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How to not get reputation points on Stack Overflow
» Home : Blog : February 2011
I love Stack Overflow, for a number of reasons. First, they have great answers to programming questions. When I need an answer to a detailed issue I'm having with code, the answer is usually on Stack Overflow, and with the recent Google tweak to tamp down content farms in search results, it's usually the first hit on Google as well.
But the reason they have the best answers is because Stack Overflow is essentially a MMORPG that awards points for expertise and other valued behavior. I understand well the incentives the site offers for answering questions, because I've accumulated a lot of reputation there:
The combination of being awarded points, and debating with other knowledgable experts, plus being able to learn along the way, and help people, is very compelling. But it can get obsessive. Joel Spolsky claims that tons of rep means you are a superstar developer, but it also implies that you've spent a lot of energy chasing reputation points.
After a recent too-long session of someone's wrong on the internet, I decided to kick the habit. And like any addict, I needed a little help.
A simple Greasemonkey script was just the thing. It just hides the form that allows for answering questions:
The great thing about this solution is that it's effective, without meaning I have to avoid the site altogether, and if there's an question I really should answer, I can just disable the script, which is enough of an action to make me think twice.
You can install no_so_answers.user.js yourself if you find yourself similarly afflicted.