If you’re a developer of any kind, I’m sure you have stumbled across one of the many question-and-answer sites on the StackExchange Network. Crowdsourced answers are driven up through popularity and user credibility. It makes finding the most effective answers in the most efficient way possible. Simply Googling a technical code-related question will usually result in one or more results from StackOverflow, perhaps the most popular site on the network.
While abuse of the service runs rampant–users posting questions that have already been answered, instead of just searching for them–the active user base, especially during peak hours, keeps things mostly under control. Many questions are raised as helpful, flagged as duplicates, or voted down for lack of effort.
As a developer myself, I consider it my go-to source when trying to quickly translate logic from one language to another, or when I’m thoroughly stumped and just need an outsider’s view to help solve a problem. And, for me, it’s a give and take environment, where I try to help others as often as I’ve received help from the cloud crowd.
With the popularity of achievements and trophies in video games, it’s been a theme to “gamify” apps and StackExchange does it nicely. Voting and posting questions and comments increases your credibility which also trigger achievements, like posting a Notable Question. It’s a fun and effective way to quickly build trust between users.
My profile page on StackOverflow shows my badges (achievements), my overall rank, a history of my questions and answers, and an editable content area that I used to describe myself. Other than that, only a profile icon and username separates users from one another. It was nice to see that I could simply change my existing user account, without having to abandon my history and start anew.