It seems like my post on “What’s Wrong with the SharePoint Community” triggered some reactions, to say it mildly. Not only did it spark a flurry of great comments and community debate (proving to those still in doubt that the SharePoint community is not dead, only in peril), but it also broke every record in reads and visits, as this graph from Google Analytics shows.
That’s fine and dandy, and I’m thrilled the community shows its value and commitment but I’m left with several important questions, chief of which is what actually motivates the community participants.
What Motivates Me?
I’m not going to ask you to disclose your personal motivations without disclosing mine first, and although I think I’ve let most of this slip in earlier posts, I’m gathering it here so you can know what drives me.
First, I’m not motivated by money. Although it’s a long story why, I’ll tell you about the experiment I did to examine whether I would be more or less motivated if I got paid at all. While studying at University of Phoenix, I wrote a paper on extrinsic motivation and how rewards can actually kill creativity but I would like to experience first hand what it meant.
So, in short, here’s what I did. In Q1 2006 I figured out what Norwegian welfare would pay me if I did nothing. Now, Norway has great welfare, but it wasn’t much, and I was quite used to a comfortable living from the salary I made. Next, at the start of every month, I took what exceeded the welfare payments and gave it away to charities or organizations to which I belong.
Then, every day, I kept a journal where I wrote down my thoughts about work in the morning and in the evening and scored a grade of 1-10 of how much I wanted to go to work the next day. Actually, after a few days, I got tired of writing to myself and just kept the score, but it was still astonishing what I discovered.
On average, and I don’t recall the numbers exactly, my desire to work increased throughout the experiment. Starting out at just over 6 on a weekly average, I ended up well over 8 by the time I was done. Not just that, but I enjoyed the experiment because it forced me into learning new ways of doing things and saving money.
The tasks I did were fairly similar too, so I’ve summarily ruled that out as a factor.
I realize that there are plenty of flaws in the methodology, but at least to me, it showed surprisingly that I wasn’t actually less motivated to work, even if I was not paid to do so (I was paid, but not more than I would had I just sat down and played games all day).
Want to know how much I’ve earned from my community participation? So far, I’ve sunk over $150,000 into USPJA, not counting the countless hours I’ve spent writing content and managing the operation. The USP Journals break even for pure expenses, but I don’t make a dime myself. This blog probably earns me monthly almost enough for a tank of gas in Norway.
So no, money is no motivating factor for me.
I’ll happily admit I love making noise, as I so fervently discourage in the community post. I absolutely love doing pranks like the one Joel and I and the speakers at SPTechCon Boston 2011 did. If you didn’t catch what was going on, check out this post.
However, those things are for fun. They’re done not because neither Joel nor I really need the attention but rather because it served a purpose in clarifying Joel’s ‘retirement’.
Yes, I write to be heard and because I want people to read what I have to say, but if you follow this blog, you also realize that I can go quiet for months if I don’t have something relevant to say. When I write, it’s usually because I think that both you and others will gain real value from it. I’m not writing for you to come visit me or remember me, I want you to read the message.
In fact, I have been pondering starting a new blog and writing under a different name, just to prove that point at least to myself. That way, I would personally not gain any benefit, but the message would still be heard.
I haven’t done that yet, though, simply because I’ve come to a point now where people want to read what _I_ write. If I started writing as Joe SharePointer, nobody would listen until the clout grew enough. Also, people would probably recognize my style rather quick.
No, the main thing that motivates me is knowledge. I adore knowledge, worship it even. I want to learn something new every day, otherwise I feel I’ve wasted that day.
I guess that’s what increased my motivating during the poverty experiment too. I was forced to learn to live my life on a shoestring budget and I learned how to shop smarter, to conserve food and resources, and to make the most of every single dime.
Here’s a big secret, known only to virtually all the ‘experts’ in the community: We don’t actually know that much. Most of us know very little.
No, really, we’re not oracles. I, for one, however, thrive on figuring things out. When I undertake writing a new USP Journal issue (like now, when I’m writing theseries) it’s because I want as much to learn the stuff as the readers.
Of the 18 or so books and journals I’ve written, only one or two were on material I knew well. I write in a way that makes me learn, first and foremost, but it seems to work well for others too. I’ve made it into a method that allows me to combine learning for myself and telling others what I’ve learned. It’s a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.
So, there you have it. Not money, not prestige, but learning. It shouldn’t be a huge mystery why I chose to start a SharePoint university and that I’m so passionate about teaching and acquiring new knowledge.
My question still remains, though. What motivates you to participate in the SharePoint community? Don’t be shy, feel free to be anonymous (but at least make up a nickname so I can address your comments).
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