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Consider a question like this How to concatenate echos.

A great deal of the questions nowadays seems to be questions which could be solvable by spending five to ten minutes reading a decent tutorial or a manual. I've noticed that many experienced Stackoverflowers just adds these easy solutions as comments. However, there seems very often to be a reputation lurk hiding behind the corner rushing to reward these questions with a one-lined accepted answer as soon as the question has been asked.

Isn't this situation quite absurd because both the asker and the one answering the question benefits from it without making any real effort towards it whatsoever. This encourages users to think that no matter what kind of questions they ask, they'll get an answer to it and while people in the hope of some easy rep keeps answering them, the vicious circle is ready.

Maybe the reputation gathered from an accepted answer and votes could be annulled if the question gets a certain amount of downvotes?

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    Why reward an answer to a low quality question? : Because they are easy to answer and give self satisfaction that we know something about the topic. – ABC Jun 22 '13 at 15:24
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    Unfortunately, such questions get answered before they get closed as duplicate or not a real question. And in some cases, who votes to close it, is the one who gets his/her answer accepted. – Omar Jun 22 '13 at 16:13
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This is a known issue with trivial questions and answers where people are quick to answer easy questions and the most obvious answers are quickly upvoted. Because there are more people who understand trivial answers than difficult ones, these answers are more likely to get upvoted and the harder ones often go unnoticed. And the people who answer first are likely to get upvoted.

I would tend to answer these type of questions in the following ways:

  • putting them in the comments (as you said)
  • writing a Community Wiki answer

I have encountered a trivial question on how to link an image and I knew that people were going to upvote trivial answers. I don't feel like getting reputation for that so I made my answer a Community Wiki post.

Making this an automated process would be difficult since there could be bad questions with exceptional answers that deserve the reputation they get. But it would be nice to persuade people to convert their trivial answers into Community Wiki.

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    How do you define trivial? Something that is trivial and easy for Jon Skeet might not be so for me. – chue x Jun 22 '13 at 16:33
  • @chuex: It may vary, of course, but in the context of this question I would define it as being a problem that you could solve with a few minutes of honest research. – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 16:40
  • @budwiser - I don't disagree with your premise, but I just think it "trivial" is too subjective. – chue x Jun 22 '13 at 16:52
  • how trivial is trivial - is it trivial to ask how many bits are in an byte?(ie not necessarily 8). There are very few things that I think are objectively trivial. – timpone Jun 22 '13 at 20:19
  • @timpone Usually answers to beginner questions that get a lot of easy upvotes. Of course you can go in depth on beginner subjects, but some obvious one-liners that get the most votes while detailed answers that expand on the subject with elaborated explanations often go unnoticed is a bit of an issue here. – Antony Jun 23 '13 at 2:35
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A great deal of the questions nowadays seems to be questions which could be solvable by spending five to ten minutes reading a decent tutorial or a manual.

This isn't exactly new... Go look back at the questions being asked in the fall of '08 - yeah, there were some real head-scratchers, but there were a lot of really trivial "how do I call function() to do task?" questions too.

Beyond that, 5-10 minutes is a long time compared to what it takes to search Google. Donno about this question specifically, but I've both benefited from and contributed to questions where the answer can be found rather easily in the manual - but which is needed so rarely as to make it difficult to remember from one occasion of need to the next.

So what's the harm? Are you really gonna begrudge me the answer to a simple question that I have need of only three times a year? Do you never google trivial facts that are simply not something you have need to remember and use daily?

  • You have misunderstood me. The real problem is not granting the rep for the answers. The real problem is to encourage the bad questions to be replicated and this happens because they get answers which happens because they produce easy reputation. – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 19:33
  • No, I got that. I'm disputing the idea that questions which can be solved by reading the documentation are necessarily bad questions. If reading and applying documentation was a trivial skill, there'd be a lot less of us making a good living by doing exactly that. – Shog9 Jun 22 '13 at 19:36
  • And the actual harm here is the 98% of the time I have to read the shait while I'm looking for some questions where I could really help some people who have done their best to solve their problems without any success. – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 19:36
  • And not to get personal, but... The last question you asked is trivially answered by reading the manual. – Shog9 Jun 22 '13 at 19:38
  • Are you splitting hairs here? You know very well the difference with reading the basics from the manual and not understanding something written in advanced 3d programming... – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 19:39
  • I'm reminded of the old story about the engineer brought in to fix a problem in a complicated bit of machinery, who did so by tapping a specific valve with a hammer and then submitting an invoice consisting of, "Hitting valve with hammer $10.00. Knowing which valve to hit: $9,990.00." Solutions are often easily accessible... Once you know where to look. – Shog9 Jun 22 '13 at 19:42
  • Ok, you win. Never mind. I would delete the question if I could. Of course you can find everything in the manual. I'm sorry for wasting your time. – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 19:42
  • This discussion somehow strayed from the path where you can't know how to concatenate echo-statements (which I still find to be different from my question) – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 19:45
  • Such is often the danger when you try to generalize specific problems. FWIW, I don't use PHP, but I am passingly familiar with both the concatenation operator and the basic text-manipulation routines. I don't begrudge anyone who isn't though. – Shog9 Jun 22 '13 at 19:46
  • Fine. Then I have misunderstood the whole purpose of this site. – budwiser Jun 22 '13 at 19:48
  • Seems like you have a pretty good handle on it to me, with the exception of expecting reputation to correspond directly to effort expended. – Shog9 Jun 23 '13 at 1:14
  • I still got a feeling you're getting me a bit wrong here. The reason why I think it would be good not to award reputation for an easy answer is not because I think the amount of reputation should correspond the effort, but rather because by providing easy answers we actually lower the quality of the questions in a long run (or keep them low. I can hardly imagine the worst examples to get any worse). – budwiser Jun 23 '13 at 8:54
  • That's a valid concern, but... It's not really feasible to do otherwise on a site like SO, where both the range of topics and the audience are so broad. The price of having a place where you can ask any programming question is a site where folks do ask just about any programming question. Other sites put up barriers to "simple" questions, but as a result become somewhat stagnant over time. – Shog9 Jun 23 '13 at 18:52
  • (Probably also worth noting that folks who ask a lot of questions like this tend to find themselves blocked by the system on SO.) – Shog9 Jun 23 '13 at 18:53

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