I recently came across this post, which states (emphasis mine):

..The problem that became evident was that people who want to learn how to write a good question and people who can't write a good question are mutually exclusive groups.
- Eric

Naturally, I had to see if I could graph this, so I wrote this query on SEDE to get some data.

By defining users who can't write good posts (hereafter referred to as bad authors) as all users without a cumulative positive post score, but with at least one post, after a week of account creation, and users who want to write good posts (hereafter referred to as informed authors) as all authors who received either an Informed1 or Analytical2 badge within the same time period, I obtained (for SO) the following chart:

Bad authors

By my definition of bad and informed authors (which are narrow, I know, but the best I could think of possible with SEDE), the two groups are indeed almost mutually exclusive. In fact, on SO, only 3% of bad authors are also informed.

This is especially striking when comparing to users who can write good posts (hereafter referred to as good authors) defined as all users with a cumulative post score of at least 5 after a week of account creation. On SO, about 20% of good authors are also informed:

Good authors

Therefore, it seems that at least to the extend of my limited definitions, Eric was right. I thought I had to make people aware of this.

Any questions and comments are welcome.


  1. Informed badge: Read the entire about page.
  2. Analytical badge: Visited every section of the FAQ (retired).
  • For clarification, when you say a good author has a cumulative post score of 5+ after a week of account creation, do you mean people who have earned 5+ points in their first week, or accounts that are at least a week old with 5+ cumulative score?
    – Troyen
    Aug 26, 2014 at 21:42
  • 4
    Why is the Death Star that's orbiting Yavin so much bigger than the one that's orbiting Endor? (But seriously: interesting investigation.)
    – jscs
    Aug 26, 2014 at 21:46
  • @Troyen It's here defined as people who have earned 5+ points in their first week to make it equivalent to the definition of good authors.
    – dwitvliet
    Aug 26, 2014 at 21:59
  • 2
    There is a problem with using the account creation date in that any user that lurks around and only participated a few weeks/months after creating their account will not count as being a good/informed author. Do you think that this could have an effect on your statistics? Aug 27, 2014 at 9:52
  • @Qantas94Heavy That is true. I've made the assumption that the large amount of these users can be extrapolated. Another more inclusive (and difficult) method would be to use the first ~5 posts of a user, no matter the timeframe. However, this might also introduce noise as the users would have more time to learn how to write a good question by simply reading a lot of other posts - but it would probably be worth try.
    – dwitvliet
    Aug 27, 2014 at 9:58
  • Good authors don't need to be informed because, if you have a brain, pretty much everything in the Help Centre is frakking obvious. Sep 3, 2014 at 0:01


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