When you take a look at new questions you see that around 20% of the new questions come from new users. I think this is a little bit high. Are there any statistics that point out the reason for this? Is it possible that some of these new users are established users who feel hesitant or afraid of asking a question? Or are they people who create a new account for every question they make because they be afraid of Stack Overflow's culture?

  • 4
    What do you mean by, er, "culture"? Aug 30, 2013 at 12:40
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn It's hard to define culture in a comment. It's kind of the way of doing things in a group of people. You may have a particular culture in your family, local community, work, country, etc.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 12:46
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    ... what do you mean by "Stack Overflow's culture" though? If you want us to answer whether or not something might be happening as a result of a "culture", then please define what this culture is. (And OT, but why does your profile say "please delete me"?)
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2013 at 12:48
  • @Bart To be honest i have no idea. On stackoverflow it's different, i just removed it. I can't just explain what culture is. Check wiki what it means.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 12:56
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    Then please revise your question @Michael. You apparently have a clear idea of something that constitutes an SO-specific culture, that might influence the participation of users. I'm not looking for a definition of the word "culture". But if I'm to answer this, I have to make assumptions about what you're thinking but not saying. As the question stands, what you're asking is "Is the thing that I'm not sure is happening caused by something?".
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2013 at 12:57
  • @Bart It would be a very lengthy post and involve interviewing many users to create a clear picture of Stack Overflow's culture. Which is actually still interesting, i like psychology and culture. Still i think everybody here has a bit of an idea about Stack Overflow's culture.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:20
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    Yet when Kate provides you with one of her wonderful answers containing a definition of it, you don't even acknowledge if that is what you mean.
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:23
  • @Kate I did not ask for a definition and i furthermore think it would be a bit limited version of it as well. She appears to be a mind reader as well. According to her i secretly put hidden messages in posts and i disapprove of stack overflow culture. Was it maybe my subconsciousness mind that was speaking there?
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:31
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    @Michael -- You posit that the high influx of new users is a result of Stack Overflow's "culture", yet you repeatedly dodge the question/refuse to answer, what is your definition of Stack Overflow's culture? You may not have asked for a definition, but we have, from you. Aug 30, 2013 at 13:36
  • @LBT I'm not dodging anything, i'm staying on topic and constructive. I just mentioned that Kate supplied a limited version of it and that a definition would be lengthy so how would that fit in a 500 character box? And furthermore more important; how would that be on topic and constructive in regards to this question? The only thing i was wondering whether there may be a possible psychological reason for the high influx of new users but i consider it is a question not to be asked which is a shame.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:49
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    It's a question not to be asked in an unclear manner. If all you want to ask is, "Are all these new members truly new members, or is there any indication that a significant number of them might be already actively participating members with a new account?" then ask that. As for the "psychological reasons", I'm not sure that that discussion will get you much more than unsubstantiated opinion.
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:56
  • @Bart If you closely read the question I asked you can see that I asked "When you take a look at new questions you see that around 20% of the new questions come from new users. I think this is a little bit high. Are there any statistics that point out the reason for this?" And then listed possible reasons as an example. I must say I really took considerable time to make it as clear, constructive as possible. However it does not matter any more since you and a couple others closed it. I give up, just never mind...
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:06
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    Adapt your title, clarify/focus your question and I'll gladly vote to reopen it.
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:13
  • @Bart I rather do not do that. I fear altering the question would mean a new influx of comments why it is weird and wrong what I'm asking and that i put hidden messages about nasty people and that i approve of many things. Especially since it will be bumped up to the top again. I rather leave it be. In any case I have to go back doing work in any case.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:34
  • This is the odds of getting a good quick answer multiplied by the odds of the Universe never running out of low-rep users multiplied by the odds of them forgetting their previous user account. The product is indeed 0.2 Aug 31, 2013 at 0:51

3 Answers 3


Yes, the high influx of new users is a direct and deliberate result of Stack Overflow's culture. This culture:

  • edits questions until they are readable and answerable
  • removes chit chat, followup, and non answers from the answer area
  • votes good answers up and bad answers down
  • edits answers to make them more readable
  • kills spam and off topic material on sight
  • answers questions remarkably quickly

As a result, if you want to ask a question to solve your problem, this is where you come. Since you need an account on SO to ask, you become a new user.

(You seem to also have another slightly different question lurking in there: something like "do the mean nasty people on SO scare a bunch of established users into pretending to be new users?" but I can't see what an established user would gain by pretending to be new, nor why that would be bad for the site, nor what you think could stop that not-necessarily-bad-thing from happening, so I'm just going to answer your title question as written. It's pretty clear you disapprove of the SO culture but again, I can't see why you do and you're resisting when people ask you to elaborate, which is a shame.)

  • That's a very big presumption you just put there my friend. You are an experienced mind reader?
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:14
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    well yes I am, but I did say "seem". Feel free to clarify your question Aug 30, 2013 at 14:02
  • But you said "It's pretty clear" as well. Regarding the question, I don't know how. But it's ok, never mind. I shouldn't have asked it.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:10
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    Here is how. Take the two sentences speculating that people might be afraid and expand them. First, what precisely are they possibly afraid of, and why do you think so? Second, what do you think motivates them to make new accounts as a result of this fear? Third, what do you think the consequence is for SO that people might do this? Fourth, why are you asking at all? Lots of questions are from new users, mumble mumble about fear, ???, end of question. Your question can easily be re-opened if you edit it so that it is an actual question. Aug 30, 2013 at 14:47
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    @Michael - You are an experienced mind reader? seems quite rude - also look at the votes (which on meta indicate agreement).
    – user226423
    Aug 30, 2013 at 19:11
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    That statement about votes is not entirely correct @UV-D. In this case my downvote was cast because it's simply a bad and unclear question. A regular old downvote.
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2013 at 19:44
  • @Bart after rereading the question, yes, I can see that is very much true.
    – user226423
    Aug 30, 2013 at 19:45

SO ranks very highly on Google. Almost any programming question you can imagine is going to send people here, so even programmers who have never heard of us are likely to end up here and ask their question, resulting in a near-perpetual influx of new accounts.

This is a good thing.

  • Still if you take a look at other q/a websites that excel on google on other topics they have a lesser amount of new users. On Yahoo i can only count around 10%. Is it possible it is only limited to IT questions?
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:07
  • But if they actually Googled their questions they would just find the answer someone already got to the exact same question on SO instead of just finding the site and asking a new question.
    – Wooble
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:08
  • @Wooble that's a good point also
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:10
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    @Michael: SE and Yahoo Answers are hardly comparable.
    – Linuxios
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:28
  • @Linuxios Still the concept is the same. They are both q/a answer websites where people register to create questions they want to ask. At yahoo answers it should actually be higher since duplicate questions is not the focus there while at Stack Overflow the concept is to only have unique questions.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:39
  • @Michael It doesn't matter too much whether duplicates are a focus on the site; new users will post them either way, since they're new. IMO, a big factor is that SE intentionally makes it as easy as possible to register and ask a question. This is also a good thing. Aug 30, 2013 at 14:53
  • @Michael: SE also draws because of one of our main strengths: quality control. We keep things tidy here, and that makes the site more appealing to new users. Only the people who need to or post it really see the very low quality posts.
    – Linuxios
    Aug 30, 2013 at 18:17

Isn't it only natural that most questions come from new users? Most people come here when they have a question. Many might have only one. So after they get their question answered, they are never seen again. Old users on the other hand get more experienced first to search for existing answers and might have in general less questions. With all those possible effects, I think it is very hard to get a meaningful statistic to your question.

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