When answering SO questions I usually take the time to explain a little bit about the answer. Often 3-5 lines just giving the right heading. But every time I do this it seems I get less votes, while other posts containing more 'sloppy' work gets more.

One example: How do get a simple string from a database
Another: How can I copy the contents of multiple folders using the CMD copy command?
And another: Short way to write an event?

Obviously I'm answering because I like helping people, and I think the reward system is fun. But if the votes are any indication of what people think then my answers are not good relative to the shorter answers.

Should I stop doing good reseach/explanations and just throw out the quickfix? Is this really what gets the points?

3 Answers 3


For the first one

While I admire your effort to provide a better answer, nothing about the shorter answer screams out as being of lower quality. It was on point, concise, correct and was posted much earlier (when activity was still rife on the question).

Your comment about LINQ2SQL was really a bit over the top, and the explanation for this one wasn't necessary since the name ExecuteScalar lends to explaining itself.

For the second

Your answer did get more votes (at time of print it has 1 and the other 2 zero). But the first post (by age) was the one that got the asker going, so he accepted it. Nothing unusual there. Over time, your question may evolve into more votes, but vote velocity tends to go down very quickly so I won't bank on it.

Just enjoy what you do, and if you happen to get rep for it, all the better. If not - and it bothers you enough - just walk away and find something more interesting to do IRL.

  • Thanks (for the accurate feedback). I try to aim for full coverage so the question can be useful for others in Google later, hence it might at times be slightly over the top. And its difficult to know exactly what level people are at or what they actually wanted. Feb 11, 2011 at 17:24

You should try posting a very brief 2-line answer, then edit it into a longer one. That will often work, especially if nobody else has given your answer yet.

I have known cases where the user has accepted an inferior answer and subsequently went back and accepted mine. But those were cases where the already-given answer was not the one I considered the best answer, rather than simply a summary of the same.

  • +1 Yes, this is how StackOverflow works. First post a quick answer before anybody else, than expand it. The only exception to this, is when the question has bounty or for some other reason has the chance to be revisited lateron.
    – NikiC
    Feb 11, 2011 at 10:05

Answering in SO and getting upvoted is an art in itself. :)
And worry not, short answers are not the best ones for sure.

Do you know that the Stack Overflow answer with the highest upvotes is a poem?

  • Cool. I guess I will become better with time. I just saw a pattern emerging of people being shallow. People aren't shallow, are they? ;) Feb 11, 2011 at 17:25

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