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I know that different sites have different topics obviously, but in general, what type of question should get an upvote, and which shouldn't? Does it depend on the content and detail of the question, whether it's easy or a stumper, or is it just sheer happenstance that some questions bubble to the top while other not-so-bad questions sink to the bottom.

I know ultimately it's up to the viewer of the question to decide whether to upvote, but what I'm asking is slightly different.

While typing this question I saw a link to this question, so I suppose that could naturally open up a question such as this.

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    Dupe of this but as that other discussion is almost 4 years old not sure this one should be closed. Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 12:59
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    Note that voting on META usually doesn't follow the guidelines given in the current answers to your question (good questions, demonstrating effort/thought/research, etc). Instead they often act as a 'like this idea'/'dislike this idea'.
    – GitaarLAB
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 16:05

3 Answers 3

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Upvote good questions. What makes a good question? A good question should have a definitive answer that can be backed up with evidence. The question should be objective-based and not opinion based. A question should be well written as well, it should make use of the formatting options available with Markdown. For example, if you are embedding some code, you should definitely wrap it so it's easier to read and so it stands out from the rest of the question.

On the topic of code, if it is a programming question on Stack Overflow, code should be marked...

...like so

A good question about programming should not simply provide a link and expect another user to look at the source code manually, instead the relevant code should be embedded into the question itself.

A question should be in the right place. For example if you have a question about using Github (exclusively Github, not including Git), that question should be posted on Web Applications instead of Stack Overflow.

A question shouldn't have noise in it (ie. unnecessary details that have nothing to the question), but it should still have context so people know why the question is being posted (if I'm helping someone with homework, I want to know about it).

TL;DR

Upvote questions that are as well made as an answer, it should be clear that some effort has been put into it, and it should be answerable by facts.

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A question that:

  • Is grounded in a real world problem that someone actually faces
  • Clearly, yet succinctly demonstrates or explains the problem
  • Provides enough information to reproduce, or at least thoroughly examine the problem
  • Is sufficiently well formatted and written to comprehend, even if improvements can be made
  • Invites answers that provide and explain a solution
  • Is on topic

... deserves an up-vote. If most of the above is present, then effort is clearly demonstrated. Remember, sometimes people just don't know what to search for in order to find an answer to their problem; a question that might overlook what's obvious to some of us isn't necessarily bad if it shines in many other ways. It may be a duplicate, but is it a useful one?

A great author can make a great question even better by:

  • Monitoring the question after asking it to provide clarification and additional information as needed

  • Noticing edits from the community and improving upon them even more

  • Being receptive to constructive criticism and demonstrating a willingness to learn

This is also a clear indication of effort. To sum it up succinctly - if you see something reasonably well written (even after editing) and someone clearly learning after asking it, the question will probably help others to learn as well. If that's the case, then an up-vote is probably in order.

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  • @the second edit comment - because variety is the spice of life.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 19:39
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Upvote questions that demonstrate effort . Effort to check that it's not a duplicate. Some thinking effort, so it wasn't an issue you'd figure out in 1 minute.

Usually, you can see within 2 seconds.

See Jon's great piece on this

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    I agree with the effort, however since we attract beginners to the sites, us who are more seasoned may be able to answer it in one minute, while the OP may not.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 13:53
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    @MDMoore313 yeah - but if Google can answer it within a minute, using only words found in the title....
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:12
  • @BenBarden I do agree with that. I have run into the opposite myself though when the right (wrong?) combination of words will yield horrible results in google, and it is in fact a simple question.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:14

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