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There are a ton of unanswered questions and there is no incentive for many people to dig through those. It is extremelly annoying to see that I myself posted a couple of (hopefully valid) questions that nobody cares about because (almost) everyone is in for farming reputation and picking on the easy to answer questions.

I got the bounty idea but, still, bounty or no bounty, it seems wrong to equal in rep a question that was answered in 10s and a question that was answered after 1 week.

A way to differentiate would be to get some extra rep for the questions that were answered after a while. Still this should not be significant enough so that it does not get exploited.

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People will answer questions that have no answer - but only if they have some information that might help.

There are several incentives for doing so. Your answer is going to be the first answer so if it's accepted and there enough up-votes you'll get the "Enlightened" badge. If the question is old enough there's the "Necromancer" badge. And then there's always votes on the way to the silver or gold subject badges.

It could just be that no one knows the answer to your question. It could be too hard to solve or in an obscure area or language that no one else has knowledge of.

Try editing your question or supplying more information - you should have been doing your own research on the problem in the meantime and sharing what you've found out will bring the question back to the front page and might the missing piece that someone needs to be able to provide you with an answer.

PS No one has to answer any question on the site.

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I think I'd have to agree, giving someone the incentive to wait longer to answer a question could cause older questions taking longer to be answered than usual. – Brett Ryan Dec 2 '09 at 9:29

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