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Earlier this year when I started using Stackoverflow, I would be able to get multiple answers to a question fairly fast. Now, however, there are new questions posted every minute so a new question quickly drops off the front page. Now it seems that by the time the question has dropped off from the Newest Questions page that it usually only has a few views and is not uncommon to have no answers.

I posted a question last week which I thought would be easy but there were no answers so I had to open a bounty even to get one answer.

Is there a way now to receive more answers? I always try to tag the question appropriately but it doesn't seem to make a difference. It seems that Stackoverflow is becoming a victim of its own success - there are so many questions now that less are getting good answers.

EDIT:
For example:

This question was posted by me on Oct 5. I didn't receive any answers so I opened up a bounty for it even though I thought it would be pretty easy for a person with the right knowledge.

This question I posted today. It fell off the "Newest Questions" page with only 4 views (2 of which I think were me) although it did have a vote. Perhaps Tablesorter is too narrow a topic though.

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5 Answers 5

Sadly the TL;DR principle seems to apply on SO (just like everywhere else).

If you are planning on posting a wall of text with a lot of details, I'd recommend that you try to put a visually separated short-and-sweet version of the question at the top, then add all the details and code samples afterward.

If the readers get confused or bored by all your setup details / code samples, etc, they aren't even going to make it to your question, much less answer it.

Also, nobody likes to follow random links. In one of the questions you mentioned, your actual question is stated in the form of "I asked this question at someurl.com/blahblahblah" and didn't get an answer.

Basically you didn't type out the question again, so now all your potential helpers have to do extra work to read that question on some other site, then go and back forth with the information here on SO. Putting the actual question directly in SO would likely get more people to look at it.

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Yeah, it's a bit of a paradox. On one hand, you're encouraged to provide as many details as you can and show the steps you have taken but on the other hand people seem to notice the "Help me plzzz" types of questions more. –  Matt McCormick Oct 23 '09 at 18:39
    
That question wasn't asked by me but I provided it for more information that this was a problem that other users have experienced and to show I actually tried to find the solution before posting the question. You're right though. Perhaps it was just needless info. –  Matt McCormick Oct 23 '09 at 18:42
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@MattMcCormick I'm not trying to play blame game or anything (although I admit it does read a bit that way, sorry for that), but I'm just trying to give some tips for the future. Generally you want it to be incredibly obvious what you want to ask. Links, code samples, etc are all often helpful to answerers but if they get in the way of figuring out what the heck the question is, they are going to do more harm than good. –  TM. Oct 23 '09 at 19:02

Posting a complaint about it on meta seems to work. :-)

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Shhhhh! Now the secret's out! –  Shog9 Oct 23 '09 at 17:49

Can you give an example? Most of the questions I see have two to three answers within 5 minutes of being posted.

No I don't think that it is too popular. Most questions that don't get answered are probably because they aren't worded well enough for people to pick up what the actual question is. It could be that, or the question is tagged inappropriately. Other times questions are essentially asking to other people to do their job for them (not saying this is you, I'm just making a general comment). Do questions sometimes fall through the cracks, sure, but that is true anyplace. I would bet that if stats were ran, most questions are answered very quickly.

I did notice too, that you accepted an answer to your question, which means that someone answered it to your liking (at least partially).

I hate to admit this also, but I believe I remember seeing your question this morning, I just didn't try and answer it. I admit, I didn't know the answer right off the bat, but I could have done a little digging and eventually solved it. I'm not saying this as an assault on you or that I'm super smart (which I'm not), I'm just trying to point out, it's kind of the luck of the draw as to when people see if if they want to respond. It does have something to do with the site's popularity, but that isn't the only factor. It was definitely on the front page long enough to be seen, it really just depends on people's moods as to how fast someone will get a response.

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Popularity works both ways: yes, questions move off the front page quicker, but while they're on the front page, they attract more eyeballs.

It would be interesting to see a graph of how "time to first answer gaining 2 or more votes" has changed over time, but I doubt that you'll see that big a problem.

In fact, I would say things are getting better, if anything. These days when I get up, it's not worth me looking through more than the first couple of pages of questions - anything older than an hour or two (that I can answer) is likely to have a good answer already. I used to go through all the questions since the last one I'd seen the night before.

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That's dedication right there! –  Greg Hewgill Oct 23 '09 at 20:42

Also, the Community user brings some unanswered questions up the list, and there's the Unanswered page. If you have a question that has 0 answers, try rewording it, adding details, making sure the tags are good.

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