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How do some questions get so many votes? For example, Is there an "exists" function for jQuery? has 548 votes so far. Is it about marketing your questions in other chat rooms? Or it simply because it is a cool question?

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i.stack.imgur.com/2oXaG.png o_o –  ɥʇǝS Apr 29 '13 at 5:06
    
@Seth more simple linking to the question timeline. :-) –  Shadow Wizard Apr 29 '13 at 7:53
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And to answer the question: that question is the first Google result when searching for "jquery exists" which is probably very popular search term. :) –  Shadow Wizard Apr 29 '13 at 7:55
    
a better example for it, stackoverflow.com/questions/11227809/… –  user220080 Apr 29 '13 at 10:14
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4 Answers

up vote 32 down vote accepted

The vast majority of the popular questions on Stack Overflow (and the entire network) generally fall into one (or both) of two categories:

  • "Hot" questions, that are linked on Reddit or Hacker News.
  • "Extremely useful" questions, that are the target of search engine hits.

In your example, it is the second category. Apparently, it is a very commonly asked question. So the most of the 200k views probably came from people searching for the same problem on Google or other search engines.

When the question and/or answer helps such a user, they'll probably upvote (if they have an account).


Recently, I've been playing with the Data Explorer to (mathematically) separate these two categories of extremely popular questions.

I informally refer to them as the "Type A" and "Type B" popular questions.

Here you'll see posts that have received over a thousand votes in a single day. As well as posts that have thousands of votes yet have never received more than 20 in a single day.


Here's a visual illustration of the difference between Type A and Type B posts:

Type A Post: Most of the votes are concentrated in one or more spikes of viral attention.
This question was linked on Hacker News on May 4th, 2012.

Enter image description here

Type B Post: The votes come in steadily over a long period of time.
Note the exponential increase is reflective of the exponentially increasing size of Stack Overflow.

Enter image description here

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that was very helpful Mystical. I knew about the seo part, but I never knew that people share there questions around other communities like the ones you mentioned. And what Data Explorer? –  themhz Apr 29 '13 at 5:16
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@themhz The two links I gave are Data Explorer queries. Here's a direct link to the main Data Explorer site: data.stackexchange.com –  Mysticial Apr 29 '13 at 5:23
    
wow I think I just moved out of my fishbowl. were are those data explorer faq and tutorials? how do I write there? :) sorry if I sound like "from another plannet" –  themhz Apr 29 '13 at 5:48
    
oh found them :) never mind thank you! –  themhz Apr 29 '13 at 5:49
    
@themhz I was in the same boat as you a few months back. And I knew absolutely zero SQL. But looking at other people's queries, and playing with them, I taught myself everything from scratch. And the countless times I googled for how to do something in SQL just to find myself coming right back to Stackoverflow to upvote the answer that helped me... :) –  Mysticial Apr 29 '13 at 5:51
    
Looks like this question went artificially hot because of the known bug in collider formula: at least 2/3 (11 of 18) answers in it made fake bumps to "hotness score" despite being practically useless, as evidenced by their score being less than 1/100 of top voted answer –  gnat Apr 29 '13 at 7:46
    
@gnat Actually, not here. The question never received a large amount of votes in one day: stackoverflow.com/posts/31044/timeline It was never hot. Multicollider questions are almost always Type A questions. This one is a solid Type B. –  Mysticial Apr 29 '13 at 11:19
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@Mysticial agreed, thanks for pointing to timeline. It indeed shows that votes and answers went in gradually over a long time - that's not the case of broken collider score –  gnat Apr 29 '13 at 13:49
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Write really good answers (and change your name to Jon Skeet). Also, it helps to work in popular categories.

More seriously:

Writing answers that address not just the specific details of the original question, but also address concerns that late visitors might have, will give you an opportunity to collect votes beyond the first rush. Think of it as a type of 'royalty' for above average work.

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If you noticed, the question was asked on Aug 27 '08, and it is a very common issue. Each jQuery developer face it, and with time it gets votes.

Yes, you can also share your question as it is a feature on Stack Overflow and earns you badges too.

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All you need to do to get a lot of upvotes is answer relatively simple questions really quickly, preferable you'll need to focus your attention on answering in the first few seconds after the question is being posted. You can easily pick up one or two and possibly three upvotes per answer like that.

If you want 20 or 30 or 40 upvotes per answer then the only option is to answer similar questions posed in 2008; obviously there will be an aspect of time travel involved - but inventing time travel may be simpler than picking up a vast reputation uplift from new questions on the 2013 SO.

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Answering (interesting) performance question, with very detailed analysis also racks you votes. –  nhahtdh Apr 29 '13 at 7:49
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