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Is it not fascinating that everyone, me included, more easily gets interested in the questions that are non-programming related? They get more visitors, more answers, more up-votes and what-have-yous. What is the reason for all this?

  1. "Soft" questions are easier to answer; anybody can have an opinion, right?
  2. Other people's programming problems are generally not very interesting, or at least inter-homosapinal problems are less uninteresting.
  3. We’re all in it for the rep. We wanna be Jon Skeet.
  4. Generality strikes harder with man-kind. A person who know a fair deal about everything has higher status that one that knows everything about a fair deal (car sales people spring to mind).
  5. Most of us are total n00bs. That should be shot on sight.

If you’re about to say that I’m wrong, first have a look at the title of Mr. Skeet's top question. It supersedes the next-best question by 2000% more answers.

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3 Answers 3

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The phenomenon you're describing is called "bikeshedding".

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Just one more point to add to your list, slightly off-topic questions like "favorite programmer joke/cartoon/t-shirt" have a much wider appeal than just Stack Overflow. These questions often get posted on Digg, reddit, and other internet forums, or emailed to family/co-workers. This contributes quite a bit to their page views, which contributes to their votes.

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  • I'm not sure how it contributes to the votes, since outsiders coming from those sites wouldn't be able to vote.
    – user27414
    Aug 27, 2009 at 17:26
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    Some of the people who come from reddit/Digg will have an SO account, but might not have seen the question otherwise. Aug 27, 2009 at 17:28
  • You sure? I actually thought those lame jokes were for the moorons in the support department! Aug 27, 2009 at 17:28
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The general questions on the site have a wider audience than the more specific questions. IE if I ask about C#, only 1/3 (just a random number) of the site traffic will be even mildly interested, and when I specify that it's an question regarding a specific part of C# then even less will be interested.

However with a question like favorite programming cartoon, everyone can participate. Not only that, but there is no "correct answer" so the question is never "finished". Secondly, it also becomes famous, so even more people look at it/vote on it.

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