Recently I posted here an article with some numbers, showing that amount of non-answered questions is growing. But what are these non-answered questions?

Let's take one tag, which is not overly popular but alive, being a sub-tag of [PHP].
And browse the list ordered by date. What would we see?

I hope by now you can get the idea:

  • most stupid questions are mostly favored by the community
  • questions that require least knowledge or experience, get no answers at all. And even no chance to receive any attention in the future.

This can be boiled down to such a conclusion:

Questions that can be of any value for others, get no answers.

So, the question is (as this discussion site for some reason require a question to be asked): given the facts, what would you say - did Stack Overflow succeed with its mission or not?

  • 18
    Congratulations, you have discovered that hard questions get less answers than easy ones, and that less people understand them so they get less upvotes. I do agree that questions that have no potential value to others should be closed and there is no appropriate close reason for them which is really annoying. Feb 23, 2014 at 12:25
  • Instead of making closing bad questions easy it seems we have to edit them to make them suit. Feb 23, 2014 at 12:30
  • 2
    related (not a duplicate): Stack Overflow technology makes me write bad answers
    – gnat
    Feb 23, 2014 at 12:40
  • 2
    possible duplicate of The bike shed problem and SO
    – ale
    Feb 23, 2014 at 16:01
  • @david that's not feasible in some tags, where thousands of poor quality questions come in, often the x-thousandth duplicate of an existing question
    – Pekka
    Feb 23, 2014 at 22:28

2 Answers 2


Ok, let's try another example of a rather small tag in a language.

Let's look at the last 12 questions in the tag.

This seems to be a problem with the tag and the people interested in it and not with Stack Overflow in general. Many "more specific" tags attract experts and people interested. Most people answering questions in are people (like Bergi, Esailija, Kris Kowal, Domenic Denicola, Stef) who are knowledgeable experts in this field. They are providing insight and important information.

If you'd like, I can gladly pick 20 more such "smaller" tags.

That said, I agree with the sentiment

It is very hard to close these "too localized" questions you linked to in PDO, I'm not ignoring the problem, I'm just not sure that PDO is representative of SO as a whole.


Well, common question - entry level debugging ones, duplicates, triplicates, mutation of the triplicates, octuplicate etc. are understood by the mass, many people know how to answer them, thus they are answered quickly and usually have more than 1 answer.

Unique/special questions that's only understood by the selected few usually have no answer because not many people know how to answer them. They probably miss the attention of those who are capable of answering them.

Think it another way, those questions that can be answered by many people requires general knowledge, that's supposed to be known by everyone. IMO, Stackoverflow's role is to serve the general community. It is like serving food to a starving mass - you provide food, but there is no provision for special diet.

Also there is the voting system, good questions/the one get to ask the question first usually get more upvotes.

Besides there is the bounty system and there are chatrooms, should you want to exploring things in a particular area a bit further.

  • 6
    The problem is, bad questions, asked in great numbers, make good ones sink so fast that they have no chance to meet with answer Feb 23, 2014 at 12:37
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    @YourCommonSense On the other hand, if this great number of "bad" questions are asked and answered, doesn't that benefit more people than the single more difficult question that is apparently obscure and esoteric enough that no one found the question and answered it? It seems like fewer people are interested in the latter question, which means that fewer people would benefit from it getting answered. Would it be better if that question was answered, and the countless newbies with trivial "bad" questions didn't get answers?
    – jalf
    Feb 23, 2014 at 13:44
  • It would be better if both questions would have been answered. Only going the easy route, only catering to the common lowest denominator and picking the low hanging fruit is not conductive to a better community nor a to an higher rate of knowledge. Apr 3, 2015 at 17:24

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