Compare the following two questions and their respective Accepted Answers:

As far as I can tell, both the questions and the answers are very similar in terms of what they're asking, and how the answer is given. But one question/answer has 274/339 upvotes respectively, and the other has 0/0.

What makes the first one 339 votes better than the second? What makes the second go with zero votes?

(Please disregard the fact that the second one is my own answer. I simply used it as an example so I wouldn't have to search for one that fit my point)

  • Definitely freehand circles and unicor- oh, you mean on SO? No clue. – Josh Darnell Jun 15 '12 at 23:12

The first question has had 273,656 views over the 3.5 years of its existence. Yours had 38.

That is much more relevant to the score that the outstandingness of both questions and answers.

How this insane number of views came about, I don't know. Maybe it was featured somewhere prominent.

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  • So, if I had a popular blog (which I don't - one post made a year ago and five readers does not qualify) I could post a link to questions I ask/answers I give and potentially boost my upvotes? – Niet the Dark Absol Jun 15 '12 at 23:18
  • @Kolink yes, I guess so. – Pekka Jun 15 '12 at 23:18
  • The insane view count likely comes from Google. Try searching for "css transparent background not text" and similar variations. Guess which answer is often there? – thirtydot Jun 15 '12 at 23:20
  • @thirtydot ahhh, true, true. Wow. (Asked a related question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/136297/… feel free to answer there) – Pekka Jun 15 '12 at 23:21

Just at a glance, I can tell you I've personally had the first question, but not the second (nor have I ever had the correctly-spelled version of the second). Heck, I can think of plenty of other variations on the first one that I've come across (or answered) in Stack Overflow's history, but I can't recall ever seeing another question on updating a single non-existent row.

What I'm saying is, the first question and answer reflect a very common need (and its solution). The second? Well, it turns out the title doesn't reflect what the question's really about anyway. If you search for a title that does, you come across this:

How do I update if exists, insert if not (AKA "upsert" or "merge") in MySQL?

...which has a respectable 38/55 q/a score. It might have even more, if it wasn't MySQL-specific and somewhat hard to search for (there are many, many duplicates with variations on the title).

So on the one hand, you're losing out on votes because you're answering questions in a (relatively) niche topic and aren't bothering to fix misleading (and misspelled) titles when doing so. On the other hand, the question you answered was a duplicate in the first place - so you really should've just linked to that and gave the answerer there some votes.

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  • Here's an even older one with more views and votes: stackoverflow.com/questions/1361340/… – Shog9 Jun 16 '12 at 0:09
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    must fix spelling in the second title...I just cannot handle wich as a proper word. :) Maybe then people will find the question. – Taryn Jun 16 '12 at 1:30

From what I've seen, it's two parts quality of answer, and eight parts "how many eyeballs that can upvote have seen it". Obscure questions don't get many people looking their way, and they won't get upvoted as fast (or at all). But that's okay.

For instance, the CSS question has been seen over 270K times. The SQL question was seen less than 50 times. That use of CSS is more helpful (as deemed by the community and number of times it was accessed) than the SQL.

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