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While this question is similar to Can we prevent some of the low-quality questions from entering our system? and a few others, I am finding that the real issue recently is not only the bad questions, rather a combination of those and a competition to answer nevertheless.

Let me explain: sometimes I see a somehow "bad" question. This often means it would have been answered by even the shortest research on some documentation page, or from another SO question. Or, it's a really trivial development question (this is debatable, I know!, but that's not the point). Or, it does not belong to SO: it's superuser or serverfault -this happens extremely often.

What I would really like is to never see those questions on SO. Get them downvoted so that they disappear. Because with the huge amount of Q&A on SO even a simple search (through google, through SO, even through the ninja search page) is becoming increasingly difficult.

What I'm tempted to do, sometimes, (SO forgive me!) is to answer, to get a little rep boost. And by the time I'm thinking about doing it, somebody does it.

I do not want to say that I do know what bad Q is, but I'm wondering if something could be done to prevent this.

Maybe an incentive to properly moderate and cleanup answers, through peer review, would counter this issue?

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What's currently lacking in the current list of tools: Closevotes, moderator flags, migration, downvoting, editing to improve quality of questions, decreasing the visibility of low votedquestions? – Ben Brocka Nov 10 '11 at 15:26
@BenBrocka : my current thesis (mind, I was looking for feedback on this and I might be wrong, and it's getting more clear in my mind thanks to this discussion) is that new users get more incentive in answering bad questions than closing or even downvoting them, because they hope to increase their rep. – Stefano Nov 10 '11 at 15:53
Well that's certainly true, as new users don't have the tools (and arguably the know how) to use those other options, I'm not sure they should though. I've seen a number of "bad" questions on multiple sites that get closed but have an accepted answer; to me the question is "over" so it doesn't bug the community, but the asker apparently got the answer they needed, isn't everyone happy? – Ben Brocka Nov 10 '11 at 16:07
I did not have time to update the question as I promised in the comments yet, but I will. Just curious, I saw already 3 downvotes on this question and I guess @AnthonyPegram should rightfully be one of them because he finds the question is not well formulated. But the others? Are downvotes on Meta a way to say: i disagree, or is it really a bad question for meta? Shouldn't I get comments on how to improve (or even close and remove) the question? Maybe I will make this a real question on meta soon. Oh btw I really don't care about rep on meta, I am just curious. – Stefano Nov 14 '11 at 11:06

This comes across as a vague rant sprinkled with generalizations. Please, provide specifics. You generally say there are bad, unresearched questions that are being rewarded with reputation, and trivial answers to those questions are being similarly rewarded. Yet, there are no examples. I can counter and generally say that bad, unresearched questions are downvoted into oblivion and closed as fast as possible.

You say that there are questions on SO that should be on other Stack Exchange sites. I counter and say that those questions are usually identified, closed, or migrated. Again, generally, as fast as possible.

Here's the truth:

There are algorithms in place to try to prevent the worst questions from being asked. Question length, poor structure, lack of code, etc. Any or all of these could be used to prevent a given question from being asked.

There are algorithms in place to identify the worst question askers and prevent them from adding a new question at all. Users that habitually ask the worst questions (poorly received, downvoted, closed, deleted) can have their rights to ask questions revoked. Again, this is to improve the overall quality of questions that make it to the site.

Possible duplicates are presented to users as they are typing, to try to prevent unnecessary duplication and redundancy.

Users with sufficient reputation are another part of this process. We have the ability to see a question and decide if it passes the threshold of usefulness. If not, we can downvote it and/or vote to close for the appropriate reason (not a real question, too localized, etc.).

Finally, users with lower reputation can still participate in this process by using moderator flags. If you see a question that you think is not a good fit, you're free to use flags to bring it to the attention of someone with sufficient rights to close it. This is particularly useful for slow moving tags (or slow moving SE sites). Faster tags (such as C#, Java, etc.) generally get enough eyeballs to make such flagging unnecessary, high rep users will sufficiently identify and act upon these questions.

There are a number of tools already at work. Some of them automatic, and some of them are up to you to use. Use them.

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Point taken. I'll try and find examples shortly, I just jumped onto a few of them in these last days. What I will try and demonstrate is that current tools are slowly losing the battle against the huge number of new users coming in for a mix of low quality questions and rep-fighting users! And hopefully I'll be proved wrong ;-) – Stefano Nov 10 '11 at 15:51
Here is an example. This user has openly admitted to rep whoring to get to 20k and is now running for moderator: – bkaid Nov 10 '11 at 22:03

but I'm wondering if something could be done to prevent this.

Go ahead and set a good example. Downvote and closevote. Point out (politely) in a comment that this could have been Googled in ten seconds.

It's a slow process and there will always be people hunting reputation - that's part of the game, and I guess that's okay. But the more people call out crap questions, the more chance there is of forming a culture of not answering crap.

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I agree. I'm trying to do so, but I guess I'm still shy as downvoting/closevoting myself, maybe because I see little of it - this is also part of an answer to @AnthonyPegram questions that I'll address better in a little why. The fact that I'm shy about down(vote|close) makes me also wonder if there shouldn't be a slightly different tool/metric for that. I'll try and reformulate all of this better. – Stefano Nov 10 '11 at 15:47

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