Date: Wed, April 4, 2012
One of the key questions Kera is trying to answer is why developers write and post technical articles on their blogs or websites. I’ve been researching the motivations behind this behaviour, and while the answers might not surprise you, they raise very interesting questions about what these tutorials tell us about our community at large.
One of the first questions I tried to answer was how to provide a definition to the term Tutorial. Our research has led us to a specific kind of person writing a specific type of article.
Typically the story goes like this:
The blog posts themselves are usually a description of the overall objective, then gives a play-by-play of the critical steps alongside code snippets and commentary. These posts are going up all the time, and they’re a fundamental way of how people use the web to learn to program.
This leads to our first motivation: the intrinsic satisfaction of altruistic behaviour which benefits a specific community. There is a undeniable feeling that you get by contributing to a body of knowledge that others will find helpful. Most developers owe a lot of their own knowledge to the community, more so than most other disciplines, which don’t change at the same pace as emerging technology.
“When I find something cool, I want to share it with someone else. It could be design related, or front end html or even some database stuff. I write tutorials for my peers.” - Gianni
There’s also a feeling of personal accomplishment for having solved a problem nobody has written about before. If you spend three or four hours slogging through bad documentation to accomplish a particularly challenging task, it feels really satisfying to pay it forward and help the next person who wants to accomplish something similar.
And while the warm and fuzzies are definitely part of the motivation behind developers writing tech tutorials, there is another, more lucrative motivating factor: Writing tech tutorials demonstrates your expertise, increases your street cred, and leads to new business opportunities. Time and time again, developers I’ve spoken to have reiterated this point.
“[Writing tutorials] helps us demonstrate our expertise and gets us work... We can also build up the brand, and a result drive business to our products and services.” - Henrik
This might be especially true if your services or products are geared towards the technical community. So if you’re building a productivity tool like a task management product, and that product is geared towards developer teams, it makes a lot of sense to write articles about cutting edge technology that they’ll be looking for.
And if you’re a freelance developer looking for work from other development companies, it makes a lot of sense to demonstrate your technical knowledge in this format, and hope they take it to the next level and get in touch.
We have a big vision for what Kera can accomplish, and we talk often about how we can change the way people use the internet to learn. Especially among groups of people who aren't supported by educational institutions.
But to start, we think we can add value to the way people are writing and sharing technical articles. Hopefully you'll come along for the ride.