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What is your motivation to answer questions on this site?

asked 2017-10-16 01:35:12 +0200

appreciatethehelp gravatar image

updated 2020-09-02 22:13:51 +0200

Alex Kemp gravatar image


I was just wondering what motivates people to answer questions here? Is it an altruistic thing? Is it to improve your knowledge? Perhaps there are some coding/office suite courses that reward those that answer questions with extra credit?

No doubt it will be different for different people, so please let me know!

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only this: helper syndrome


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5 Answers

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answered 2017-10-16 18:30:27 +0200

Jim K gravatar image

A couple of years ago, I got started answering questions on sites like this one because I kept finding the answers I needed and decided to try getting involved. Now I'm hooked. Some reasons I answer questions:

  • Can often learn more by answering than by asking.
  • My job partly involves promoting LibreOffice, and this is another way to do it, by helping other people learn how to use the software.
  • Answering questions has taught me how to communicate better.
  • Excellent way to stimulate brain activity, important for my health. Like doing a mental puzzle once a day, by browsing the new questions.
  • Besides the actual benefits, it's also fun to see reputation points increase, and enjoyable to help people.

It is difficult to get started because, in the early days, your knowledge of LO is not all that great. I don't know of any easy way around this, although I fully sympathize. It takes time (years) and persistence.

And even if you are an expert, as I am now, there is always someone who knows more than you. In that case, when you answer a question and someone gives a better answer, then that means you just learned something, either something about LO or something about answering questions.

To me, it seems that this site could also really benefit from more people who simply read the questions and answers every day and help by upvoting good answers and adding comments for clarification when needed. This won't earn reputation points, but it is an important way that anyone can contribute and learn.

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answered 2017-10-16 09:12:02 +0200

ajlittoz gravatar image

I have a long experience with text processing applications (and even a lighter one with DTP such as Quark XPress) and am aroused by the misuse of them when I have to work on shared (collaborative) documents. Instead of focusing my attention on the content and intent, I am hindered by the manual formatting obfuscating the meaning of the text and needing too much editing work.

I don't consider I have the ultimate Truth about how to use text applications but I developed a practical experience I try to share so that others may avoid errors I had to overcome, sometimes painfully.

Also, despite my long acquaintance with LO (more than 15 years), I still don't know all available features and don't practise all those I know of. This site is a source of valuable information. Since it has a low traffic, it is possible to skim over nearly all question and discover some aspects of LO. Even elementary questions can ring a bell and lead to a clue for other unrelated topic.

Finally, I benefit from free and open software. Answering questions is a way to pay back within my limited skills. Community support is as important as development so that there is a continuing public demand backing development effort.

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Similar here. Long experience with a particular word processor, almost as long experience with a particular spread sheet. A few years ago I discovered OpenOffice, then followed the fork to LibreOffice. Consider myself still just a novice with Writer and Calc, but always glad to help with the few problems that I can identify with. And it always feels good to give back to the FOSS community.

ve3oat gravatar imageve3oat ( 2020-10-17 19:48:45 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-10-16 03:09:10 +0200

Lady Fitzgerald gravatar image

Even though I'm still learning how to use LibreOffice, I try to pay back with help when I'm able since I have received a lot of help from others here.

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Same, it's just that I generally end up giving poor quality answers, if I can even produce an answer at all! I started using LO in January of this year and still have sooooooo much to learn before I'm really useful around here.

I'm thinking about focusing on one particular aspect of LO for awhile, then searching for questions that contain that aspect in the title. That way I might actually have a chance of answering them/providing a quality answer!


appreciatethehelp gravatar imageappreciatethehelp ( 2017-10-16 08:05:55 +0200 )edit

Yes, "I may not have a lot to give but what I got I'll give to you..." (c) The Beatles, Can't Buy Me Love

JohnSUN gravatar imageJohnSUN ( 2017-10-16 08:33:16 +0200 )edit

Nice quote!

appreciatethehelp gravatar imageappreciatethehelp ( 2017-10-17 08:31:15 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-10-17 14:09:48 +0200

Lupp gravatar image

updated 2017-10-17 14:11:47 +0200

The elevated version first:

I had a dream.
There was a table of stone. Suddenly words appeared ...

Let there be freedom in the realm of software.

Thou shalt not rule by marketing.
᠎    Thwart the attempt.
Thou shalt not sell the same thing again and again.
    Thwart it if some try.
Thou shalt not call a license or a form contract a product.
    Object those who do.
Thou shalt not believe ...

And the dream faded.

But in reality I came with a question to the late (Alas!) libreofficeforum​.​org and I stayed as a contributor. Then I started to also contribute to the (though I don't like it), and to the

I admire the retired Owen Genat, the very expert and prolific Vladislav Orlov, and many others I often don't know the true names of for their modest generosity, their patience, their readiness to spend time in support of others, and for deep knowledge and abilities. (I just cannot keep up in any respect.)

In addition there may be
- a helper syndrome (?)
- a teacher syndrome (!)
- age and retirement from professional teaching
- grandchildren too far away
- ambition
- conceitedness
- unmotorcyclable weather
- a strange kind of conscientiousness

You may scatter the plusses and the minusses yourself.

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Interesting; I am a teacher too- namely of music theory and drums (trap set) at a private studio. Might I ask which subject(s) you taught?

Well, if you are conceited, it certainly seems balanced with humility: ("I just cannot keep up in any respect").

appreciatethehelp gravatar imageappreciatethehelp ( 2017-10-19 16:28:38 +0200 )edit

Impressive! I am neither involved in theory nor in practice concerning music. On a low level I am a "customer".
Concerning the teaching I am only a (retired) Bavarian high-school teacher on mathematics and physics.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-10-21 11:39:03 +0200 )edit

Awesome! My twin brother studies physics and mathematics at university- he has one year left before graduation.

The material he studies looks pretty daunting; I recall observing him on a fair few occasions, head in hands, eyes glazed over, a sheet containing strings of equations spread out beneath his empty stare haha.

He wants to study/develop renewable energy, with an additional aspiration to work with NASA one day.

appreciatethehelp gravatar imageappreciatethehelp ( 2017-10-21 12:53:38 +0200 )edit

answered 2020-10-17 16:22:05 +0200

keme gravatar image

updated 2020-10-17 17:20:40 +0200


Sure! I want to share knowledge. I want to contribute to make this world a better place. Makes me feel that I am a valuable contributor to the community. Feels good, so I guess this is a selfish motivation. Can selfish objectives be considered altruistic? I don't know...

Sense of community

Again, being a part of something. Interacting with other people in a positive setting. Feels good.


Someone made an effort to create this software package, then made the product freely available. I benefit from that, and want to pay back by contributing to the product in any way I can.


By searching for solutions to other people's issues, I learn new things.

When my efforts, delivered "to the best of my knowledge", are contested, I sometimes stand corrected. In this situation, the "best of my knowledge" is augmented. I learn even more.

When I receive comments, I learn a lot from those too. About software, language, understanding users' situations, typography and graphical design or personal relationships and interaction.

So in the end it seems that my best reason is in connection to my own learning. Not sure that it is the most important motivation, but it sure is one that counts.

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I fully adhere to the last paragraph.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2020-10-17 17:26:27 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2017-10-16 01:35:12 +0200

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Last updated: Oct 17 '20