I haven't been using stackoverflow for all that long, but long enough to rack up several thousand reputation points.

The last few days, I decided to try and answer a bunch of questions to rack up a few more points. But I've been discouraged at the number of points I've earned.

Yes, perhaps some of my answers aren't entirely brilliant. But in many cases, the OP simply doesn't accept or upvote any answer, or even respond to questions for that matter. In some cases, I identify the problem that no one else identified. But I often go without a single upvote.

I don't recall it being like this before. Is it just me?

  • 5
    If it makes you feel any better, Jon Skeet has nearly 800 answers without a single upvote!
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 23:11
  • Heh, well I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or not. Mostly, I'm just curious if the site is changing this way, perhaps as more new users use the site? Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 23:28
  • I've noticed that the somewhat subjective questions attract a lot more upvotes than the purely technical ones. Anecdotally, compare a random sample of my recent answers to speculative, non-technical questions that I don't even think are very good (1, 2), to those that cover more technical nitty-gritty (1, 2, 3). Commented May 1, 2011 at 5:11
  • 2
    The best explanation I can come up with is either that A) those more high-traffic questions, because they appeal to a broader audience, and/or B) more users feel comfortable upvoting the answers, because they know enough to be able to judge them correct. Answers to extremely simple questions also seem to attract an undue amount of upvotes (example), which further supports theory B. Commented May 1, 2011 at 5:13
  • @Cody: My guess about your first point has to do with people wanting to indicate their position on the more controversial issues. I agree about B though. But stackoverflow.com is starting to get really popular. As more people start using the site, it's bound to change in some ways. I hope the change is not more people who ask questions without sticking around for the answers. Commented May 1, 2011 at 5:51

2 Answers 2


Consider this constructive criticism:

Most of your un-upvoted recent answers are low quality and uninformative compared to other answers in the same question. They include example code infrequently, rarely include links to useful documentation, and tend to be very short. These aren't answers that I'd personally upvote, for their style alone. I don't know enough about your languages of choice to judge what is and is not a correct answer.

It looks like you're simply posting an answer instead of participating in the constant edit war to create the best answer.

But in many cases, the OP simply doesn't accept or upvote any answer, or even respond to questions for that matter.

I don't think SO has ever not suffered from this problem, but it's growing ever worse as the eternal September ramps up. Thankfully users that don't participate by voting become very unpopular very quickly. If they don't accept answers, they stand out like sore thumbs.

  • Thanks but that doesn't address what I'm asking. My answers vary based on how well I understand the issue and how appropriate it seems to spend time writing code. This is as it's been all along, including when I got more upvotes and answers accepted. When no answer gets accepted or an upvote, that is hardly because my answer wasn't good enough. Commented May 1, 2011 at 3:28
  • To be fair, answers with explanation in lieu of code are far better to my eyes than answers with merely "sample code" and no explanation. I don't participate in "the constant edit war to create the best answer", either. I frequently edit my answers if I think of other things to include, but there's no point in duplicating content that already exists in other answers. Commented May 1, 2011 at 6:28

I agree with you but I do not want you to be disappointed. Some people do throw a question and do not bother to see if anyone answered. No acceptance, no up-votes, not anything to show the community who provided help that they care. In some cases they will check the responses the next time they need SO to post a new question. Although these cases are annoying I have to say they are minority. I have been thinking of a way to motivate people to accept more answers or even force them to do so if they want to remain part of the community but I found some posts in meta saying that you should not accept an answer unless you are convinced. Sometimes the problem is in the questions not the answers. The asker posts a somehow vague question and is not convinced with any of the answers because they are not satisfying something in his mind which is not mentioned in the question.

I think if we want to find out about this issue we need SO to provide more statistics about the percentage of questions with accepted answers and the percentage of users in ranges of acceptance rates and the history of these stats in graphs. This may help using rep points and badges to steer the community to the direction that benefits everyone.

  • I understand some questioners get their answer and leave (some don't even get their answer). My question is about a perceived change. It seemed like it was the minority, but not lately. Yes, a complete answer would require stats from the site. But I wondered if anyone else had noticed this same trend, or if it's just me. Commented May 1, 2011 at 3:31
  • @Jonathan, I have seen a few of these cases too. They ask a vague question. Some comments asks for more info or more clarifications but no response from the OP. But they are fewer than the ones I was talking about.
    – M.Sameer
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 11:27

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