.” Not the moment. Only the continuity.
Idly, I wonder if “scores” and “user rankings” and blah-de-blah are beside the point, because I have never once given a second-thought about the person who (perhaps, long ago) wrote that little nugget of information that saved my asterisk. I was just incredibly grateful to have found it ... and therefore, that it existed and that it had been preserved. That was “Priceless.™”
If you deign to participate in a forum like PerlMonks, then of course you are doing it for more than any silly number: you are doing it to try in your own way to help people, just as you have for so many times been helped by other people. Do you need a “number” to “reinforce” that behavior? Well, did you need a “number” to prompt you to put out that rather desperate plea for help ... which you quickly received that most-excellent life preserver which promptly and completely rescued your butt? No.
Ditto contributing a CPAN module. You do it because you think that your stuff is useful, and that it “makes the grade,” and that you are willing to bust your butt (for no money!) to see that it does. That’s no small undertaking! And yet, it’s why Perl is such a fantastic language system today.
So... no. You don’t do any of this to demonstrate that Pavlov was right. You do it because you are a professional.