Question: How can difficult answers be justly rewarded, as typically, they do not earn nearly as many points as easy answers.
In order to cast a (merited) up vote, I think the following are necessary:
- The question must be interesting enough that I view it
- I must be able to understand the question
- I must read and understand the answer – and determine if it correctly answers the question
- I must decide that the answer conveys the solution well
The first and third points are notable I think: - Easy questions are heavily viewed, do not require much effort to understand, and answers are often short, minimally technical, and presumably easy to judge for correctness. - Difficult questions tend to focus on the details and require much more scrutiny in reading. Both the question and any answer tend to be longer and often at least moderately technical.
As a result of the above, answers to difficult questions – which require more effort to compose – usually earn votes that are disproportionately few in number. Since the intent of this site is presumably more toward solving the difficult questions, this discrepancy does not seem to be in line with the objectives of the site. (I will grant that difficult questions are much more interesting, and are quite likely to get answered regardless of votes.)
Factoring ‘difficulty’ into the weight of votes provides a bit of an additional reward for valid answers to difficult questions. One possible self-regulating measure of difficulty is the relation between the time that a question goes without up voted answers and the number of views – a question that accumulates many views, but goes unanswered (without being closed, of course) suggests that the question is not easily answered (or it is too vague to be answered – but a valid answer in this case may be more notable anyway).
I grant that while interesting, the above is not an ideal solution. Hopefully though, a viable approach to the problem can be found.