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I am sorry to say my answer to question ratio is not very good. It is not because I don't enjoy helping others, but just because I don't have the expertise of many of the other members. I have no formal software training nor is my day job involved in software, I don't even have any friends involved in software and have to rely on the many knowledgeable members of Stack, and am trying to learn too many things at the same time which makes me a master of none.

Recently, whenever I ask a question, I quickly receive a downvote and often with a close. Note that I have no issues with downvotes. If I am asking bad questions, I should be penalized to correct my behavior, and while not expected, would still appreciate a comment describing my bad doing. Or maybe the voter wishes to enunciate that a given direction is not a good direction, and what better way than with a quantifiable score. And I agree that duplicated questions should be closed to not dilute good answers to a specific question. And if the question asker did zero research and asked a question that clearly has already been answered, sure a downvote is warranted to encourage behavior which doesn't waste the time of Stack's many generous members.

Before posting this question, I searched for various related questions. First, I was concerned that there was a certain answer to question ratio that I wasn't meeting, but couldn't find any quantifiable criteria. When researching, I came across the term "moocher" and thus searched more, and while I read "Moochers suck, no question about it", I don't believe (and hope) that I fall in this criteria. I always spend significant time researching the subject before asking the question. I try to pose the questions so that they will be relevant to others. I provide script and output results when appropriate. If a member posts a comment requesting additional information, I always try to provide it. While I know that a bunch of "thanks" comments are not desired, I always respond appreciatively. I never leave a question with a reasonable answer unaccepted unless I end up answering my own question in which I feel a little shady for selecting myself.

Take my past three posts. I diligently researched each topic before posting the question partially motivated by fear of the looming downvote I was sure to come. But still I hoped, yet within minutes each of my posts were quickly downvoted. I did get one comment on the three and if that individual downvoted my question, I have no issues and am thankful for his or her response. But typically there is no comment, and I believe questions with negative votes and no comments will be ignored by other members even if they are good questions which need answers to help the community.

Is there an unwritten quota of answers to questions? Are there other obligations and responsibilities which I must be aware of? Am I a Moocher and if so, what must I change to continue being a contributing member?

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    Downvotes are unrelated to your Q/A ratio. Close votes even less so.
    – Mast
    Mar 7, 2021 at 13:25
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    If moochers even is a thing, you're not alone: data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/1382563
    – rene
    Mar 7, 2021 at 13:36
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    @rene Looks like I am in the top 100, but at least not #1! Thanks Mar 7, 2021 at 13:43
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    I don't think anyone has the time/boredom to look through one's full history. Questions are likely evaluated on their own, especially when you're a 20k+ user Mar 7, 2021 at 13:44
  • @JourneymanGeek especially when you're a 20k+ user is actually my unwritten concern. Probably should have stated so on initial post. Is a 20k+ user expected to provide more answers? Mar 7, 2021 at 13:48
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    No, you're not 'expected' to provide anything except a quality post.
    – Mast
    Mar 7, 2021 at 14:08
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    Ha ha, downvote and a close vote! Expected and not hurt as this is not representative of my typical questions, but still amused. Reason being subject is off-topic for meta exchange? Mar 7, 2021 at 14:15
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    You're in good standing, there's really nothing you should worry yourself about. Instead of focusing on the empty half of the glass (occasional downvote) better focus on the full half: most your questions have positive score, some even very high score, and you're doing very well. Mar 7, 2021 at 15:20
  • @ShadowWizardisVaccinating Thanks, appreciate the comment. I didn't bring it up as I didn't want to be accusatory or paranoid, but I do feel I am being targeted. I can't prove it and hope I am wrong. Mar 7, 2021 at 16:04
  • This link is to advice given to users of the GIS Stack Exchange but I think 95% of it can be applied to any SE site for developers and users of software: gis.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3353/115
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 7, 2021 at 21:49
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    @user1032531 that's very common feeling, and long time users who post comments are indeed sometimes being the target of serial downvotes. This can't be helped, and since the impact is very minor, overall, best course of action is to ignore it and move on. I know easier said than done, but believe me, that's better than trying to figure out who is doing it and why. Cheers! Mar 8, 2021 at 11:19

2 Answers 2

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There's nothing wrong per se with asking more questions than you answer. There are those who say that it's not good, but I disagree; asking questions is a necessary part of any question and answer site such as SE. Asking good questions is a skill, and shouldn't be valued less than writing answers. There's no answer-to-question ratio you need to be sticking to.

With that said, though, if your questions keep getting downvoted / closed, I'd advise you slow down for a minute and try to figure out why. Are they unclear? Opinion-based? Have you explained the problem in sufficient detail?

There's nothing wrong with asking more questions than you write answers, but if your questions aren't being well received I'd advise trying to figure out why before continuing to ask.

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  • Thanks Mithical, Agree it is easier to change my own behavior than others. Do you know of Stack offers any sort of generic question critique service? I am concerned more so than ever of posting poor content and if I am need to change. Do you mind looking at the three I posted not from a technical perspective but from a good/bad question perspective? And if they are bad, please downvote them but also please give me a reason. Thanks Mar 7, 2021 at 13:18
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    I'm afraid I'm not qualified to judge if SO questions are good or not; I don't really use SO and don't understand most of the stuff over there. I'd advise scrolling through meta.stackexchange.com/help/asking, though.
    – Mithical
    Mar 7, 2021 at 13:23
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    Thanks Mithical. Did as you suggested. Most relevant section is meta.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask. Believe I am doing all this, but evidently some disagree. Mar 7, 2021 at 13:30
  • The question answer DID try to figure out why the questions were getting downvotes, as was described in the section. Personally, I find it very bad style to downvote without giving a reason, but unfortunately the stackexchange system does not make it easy. IMHO, that is the real problem - it is difficult to grasp the unwritten rules here, they are often not explained and the question is just downvoted (and they may differ depending on the tags). May 1, 2021 at 6:49
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Your questions look fine to me. (If I were to offer a suggestion, I'd perhaps suggest putting a succinct question or problem statement at the very beginning or very near it, in order to quickly put the reader in the right frame of mind to follow the detailed explanation - but that's a minor point, as your questions are well written and as far as I can tell contain all relevant details.)

So why were your questions downvoted? Hard to tell what went on in the minds of those people as they clicked the down arrow, but my guess is that since your questions only have a few dozen views, they have probably not been seen by anyone who is able to answer or even has attempted to do something similar. Since you have enough reputation, I'd suggest putting a bounty on the questions (make it 500 points if you're comfortable with that). Most likely that would attract dedicated users who will read and understand your question, and upvote it for being clear and complete, and perhaps even write a useful answer.

To answer your question, there is nothing wrong with having a high question to answer ratio, as long as your questions are well written.

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    I have to second this one... This meta question being a prime example. I didn't feel it necessary to read the whole question, but there's no visual indication in the question where the meat of the question, the last 3 sentences, were. The paragraphs of story before are good, but, it should be easy to quickly find the main points through either putting them first, or emphasizing them in some other way. Putting them first would be best, as that also makes them the short preview that displays on the question list page.
    – Kevin B
    Mar 8, 2021 at 16:45
  • Agree making it obvious to potential answerers as well as future questioners looking for completed answers is important and I will strive to improve. I also was planning on offering a bounty as you suggested. Appreciate your response. And to @user400654, I must completely agree with you as well, but it was a sensitive subject as I thought I might have been a moocher. Glad you at least enjoyed the story! Mar 8, 2021 at 21:41

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