How do some questions get so many votes? For example, Is there an "exists" function for jQuery? has 548 votes so far. Is it about marketing your questions in other chat rooms? Or it simply because it is a cool question?
The vast majority of the popular questions on Stack Overflow (and the entire network) generally fall into one (or both) of two categories:
- "Hot" questions, that are linked on Reddit or Hacker News.
- "Extremely useful" questions, that are the target of search engine hits.
In your example, it is the second category. Apparently, it is a very commonly asked question. So the most of the 200k views probably came from people searching for the same problem on Google or other search engines.
When the question and/or answer helps such a user, they'll probably upvote (if they have an account).
Recently, I've been playing with the Data Explorer to (mathematically) separate these two categories of extremely popular questions.
I informally refer to them as the "Type A" and "Type B" popular questions.
- The One-Hit Wonders - The extreme Type A popular posts.
- The Boring but Useful - The extreme Type B popular posts.
Here you'll see posts that have received over a thousand votes in a single day. As well as posts that have thousands of votes yet have never received more than 20 in a single day.
Here's a visual illustration of the difference between Type A and Type B posts:
Type A Post: Most of the votes are concentrated in one or more spikes of viral attention.
This question was linked on Hacker News on May 4th, 2012.
Type B Post: The votes come in steadily over a long period of time.
Note the exponential increase is reflective of the exponentially increasing size of Stack Overflow.
Write really good answers (and change your name to Jon Skeet). Also, it helps to work in popular categories.
Writing answers that address not just the specific details of the original question, but also address concerns that late visitors might have, will give you an opportunity to collect votes beyond the first rush. Think of it as a type of 'royalty' for above average work.
All you need to do to get a lot of upvotes is answer relatively simple questions really quickly, preferable you'll need to focus your attention on answering in the first few seconds after the question is being posted. You can easily pick up one or two and possibly three upvotes per answer like that.
If you want 20 or 30 or 40 upvotes per answer then the only option is to answer similar questions posed in 2008; obviously there will be an aspect of time travel involved - but inventing time travel may be simpler than picking up a vast reputation uplift from new questions on the 2013 SO.