Sometime last night I clicked over 10k views across the articles I've posted here. Thanks, post analytics! While an arbitrary milestone, it was still pretty jarring to see, and on my drive into work I started trying to unpack why that is. I'm not sure what I expected - I'm writing specifically so that other people would see it. I never excepted to garner that much attention so quickly, though - Dev.to has completely caught me by surprise.
For one, thanks. It's been validating as heck - one tricky thing about self-learning on your own is coming to any sort of understanding about how much you know or don't know. I've been operating under the assumption that I know nothing - and I think that's still more or less true, but it's nice to know I've got something to show for the work I've put in thus far.
Second, I guess I've got to start taking this more seriously. What if I am dead wrong about something? If it's gone uncorrected, I likely don't realize the error myself and I'd hate to lead anyone down a wrong path.
Until I became active on this website nobody except a few bored GitHub explorers had ever seen any code I'd written or heard any thoughts I'd had about the matter. My poor girlfriend has been subjected to a couple of rants here and there (okay, more than a couple - she could probably write her own Clojure at this point if coerced) but beyond that it's been a quiet, solitary hobby.
The simple act of publishing this writing here as opposed to anywhere else means that all of a sudden I'm accountable for it. It will get seen. That's super weird. When writing was done for primarily my own benefit it was a very different game. I wrote to gain a deeper understanding of tools I was using - I figured if I could explain something in English, I pretty much understood it. In certain cases this has uncovered gaps in my understanding of concepts I thought I had a good grasp on, so the act of writing has been reward enough. It's a pretty big mental shift to write for a platform with an audience built-in.
Every time I post something, I do so with the assumption that this community knows more about the subject matter than I do. I expect to be corrected when wrong, it's part of my learning process. And I have been, occasionally, which has been really cool. But mostly I've just thrown this stuff out there and thousands of you have just accepted it at face value, sometimes within just a day or two, as opposed to the dozens I was expecting to come through and tear everything apart. Part of the quick uptick in attention is that I have specifically opted to write about things for which I found little to no material on when I was learning it the first time. Like many of us, I wrote posts I wish I'd had to read and learn from myself. This means, though, that I don't have a huge body of examples to compare to - the responsibility of authority is now mine, and I'm still grappling with how to handle that responsibility...responsibly, while still feeling I have no such actual authority to back it up.
I don't have much in the way of a thrilling conclusion, but seeing that fifth digit definitely gave me cause to step back and think a little about what it means. My takeaway will be that the "Write a Post" button is not at all unlike getting up on a soapbox in front of 10,000 incredibly smart people, perhaps in a way that's more direct than other social blogging platforms - an interesting and intimidating opportunity, and potentially a fantastic way to learn.
I can't wait to see what else you lot have to teach me.