Anyone who spends a lot of time online blogging, tweeting, publicly sharing projects, or at least one of the above has likely, at some point, been asked for advice.

If not, it’s only a matter of time. There’s something about placing your thoughts, opinions, and projects – no matter how good or bad they may be – that gives you some level of credence with whom you interact.

Sure, sometimes you get negative feedback or negative criticism – that’s to be expected – and some times, others give positive feedback or confirmation and though that may not always be expected, it’s always appreciated.

Perhaps the best form of feedback, though, comes in the form of having someone either ask your opinion on something or how you would achieve something in a given programming environment.

There’s something awesome about that (and something a little scary about it, as well).

Taking the first step of actually getting involved in an online community takes a little bit of naïveté, I think, because once you get entrenched with others who are in the same field as you, you see all parts for what they’re worth.

You see the ugly, the bad, the good, and the great. Ideally, we’d want to be contributing to the more positive side of the spectrum, but it’s more likely that we’re kind of all over the place. It’s in our nature, I suppose.

But when there is someone who is reading your blog or your tweets and who takes the time to send you an email asking for your opinion on something, it can be incredibly flattering. After all, someone else is basically saying:

I am interested in hearing your thoughts about this.

I think that we often think about asking others this question. I mean, we all have those whom we look up to and who we respect, right? But when the table is flipped and someone is asking us something, it carries a far different weight.

It feels like responsibility.

And though I don’t know if sharing my opinion with anyone about anything actually carries any real weight or carries any real merit, I do know how much others influence me – positively or negatively – when they respond to my questions. To then know that you’re potentially responsible for playing on the other side of that equation is humbling.

Furthermore, and as idealistic as this may sound, I don’t think that it matters who you are, what you’re sharing, tweeting, blogging, or whatever your preferred method of publishing is or how many followers you have, your thoughts are going to matter to someone.

It’s just a matter of time before someone stumbles across what you’re sharing and takes an interest.

So if you’re the type of person who’s sitting on the fence about whether or not to publish a specific post or get involved in any type of discussion, I urge you to do it. Someone will be better for it (and as cliché as it would be to end on this note, I mean someone other than yourself).

Just don’t be surprised – and treat it with respect – when you get an email where someone is asking for your opinion on a topic related to what you share.