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I have seen sometimes that users tend to respond: "I have look at your account and previous questions/answers and it seems like [some argument]"

Is it correct behavior? I mean, answering the user and not the question itself, in an aseptic way?

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If you've actually motivated people to go through your activity history with a critical eye then there's probably something seriously wrong with your behaviour; forget about theirs. – Aarobot Nov 17 '10 at 23:36
Wow, downvotes. – Edgar Nov 18 '10 at 1:02
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Sometimes do occasionally check a user's account to see if I think it is worth my time to answer their question. Unlike some other folks, I couldn't care less about acceptance rates but if I suspect a user isn't learning anything, I will not waste my time with them.

On a more positive note I sometimes find question ambiguous in terms of the proper level on which they should be answered. A quick scan of the user's questions and answers can throw some light on where they are in their career and resolve the ambiguity.

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And what about the other users who look for that question? I really like the second approach, to understand the terms of the question. Thanks. – Edgar Nov 17 '10 at 23:47
meh. You make good points but taking the time to identify the best answer and mark it as such is part of the responsibility of the asker. If done responsibley, it's a help to people that come along later, is useful for looking for questions that don't yet have a good answer and provides the ideal (if properly implented) metric as to how well a QA system is working. If the question of rep was taken out entirely, then I would still favor askers with an appropriate acceptance rate. – aaronasterling Nov 17 '10 at 23:48
@aaron: The asker is rarely well qualified to identify the "best" answer in a general sense. Acceptance is about the one they used. Count on the community votes to find the most complete or generally applicable option. As a practical matter, however, I find few users who are learning who don't accept a reasonable number of answers. The two behaviors seem to be correlated, but I'll stick with my favorite markers. – dmckee Nov 17 '10 at 23:53

Absolutely it's correct. That's why a lot of it's built in. For each question, we already see: reputation, badges, and often acceptance rate. Should that information be hidden?

But the overriding principle is you always tailor your answer to the audience. If my 3-year-old asks, "Where do babies come from?" She's going to get a different answer than a high-school biology student (both, hopefully right).

Has the user asked similar questions? This often provides clues about the current one.

I also claim that it is perfectly fine to work harder on the questions of involved SO users and to skip questions of unresponsive users. It's not just karma and community. Without feedback, we can't always be sure that questions were answered satisfactorily.

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OK, thanks for the answer. However, I´m not really sure about not answering the questions. – Edgar Nov 18 '10 at 1:00

If I see a phenomenally low acceptance rate, I will peruse some of the user's previously asked questions. I don't think that users that aren't willing to figure out how the system works are very good for it and they should catch some flak about it. I think that this is better than just blindly saying "please improve your acceptance rate." Maybe the user only comes here for difficult questions and so will necessarily have a low acceptance rate: no harm there.

That's pretty much the only reason I'll look at a user's profile before answering a question though.

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Thanks for the answer. – Edgar Nov 17 '10 at 23:37

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