Is there a rule or guideline for a good relation between the answer to question ratio?

I mean to be a reasonable SO-user and be accepted by others. Should good SO-users give (answer) more than take (ask)? Or is it nowadays the other way around: I should take more than give?

Is there a guideline for the ratio of upvotes to downvotes? Is occasional downvotes, but not too many, expected of a good member of the community?


4 Answers 4


Here you have the ultimate guide on what to do

% of your time doing
14.50% - asking questions
47.11% - answering questions
04.03% - writing snarky comments
07.21% - writing useful comments
10.00% - editing badly written answers/questions
02.54% - rolling back badly edited questions
02.02% - Voting to close/reopen questions
12.59% - Hitting reload on the active questions page

% of your votes
50% - Upvotes on good answers
25% - Upvotes on good questions
15% - Downvotes on bad answers
07% - Downvotes on bad questions
03% - Upvotes on my answers

  • No good, my vote ratio is bust! I currently have 0% votes on your answers!
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 3, 2010 at 11:40
  • Wow, I'm going to have to catch up on my 3%. Thanks for the heads up!
    – Pekka
    Jun 3, 2010 at 15:30

A mistake that you are making is categorizing asking good questions as taking. In fact, by asking a good question, you are helping to ensure that the next person that hits your problem is going to find a good answer in their first search. That is, of course, if your question is titled appropriately and can be answered. If there were no questions, there would be no answers.

Really, anything you do on the site is giving. Even down-voting a bad question or answer is giving, since it will lower the signal to noise ratio for the next person that has a similar problem and finds answers on SO.

To me, taking would mean using the site and enjoying the benefits without contributing any time at all asking / answering / voting on questions. Somewhere on Meta (I can't find it now) was a discussion regarding the amount of page views SO gets compared to the number of active users. IIRC, most people who visit SO become users and contribute some time to improve the site, by doing one or all of the above activities.


Questions vs Answers

No, no ratio. Both are needed, and some people are better at one than the other. (I suck at asking, for example.)


It has been proposed that as many half as many upvotes than downvotes is undesirable (e.g. 800 upvotes and 1,600 downvotes). I don't agree with this myself, and I currently, on SO, vote down about twice as much as up (however, my early voting trend was the opposite, so downvotes are only now about at a 1:1 total ratio). I attribute this to the limit on votes per day more than any other single factor.


I think one shouldn't care about the questions vs. answers rate. I'd much rather have people asking only questions - but good ones - than people feeling compelled to give back, even though they may not be able to provide quality input yet.

As to voting... Hardly any of your peers will care about your voting ratio, except in extreme cases where downvoting outweighs upvoting massively. In those cases, your voting privileges may get limited.

The problem with this is that heavy downvoting can have two reasons: 1. you scrutinize the content provided on SO, and downvote where it fails your high professional standards; or 2. you are an asshole. The same goes for upvoting: One can be either very engaged and simply giving a lot of positive feedback, or a mindless nice guy upvoting out of sympathy rather than based on sound judgement of the answers provided.

Which is which is hard to tell, which is why I'd say this is down to your own judgement. I myself, for example, with a ratio of 3800 upvotes to 225 downvotes, feel I could do some more downvoting... but it's not really important.

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