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First of all, sorry if this is a duplicate of this.

Sometimes I don't understand what the deal is with Stack Overflow anymore. I look back and see old posts that have hundreds of votes, but if I see a question with no bounty that has 7 votes, that's a lot. Has it been so overrun by new users that a lot of the quality ones have fled?

Consider two answers I made today

What's the deal? I can see the current system working great when there's a lot more quality users on the site, but now the site seems to be so flooded either by total beginners OR by people who don't know how to use a search engine that I find myself linking what have you tried? in a comment in half the posts. I feel like I'm being punished for good answers.

I don't have any suggestions for an improvement, but I'm feeling disgruntled, meta. Thoughts?

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closed as not constructive by Mark Trapp, Jim, kiamlaluno, jonsca, hims056 Nov 21 '12 at 3:52

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I don't appreciate minuses without a comment. Further evidence of the decline in quality around here, you can't even bothered to say why my question is bad. –  durron597 Nov 20 '12 at 22:23
    
With respect to your two answers, one could possibly explain the votes purely based on length. Short and sweet is easily evaluated. Long and detailed takes more effort of those evaluating. But if it's good enough I think the votes for that one will come as well. I don't know if that fully explains the votes, but it might be a factor. –  Bart Nov 20 '12 at 22:27
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It's not clear what you are asking. Are you asking why old posts get more votes than newer ones? Or are you asking why short, throwaway posts get more votes than well-thought out posts that require a lot of effort? Quality does not necessarily equate to the number of votes cast against a particular post. –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 22:30
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Another point is visibility. The +4 answer's page was viewed 66 times, the (now) +2's 33 times. –  Daniel Fischer Nov 20 '12 at 22:30
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The downvotes are probably because this seems more like a rant then an actual question. In anycase, I think the voting to question ratio has not kept up with the growth of the site in general. The longer questions are on the front page, the more visibility (and votes) they receive. Now the front page cycles through so fast that questions/answers get little visibility. –  n00b Nov 20 '12 at 22:39
    
@RobertHarvey: I'm not exactly sure what I'm asking. I want to improve the situation, but I'm not sure it's possible. I guess I'm asking for ideas for improvement. –  durron597 Nov 20 '12 at 22:41
    
@DanielFischer: I suspect those two +votes are from Meta users following my link. I could be wrong. –  durron597 Nov 20 '12 at 22:42
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Downvotes without comment have been a part of Meta since the very beginning. –  Pëkka Nov 20 '12 at 22:43
    
I don't think it's necessarily a problem with quality as it's a problem with volume. When you answer an easy question there are going to be more people going to that page than when you answer a hard question. Nobody except Jon Skeet knows the answers to all the questions, but there are some questions that everybody knows the answers to, and those will get more traffic –  Sam I am Nov 20 '12 at 22:45
    
@durron597 Actually, I upvoted both answers to the complex number question just before I went to meta (because they were both good). Happy coincidence :D –  Daniel Fischer Nov 20 '12 at 22:45
    
also, short is good –  Sam I am Nov 20 '12 at 22:45
    
Maybe the reward engine was based on the older users not taking into accounts of newer users like myself into consideration. People who already had 3k kept on getting more and newbies like myself are getting none. It is no longer merit based but people based (on who knows who). –  chmod 711 telkitty Nov 21 '12 at 15:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The problem is not with the quality of the users as much as it is with the number of users.

Easy questions that everyone knows they can answer get a lot of traffic, and the earlier you post your answer, the more people will see your post.

The more people that see your post, the more people will vote on it. This leads to easy/fast questions getting a lot of upvotes.

In addition to that, the easier the answer is to come up with, the easier it is to verify it to be correct (normally), and the more people are able to verify that your answer is correct, the more likely they are to vote on it.

Also, questions that are relevant to a very large amount of people get exposure from people who are actually googling for answers to their problems, and they are also likely to upvote the answer if it solves their problem.

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+1 Very true. You only have to look at the bounties available on very specific questions to realise that the more uncommon the question - the more desirable the answer. –  nickhar Nov 20 '12 at 23:37

Well, as for me, it's still the same "premature optimization" problem - this time applied to answers, and not the code.

Yes, you're trying your best to make your contribution a perfect one. But the question is, will these efforts really matter in the eyes of those who will read it?

Also, you seem to miss (or at least didn't mention) the simple fact: some great answers are late bloomers. They didn't have stellar scores at their beginning, but grew in power with time. And that, as I see it, mostly depends on how generic the problem (both given AND solved) is: spend your time writing a really great answer for very narrow, specific question - and face the consequences of being mostly unvoted (but then again, catching Tenacious/Unsung Hero badges in process). )

The bottom line: sometimes your efforts do matter (and, as others say, it greatly depends on the question's topic/tag combo), sometimes they don't. Experiments, deep theory voyages, may matter - but may as well not. But isn't it the same with, well, life itself - you know, the one beyond SO? )

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Regarding your first answer, Fastest Gun In The West is a feature. Quick, correct answers are rewarded.

Regarding your second answer (and others like it) if you get enough "accepted without upvote" answers you'll be awarded an Unsung Hero badge. (That's my only gold badge at the moment.)

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