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I have recently asked a few Java-related questions on Stack Overflow that were practically self-answered by me. It's not that I'm disappointed that no one has answered - these were hard questions. But they also have gained almost no acknowledgment - very few views, no votes, etc.

In the same time many trivial and easy questions are answered very quickly gaining both up and downvotes or being closed - it's not important - what is important, they were at least clicked. Everything that is documented gained attention - both repo-hunt answers and RTFM-like close votes.

One of this questions, PrimeFaces with big dialogs - how to do this correct?, got six visits before end of the day, when I've finally worked out jQuery hack - probably two or three of them are my self visits that were counted. Such use of dialogs is something beyond documentation and showcase.

How to use Spring services in JSF-managed beans? is about the cooperation between two most important Java technologies, Spring and JSF. 26 views in almost one month? Is this so little interesting to Java developers? Are they happy with EJB+EJB, because it is described in documentation and showcases, and more need they not?

In the same time my answer which was upgrading the accepted answer only by providing a very OOP-like way to use jQuery is still upvoted, though it is nothing difficult, only tricky.

So, is the community more and more focused on hacks and tricks, and not to the solution to hard problems?


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To me this just indicates people aren't voting on content they don't understand (which is a good thing) . If less people understand if the answer to a hard question is correct, less people should be voting on it. If they got the same number of votes it would likely mean people were voting without knowing if it was correct, and then the whole SE system breaks down. –  Servy Dec 17 '12 at 20:17
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But in order not to understand they would have to read question first, and the low number of views suggest they don't do even that. Isn't the upvoting questions the mark that I feel this is important topic and should be answered btw? –  РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ Dec 17 '12 at 20:19
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Bounties could help with views. If you're willing to really invest some time into this problem, you could also try editing the questions so that the titles and previews on the Questions list (first three lines or so) sound as interesting as possible. –  Josh Caswell Dec 17 '12 at 20:22
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Maybe the complexity perceived by the title alone keeps them from opening the question. This is a good thing, too; if the title made the question seem simpler, then the question blows their mind, then that isn't necessarily great for the site either. –  Aaron Bertrand Dec 17 '12 at 20:22
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for views it comes down to time of day (posts at high traffic days and times of day will get more views) and the title of the post. Questions with titles mentioning things people are familiar with will get them to open it up, questions mentioning things people aren't familiar with, or know tend to usually be out of their league, tend to get passed over on the main page. –  Servy Dec 17 '12 at 20:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Hard questions are like niche questions.

If someone doesn't understand it, they probably don't know whether to vote for it or not, and they won't spend much time trying to figure out if they should.

I don't think this is specific to the Java community, just a fact of life. On Stack Exchange it's important to try and attract those who will be able to answer your question. This makes the title and tagging very important. Many people filter on the tags that they care about, and the title will let them know without clicking in if they have a chance of being able to answer it.

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@lechluksaz In other words. Don't waste effort answering hard questions. You won't get much rep, if any, for your work. Since most folks have figured this out, the follow-on rule is don't ask hard questions, because - as you've noticed, no one will even read them. –  Chris Gerken Dec 17 '12 at 23:00
    
@lechluksaz and then - salt in the wound - you get down voted for even pointing this out. –  Chris Gerken Dec 17 '12 at 23:01
    
Personally, I like answering hard questions, but only if I have the time, which is a tough commodity to come by. The real point though is that most hard questions aren't hard for some people, and you hope to attract those people to your question. The harder it is, the smaller a group of people you need to connect to. The title is critical. –  Lance Roberts Dec 17 '12 at 23:02
    
Could you edit this answer a bit? Simply state is it in your opinion more problem of Java community on SO or the SO self. This is the nearest to the accepted answer I expect :) –  РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ Dec 19 '12 at 16:54
    
@lechlukasz, done. –  Lance Roberts Dec 19 '12 at 16:59

It's just kind of how we roll -- recognize that there are different types of question:

  1. High-traffic, which tend to be easier to grasp, or with broader appeal (these can be n00b type questions, although they don't have to be -- simple but interesting/counterintuitive questions also fall into this category)
  2. Subtler or more complex questions, which the average passer-by doesn't want to spend time on
  3. Everything in between

You can always get more eyeballs on your question by putting a bounty on it, although of course it doesn't guarantee an answer you like.

Recognize also that substantial questions, like the ones you self-answered, have longer-term potential. If you've solved a problem, then people may continue to find your question via search, as time goes on (whereas type-1 questions, after getting more up-votes initially, may never be heard from again). The key to maximizing that potential is digestibility:

  • put effort into the title, making sure it's apt and concise, and the tags are correct
  • write the answer newspaper style, leading with the key points for anyone who's in a rush, and filling in the details for those who might be interested
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Heh, I've (honestly) read your opening as: It's just kind of how we troll... –  Yannis Dec 17 '12 at 21:49

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