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My question is related to this question, but I don't find the answer given there fixes the problem.

In SO, the number of unanswered questions I think is very high; there are too many unanswered questions and this means a lot of users that will not get an answer. So in the long term many users may find SO not very useful because most of the questions are not answered.

I know there are badges and so on to encourage users to answer questions, but it seems it's not enough. Is there a way to help to reduce this number? Do you think it will be a big problem in the long term?

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As you can see in the related sidebar --> there has been a lot of thought given to this. –  Robert Harvey May 11 '11 at 16:25
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Questions like this are pointless. Of course unanswered questions are bad, but just saying "we should have less" doesn't really help -- I don't think anyone's really arguing for more unanswered questions –  Michael Mrozek May 11 '11 at 16:26
    
@Robert Harvey: I've checked many of the related questions, and I still don't see a good solution. And the number keeps growing, so I think we need some more thought on the topic and try to find a good solution. –  pconcepcion May 11 '11 at 16:30
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New badges will not help if people keep asking questions that nobody knows the answer to. I see lots of "I use package X to do Y. How would I use it to do Z?". If I don't know X, I just cannot answer! –  Bo Persson May 11 '11 at 19:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Out of 1.6 million questions, 5 thousand have no answer, and 300+ thousand have no upvoted answers.

That's about 0.3% unanswered, and 19% with no upvoted answers.

So in the long term many users may find SO not very useful because most of the questions are not answered.

Given that you have a 99.7% chance of receiving an answer, and over 80% chance of receiving an answer that someone thinks is worth an upvote, the odds are still good that I'm going to post there.

Given the current question rate of 20 new questions per minute it would appear that many people think the odds are good for them, too.

It appears the 5k results on the questions with no answers may be due to a search limit, rather than an actual count.

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The odds may be good, but the goods are still odd. –  Adam Davis May 11 '11 at 16:30
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This is new behavior to me, but the search is capping at 5000 hits for answers:0. Search on major tags with the same qualifier and you also get 5000 results. I tested with java and c#. –  Bill the Lizard May 11 '11 at 16:38
    
@Bill the Lizard: I noticed the 5000 result cap around the time that search got less crappy, so I assumed it was a byproduct of those changes. –  yhw42 May 11 '11 at 16:52
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Sounds like someone needs to use a count() on the data explorer to get the real amounts. –  Adam Davis May 11 '11 at 18:02
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@Adam or just go to the StackExchange sites page - stackexchange.com/sites (1.6m questions, 82% answered) –  Daniel DiPaolo May 11 '11 at 19:33
    
@Daniel That uses the site's definition of unanswered - questions with no upvoted answers, which I do include above. I'm interested in knowing how many questions have no answer, which is different than "unanswered". –  Adam Davis May 11 '11 at 19:38

By comparison to the other Stack Exchange sites, it's a bit on the low side, but all the biggest sites are around the same low 80% amount and are the best comparison:

  • Stack Overflow: 1.6m questions, 82% answered
  • Super User: 80k questions, 81% answered
  • Server Fault: 77k questions, 81% answered
  • Ask Ubuntu: 13k questions, 82% answered
  • Meta Stack Overflow: 23k questions, 91% answered
  • Programmers: 10k questions, 98% answered
  • Gaming: 6.12k answers, 95% answered
  • Mathematics: 13k questions, 89% answered
  • English Language and Usage: 6.2k questions, 100% answered
  • TeX - LaTeX: 5.8k questions, 96% answered
  • Web Applications: 4.7k questions, 83% answered
  • Apple: 4.3k questions, 90% answered
  • WordPress: 6k questions, 84% answered
  • Unix and Linux: 3.9k questions, 92% answered
  • Android Enthusiasts: 3k questions, 90% answered
  • Game Development: 2.9k questions, 96% answered
  • Cooking: 3.3k questions, 100% answered
  • Webmasters: 4k questions, 89% answered
  • Photography: 2.5k questions, 100% answered
  • Electronics Design: 3.5k questions, 98% answered
  • Statistical Analysis: 3.2k questions, 89% answered
  • GIS: 2.7k questions, 93% answered
  • Physics: 2.6k questions, 94% answered
  • Theoretical Computer Science: 1.8k questions, 90% answered
  • Stack Apps: 860 questions, 77% answered
  • Home Improvement: 1.8k questions, 96% answered

(excluded all the beta sites)

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imho the problem is not that there are a lot of unanswered questions, but that many new users think that SO is just another forum.

They come here, write a quick question and expects a discussion. What we need is some way (more prominent than the current one) to make new users to understand that they might spend some time on the question and maybe add a small code example (and not a big bloat).

Is it possible to check how many of the unanswered questions that is written by new users?

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