I floated the theory of a silly acronym called WIFE - that's "what's in it for everyone?". Now don't get me wrong, I'm not as self-less as that might paint me, but I firmly believe that when we look beyond just ourselves we see the true benefits of community and sharing. So blogging is an example of WOL - but good blogging is the type that wants to share and form ideas, it serves a purpose beyond the individual. If my only reason for writing this stuff is for me and to get stuff off my chest (or worse for financial gain or profit) then I don't think that's really WOL or really helping others. Does my blog here really help everyone - almost certainly not, but if it makes you think it has some value beyond myself. That's the real point here that what we do should be about more than just ourselves. If all this sharing is about just ourselves then I think we've missed the point just as assuredly as if we state that we share only for others and not ourselves - part of the idea behind WOL is that we work in public, that means and encompasses learning too.
Surprise surprise but I suggested this in the chat today with the original founder of the phrase WOL (John Stepper):
I'm pleased to say John does look beyond the simple WIFM factor:
...and of course is (at least) one step ahead of me:
Again, I'm not here trying to promote a left-wing tree-hugging solution to your life by sharing all your good stuff so that someone else gets the credit. I just think that your motives for sharing should be more than purely personal or you might just as well bury your head into research and publish an end article. The way I like to WOL is by pushing my ideas, half-formed or otherwise out into the public arena for feedback for me, yes, but also in case someone else finds them useful and it causes people to think. I like to challenge not because I like to have arguments with people (honest!) but because I like to look at things from a fresh perspective.
Is WOL a good thing? Mostly yes it is, but the answer is definitely when the WIFE is involved :)