# What can we do about lazy users who use Stack Overflow as a free support forum?

It sometimes bothers me to see users who ask questions and gain reputation, but who otherwise do not participate at all.

His accept rate approaches 0 and he never cast a single vote, neither up, nor down. In other words: He lurks (which is absolutely okay) and leeches. This would be okay on paid forums or forums where there is no rep-system, but that's, AFAIK, not how the whole Stack Overflow -Buzz and -Community works.

An idea that came to my mind is a metric similar to the acceptance rate, or even a generalization of it, such as:

participation-rate <- max(1, votes-cast / (x*questions-asked)) , with x>0 & x<=1


This could then be displayed next to a user's acceptance rate.

Edit:

Jeff gave an answer to which I totally agree, but on the other hand, I think his opinion also holds true for acceptance rate: Users who don't accept do no harm, too, but still that was something voted in for the sake of reputation-interested users.

Edit:

I removed some ideas that are bad for potentially good content in itself. I also request the locking of this question as I come to the conclusion that such a metric is probably too fuzzy.

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If users ask lazy questions, refrain from answering, and downvote. – Pëkka Aug 30 '11 at 8:24
@Eat more Twisters: But wouldn't this work against what Jeff and Paul say? – anon Aug 30 '11 at 9:06
no. It's perfectly okay to ask 1000 questions without answering as long as they are good questions. If they are lazy questions, they deserve downvoting. – Pëkka Aug 30 '11 at 9:08
@Eat more Twisters: Okay, I confused lazy users and lazy questions. – anon Aug 30 '11 at 9:09

I don't think we should prevent users from asking questions for lack of participation. Questions are meant to be able to help future visitors who have the same or similar problems, not just to help the original poster of the question. By preventing a user from asking a question, we could also be preventing future users from finding the answers to their questions.

I especially don't think a warning box is a solution, as that just discourages people from answering the question, when they should be encouraged to answer regardless of whether they'll receive any reputation for it.

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On the other hand, haven't we reached a kind of saturation point? How many really new questions do we see daily, really? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 20 '13 at 17:08
@LightnessRacesinOrbit There is definitely a lot of repeat questions, but I don't think there will ever be complete saturation on StackOverflow. I think there are tags that are mostly saturated, but as new APIs and languages are always being developed we get new tags pretty regularly too. – Paulpro Jan 21 '13 at 14:00

This person

• has asked 10 questions in 5 months
• none of the questions are downvoted, closed, flagged, or deleted

... what damage, exactly, are they doing? I see no evidence this user is making the site worse through their contributions.

We have much more severe problems than this; we've had users in the past who asked hundreds of questions of vastly lower quality. Worry about that first. And read all the topmost linked questions there as well, otherwise you won't have the full story.

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Does the system put up any nag messages for new users similar to the "You haven't voted on any questions for a while" one? If not that might be an idea and cut down on some of the frequent comments left by the community I do quite often see remarks about "0% accept rate, 0 upvotes". – Martin Smith Aug 30 '11 at 8:40
In some sense, I think, the participation rate is similar to the acceptance rate. And your argumentation, which is totally true, also holds true for the acceptance rate. – phresnel Aug 30 '11 at 8:51
Which person asked 10 questions in 5 months? – BЈовић Aug 31 '11 at 7:30