Now, I'm not saying that upvotes and C!s aren't nice. Like everyone else I feel a little validated and a little happy inside when that magical You've gained experience pops up in my epicenter. Knowing that someone liked what I wrote is nice but it always feels a little hollow. I mean, I don't know who upvoted me, I don't know why they upvoted me, and I've no clue at all what it is that I'm doing right.
What's even nicer than upvotes and C!'s, though, is when that person takes a minute to /msg me to say "Hey, your node on <insert some node here> really made me think" or "Wow, I burst out laughing", or even "It's pretty good, but this one paragraph could use a little tightening". (Actually, that last is the best, because it not only means they read it, but that they liked it enough to want to make it better--a greater compliment I've never been paid).
I don't think that I'm unique in this respect. The desire for contact, for feedback, for a voice coming out of the darkness of the night is one of those things that defines us as intelligent beings. The need for a connection with another thinking creature is almost the only universal I've found in my not quite 27 years on this world. The simple pleasure of being told "You made me feel better" is the greatest upper and the best aphrodisiac.
Doing this for others is the next best thing to having it happen to you. So next time you're surfing around e2 and come across something that makes you say "Wow", take just a minute to /msg the author. You'll make his day, and yours.