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> I'm not that interesting; I don't have anything to show off; and inevitably it'll either become a chore or go out of date.

The main goal of my blog was not to be interesting or show off (even though I do include my side projects etc.), but to write about specific issues I managed to solve. As a software developer, I'm googling for problems all the time. 95% of the time I land on StackOverflow or GitHub issues. But it's about those 5% that I find a blog post which really helps me. My goal was to contribute back the same way.

If you don't like to actively maintain a blog, just set up a GitHub repo + GitHub Pages (or even go for plain GitHub Gists). As long as the information can be found via a search engine, it's good enough.

Finally - don't create a blog just because you feel obliged to. It's totally fine as a developer not to have a blog.




> My goal was to contribute back the same way.

YES! So much of our computing-related triumphs come from documentation that other people wrote. Even super basic stuff that no senior developer or sysadmin would dream of asking, that stuff still needs to be written down by someone.

I have a dozen or so Markdown documents of varying sizes that I need to finish, proof and polish before putting them online. I sorely lacking in motivation (and sleep)


My quotes file recently reached 1MB of plain text, 160,257 words.

I started this file 17 years ago!

This is enough to fill three average sized novels!

One day... I might have a go at weaving a narrative through it.


recently came across http://jrnl.sh/


Vimwiki [1] is probably also worth a mention because it has a neat diary feature as well. Jrnl appears to have more diary specific features, but Vimwiki also worked well so far for my (probably rather basic) needs.

[1]: https://github.com/vimwiki/vimwiki


What do you mean by quotes file?


It’s a text file where I’ve copy and pasted paragraphs and comments I’ve found interesting from books and online, and a few of my own thoughts.

Each entry is preceded by the date the entry was made, and followed by a reference to the source.

Because I’ve used some of the material multiple times I’m vaguely aware of the overall structure, and I use it as a bit of a knowledge-base.

As an example I’ll probably pop this comment in there later, so some of the materiel is mundane. Some of it seemed profound in the context of my life at the time, but might make less sense years later out of context.

I’ve only ever deleted a handful of entries in that 17 years.

I guess parts of it are a bit like a diary too, but I’ve never been very good at intentionally keeping a diary.


Once upon a time they called it a commonplace book


Pretty interesting that the roots of Evernote begin in Early Modern Europe.

I've been doing this for years (on paper, no less) without knowing that it had a name.

Edit: Here's an article that gave me some good ideas about different things to do with my book.

https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2013/08/how-and-why-...


I didn’t understand what the parent was trying to say until I read your comment.

Commomplace book - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonplace_book


I did the same sort of thing, but with quotes on paper. I took 30 years worth, organized them, and published the results as a book.


Link please. (:


Release the documents first, then finish or polish them. If you get bored with them, someone else might want to finish them off or extend them. But unless you publish them, they're only benefiting you. You might also find more motivation if they're already out there.


> The main goal of my blog was not to be interesting or show off

That's what they all say.

Humans are social creatures and the main motivator for anyone to do anything in public is to "show off" or "be interesting". "All is vanity".

That isn't necessarily a bad thing. Without a desire to compete, impress, prove our worth and so on we'd be living in huts. But it's something to be aware of and something that should be tempered.

I think the pendulum is swinging away from modesty plus self-reflection and towards "people documenting their lives in public".


I think your view is too cynical. People also can be motivated by altruism or by wanting to pay it forward. I've answered plenty of questions on facebook/reddit/etc. and do so because people have answered my questions in the past.

The part you are correct about is that it is easy to then get wrapped up in how many visitors your blog gets or how many upvotes your answer gets. Those vanity metrics definitely pull on the vanity strings. But, some people definitely do not care about "showing-off" when they put something up online.


> But, some people definitely do not care about "showing-off" when they put something up online.

If you don't care about showing off then you won't publish anything. People who are actually altruistic won't tell you about their altruism.

This isn't cynicism. The hunger for respect, admiration and recognition is not a bad thing. But it is necessary for people to understand what motivates them. And it is necessary for us to construct a society in which respect is earned by performing actions that are broadly beneficial to that society (as far as we can estimate, anyway).

Today, anyone can broadcast. But that doesn't mean that everyone should broadcast. The old gatekepers weren't perfect but they served a necessary purpose. Who are the new gatekeepers?


> If you don't care about showing off then you won't publish anything. People who are actually altruistic won't tell you about their altruism.

My point is that I think your thesis is too cynical. Many people start out writing their blogs or answer questions on public forums with the intent of trying to help other people out. The motivation can be of the form "I solved this problem and I am going to write about it because maybe my solution will save someone else time" rather than "I solved this problem and I am going to write about it so that everyone visits my website and I get famous." Maybe they become more motivated by vanity and blog metrics later on if their blog takes off. But, many people write stuff online with the intent to help others out and not solely out of hunger for respect, admiration and recognition.

> Today, anyone can broadcast. But that doesn't mean that everyone should broadcast. The old gatekepers weren't perfect but they served a necessary purpose. Who are the new gatekeepers?

You lost me here.


In my opinion, you try to make a distinction where is none. What is the difference between showing off and helping others in the context of technical questions on blogs/forums? Yes, you help others by providing solutions/advice for dificult problems. And you get satisfaction from the fact that you succeded where others stumbled and you let everybody know it by posting it online. You prove your value to a group of people, which gives you a feeling of inclusion -> important motivator.

In general, there is no such thing as altruism. You always get something out of helping others that keeps you going. Nobody is truly selfless. Altuists are the species which died out long time ago.


Meh, Ayn Rand is wrong, lots of people do things that they'd rather not be doing for the good of their family/friends/society. I'm not sure why so many people adhere to her antisocial musings. Sure some people only do things that only make them feel good. Altruism exists despite all the Randians attempts to morph it into something else so they can feel better about being greedy/self-centered/self-serving like them.


> If you don't care about showing off then you won't publish anything

I want to agree, but how can we explain near-anonymous StackOverflow profiles who have brilliant answers in them, but no way to identify who the actual person they are?


Anonymity doesn't change the equation. No one on hackernews knows who I am but I still want the recognition of my peers (upvotes) which is why I'm posting here.

The fact that everyone ultimately wants peer-approval means we need to create participatory structures in which people are rewarded (with approval) for doing useful things. Stackoverflow is a perfect example of this. People gain karma by answering questions that other people ask.

"Everyone should have a blog" is the opposite of this. It's feel-good nonsense along the lines of "everyone has their own subjective truth and all truths are equal". If we tell everyone to publish it will become near-impossible to find voices worth hearing. It's like saying you should answer every question on stackoverflow whether or not you know the answer.


You're leftyted, I see you!

People see different facets of our identity, only God sees all of them.

In some cases our limited online presence might represent a more authentic version of our 'true selves' than we present in [the rest of] "real life".

>"it will become near-impossible to find voices worth hearing" //

Isn't the OP saying there that we all have a voice worth hearing. You're right that it would be harder to find the voices we could extract the most value from; but realistically that's probably already impossible.


Most of my Stack Overflow karma has come from edits.

Just like in real life; I'll underwhelm the average sleuth with the amount of badges I have vs. the work I've actually done.


> Today, anyone can broadcast. But that doesn't mean that everyone should broadcast.

I don't agree here. Perhaps "not everything should be broadcast" might be better?


I agree that everyone should broadcast, just let me filter it on the input side.


> Who are the new gatekeepers?

I would posit that the new gatekeepers are algorithms. For example, Google search algorithms, Youtube recommendations, Facebook news feed Edgerank, etc.


I would up vote this.

There's a distinction between self promotion and genuine honest expression of who we are, what we presently think is true.

I feel like there is something fundamentally human when people try to do that with each other.


>.. we'd be living in huts.

As someone who has actually lived in a hut, I would like you to know that living in huts should not be used as a derogatory example. In fact hut living was the best time of my life and I long to replicate the simplicity and freedom it afforded.


I love the diversity HN has. My wife also grew up in a tiny minimalistic house. We'd eat on the floor, no space for even a dining table. It was a lot of fun.


I spent the first few memorable years of my life in a trailer park. I can relate. People have come and gone, I've certainly had "started from the bottom [now we here]" moments - but even at a young age - I saw honesty in ways I've never seen it since. The people were better, and I think it was because they were humble.


Care to share more about this? Eg, when, where, why?


As a kid in the 80s born and lived in a traditional Yoruba village established within a forest in the South Carolina lowcountry.


> the main motivator for anyone to do anything in public is to "show off" or "be interesting". "All is vanity".

I think that's demonstrably far too broad of a brush. Yes, this is a very common motivator, but it's hardly universal.


I tried doing what the OP described, become some interesting blogger person, but threw in a 2 or 3 line article about some mundane error I had with a tool one day mixed in with all the other wordfluff.

Surprisingly the error code drew a ton of traffic compared to anything interesting I could have possibly thought about writing.


You stumbled upon a technical writing best practice. Always include the exact error code and message in documentation because people often search for that exact string.


Analogous: supply a link rather than tell someone to look it up.


and/or the exact text of the message. A vague search is fine if there are few matches,but there's a lot of cruft out there.


Out of curiosity, why not use a free platform like stack overflow or a github issue to publish your solutions?


There's nothing wrong with those options either. But some problems are opinionated or not specific enough for Stack Overflow (e.g. "what are the alternatives to include comments on a static site"). There's also the certainty that my content remains independent from other platforms and it remains available online as long as I keep paying for my server + domain.


Not the OP, but the reason that I don't use those platforms is, essentially, control. I don't trust any of them to exist forever, or to continue to operate in a way that works for me.

Keeping everything on a site that I am in control of eliminates the issues of uncertainty.

(I do answer direct questions on Stack Overflow and such, I just don't keep my accumulated works or investigative notes on third party sites.)


I tend to mix it up on my blog. If there is a problem I encounter, I write about the solution.

I also like to write about ideas I strung together that I sourced from books, podcasts, and other posts. I followed the same path as OP in regards to blogging in early 2000's then kinds letting my site languish. I have been trying to write a bit more over the last year.

I have found that checking out the analytics on the blog from time to time also helps me guage what topics to write about.


> But it's about those 5% that I find a blog post which really helps me. My goal was to contribute back the same way.

This is the main reason that I keep a personal website.


Agreed. I try to frame my posts to have helpful information first and foremost, for others in the same situations or even for my future self. Or for trip report type posts, for any others that were on the trip with me.


> As a software developer, I'm googling for problems all the time.

Who would learn more? The one who searches for answer or the one who answers questions?


thats what stack overflow is for




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