But Why?

But Why?
Photo by Beth Macdonald / Unsplash

For the past 18 months I've been regularly adding content into my wiki. It's been a way for me to catalogue things that I find interesting or to help reinforce something that I want to learn. And I put it online not only so I can access it anywhere, but also so that maybe someone else will get some value out of it.

That didn't used to be my only motivation, though.

The original idea from my wiki came from Nikita Voloboev's wiki. I even used the same site generator they did. I saw the 4k stars on the GitHub repo, the massive number of commits and contributions to the site, and thought, "yeah, I want that".

And so I started building my own. As I stumbled across sites, interesting articles, or I learned something, I tried to write it down. And I've written almost 400,000 characters. I'm pretty content with that.

But in hindsight, I had terrible reasons for starting my wiki. I started it in an attempt to establish some minor internet celebrity status. Not to help others or to help myself learn, but for clout.

What a shitty reason to do anything.

I had a goal that was based off a metric that was completely outside of my control. I can invest hundreds or thousands of hours into a project or creative work and not get any recognition whatsoever. Others may not find my work interesting or useful. Right from the get-go, my definition of success was based on something I could not influence. I would have been better off basing success off of something I could control, like "only add something if I truly think there's value", or "make at least one contribution a day".

But also (and this might be an even worse reason to have done it), I wanted an ego boost. I wanted to make something that hit big traffic numbers, that would draw in contributors on GitHub, and that would build me some online clout in a small corner of the internet.

Needless to say, I've achieved neither. And it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

I still contribute, although not as much recently as I used to. And I will continue to publish it online in the hopes that others – and my future self – get a benefit from it. But my reasons for contributing are no longer tied to a meaningless metric or a shallow desire for recognition. The act of contributing is enough.

I wonder what else I do for the wrong reasons.