What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 127 Stack Exchange communities.

When you ask a question on one of the SE sites, adding a lot of (useful) information, could it be true that more people go tl;dr on it, and just move on to a simpler and shorter question? And is there a way to encourage answering longer questions, where the asker added more useful info?

share|improve this question
    
I personally find that I'm more likely to go back and read if I scroll down and find that the author added a "td;dr" section at the end (usually with the section header in bold to draw attention) with a brief but interesting problem statement. (Sort of a middle-ground between the question title and the context-rich body.) –  David Jan 19 '12 at 20:58
6  
At the risk of over-generalizing, I find that a hugely long question is normally the sign of something that is more than just one question, or is so entirely localized to the user that it will help nobody else in the future, or is just including way too much code / text than needed to reproduce the issue and nobody wants to wade through all of the irrelevant cruft. The more the user can do to refine the question and really boil it down to the core issue, the better we are at providing generally valuable answers. –  Anthony Pegram Jan 19 '12 at 21:00
8  
Welcome to the internet, where the bar for TL;DR lowers every day.... –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 21:04
    
@AnthonyPegram That's one of the things that I sometimes find hard. The latest question I asked is quite long, and I don't know if the thing that will eventually be found to be the problem, will be applicatble in many cases and therefor benefit many people. I just know that it's a problem I'm having with the youtube oauth api, that I can't find a sollution to. I add as much information as possible, which might localize the question a lot, because it's literally about the app that I'm building, but i hope it might help to give info about what's wrong. –  bigblind Jan 19 '12 at 21:22
3  
@casper I lost interest at "where". Can you be a bit more concise please? –  Pëkka Jan 19 '12 at 21:23
    
@Pekka'sOrganicRepFarm tl;dr –  bigblind Jan 19 '12 at 21:24
3  
@Pekka'sOrganic –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 21:24
1  
@Pek­­­­­­­­­­­ –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 19 '12 at 22:51
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

On average no not really

I constructed this data.se query and the results are really boring. Avgerage Score, answer count, view count, and comment count, barely change whether your question is a tweet or an essay.

Regardless of what people are guessing as to how people respond there doesn't seem to be evidence of a correlation between question length and how people interact with a question.

Percentile LengthStart LengthStop avgScore AvgAnswerCount AvgViewCount AvgCommentCount avgFirstAnswerInMinutes 
---------- ----------- ---------- -------- -------------- ------------ --------------- ----------------------- 
1          4           86         2.225916 2.63823        1212.290124  2.241199        7028                    
2          86          110        1.893458 2.50375        973.530614   2.218899        7386                    
3          110         130        1.834408 2.44301        881.933026   2.200727        7486                    
4          130         147        1.771789 2.427383       831.174842   2.194208        6995                    
5          147         162        1.653165 2.403563       773.039883   2.191621        6999                    
6          162         177        1.585924 2.377139       741.899854   2.217719        7109                    
7          177         190        1.681922 2.407089       781.356225   2.248108        7303                    
8          190         203        1.635359 2.35346        731.504747   2.225509        7200                    
9          203         215        1.601564 2.373105       728.633515   2.231752        7800                    
10         215         227        1.601735 2.385511       713.814727   2.233343        6872                    
11         227         238        1.559402 2.372105       675.93653    2.241121        7700                    
12         238         249        1.629228 2.367514       680.161936   2.24333         7972                    
13         249         260        1.619139 2.367509       667.566491   2.285897        7844                    
14         260         271        1.639144 2.367312       681.458962   2.251196        7450                    
15         271         282        1.511104 2.351035       648.64728    2.302164        8115                    
16         282         292        1.583726 2.377079       653.467612   2.235332        7505                    
17         292         303        1.594602 2.374905       659.495184   2.302325        7135                    
18         303         313        1.581772 2.38807        665.954721   2.316328        7939                    
19         313         323        1.64218  2.393542       686.715057   2.335375        7548                    
20         323         334        1.518413 2.363652       634.241946   2.290512        7349                    
21         334         344        1.595197 2.37687        646.489575   2.308154        7837                    
22         344         354        1.5235   2.355598       623.247791   2.322594        7429                    
23         354         365        1.569987 2.380776       643.931834   2.336349        6925                    
24         365         375        1.543809 2.357038       644.05887    2.345627        7475                    
25         375         386        1.609663 2.378891       611.170919   2.35754         7956                    
26         386         396        1.577247 2.357631       636.192919   2.345824        7039                    
27         396         406        1.574501 2.352638       629.7396     2.396333        7639                    
28         406         417        1.579639 2.362307       631.053196   2.362261        7749                    
29         417         427        1.563667 2.358527       620.635425   2.327705        7287                    
30         427         438        1.603978 2.381055       626.203561   2.341902        7295                    
31         438         449        1.573674 2.354366       625.699336   2.367694        7622                    
32         449         460        1.547651 2.364672       641.194243   2.360354        8257                    
33         460         471        1.636456 2.371677       625.305627   2.384337        7268                    
34         471         482        1.548774 2.360304       599.059739   2.365054        8139                    
35         482         493        1.576991 2.365884       610.390973   2.437391        6889                    
36         493         504        1.550435 2.393624       606.667377   2.416563        7767                    
37         504         515        1.576681 2.356427       602.742491   2.373817        7592                    
38         515         527        1.523839 2.342786       587.158232   2.417114        7177                    
39         527         538        1.574313 2.368491       585.992421   2.422718        7311                    
40         538         550        1.492719 2.337133       576.127176   2.410027        7615                    
41         550         562        1.554694 2.346457       600.684145   2.431957        7435                    
42         562         574        1.581108 2.365264       604.341893   2.499642        6844                    
43         574         586        1.541829 2.353573       574.45777    2.478575        7406                    
44         586         599        1.543794 2.328          583.666444   2.471931        7626                    
45         599         612        1.544863 2.354227       574.976922   2.474955        8176                    
46         612         625        1.563473 2.355859       592.065359   2.450543        7952                    
47         625         638        1.543229 2.353402       607.021603   2.47833         7399                    
48         638         652        1.537042 2.351984       574.395004   2.483232        7658                    
49         652         666        1.611433 2.356411       621.432119   2.501348        7007                    
50         666         680        1.620698 2.357396       640.827687   2.51411         7382                    
51         680         694        1.574777 2.334249       601.672752   2.488007        7529                    
52         694         709        1.542705 2.330976       559.629585   2.54165         7656                    
53         709         724        1.613247 2.33797        604.488081   2.508417        6683                    
54         724         739        1.582479 2.335506       620.09776    2.502904        7811                    
55         739         755        1.511606 2.322849       571.065562   2.511759        7584                    
56         755         771        1.553078 2.319978       589.029892   2.567171        8142                    
57         771         788        1.581132 2.32951        621.929003   2.546881        8170                    
58         788         805        1.512944 2.333496       566.010898   2.575056        7018                    
59         805         822        1.487733 2.309408       564.484527   2.574915        7904                    
60         822         840        1.616032 2.32643        583.357871   2.590945        7261                    
61         840         859        1.537411 2.335437       594.370026   2.600256        7268                    
62         859         878        1.488538 2.323327       571.187912   2.591733        8180                    
63         878         898        1.547791 2.317499       561.643816   2.618707        7551                    
64         898         918        1.550952 2.329242       568.963225   2.652548        7818                    
65         918         939        1.53378  2.283613       572.348065   2.59533         7646                    
66         939         961        1.592756 2.329136       613.375149   2.622105        6974                    
67         961         983        1.518406 2.303948       584.695293   2.634406        7884                    
68         983         1007       1.524676 2.298954       574.013024   2.682218        7253                    
69         1007        1031       1.618728 2.323274       624.320741   2.699237        7398                    
70         1031        1057       1.556557 2.32113        601.100719   2.676215        7655                    
71         1057        1083       1.597125 2.297561       565.487008   2.675704        7282                    
72         1083        1111       1.579567 2.291694       598.566546   2.688016        8161                    
73         1111        1140       1.623701 2.282923       586.122458   2.698843        7562                    
74         1140        1170       1.604496 2.291451       601.00893    2.714204        8427                    
75         1170        1202       1.539771 2.279889       579.471274   2.757027        7947                    
76         1202        1235       1.611232 2.264162       615.540296   2.690038        7895                    
77         1235        1271       1.595257 2.240616       582.978069   2.758834        8119                    
78         1271        1308       1.574962 2.263971       599.625813   2.75669         8446                    
79         1308        1347       1.508401 2.255809       583.196192   2.771313        7710                    
80         1347        1389       1.532381 2.25504        566.320383   2.808598        7788                    
81         1389        1434       1.484991 2.242763       566.408188   2.833926        8169                    
82         1434        1483       1.495935 2.219939       579.261211   2.852034        7770                    
83         1483        1534       1.548961 2.217905       596.538021   2.863134        8396                    
84         1534        1590       1.602513 2.222227       607.719219   2.847405        8635                    
85         1590        1651       1.566483 2.212324       583.137175   2.859488        8052                    
86         1651        1717       1.60488  2.21432        615.48335    2.928322        8936                    
87         1717        1791       1.60485  2.186346       599.907792   2.963157        9301                    
88         1791        1871       1.557256 2.187906       612.585895   2.954292        8925                    
89         1871        1963       1.556361 2.177258       627.769895   2.943296        8384                    
90         1963        2064       1.529216 2.141818       607.198994   2.973176        8963                    
91         2064        2181       1.558827 2.145301       617.844657   2.950239        7970                    
92         2181        2318       1.59862  2.151717       620.807175   3.014999        8811                    
93         2318        2482       1.560182 2.109852       607.982179   3.068161        8776                    
94         2482        2681       1.589725 2.095863       613.347256   3.125955        8718                    
95         2681        2930       1.54579  2.101239       634.571031   3.143553        8405                    
96         2930        3259       1.64917  2.088658       653.237324   3.227019        9246                    
97         3259        3732       1.57611  2.035071       640.041452   3.232136        9250                    
98         3732        4492       1.555921 2.012184       662.238139   3.265179        9793                    
99         4492        6118       1.4919   1.963026       635.836748   3.37423         10279                   
100        6118        48258      1.563623 1.922323       705.313718   3.566424        10431     

Note the questions are grouped into percentile by length.

Update There is however a pretty significant increase in the amount of time it takes to get your first answer.

share|improve this answer
    
Add WHERE tags LIKE '%javascript%' to your query (or another busy tag). You will see a more clearer correlation: Smaller questions get more answers (just like your one), views (just like your one, probably caused by refreshing to see an updated question, or being an easy one-liner question) and votes. Bigger questions tend to get more comments (probably because of: EDIT:..., UPDATE: .... Note that it's hard to find a correlation between length and view count, because you can't see the full body of the question, beforehand. –  Rob W Jan 19 '12 at 21:56
    
@RobW I checked and there is a starker difference between the tweets and the essays in javascript (which represents 6.5% of questions asked). Answer count goes from almost 3 to just under 2. But I'm still not convinced that length alone is enough to affect an question from being answered. –  Some Helpful Commenter Jan 19 '12 at 22:41
    
Would it be possible to encorporate how long it took before the question got answered? For example see the results in the first 2 hours after the question got asked? –  bigblind Jan 19 '12 at 22:59
    
@FrederikCreemers so I added avgFirstAnswerInMinutes and on average there does seem to be a steady rise once you hit 3K in how long it takes to answer a question from about 5 day to about 7 days. –  Some Helpful Commenter Jan 19 '12 at 23:18
1  
Wow; it never ceases to amaze me when hard data contradicts what seems perfectly logical and reasonable. (insert positive statement concerning voting behavior in relation to this answer) –  Andrew's a Unitato Jan 19 '12 at 23:28
    
thx, and btw, you're an SQL master :p. I've never worked with Windows Sequal Server, the only thing I've used is MySQL and GQL on google appengine :p. I'll probably look into the SQL dialect sequal server uses, just to be able to play with SE's data service. –  bigblind Jan 19 '12 at 23:34
    
@Frederik Creemers glad I was able to help. BTW most of what was written was ANSI SQL (window functions and Common table expressions), so you don't have to use SQL Server to learn that type of syntax. A similar query would have worked on DB2, Oracle or PostgreSQL. –  Some Helpful Commenter Jan 20 '12 at 15:40
add comment

When I see a question, my attention is usually drawn away when:

  • I see a big wall of text (without any paragraphs).
  • The previous point is even stronger when I don't see capitalisation and/or punctuation.
  • The question is only one block of code.

When constructing questions, I keep the following in mind:

  • What do I want to ask?
  • What answers do I expect?
  • Would I fancy answering this question, if it was posted by someone else?
  • Did I link to the proper documentation when mentioning non-common features?
  • Similarly to the previous point: Did I add any other useful tools / hints which could lead to the right answer?

  • Title: Does it cover the core of my question?
  • Title: Reading the first few words, would it invite someone to open the question?

After finishing my draft, I re-read my question, and shorten sentences where possible.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Yes

Always try to reduce your question to the least amount of code needed to reproduce your problem.

The more text you throw up on the question, the more likely potential answerers will tl;dr and move on.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think that the question should be brief and concise but without omitting importants details.

When I read a question...

  • Sometimes code would help.
  • Other time users post all code and make me think that they want we do their homework.

In conclusion the merit of a question is write only the necesary.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .