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I find that despite giving seemingly good answers, I do not get as many up-votes as I would expect (understand: would hope). This actually intrigues me because there are good incentives to SO users to up-vote (through badges).

Aside from quality of the answers (which most certainly must be the most important factor for an upvote), has any objective factor been noticed for upvotes, such as:

  • Time of the day the answer was given (and relationship to timezones),
  • Category of the question (tags assigned to it)
  • Others?

It'd be interesting to see if there any patterns in the up-voting trends. Or maybe my answers are just not as good as I think they are!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Rep is a big influence.

I've posted a better formatted/detailed answer before anyone else, then a giant rep whale comes in afterwards and leaves a shorter less detailed answer which seems to generate more upvotes.

enter image description here

Fig 1. The question asker and the rep beast conspiring against me.

I thought about suggesting that rep is hidden on answers until one is accepted but that idea would probably be shot down.

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Oh, and now there's your very own: Should rep be hidden until an answer is accepted? –  ЯegDwight Feb 17 '11 at 10:22
See, I upvoted because it's relevant AND made me chuckle :) –  Kyle Sevenoaks Feb 17 '11 at 10:26
In the cases I've seen, it's been because the high-rep answerer has actually managed to focus in on answering the question better. Answer length is not a good predictive metric for quality. –  Donal Fellows Feb 17 '11 at 10:57
How about the avatar, does that come into play at all? ;) Great answer anyway, never thought rep could actually be factor, but it does make sense. –  Sébastien Le Callonnec Feb 17 '11 at 12:05
@Sebastien, everything comes into play, avatar, quality of answer, grammar, punctuation, layout etc etc, but I think it's a good idea to try and remove as many of these uncontrollable influences as possible so that the important stuff (the answer) is the focus. –  Tom Feb 17 '11 at 12:07
While I don't speak for anyone else, I don't look at a user's reputation number when evaluating posts. There are a few users who I respect because I've seen them give good answers and insightful comments over-and-over again, but that is "reputation" in its core meaning rather than its on-site meaning. –  dmckee Feb 17 '11 at 12:36
@Sébastien: It's hard to see how this can be the accepted answer without concrete examples. –  Bill the Lizard Feb 17 '11 at 13:56
@Bill the Lizard: What is your answer to this question, then? –  Sébastien Le Callonnec Feb 17 '11 at 14:02
@Sébastien: There are two other answers posted. This one makes a claim that would be easy to prove if it were true, but offers no evidence. I'm just suggesting that you might want to look at it a little bit more critically before accepting this as a common occurrence. –  Bill the Lizard Feb 17 '11 at 14:06
@Bill the Lizard: I don't understand what you think is wrong with Tom's answer. My question clearly states that quality is the number #1 reason for an answer to be up-voted, but I was looking for other factors. All 3 answers are very good (I up-voted them to show that), but Tom's answer actually gives a criterion that does seem to affect up-votes. Is it the tone of his answer that you're objecting to? –  Sébastien Le Callonnec Feb 17 '11 at 14:19
@Sébastien: How do you know that reputation actually affects up-votes? I'm not saying that it never happens, but don't you think it should require some evidence before we accept it? –  Bill the Lizard Feb 17 '11 at 14:27
@Tom, I apologize if I seem to be picking on you or your answer. I know what you're saying happens sometimes, but I don't think it's a big influence. Most people seem to want the best answer to rise to the top, regardless of who wrote it. –  Bill the Lizard Feb 17 '11 at 14:31
@Bill no it's ok no ones picking on me! My answer is a bit tongue in cheek, and you are right I probably overstated it. The way I up vote answers though, if I get 3-4 quickly is I immediately scan to the guy with most rep and I'm more likely to upvote that straight away. Of course you can argue that he earned that and proved himself so it's moot... But anyway I think all these things have influence for sure. –  Tom Feb 17 '11 at 15:54

I honestly think quality is the most important thing, I usually upvote when I think the answer has provided a clear explanation of the problem the OP provided.

I think things like time of day/time zones don't really factor in much at all, I've answered questions at 5pm my time (GMT+1) and discovered a lot of upvotes for a good answer the next day.

Maybe your answers are unclear or miss some information, I know I've done that! Written an answer, re-read it and thought "Wtf am I trying to say here?"

But I think everyone has their own upvoting principles, I honestly like to give answers with a comical edge an upvote as well as serious ones. Personal choice counts too! A good answer to you or me might not seem quite as good to some, but better to others.

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Ofcourse Quality of the answer is a must. Also people tend to upvote when you spend your time in giving some additional information on top of the correct answer too.

There are times when a question gets more than one answer and all of them are actually correct, but in such situations, people probably see who answered first and upvote them. Once an answer gets upvote, I have noticed that other users who visit the question generally tend to upvote the already upvoted answer (Note, if it is really correct answer).

The only chance in that case for getting an upvote would be OP just for courtesy sale.

At the end of the day, most important thing is to be patient and dont feel bad if you dont get as many upvotes as expected. Just move on to next question and help somebody else.

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