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12 days ago I asked a legitimate question on SO: How do I use MODI in an ASP.Net Web App I feel like the formatting is fine. The grammar is fine, it's legible, I've provided (and updated) a code sample. I've been engaged with the only answerer, and upvoted him for his efforts.

And yet, for whatever reason, I don't have an answer I can accept. In addition, apparently, my question is not worth upvoting! (It's on 0 as I write this).

I could live with that, except every now and then, I stumble on something like this: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/9/how-do-i-calculate-someones-age-in-c which gets an unbelievable 42 upvotes! Really?! For those to lazy to click that question link, here it is in it's entirety:

Given a DateTime representing their birthday, how do I calculate someone's age?

That's it. One sentence, 42 upvotes.

Now I know that from time to time, I'm going to have questions that apparently nobody knows the answer to. And that is just life. But is my posted question really that bad that it doesn't even deserve an upvote?

My questions here are,

  1. How can I improve my question such that it becomes worthy of upvotes and / or answers?
  2. And what is so incredibly special about the one sentence question that the community feels it's worth upvoting 42 times?
  3. How do we modify stack overflow such that it's worth the time to post and answer detailed descriptive technical questions?
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What can you do to make that question more attractive to answer? Change it to be "how do i calculate someone's age in C#". –  Steven A. Lowe Sep 9 '09 at 4:02

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The fact that question X gets more votes than question Y, does not make it a better question. It just indicates the question is more popular.

  • Popularity != Complexity
  • Popularity != Technical depth
  • Popularity != A For effort

So to answer your questions:

How can I improve my question such that it becomes worthy of upvotes and / or answers?

Give it time, update the question with your progress, the number of the people in the world who deal with the MODI library is very small. This question will never be particularly popular

And what is so incredibly special about the one sentence question that the community feels it's worth upvoting 42 times?

  1. Its quite old
  2. Jeff the creator of the site posted it (which gives it an automatic +10 or so)
  3. Its a simple question that is easy to understand and appeals to a broad set of devs

How do we modify stack overflow such that it's worth the time to post and answer detailed descriptive technical questions?

If you feel jealous that person X gets 100 reps for a one liner it will get you nowhere fast. Reputation is a measure of trust that the community has in you. Not a measure of "A for effort"

I asked a similar question in the past its a common issue, not much we can do about it, if GW taught us anything it is that voting is not perfect.

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+1 and accept for: Reputation is a measure of trust that the community has in you. That makes sense. –  Scott Ferguson Sep 9 '09 at 2:02
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It's not a measure of trust, it's a measure of exactly how popular your question is, by the people who happen to be online at that time. Cute tricks rate highly, simple answers rate highly, nicely formatted rates highly, and rep begets rep. I think the fact that complex questions are ignored speaks directly to the rep system. If it were removed, or fixed, this may happen less. As anecdotal evidence I recall the Java forms of years gone by. Lots of interesting and truly fascinating discussions were taking place and the only form of reward was 'duke dollars', which were widely considered a joke. –  please delete me Sep 9 '09 at 2:04

You must accept that, due to the nature of SO (points), complex, specific, questions aren't highly voted or even generally interesting. I would suggest that most 'experienced' members wouldn't upvote the 'age' question (probably a query would show that most of the upvoters have < 1k points). But silly little things, that can be responded with cute tricks, will generate votes.

If your problem is boring, yet practical, you will not get much interest.

I'd say your question itself is fine; your problem is that SO isn't a great place to solve such problems. Perhaps someone, who is experienced in that, will reply, and you will get lucky. But from what I have seen, very specific problems in non-standard things are hard to get solved.

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For starters, you're dealing with a dark corner of .Net that few developers venture into. That restricts the number of folks that even know what you are talking about (I follow your question, but have no clue what the answer is). The short question you linked to is, by contrast, a common issue that frustrates many new developers.

One other issue is the amount of time that needs to be devoted to the troubleshooting your specific problem. You have COM, MODI and the App Pool to deal with right off the bat. Then you're calling in the garbage collection. Many of the more popular questions are quick to answer, but the harder ones will draw the bright minds, eventually.

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I worry about how many views/up votes your questions have unless you're obssessed about rep. The voting mechanism allows users to communicate which questions they found interesting and that they think the community should read. Why people feel the way they feel (why the upvote) isn't easily defined. For that question I think its an interesting, common problem that people liked solving. :D

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Did you notice it also has 22 answers?

Probably is because on your:

A) Nobody ( or just a few ) have an answer
B) Nobody ( or just a few ) knows what are you talking about in first place.

There is not much you can do about it.

Think about this: If the question was "How do I use ANRMA in Sotromin" it would probably get as few views/upvotes/answers as yours.

Not because the question is wrong but because not much people knows what is that all about ( btw I have just made up those )

Easy questions get's tons of views/votes/rep though.

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