Share what you learn. Write a blog post. Answer a question on Stack Overflow. Open-source your code. Create content! In our industry, this advice shows up very often, in all colours and shapes. And rightly so, I’d say. How many hours have you saved thanks to someone else’s post on their blog? Or to a well-crafted answer on Stack Overflow?

How many times an open-source tool/library/whatever spared you from having to code it’s functionality from scratch? If I had to guess the answer to these questions, I’d say: a lot.

Brazilian developer Rafael Rosa Fu talks about some of the benefits of content creation on this post, originally written in Portuguese:

  • Learning - in order to fix new skills you must practice them, when we write about what we learn we are reinforcing and expanding our knowledge by being “forced” to explain it in a way that other people can understand
  • Memory - I don’t know about you, but my memory is not that great, and I’m sure I’m no exception here. Write about that complex concept or write down the recipe to a sporadic procedure and when you need to remember it just open your blog, or even google it and you’re going to find your own words to remind you.
  • Portfolio - specially useful to those who are starting their careers, blog posts are useful as part of a knowledge portfolio that can be found by a prospective employer or used as reference during an interview, acting as a complement to career time, besides being an excellent starting point to a conversation. […]

Jeff Atwood (co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse) even said that starting his blog “was the the most important thing I’ve ever done in my entire career.” So, it seems reasonable that we if encourage more and more people to share their knowledge and experiences, the whole community wins, right?

In this 2012 Smashing Magazine post, Louis Lazaris gives advice on how to start publishing: just publish what you learn, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, welcome your reader’s collaborations.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it?

When Doubt Arrives

I had a lot of self-doubt before starting this blog. I mean, how could it be any different? All those established bloggers, they have years or even decades of experience. They give talks in several countries. They are published authors, they host podcasts, they created successful companies, or maybe a piece of technology used by millions.\r\n\r\nIn short, they have a very impressive “About Me” page. Heck, some of them may even have an wikipedia article about themselves! They’re the rockstars.

What about me? I’m just a dude, a couple years out of college, trying to learn and make my career. Do I really have something valuable to offer? Will I be able to really help somebody? Or I’ll be just adding to the noise?

I think these are all important questions. The web is a ridiculously big place. You could share content for years, or maybe even your whole life, without being noticed and without receiving any feedback.

Every now and then when I google something, I land on some blog with a cool design and very well written posts. I start to browse the posts, and I notice that most of them (sometimes, all of them) have no comments. Sometimes, I also notice that the last post is from 2 or 3 years ago. They gave up.

While this is sad and quite disencouraging, it’s just a fact of life. Maybe your blog will reach a large audience, maybe it will not.

Why I created this blog, after all?

Maybe the previous section has given you the impression that I am skeptical about the benefits of creating content. And maybe I am, just a little bit. But I’m not going to let that stop me. I believe in the importance of giving back to the community.

Remember that stackoverflow answer that saved your job? Well, guess what: somebody took the time to write that answer, for free, and posted it online, for free, for the whole internet to see, forever. Isn’t that amazing? I think part of the beauty of our profession is that there are so many people willing to share knowledge for free. To sacrifice their own free time in order to build something. Miracles like GitHub, StackOverflow, Wikipedia, are only possible thanks to those people. And I want to be a part of that.

Sure, you could argue that these people are moved by their own selfish reasons. Yeah, they probably are, but the point is: at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. Results matter. If the user JaneDoe123 wrote that answer on StackOverflow just to earn a few points of reputation, that’s fine by me! I just want to have my problem solved.

So, that’s it. To use a torrent metaphor, I’m tired of being only a leecher. It’s time to seed a little bit.