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This has always been a bit of a puzzle to me. I generally upvote every question I answer:

  • if it seems a good enough question to take time answering, it seems a good enough question to upvote

  • I want to encouraging people to ask more questions about topics I'm interested in, especially since I work on some of the less-common areas here.

  • Pragmatically, if I upvote a question, it seems more people may have the chance to read my wonderful answer.

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I think my ratio is more the other way around, I often only vote for good questions, not so much for answers. I must be out of my mind :P –  Ivo Flipse Jan 22 '10 at 12:04
dup of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19470/…. Both the questions are so old but no body see it. –  Himadri Jul 9 '10 at 6:17
For a meta observation: Answers here have more votes than the question . –  tutuca May 17 '12 at 15:15
I totally agree with this, I try to keep updating my formatting so that the question gets better and better like here: stackoverflow.com/questions/16605834/… and here stackoverflow.com/questions/16586469/… but still questions won't get upvotes:( I don't see what I am doing wrong here –  Nick N. May 17 '13 at 9:43

11 Answers 11

up vote 51 down vote accepted

My rule of thumb is that I upvote questions when I find them on Google when I look for a solution to a problem of mine - I upvote the answers that helped me and the question. It seems like other people do that as well because some of my questions / answers get upvotes even (almost) a year after they were asked / answered.

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"I upvote questions AND answers when I find them on Google when I look for a solution to a problem of mine" -- me too, totally. –  Jeff Atwood Jun 29 '09 at 11:33
This is my rule of thumb also. If I have a problem and I find the solution already exists on SO, I upvote the question and answer. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 8 '09 at 12:57
we also have a reminder we now display when registered users arrive via web search.. see the screenshot I added here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/89045/… –  Jeff Atwood May 7 '11 at 7:54

You only get 30 votes per day. I read a lot of posts each day. If I voted for everything that deserved it, I'd be out of votes by 9am. So I tend to reserve it for posts that I find are the most helpful. Sometimes they are questions, but more often it's an answer.

I also like to reserve my votes for things that are note only simply "right", especially about easier problems, but also especially insightful in some way, or provide good answers to more difficult problems. I like to think the rep people earn here was really earned, that it means something (even if in reality it probably doesn't).

For questions, I'll often give an upvote to someone who responds when I ask them for clarification.

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+1, exactly what I was going to say –  Andreas Bonini Jan 22 '10 at 11:02
So maybe you should at least upvote with a low probability, i.e. draw a random number and upvote if it's <100 * p modulo 100 or something? –  einpoklum Sep 7 '13 at 17:37
@einpoklum How 'bout a critical hit w/ a d20 ? :D –  Joel Coehoorn Sep 11 '13 at 2:24
@JoelCoehoorn: Good enough for me. But do typical SO users even know what a d20 is? :-) –  einpoklum Sep 11 '13 at 6:23

Judging from my own limited personal experience (both looking for questions, asking questions and answering questions) - there seems to be a culture of non-upvoting on Stack Overflow as opposed to some other Stack Exchange sites.

For example, on TeX.SE it is much more likely to get a couple of upvotes for a reasonable, relatively-well-written question which applies to more than just yourself. You won't get that on SO. Now, people here might justify it in various ways:

And these are, well, kind of valid reasons, I suppose, but there's no measure of magnanimity in upvoting.

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Because some times the question is poorly written, lacking enough detail, or just plain lazy in nature (google has easy to grasp hits, RTFM), which do not necessarily mean I won't answer it.

I'm much more likely to upvote a question if it makes me think "oh, interesting", was very well written (logical flow, solid background, well formatted code samples, spat of self-deprecating humor, etc.)

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Spot on in every respect :) –  Jon Skeet Jun 29 '09 at 10:22
Agree, but in part lots of users may just be in the habit of judging answers, rather than questions. I know I am. But I will be more diligent about voting questions themselves in future. An admonishment in the FAQ to VOTE! IT'S NOT JUST A PRIVILEGE, IT'S A RESPONSIBILITY! would probably be helpful. –  John Pirie Jun 29 '09 at 12:04
Well, there is the Civic Duty badge to encourage voting...although it is not specific to questions or answers. –  Stu Thompson Jun 29 '09 at 14:54
but if you've answered it then despite the sloppy writing, you found enough in there to be able to answer it. If it was so sloppy as to be unintelligble, then surely you wouldn't have answered it, the counterpoint here is why didn't you edit the question? –  Unsliced Jan 22 '10 at 10:35
Editing powers require a LOT of rep. –  Pops Jan 22 '10 at 16:15
@Unsliced: So what? Said questions still do not merit an up vote merely because I bothered to answer them. I also frequently up vote questions I have not answered. –  Stu Thompson Jan 23 '10 at 7:29
Is "RTMF" meant to be a joke? Shouldn't it be "RTFM"? –  Chris Frederick Aug 4 '11 at 19:42
@Chris: a mere typo, thanks –  Stu Thompson Aug 5 '11 at 7:43
@Stu: I think the previous spelling just screams the point across effectively, though not as user friendly. :D –  Jeff Mercado Aug 5 '11 at 8:12

A lot of times I answer questions that I think the user could have solved on their own with minimal knowledge of google/bing. While I won't up-vote the question, I still like to help solve them for a few reasons:

  • to help the user out, after all, that's why we're here, right?

  • in some cases to suggest a better approach, since the problem the user is trying to solve might just be due to an unfortunate architecture decision (e.g. "how can I stop change data capture from killing my performance?"), or they may have already seem to have decided on the wrong solution (e.g. "how do I use dynamic SQL and cursors to do x?").

  • also hopefully to install some good coding/naming practices compared to what they might find out there (or what they might have presented in the code in their question).

  • a selfish reason: for my own practice, since I'm not in a position where I get to solve these kinds of problems anymore, and I kind of miss it sometimes.

I also don't up-vote questions when I have to pry and pry for enough information. "Doesn't work" and missing details about what has already been tried are up there, but most frequently I have to ask what version of SQL Server is being used. (As an aside, I wonder if it would be possible to enforce or at least suggest that the user pick a specific/minimum version for sql-server questions, if they've only tagged with sql-server - since solutions can be very different and much more efficient for 2005+ or 2008+. I think I know what my next feature request will be.)

Typically I up-vote questions that are challenging to solve or present a new problem that I haven't encountered before. I suspect that some people stay within their comfort zone. I do as well, to an extent - I stay in the SQL Server realm, but I do try to solve problems I don't have direct experience with. If I can already google the problem and come up with several solutions, it just isn't worth an up-vote IMHO, even if I do plan on posting an answer.

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I upvote questions that I found useful to me. If I have a problem and I find the solution on SO, the question and answer get an upvote.

I answer questions which aren't useful to me, because I already know the answer. I frequently look over the unanswered questions to see if I can help someone out, and I'll answer all the questions I can, but that doesn't mean those questions good or useful to me.

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Just because you know the (or more likely an) answer to a question doesn't necessarily make that question "useful and clear".

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sure, and there are tons of questions that I know the answer to that I don't bother to answer. I'm just surprised that my logic "if it's useful enough to spend time answering, it's useful enough to upvote" isn't universally help. So I learned something quite useful from this question... you should vote me up! –  Mark Harrison Jul 9 '09 at 2:40
Absolutely. Sometimes I ask questions that no-one else is likely to be interested in too, and I can only hope someone will take the time to answer. Those who answer deserve my upvotes and accept - but the question itself isn't good purely because someone can answer it. –  Steve314 Aug 5 '11 at 8:07

I almost always vote up questions I answer. It's foolish not to, because voting it up keeps the question on the front page, and if more users click on the question, more will see your answer, giving your answer more chance of being upvoted.

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Ah, working the "reputation greed" angle. :-) –  Brian Knoblauch Jul 8 '09 at 12:47

I upvote good questions, the same as good answers. Obvious? For instance, this question isn't that great so I haven't upvoted it. However, Stu gave a good answer to an obvious question, so I and others have upvoted that.

OTOH, questions are more scarce that answers. Perhaps questions should count double.

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I upvote question I answer because they generally have no other answers, or have non-upvoted answers.

That way I increase the visibility of the question on the "Unanswered" tab, hoping to attract other answers challenging or completing mine.

Since most users might be unaware of that particular side effect (increase in visibility on a SO tab), they might associate upvote solely with the quality of the question (redaction, research, clarity, ...), which is a good criteria.
I only think it should not be the only criteria, especially for questions on narrow topics.

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Upvoting for answers makes sense: your answer is competing with other answers and upvotes is how the community "picks" the best answer.

Upvoting questions has no similar context. After all two Java questions don't relate to each other, vying to be picked as the best. It just doesn't make sense.

Plus, in SO, question askers are the consumers, answerers are the producers. Production is harder than consumption and thus deserves more reward, basically.

I do upvote questions on occasion, usually for one of two reasons:

  • A total newb has asked a real quesiton. This is an almost automatic upvote for me to get them to the point where they can vote/comment/etc. Part of the need for this has been diminished by by changes allowing people to do this on questions they ask but still I want to get people asking real questions up there ASAP; and
  • The question is truly outstanding, in terms of the value of its answers, the issues that it raises or the usefulness of the question. This is a truly subjective decision.

Answers are easy: tyou upvote the right/best ones.

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Maybe there is a similar value to votes on questions - helping to rank questions in some searches. Anyone know if that's true? –  Steve314 Aug 5 '11 at 8:11
@Steve314: The only questions that compete against each other are duplicates; the duplicate closing mechanism is too effective (on most sites anyways) for votes to make any difference. –  Pieter Geerkens Sep 7 '13 at 19:48

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