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You might have seen questions that everyone can relate to ("what desktop do you use") getting furiously voted up, and falsely increasing its "importance", and the rep of the OP.

But you see hundreds of smart and good questions and ideas get left alone only because viewers don't think its useful to them.

So whats the use of question ratings, if dumb questions get voted up more than good questions?

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It's kind of like asking "What's the use of democracy if dumb politicians get voted up more than good people?" If you can think of a better system, we're all ears. :) – ベレアー アダム Aug 18 '09 at 16:34
Except that dumb politicians actually get to do something. An upvoted questions increases the rep of the asker, but apart from that? – innaM Aug 18 '09 at 16:37
Dumb question. +1 – mmyers Aug 18 '09 at 16:46
Considering the particular example is a CW it has no affect on the OP's reputation either way? – BinaryMisfit Aug 18 '09 at 19:20
This question got 8 votes. What does that say, exactly? – JohnFx Aug 19 '09 at 2:07
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The "goodness" of a question is somewhat different to the "goodness" of an answer. In particular, while the accuracy and applicability of an answer is probably the most important traits of an answer, it's harder to judge the equivalent for a question.

There are a few reasons I might think a question is "good":

  • I find it entertaining
  • It solves a problem I actually have (most likely to be seen when searching for an answer rather than browsing all questions)
  • It addresses an issue which I know causes a lot of misunderstanding
  • It sounds like it addresses a problem I might have in the future
  • It's well-written: it has all the relevant information but nothing extraneous; it's polite, uses correct spelling and grammar etc

Most of these are somewhat nebulous compared with an answer's merits.

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On sites where I have little expertise (SF and SU), I find myself upvoting questions much more often than answers, simply because I don't know whether the answers are correct or not. – mmyers Aug 18 '09 at 17:18
I find myself wanting to upvote the individual bullet points on this one. – Bill the Lizard Aug 18 '09 at 17:29
Doesn't answer my question, but what the heck? This is Jon Skeet speaking! – Jarvis Aug 18 '09 at 21:15

Question upvotes have shaken out to be not nearly as important as answer upvotes. Upvoting good questions encourages users to ask good questions, but it doesn't necessarily give you useful information about the question. (Downvoting questions on the other hand seems to weed out the really bad ones, and discourages asking crappy questions).

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People will vote up what they understand. There are plenty of good questions out there, but the audience is going to be smaller, therefore the number of potential upvoters is going to be lower.

Everyone can vote up "Jon Skeet Facts", but "How can I successfully convert this Turbo Pascal project to PHP" isn't going to gain the same type of audience.

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"People will vote up what they understand" .. or what they find useful. – Jarvis Aug 18 '09 at 16:29
@Jeremy Rudd - how can be "Jon Skeet Facts" question usefull? In my company maybe few people know who Jon is (in fact the only people who know it have SO profiles). – smok1 Aug 18 '09 at 16:35
Useful, interesting, or entertaining. Most people aren't terribly discriminate with the reasons they upvote, beyond the fact that they like it for one reason or another. – ベレアー アダム Aug 18 '09 at 16:41
@Smok: It is useful if someone asks "Do you know any Jon Skeet Facts"? – devinb Aug 18 '09 at 17:11

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