Friday, May 04, 2018

Encouraging the Wisdom of the Collective - The Up Vote

We have long known that the wisdom and experience of the many is greater, due simply to number and volume, than that of the few. This echoes the line from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn movie (1982) where Spock sacrifices himself for the entire ship and shares that statement with Captain Kirk that, "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few."

The concept of more knowledge existing in the collective than in the individual is not a new idea sparked by the information age. We see it as early as Aristotle and also reflected 13 years ago with James Surowiecki's book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.

It is when I am prompted by a coding challenge that I best experience the knowledge of the collective. It is not that I do not try to solve the current dilemma myself. In fact, I will often spend ample time trying to come up with a solution. However, after I realize that I have exhausted what I know to do, I go to the the wisdom of the many, namely Google or Bing

One of the best sites for collective intelligence long known to software developers is Stack Overflow

I have recently realized that after finding answers to a coding problem from the collective, that I typically test the information, see that it works, and then get on with the next challenge without voting up the solution from the collective. A solution, by the way, that saved me both time and stress. 

What is voting an answer up? Per Stack Overflow, "When you vote up, you are moving that content 'up' so it will be seen by more people." In short, others will see this solution sooner that likely have the same issue and will likely be helped sooner than later. Also, "Upvotes on a question give the asker +5 reputation [points]. Upvotes on an answer give the person that answered the question +10 reputation [points]. 

Therefore, it just seems like the right thing to do when you find the answer to your problem to click the up arrow as a matter of giving those who researched and worked hard to provide the answer reputation points as well as encouragement to continue to help. The goal, be more consistent in up voting the helpful answers before running onto the next challenge so that the collective is supported and encouraged. 

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