Best illustrated with an example::

Question asked on 16 May 2010
Question asked on 28 Apr 2010

Personally I feel that both of these questions are same "Return Value Of printf()" but still the question asked in Link2 was downvoted and closed as ambiguous and vague. Now what I understand from the question, that too from a new user is pretty clear although the sentence was not framed correctly or the question could have been edited to be more clear.

On the contrary, the question asked in Link1 was encouraged and appreciated with 9 upvotes.

My doubt is how do members( read experts and gurus ) of Stack Overflow decide to appreciate or condemn a question ? And is it only me who wonders about this mystery or is there anybody else too (Of Course, you don't need to provide a solution for this question) ?

  • Quite a lot of drive-by-voting, where the initial vote decide the vote that people is going to choose later. – nhahtdh Jun 18 '13 at 6:45
  • Haven't you answered your own question? "Now what I understand from the question, that too from a new user is pretty clear although the sentence was not framed correctly or the question could have been edited to be more clear." – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 18 '13 at 6:54
  • I said "Question is pretty clear to me". And if it was not clear to somebody, that does not mean it is vague and ambiguous. Exactly, that's why I have gave the links here. You yourself can see the question and decide whether it was worth closing or not. – Abhineet Jun 18 '13 at 7:12

First of all, you must realize that both of these posts are from 2010... That's 3 years ago... The general consensus of what makes a good/bad question and what types of questions are allowed is an ever evolving concept. What once was considered an OK post might now be burninated on sight...

For the examples you gave, it is clear that for one of the posts, there was "more effort" put into the question. Both of them are really simple, but one of the posts consists of only one line and not one capital letter (that's about enough for a DV from me)...

The first post at least gives some background and context to the question where as the second could easily be a homework question in disguise.

To sum it all up - the two posts you gave as examples are not really a good indicator of what is considered good/bad. They are simply too old and do not reflect the current attitude towards quality control on the site.

To directly answer your question - how do users decide what to do:
Every user makes up their own mind... Voting is 100% anonymous so no one ever has to provide an explanation as to why they voted in a certain way. It might be a terrible post, bad spelling or the fact that the voter simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

There isn't one factor to point at as being the overall decider on how to receive a post but more of an mixture between the mood of the voter and their experience on the site.

  • +1 alone for "the fact that the voter simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed". I know how it works and I do the same sometimes. I have asked the question simply to shed some light. So, if anybody encounters a not good question (don't read as bad question), they would take some time before downvoting. Your one point do disturbed me "not one capital letter (that's about enough for a DV from me)", and that too coming from a high reputed user like you is really saddening. We are here to help and encourage. Ain't we? – Abhineet Jun 18 '13 at 7:19
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    @abh - That might have been an exaggeration :P But I do feel that if someone posts a question and doesn't even make the effort to format it correctly (or at least attempt to) - it's eligible for a downvote. – Lix Jun 18 '13 at 7:21
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    The sheer amount of new questions that are flowing in requires us to be hard on users and enforce quality standards - this strictness is the only way we can maintain great quality questions. It is true, however, that some users with good intentions get caught up by these high standards - but Stack Overflow is not like other technical assistance sites - you have to know how to approach the site by reading up on the faq and new help center and tour pages... – Lix Jun 18 '13 at 7:24
  • Now the above comment can't be discarded in any context. I concur with your points here :-) – Abhineet Jun 18 '13 at 7:30
  • Your answer do clears my doubt but am just waiting for some more discussion if that's going to happen here. – Abhineet Jun 18 '13 at 7:36
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    @abh - take your time. I'm also always interested in hearing other peoples thoughts. That's what I love about Meta :) – Lix Jun 18 '13 at 7:39
  • I think the discussion is getting worse. So, better I should accept the soln to prevent the degradation further. – Abhineet Jun 19 '13 at 4:13

It depends on user reputation and type of question. Sometimes questions are downvoted for new users to let them know about the standards we follow on stackoverflow. On the other hand if a simple question is asked by a high reputation user, it may be termed as a genuine question and not a troll question.

Low reputation + Bad Question : Downvote (100%)
High reputation + Bad Question : Upvote (50%) / Downvote (50%)
  • I probably won't DV a new user with low reputation (especially if it is their fist post). I'd rather leave a comment explaining why the post is problematic. Getting downvoted on your very first post can be quite off-putting for a new user as a first experience. – Lix Jun 18 '13 at 7:17
  • You seem to be accusing one half of the user base of downright crowd stupidity without backing your claim with references to any facts. – Jirka Hanika Jun 18 '13 at 8:14
  • I totally agree with SarkarG, people easily downvote new users posts without providing any explanation to help them understand what they did wrong. In my case, my post was upvoted and downvoted within 5 hours, without any feedback and, of course, still unsolved. – Amin Jun 18 '13 at 15:42

The questions are both "borderline" but one a lot more so than the other.

One was a one-liner, with the body repeating the title. There was no capital letter at the beginning of the question, and no question mark at the end. It was lucky to get "only" three downvotes.

The second question had correct capitalization and punctuation, and the body had two sentences, both of which differed from the title. Thus it followed the correct form of a question. I don't see why it got nine upvotes, but for some reason, it reasonated with voters.

If my guardian angel told me only that one question got votes with an absolute value of nine, and one with three, I would have guessed the one question got a negative nine, and the other one got a plus three, and would have been wrong.

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    First of all, you have repeated what @Lix has quoted, even that with less clarification. And about getting lucky with "only" three downvotes, you have more grammatical mistakes than that question with "only" three downvotes. – Abhineet Jun 19 '13 at 4:06
  • -1 Following your rules. You have used "had" instead of "have" and AFAIK that question still exists which makes that in Present Tense. And you do have missed a lot of "Punctuation Marks" in your answer. Some of the sentence-framing is wrong too. – Abhineet Jun 19 '13 at 4:18
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    It is also about perspective. Different people view the same thing in different way. A bad question can also be helpful to someone. – SarkarG Jun 19 '13 at 7:38
  • @SarkarG:: Couldn't agree more. – Abhineet Jun 21 '13 at 4:58

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