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It seems many people are keen to just make a wild guess or skim through a question too quickly and jump to the wrong conclusion. I think this discourages more considered responses because someone is less likely to read a question with several answers already. If you are diligent, you also have to read through all of the hasty answers to see if there is one worth upvoting or if it's worth creating a new one. I don't think downvoting would help either. What could be the solution?

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Ah I think I duped this:… but I couldn't find it because of the jocular phrasing. In any case I'm not satisfied with those answers. – z7sg Ѫ Apr 15 '11 at 3:41
In what way are those answers not good enough? If the answer is incorrect, whenever it was posted, downvote it. It's really that simple. – In silico Apr 15 '11 at 3:44
Like in silico said, just downvote it. It will (hopefully) discourage the user in the future and it will also move down the answer. – nitro2k01 Apr 15 '11 at 3:54
In this case is it OK to downvote something that is essentially 'noise'? People often get butt-hurt by downvotes (me too admittedly) and sometimes sympathy upvotes counteract the discouragement. – z7sg Ѫ Apr 15 '11 at 4:01
Yes, it's perfectly OK to downvote "noise" answers. People should be posting those as comments instead. If it starts costing them rep, maybe they'll be more careful about when they click the "answer" button. – Cody Gray Apr 15 '11 at 13:40
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I was just thinking about this recently. As I've become more used to SO, I've found that longer, more thought-out answers are almost always worth the time in terms of rep (not to mention feeling like I've helped somebody out). As a result, I've noticed a steady increase in my average upvotes per answer and my acceptance rate. 7 of my last 12 answers were accepted, which I figure isn't bad.

If you look at answers from Jon Skeet or Eric Lippert, those guys really take the time to teach in their answers. It's not just a matter of being knowledgeable; they break things down and explain them clearly instead of just dumping off some code. As a result, they get huge rep from almost every answer they give.

You can pick up some cheap rep by doing a drive-by of some code, but it's more profitable and time-effective to do a good job. Which is how it should be. Help a little, get a little; help a lot, get a lot.

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" There is a strong correlation between [post] quality and length; if you wanted to compare the quality of [posts] on community sites, average length would be a good predictor." Everything I have ever seen leads me to believe this is true, too: – Jeff Atwood Apr 15 '11 at 5:29
Thanks for the kind words. However, I hasten to add that the resulting "huge rep" is completely unmotivating for me. I am not motivated by meaningless points. (If I had a way to reset my rep back to 10K, I would.) I am motivated by making my product a better one for solving my customer's problems. A little user education can go a long way, particularly when it is multiplied by the power of having a searchable archive of answers supported by a vibrant community. – Eric Lippert Apr 20 '11 at 20:52
@Eric - I certainly didn't mean to imply that the rep was what motivated you; I've always assumed it didn't. It's not like you have a whole lot to prove at this point. :) For the record, it's not what motivates me either. – Justin Morgan Apr 20 '11 at 23:11

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