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I would like to know if experienced SO users know of a pattern that may be used to identify time wasters and users who seem to be just gaming the system for rep. So far, the only pattern I've seen is when a user has rep in the 1000's asked questions in the 100's and answers in the 10's. (in fact, I am not sure if this is a pattern of time wasters, but I've seen it a few times, also mentioned here, in Meta)

Sometimes, I spend a lot of time putting together an answer for one of these users and then they don't even bother to acknowledge it, let alone up-vote it or accept it. I've been supporting the Google Maps API for the last 6 years, (in the old Google Groups), but in February 2012 I suffered a stroke which left me on a wheelchair and with only one operational hand to do all my typing with, so I prefer to use whatever little help I can still offer on serious users.

Thank you for any insights. :-)

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Help Vampires: A Spotter’s Guide –  Yannis Nov 10 '12 at 18:04
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Please explain why you think the pattern you observed qualifies as "gaming the system" rather than being "I am a newbie and am trying to learn my subject matter to a real depth"? –  Oded Nov 10 '12 at 18:04
    
@Oded, I am not sure if this is a pattern of time wasters, but I've seen it a few times, also mentioned here, in Meta. I am just trying to find out if it is and if there are others. –  Marcelo Nov 10 '12 at 18:11
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You know someone is a time waster when you think "I'm wasting my time here". Really, there is a "you'll know one when you see one" kind of deal here. And as soon as you feel it happening, move on. –  Bart Nov 10 '12 at 18:11
    
Related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/153159/187716 –  Barak Nov 10 '12 at 18:56
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I have a list of some of these people. You may be surprised (or not) to see who is on it, but there are some very high-rep users who give the absolute bare minimum (if argue not enough) when answering a question. They share the worst if the rep whores. –  casperOne Nov 11 '12 at 2:04

1 Answer 1

Consider that the goal of Stack Overflow isn't just to help the askers but to also help future visitors for years to come. Keeping that in mind, there is but one asker to every question but a potential for thousands of future readers who may benefit from that post.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the same thing happens on Google Groups to a certain extent. I'm guessing there have been times when you've used a past Stack Overflow or Google Groups post to help you solve a problem you were facing, without having to post a question of your own.

In short, don't focus so much on getting feedback from the asker. The asker is but one person in a much larger transaction. By posting great, well-thought out content, you're helping many many people, even if the asker doesn't necessarily acknowledge it.

As an aside, recently, I had an answer I posted in February 2011 get accepted about a month ago, a year and a half later. Sometimes it takes time to determine if an answer actually worked.

So keep doing what you're doing. Focus on writing great answers, and if they're useful, they'll get upvoted by other members of the community. Good luck!

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I like this answer, but I would like to point out that whenever I get an answer accepted 6 month or later than when the question was asked I always check out the OP's activity. 9 times out of ten that acceptance stems from someone saying something along the lines of "You've been here for a year and you have a 0% acceptance rate." –  sosborn Nov 10 '12 at 23:47
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And that's okay @sosborn. Just focus on writing great content. If you do, then other users will acknowledge that through upvotes. No one ever bothers to complain about users' upvote rates, only accept rates, yet collective upvotes give way more than the green checkmark. ;) –  jmort253 Nov 11 '12 at 0:06

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