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How come some questions on Stack Overflow reach a huge number of views in a couple of minutes when some others keep a miserable number of views in the same amount of time?

I wanted to post a screenshot but I don't have enough reputation. So I will describe the scenario:

  • User John Magnolia with 303 reputation asks "Opencart modify SQL in getBanner function" with tags , , and got 0 votes, 0 answers and 2 views after 27 minutes.
  • User Goz with 24.3k reputation asks "Converting an FFT to a spectogram" with tags , , and and get 7 votes, 6 answers and 2k views in 28 minutes.
  • User Abid Qasem with 6 reputation asks "Auto complete in ComboBox windows forms" with tags , , and and gets 0 votes, 0 answers and 4 views in 29 minutes.

If the tag has a small number of followers, still has 23k+ when has "only" 17k+. I won't even talk about the number of followers for the three other tags of the 2k views question. So how come? Can it be related to the reputation of the guy asking?

I read the post Why the difference in the number of views?, but it's not relavant because in my case there's nothing specific about keywords or tags, and this one, but this second one deals more about "after a couple of days", here, it's a couple of minutes...

-- Edit --

Adding the original screenshot I wanted to post: enter image description here

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closed as not constructive by Oded, Lorem Ipsum, kiamlaluno, Sathya, Cody Gray May 20 '12 at 5:17

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Why? Because some tags are more popular than others (somewhat a reflection of the users of the site), some questions have better titles than others, some questions are more interesting than others (and are not a repeat of other questions). –  Oded May 19 '12 at 8:44
1  
IMO it's all to do with the title... A good title catches your eye and makes you want to click through... –  Lix May 19 '12 at 8:52
5  
Is "mn" months or minutes? Because the example you quote as getting 2k views is 3 years old. –  Pëkka May 19 '12 at 10:09
    
@Pekka, it's minutes (see title). I update my post. –  Guillaume May 19 '12 at 11:11
1  
But Goz's post is 3 years old, not 28 minutes. What gave you the idea of 28 minutes? –  Pëkka May 19 '12 at 11:20
    
@Pekka, I saw it in the "interesting" tab on the home page of Stack Overflow between the two other questions I'm quoting in my post. Double checking this question, indeed, it's 3 years old. It's probably an edit that has been done "28 minutes ago" when I posted my question. My question has no point to be then. –  Guillaume May 19 '12 at 11:26
    
I think the question in itself has merit despite the mistaken example... but it's closed now. Ah well. –  Pëkka May 20 '12 at 10:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There are lots of possible variables.

One is definitely the tags. And looking at the total number of followers is not sufficient—those people have to be online around the time the question is posted, or they won't see it.

Also you have to consider the quality of the question (including title, presentation, formatting, use of whitespace, inclusion of sample code and/or images, correct grammar, style, precise and accurate descriptions of the problem, use of humour, etc.) and whether people are likely to know the answer.

And yes, the reputation of the asker has a lot to do with it. Maybe because people assume that people with high rep are likely to ask good questions, or maybe because high rep users didn't get high reputation without posting good questions (and answers). Whichever way you look at it, there's still something to it, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. High rep users have put a lot into this site; they deserve to get a little more out of it when they need some help.

But the truth is, it doesn't really matter. In the end, good questions get good answers. Focus on posting good questions, and you'll get good answers. It's not a race. You don't win by being first, either first to answer or first to have your question answered. You win by getting a great answer, solving your problem, and learning something that you didn't already know.

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It seems like the best answer I ever get so far on an SX site was for the worst question I ever asked ;-) –  Guillaume May 21 '12 at 2:53
    
Yeah, there are occasionally exceptions. On Meta, the exception is often the rule. For example, just because a question gets downvoted doesn't mean it's a bad question. It just means people disagree. –  Cody Gray May 21 '12 at 8:48

A few reasons, in random order:

  1. Timing

    Don't know about Stack Overflow itself, but on Programmers we get most of our visits (and questions & answers) during certain time windows that stay more or less the same each day. Although Stack Exchange sites cater to a worldwide audience that window roughly coincides with early afternoon in the US (for all different US timezones) and sometimes Europe. It's a lot easier to notice on a smaller site, and after a while of being a regular on Programmers it's also easy to anticipate, and post your questions or answers then. Stack Overflow is gigantic compared to Programmers but I'm guessing similar windows exist for specific tags, and also happen during late afternoon in the timezones of populous Asian countries.

  2. Some tags are more popular than others

    And by that I don't just mean popular within Stack Overflow, but in general. You never know where a "visit" came from, the number of followers only tells you how many people with Stack Overflow accounts are following the tag.

  3. Social media

    When it comes to specific questions, some questions get a lot of visit / vote love because they have been shared all around the internet. Read this answer of mine for more details on how a couple of questions exploded vote wise after I shared them on Reddit.

  4. Reputation

    Reputation may play a smallish role, it's only natural for people to be curious when they see a high rep user asking or answering a question. Wouldn't you be interested to see what problem a 50K user can't solve by themselves?

  5. Question quality

    The Establishment covered this, however I want to emphasize the importance of the question's title. It's the first thing anyone notices about a question, either when browsing the site or when looking at search results.

  6. Duplicates

    Questions typically get a short burst of visits / votes each time another question is closed as a duplicate of them. It's only natural, people are directed to see the older question, and will probably also cast their votes there (up or down).

  7. Lifespan

    Older posts had more time to accumulate visits / votes. Newer posts will probably get there in time, however you should also factor in that the site's culture and guidelines are ever evolving, voting patterns change in time, and typically we become more strict with time.

Can't think of anything else that would cause a visits / votes discrepancy between two roughly equally interesting and useful questions. That said, it might just be that the higher voted question is quite more interesting and useful to a lot more people than the lower voted one, although that might not be true for you. It happens.

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