I find that much of the joy and art of code golf comes from the ridiculous tricks and optimizations needed to squeeze every character. Yet, I find myself losing motivation to do so because I feel like the site doesn't give enough incentive to try my absolute hardest.
If I work hard to cut 2 chars, few people will appreciate the difference between 78 chars and 76 chars, and the post will get upvotes either way. It's hard to appreciate the difference between a good golf and a great golf unless you look into it closely or try it yourself. Often, there's no other answer in the same language to compare to. And with so many challenges posted, everyone's effort and attention is split, making it hard to justify focusing hard on any one challenge.
I myself am lucky that I golf in a language (Python) that many people know and golf in. So, my tricks are likely to have golfers who appreciate them, some of whom compete with their own Python answers or suggest improvements. This is great, and I'd like to see much more of it. For less common languages though, it seems like there is little pushing for a well-optimized answer other than the writer's internal motivation.
How do you feel about motivation to golf? Is this worth looking into? Should we do anything more to encourage or reward more meticulous golfing, and if so, what?
(I talk about golfs, but this all applies equally to code challenges, fastest code, etc.)