This seems like a problem:

Screenshot of today's highest voted answers -- 9/15 are from the same poll question

Community-wiki questions, particularly polls, tend to destroy regular questions in a bunch of areas:

  • number of answers
  • number of close votes
  • number of reopen votes
  • number of upvotes on the question and its answers
  • highest voted answers

The result of this, besides the 10k tools regularly being flooded with poll posts, is the correlation between a post's vote count and its actual quality is gone. This excellent page-long answer by Eric Lippert got buried beneath 4 poll answers, the most verbose of which was 14 words long (the others managed to beat him out with 13, 9, and 7 -- an impressive 8 votes/word). Who knows what other awesome answers today were flooded off the list completely

I'd like to browse through the top-voted questions in my favorite tags to see what interesting issues people have come across, but I can't, because the top voted questions in all of them are polls about the best language feature, or the best IDEs for that language. "Hidden features of [tagname]" is on the first page of every one -- Java even managed two, "Hidden features of Java" and "Hidden features of Eclipse".

If we're going to allow poll questions on SO (and it seems people are unable to help themselves, so it looks like we are), we need some way of filtering out or weighting the votes on them so they don't drown out the rest of the posts that have a normal amount of votes. This is the part where I would propose a magic solution, but I don't have one, so this is a [discussion] instead of a [feature-request]. Are there any simple ways to fix the disparity between votes on normal questions and votes on polls?

  • 2
    – Shog9
    Jul 28, 2010 at 4:58
  • Another point of interest is that the questions not dealing with "biggest fear" tend to be elementary, particularly if I'm remembering the "C optimization question" correctly. Jul 28, 2010 at 14:19
  • 4
    By mercilessly killing those threads, of course. Jul 28, 2010 at 14:50
  • 1
    @dmckee Yeah, that's going well -- it's been closed 5 times :) Jul 28, 2010 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


There's been a change of mood in acceptable questions now. “biggest fear as a programmer” would now get migrated to Programmers in 5 minutes and closed there in 10 (or 10 seconds if M.T. is the mod on duty).

“i++ and ++i” is one of these easy questions where everyone knows the answer. It should be closed as a duplicate with extreme prejudice, if not closed as general reference if that gets introduced on SO. The same goes for for(;;;) vs while(true).

Today's most voted answers aren't bad: C++ with real technical content, C++ again, Haskell! (soft-ish but still informative)

In the past few days, there were also several answers on a bikeshed question that could have had a simple one-line answer (“it's called obfuscation, go read about it if you like, but ”). And there was Eric Lippert's explanation of what pointers and non-managed memory are. That one is one of SO's all-time best in my opinion, it's really a very good explanation. (all-time #3 most voted, close to #2 (now that's a poll)… still far behind the (in)famous #1.)

  • 1
    Year-old question, answered here 2011-06-27 23:23:43Z, upvoted and accepted 2 minutes later. What is this, a conspiracy? :P
    – user102937
    Jun 27, 2011 at 23:28
  • @Robert We actually were in chat at the time, but that was unrelated :). I assume he got here when I linked it in this answer Jun 28, 2011 at 4:07

Remember that these sorts of questions tend to get forced into community wiki mode pretty rapidly, as they reach 30 answers (15 on superuser).

So basically you should be able to, at least in theory, filter out community wiki questions to remove these sorts of question for the list.

see: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/search


It seems polling can't be entirely eliminated, which is why I proposed The fourth place: Polling where they could at least be put aside to...

  • I actually suggested on the poll question the same thing Jeff did on your answer: that people use the Not Programming Related SE Jul 29, 2010 at 13:58
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    @Michael Mrozek: That only helps for getting rid of not programming related questions at SO, but not for all the polling questions at other sites, like "what's your favourite game" at gaming.SE. Unfortunately Jeff probably didn't check back for that note... Jul 29, 2010 at 14:41

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