I have often observed this pattern and now I have one example where it is rather clear.

I often have the impression that users with a high reputation tend to get upvotes, even in cases where the answer is wrong, or at least not helpful. I remember a post where a high rep user got a lot of upvotes for an answer that was totally irrelevant to the actual question, even though it was technically correct.

I was looking at this question: Writing line by line to file with c, which I answered. From the question it was not that obvious that the user intentionally creates many files so the answer was to create his files outside. A high rep user posted a similar answer at the same time. Following the comments and reading the question more carefully, reveals that the answer is wrong, but he still got an upvote for it. The upvote came long after the comments were already posted, clarifying that the answer is wrong.

So I wonder how can voters be taught to actually look at the answer provided in relation to what was asked. Sometimes I have the impression that longer answers look more "professional" and thus get the upvotes and such answers tend to come from high rep users more often.


Here (Structure instance restriction in C or C++) is another such a case IMO, as the answer is not really an answer and neither does it adress the question.

  • 1
    Rep is a trust indicator. It's normal that people tend to believe high rep users answers.
    – juergen d
    Dec 7, 2013 at 16:51
  • 4
    That is true, but if somebody votes, he should have an idea of the technical details, not just voting based on wether an answer sounds good, or even worse, vote because he follows a rep indicator.
    – Devolus
    Dec 7, 2013 at 16:53
  • 8
    You need more than one data point to prove a pattern exists, and I'm not really sure you've even provided one. There are a lot of confounding factors here. As you mentioned, the answer from the high-rep user does appear to be reasonable at first glance. Also, the comments that clarify the situation are on your answer, not on the question. The voter might not have bothered to read them after seeing an answer that looks correct. Last, we're only talking about one vote here. That's definitely not a pattern. Dec 7, 2013 at 17:06
  • 2
    I was using this because here it was rather obvious, and I don't collect postings all the time. :)
    – Devolus
    Dec 7, 2013 at 17:08
  • 1
    "You are doing it wrong" is a perfectly legitimate answer. The unupvoted answer was not helpful, it allowed the OP to continue to do it wrong. Dec 7, 2013 at 17:50
  • So I wonder how can voters be taught to actually look at the answer provided in relation to what was asked. why, if the OP's question is the wrong approach in the first place? While there surely is some bias towards high-rep answerers, this not a good example.
    – Pekka
    Dec 7, 2013 at 18:09
  • @UphillLuge, and what exactly is the benefit of the upvoted answer? The intention of the OP was quite different from what it looks at first sight.
    – Devolus
    Dec 7, 2013 at 18:42
  • 1
    If a high rep user misread a question and provided an answer to the question that they thought they read, it's not unrealistic to suppose other users may misread the question too; they're upvoting answers to the question that they thought they read. Dec 7, 2013 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


So I wonder how to teach voters to actually look at the answer provided in relation to what was asked.

You don't, because that's what users generally do. And that is what they would generally tell you they do.

If I were to tell you "please look at the answer before you vote", you'll tell me "but that's what I'm doing" (heck, your question implies it). As will every other user you'll ask.

Will reputation of a user have some effect on the votes he receives? Sure. Some. How much I don't know, but there will be a sense of "trust" in a user's reliability based on the reputation. If Jon Skeet will answer something, I'm pretty damn sure it's going to be correct. I won't blindly upvote, but he has proven time and time again to deliver great answers and correct responses. So while I might not necessarily upvote him blindly, there might be less of me looking for a flaw.

So yes, there will be a slight bias. And yes, some votes might not be cast correctly (if there is such a thing).

But keep in mind that by and large high-rep users get votes because their content is correct. They get it because they deliver great answers time and time again. And that will be by far the greatest cause of their reputation.

  • Even though I don't agree in general, this part They get it because they deliver great answers time and time again convinced me to accept it. :)
    – Devolus
    Dec 7, 2013 at 19:24

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