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What if the difference is 90% vs 70%, compared with 50% vs 20%?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The “rules” I use:

  • If it is quick and easy to answer a question from any user I will. (Low cost)
  • If the question is asked by a “worthwhile” user I will put in more effort (Benefit user asking question). To decide if a user is “worthwhile” I will look at:
    • Their accept rate.
    • Their rep.
    • How many times they have voted.
  • If the question is about something I wish to learn about, I will put in the effort if I have the time. (Benefits me)
  • If the question has lots of views (relative to its age) or has been up voted, or I think the answer will be useful to people other than the asker I will answer it. (Benefits “3rd party” users)

In other words, I will not go to much effort just to help a use with a 0 accept rate, but if answering the question is likely to help other people, I will do so regardless of who asked it.

So if you have a better accept rate, you are more likely to get answers from me, but a low accept rate will not stop you getting any answers from me. (I consider an accept rate of over 70%, to be good.)

Also remember that often the people with a low acceptance rates are the same people that don’t put in the effort to write a clear and concise question. So that lack of answers may not be directly related to the acceptance rate, but just due to the person asking not caring about other users of Stack Overflow.

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This looks like a good policy. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 5 '11 at 11:52

People are INCREDIBLY motivated by rep in this game called Stack Exchange. We want to know that our time is going to be rewarding to us. If your accept rate is 90 or 70, we're probably going to be just as motivated to ask it as if it was 100 (since even answering a question isn't a guarantee of acceptance, our odds are probably the same). If your rep is 20, I'm less likely to invest the time unless I see it something that could be upvoted many times. I may still decide not to answer a question for somebody with a 20% answer rate though as I'd like to help somebody who played by the rules and rewarded good behavior. The ultimate point is that if you don't reward the community, the community won't reward you.

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I think you could say the opposite, people will likely ignore your question or not spend much time on it if your accept rate is gray or less than 60%. 30% or 20% makes it likely people won't bother especially if it is a tough question.

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Personally, I never look at accept rate. If I see a question I can answer, then I do.

The most effect the accept rate might have on me, is if I'm running into problems, or need clarification. A low accept rate shows that the questioner might not be one to invest quality time in his questions, so if I start to get frustrated and feel that I'm not going to have the questioner care enough to help, I might move on.

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Also, for those chasing reputation, most of the reputation from answers comes from others voting up (an accepted answer with 5 up votes gives 65 rep, only 25 of this from the questioner; with more up votes this ratio increases). –  Richard Sep 5 '11 at 6:40
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@Richard: That's only true for tags where other people actually do vote - with most of my answers I am happy if I get one upvote. :) –  Wladimir Palant Sep 5 '11 at 11:06

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