I have been using SO and I think I have over 100 questions so I am pretty experienced with it. The reward system works pretty well except of a few drawbacks from usages for the sake of gaining points:

1- To fend off bad/half-assed/useless/irrelevant answers, my questions tend to be specific and include as much information as possible. If I am looking for something specific, I post very specific requirements. I get answers from people who seem to just Googled the question and did a copy of paste. Their solution is far from satisfying the requirements. Example: I need a network sniffer that does this and this and this and this. I get a flood of 'WireShark' recommendations just because its a popular product. Do they ACTUALLY know it satisfies my requirements. NO. They mention it just because they HEARD its good.

2- I get an answer. It gets one upvote. I leave a comment indicating it actually doesn't answer the question and I leave a reason. You would think people read the comment. No. The answer gets a lot of subsequent upvotes!! Upvoting for the sake of upvoting and getting points. Then the question doesn't get anymore answers. I guess users think if an answer has many upvotes, it must be the right answer? No it didn't and I mention this. and then the question loses steam and no one bothers offering more help. Frustrating.

(similar question)

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    Is there a question in here somewhere? Aug 25, 2010 at 17:14
  • You bring up some interesting points. Do you have a proposed solution? Or is this post just for awareness.
    – jjnguy
    Aug 25, 2010 at 17:15
  • Your SO profile shows 225 questions and 25 answers and nearly 1400 rep. I make that about six rep per post. Aug 25, 2010 at 17:16
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    Do you have any links for situation #2? Aug 25, 2010 at 17:46
  • @dmckee: and what does that mean as a conclusion? Aug 25, 2010 at 17:59
  • @jjnguy: yes awareness and ranting. There's no solution to changing person's behavior. Aug 25, 2010 at 18:00
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    @Tony: I believe it happens, but I've also seen people ask questions and accept wrong answers. The person asking the question isn't always the best person to judge the quality of an answer, which is why we also have voting (and not just acceptance). If lots of people are voting up an answer despite your comments, then maybe your comment is just wrong. Links would help alleviate my doubts. Aug 25, 2010 at 18:15
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    @Tony. That there is at least a question to discuss and not a senseless rant? Like any of the other discussion tagged questions? Aug 25, 2010 at 18:20
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    @Tony You say you're experienced with the system. OK, looks that way. However, you are averaging about 1 net upvote per questions. If that was me, I wonder what I could do to make my questions better. 'Course, I'm always harping on the need for better writing, so make of it what you will. Aug 25, 2010 at 18:26
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    @Tony: am I overlooking a link? Why are you not willing to point to an example? Aug 25, 2010 at 18:35
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    @Tony: Yes, I agree with all that, but maybe Wireshark does do what you asked but you just don't know how to use it for that purpose. Or maybe your question wasn't clear enough and people thought you were trying to do something that Wireshark does do. If another answer works for you then it's fine to accept it, but you might be overlooking valid reasons for upvotes to other answers. It's not always the case that other answers are bad/half-assed/useless/irrelevant. Aug 25, 2010 at 18:41
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    I hardly think that asking a ton of questions really counts as experience when it comes to understanding how the community and the engine work. Answering, editing, moderating, those are all valuable; asking questions is still important for obvious reasons but is probably the least important out of all possible actions. Basically, you're bitching that you've had some bad experiences, but refuse to identify any of them so that we can actually help you solve your problem (because the problem obviously can't possibly be you).
    – Aarobot
    Aug 25, 2010 at 18:57
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    (P.S. I'm not saying that the problem is you - it might genuinely not be - I'm saying that your clearly-implied assumption that the problem must be with the system/community is not helping your cause. Show us something concrete, don't just make vague and unsubstantiated complaints.)
    – Aarobot
    Aug 25, 2010 at 19:04
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    Blah blah blah. You had time to write this rant and a bunch of rambling, nonsensical comments, but "don't have time" to actually find an example of what you're complaining about. And if you think that questions are the most important feature of a site then maybe you should head on over to Yahoo Answers.
    – Aarobot
    Aug 25, 2010 at 19:28
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    In other words: URL or it didn't happen!
    – Aarobot
    Aug 25, 2010 at 19:29

3 Answers 3

  1. Yep. Bad answers happen. Writing really clear and concise questions helps but does not prevent them.

  2. Good ole pile on. This happens too. Again really clear questions will help, as will clear, fast comments, and downvotes.


I can't confirm what you report. In my experience, bad answers tend to get downvoted reliably, especially if they bear a well-stated comment saying "this is not it".

Yes, there is a lot of shallow Googled answers, but that's people for ya. Also, people should be less afraid to downvote crap, and read very carefully before upvoting. But all in all, I'd say this aspect of Stack Overflow is functioning exceptionally well.

Other than that: What @dmckee says.


Your questions do not exist solely to serve you. They do exist to serve you, no doubt, but they also exist to serve the rest of the community and the rest of the Google-using populace as well.

This is why an accepted answer (as being "best" to the author, for his/her specific needs) may not necessarily be the highest-voted (IE, the one the rest of the community thinks is best). This is perfectly fine, and is in fact, by design. You have your "best," the rest of us have ours.

If you're getting irrelevant answers, the correct response to them is the downvote button. Sure, it costs 1 rep to do it, and only costs the recipient 2, but the point is to lower the score of the answer -- rep be damned. If you think an answer is wrong, you downvote it. That is your responsibility, and your best way of providing feedback that the answer will not work for you.

I see you have voted, both up and down. Perhaps it's time to vote down more often -- if you're getting as many wrong answers as you say you are, let the answerers know!

(And only 40 votes for 225 questions and 25 answers? You might consider voting more in general. By my math, your 61% accept rate indicates that you've accepted well over 130 answers to your questions -- you didn't vote even on all of those?)

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