Why do some very simple questions get lots of upvotes while some of the really logical questions get very few upvotes?

On Stack Overflow I have seen dozens of simple questions (whose answers are easily available on the Internet) get many upvotes, while some very logical questions sometimes only get one or two upvotes. What should we do?

  • 6
    See Parkinson's Law of Triviality
    – user102937
    Jun 29, 2012 at 18:19
  • Thanks a lot Robert Harvey! I will further research into this topic. Jun 29, 2012 at 18:21
  • 12
    Note that if they're very old posts, '08/'09 SO was a very different place with MUCH more activity on each post...and a land where duplicates hardly existed.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 29, 2012 at 18:50

3 Answers 3


There are generally two factors that heavily favor simple questions:

  1. Human nature
  2. The formula for "hotness" for the Stack Exchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™.

First is human psychology: When someone comes across a post, their attention span usually lasts less than 10 seconds before they will click away.

If the question cannot capture the reader's attention within those 10 critical seconds: No vote.

The same concept applies to the advertisement and marketing industry.

Simple posts are easy to understand. So they are most likely to be read and understood within that 10 second time-frame. That's why they have a tendency to get upvoted more.

However, longer and more thought-out posts usually fail this category:

  1. Reader comes by...
  2. Reader sees a wall of code. (or a wall of text)
  3. TLDR - Good bye...

All long posts are severely handicapped since they cannot be read in 10 seconds. So the only way they will get a lot of votes is if they capture the reader's extended attention within those first 10 seconds.

From my experience, here are some things that capture attention very quickly:

  • Fancy formatting: Use those bold and italics wisely. (But don't overdo it!)
  • Images: Everybody love images.
  • Humor: It might get you downvotes, but it'll get you many more upvotes to offset them.

Second is the "Hotness" equation:

Simple and easy questions tend to bait a LOT of answers (as a result of FGITW).

Put that into Jeff Atwood's formula for hotness, and we see that these simple questions get extremely high on the Stack Exchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™:

Enter image description here

(Bad example here, since that question isn't exactly that simple. I'll replace it with a better one the next time it happens.)

When a question gets to the top of the hot-list like that, it invites lots of views from users all over the network. And when you get a lot of views, you get a lot of votes.

For hard questions with few answers, there isn't much you can do here.

I've seen far too many answers that never got the attention they deserved, because there were not enough answers to bump the question up on the hot-list.

  • 9
    Waffles and unicorns help too.
    – user102937
    Jun 29, 2012 at 18:22
  • 1
    @RobertHarvey Yeah, I need a unicorn in this post. Can you recommend one?
    – Mysticial
    Jun 29, 2012 at 18:23
  • 3
    Kind of ironic that I'm the one saying this. Especially if you've been online these last two days...
    – Mysticial
    Jun 29, 2012 at 18:33
  • 6
    This question is a recent example that got my up-vote simply because they went out of their way to make the back-story engaging and entertaining. It doesn't hurt that it's a good question, too, but it's a clever way to maintain interest by more people.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jun 29, 2012 at 18:51
  • 3
    tl;dr - no vote.
    – Bo Persson
    Jun 29, 2012 at 20:07
  • 3
    Recommendations to capture someone's attention very quickly: Fancy formatting: Use those bold and italics wisely. — to be honest, excessive formatting also triggers my eye. For a downvote, that is. And yes, I feel the above post has far too much formatting! And it also has the annoying "EDIT" thing...
    – Arjan
    Jun 30, 2012 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Arjan Of course anything in excess is bad. Hence, "wisely".
    – Mysticial
    Jun 30, 2012 at 22:26
  • Yes, and I feel you've exceeded that by far in the above post! :-)
    – Arjan
    Jun 30, 2012 at 22:31
  • @Arjan Now that I look at it a bit from further away. I think you're right. I'll see how I can improve it. :)
    – Mysticial
    Jun 30, 2012 at 22:33
  • @Arjan Edited. Any better? Be my judge.
    – Mysticial
    Jun 30, 2012 at 23:05

Simple questions can be understood by more people. They get a lot of attention and, as such, a larger number of votes.

These questions are also easier to answer.


I think the simple questions get more eyes on them so there are more people who will are going to vote on them. Plus simple questions are easier to understand and answer.

But the more logical questions (as you called them), might not get as many people looking at them or there might not be as many people who understand them to answer it.

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