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Taking a look at the anonymous feedback on Gaming, it appears questions are getting many more "unhelpful" votes than answers are — 10 of the 11 least helpful posts are indeed questions.

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See the list for SO - SF - SU - Gaming

The most helpful posts are instead overwhelmingly answers, and this comes as no surprise.

That is kind of baffling — what can be unhelpful with the question text?

How should we read this feedback? Is it because the question is unclear? I doubt it. Is it instead some kind of overall judgement on all the answers to that question?

If it is, then how can we improve that? Most of these questions (examples: 1, 2, 3) have a huge amount of answers, so a bounty attracting more answers doesn't seem like the way to go, especially when the current accepted answers remain pinned on top. Would it be a better idea to delete those questions and start them over from a clean state?

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Where did the pretty graph come from? I just see a big list. – Kevin Vermeer Nov 7 '11 at 16:37
@KevinVermeer I made the graph myself from the displayed post scores. – badp Nov 7 '11 at 16:41
Probably the titles that try to be clever/injokes – random Nov 7 '11 at 16:44
@random Nope, all these questions have normal titles. – badp Nov 7 '11 at 16:46
Perhaps the question the user arrived at isn't what they typed into Google (and thus is not helpful because it's not the question they actually want answered)? In that case it might be more of an SEO issue. But I have no idea how you'd confirm or deny this is occurring, let alone fix it. – sjohnston Nov 7 '11 at 16:49
Considering the nature of the intersection of "gamers" and "internet users", I would guess that most of the downvotes are for reasons such as "You dummy that's obvious to a 4-year old" or "That game sucks". – Toomai Nov 7 '11 at 19:58

I would assume that they feel the questions are unhelpful because they aren't the questions that they need to be answered, despite appearing in Google results or wherever else they "asked" their real question.

This is sort of how I rank things on Microsoft's support sites (when I can be bothered to do so) and elsewhere. It doesn't matter how well-written or relevant the information is if it doesn't solve my problem. It wasn't helpful, so I mark it unhelpful.

If true, I think we need to do a better job of encouraging people to ask questions. Perhaps when a question is ranked unhelpful we could pop up a little message:

Not the question you're looking for? You can ask your question without even needing to sign up!*

I would need to see some very convincing evidence in order to believe that these "unhelpful" questions are actually unhelpful for the people with 1) the same problem and 2) basic reading skills and a large enough attention span to read the answer(s).

* Except on SO ...

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Your popup message sounds like an excellent idea. – sjohnston Nov 7 '11 at 16:58
So what you suggest is the issue really is with the title of the questions? The title asks something that matches the user's search, so they go over to read the answer and the body asks something different? Then how'd you explain this question getting 2/-12? Analytics tells me this question is being reached the right way. The issue could be this one is protected, but other such questions aren't. – badp Nov 7 '11 at 17:01
That question has one hundred sixty-four thousand views. With that much traffic, 12 "unhelpful" votes could be anything - folks who typed their board number incorrectly, folks who hate youtube, folks who are actually looking to remove a flock of enraged crows from their property... Heck, even folks who just click things at random. – Shog9 Nov 7 '11 at 17:18
@Shog9 And what are the chances that random clicks hit 'No' six times more than 'Yes'? I had to use that question because it's the only one that's large enough for me to be confident about the lack of SEO issues. There are 9 other examples that aren't as huge. – badp Nov 7 '11 at 17:33
@badp: I'm just saying, stuff like this is far more interesting - 8 helpful votes and only 500 views. A whole 1.6% of anonymous viewers voted. Probably quite a bit more, considering a fair number of those views are from site-users. Or how 'bout this one - ten unhelpful on under 700 views. So that's some long-tail goodness right there. – Shog9 Nov 7 '11 at 17:59

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