Add a question/answer ratio or counts in the box for the asker's profile, below the accepted stats.

Reasoning: If I have time I answer questions regardless of accept rates and user stats. Often there are more interesting questions then I have time for, if I have to pick just 1 question to focus on because of time constraints, I would prefer it to be someone who has given or has potential to give back to the community. Today the acceptance rate gives a nice indication of if the user is responsive. It seems that this request might possibly be the next logical step as it would separate two users with high acceptance rates, but one who has 300 questions and 10 answers from someone that has 10 questions and 300 answers.

  • 1
    Do you go through the same thought process when someone walks up with a question at work?
    – Nicole
    May 11 '11 at 2:12
  • @Renesis, not at all. But at work I don't have 1000's of questions at once. In this case there are many interesting questions, but I don't have time for them all. I am looking for ways to narrow them down. Now I look at the user's profiles, I am trying to reduce the need to do this.
    – jzd
    May 11 '11 at 2:23
  • Respect - I look at the flood of questions and the amount I can answer is limited enough by what I know and how understandable the problem actually is.
    – Nicole
    May 11 '11 at 2:25
  • @Renesis, I don't mean to sound arrogant, most times my knowledge is enough of a limiting factor and I answer every question I can. However, sometimes I have 10 minutes and want to answer a question, I see 2 interesting questions, if I only have time to create a good answer for one, I need to choose only one. (# of answers a asker has given is more important to me than accept rate).
    – jzd
    May 11 '11 at 2:30
  • It's not arrogant, I have no reason to doubt you. Just explaining the different position I'm coming from.
    – Nicole
    May 11 '11 at 2:42

I don't think this would be a great idea, a ratio doesn't help much when discerning who's more deserving, and discerning between users "deserving" is not the goal on the SO sites, from what I can see anyway - every good question deserves a response.

Some people are self learners, who don't actually ask much (though read a lot) but "give back" in other ways (flagging, vote to close, vote on their preferred site, AND on meta). These things cannot be seen or taken into any ratio. IMHO these users are discernible by the fact they actually wrote well constructed questions in the first place, so if you have a choice of two and they're both good, it's likely they're both 'deserving' so just choose one!

The user's rep itself should usually be enough to tell at a glance whether someone is actively participating or "giving back to the community". Someone who answers lots and gets very little of their answers accepted and/or gets some downvotes would skew any ratio anyway - these users may not actually be 'giving back' they may instead be causing the moderators a headache

On the other hand you may just be answering a good question from a user who has just happened on SO(or related) recently has spent some time trying to figure out the best way to get involved, to become an actively participating member and who has then constructed the best question (after making sure it's not a dupe!) their ratio would be pants but if they would be ignored on the basis of that, it could be somewhat detrimental to the future participation of the next generation.. the barrier to entry just rose if you like

I see more downsides to upsides on this one

  • Well reasoned and well put. Especially the point (which many miss, and which it's easy to miss) that focus should be on the question rather than the questioner (just as we should focus on the answer rather than the answerer). There's an SO user who's been very rude to me in comments and (IMHO) unjustified downvotes on answers (he's admitted they were his). I still vote his answers up when they're good, don't vote on them when they're marginal, only downvote if they're really bad. It's the answer, not the answerer, that matters. This applies just as much to questions, or more. May 11 '11 at 7:18
  • I think this is the general answer to my request. I don't like looking at rep much because, I would prefer answering a brand new user's question rather than a 2K user who has only ever asked questions, that would be one of the advantages of this request.
    – jzd
    May 11 '11 at 10:58
  • @T.J.Crowder, yes I vote on the question not the questioner. Yet, in my mind, this request is not much different than an "acceptance rate", which is purely questioner specific and display in the question. That makes me think we are supposed to sometimes look at the questioner when deciding how much effort to put into a question.
    – jzd
    May 11 '11 at 11:01
  • 1
    @jzd: Yes, quite true. Although I don't use the accept rate to decide whether to answer questions. I use it to decide whether to look at the questioner's questions and, if there are clearly acceptable answers, send them a link to answering instructions. :-) May 11 '11 at 11:03

Please don't.

This site should not be about helping those who are deserving or showing favor to people who may give you a vote. It's about helping programmers become better programmers, better problem solvers, better thinkers. We do not need to add additional mental barriers and suggestions that a question is not worth answering merely upon the contribution pattern of the person asking it. The person asking is not the only person reading, and is not the only person with the same problem.

If you know the answer and have the time, answer the question. The internet will benefit from your contribution.

  • 3
    Agreed. I'm starting to think we ought to remove the "accept rate", as well. Too many people focus on it instead of just answering the question.
    – Cody Gray
    May 11 '11 at 2:01
  • 4
    Too often a low "accept rate" accompanies low-quality questions, and it's often a clue that there's going to be no point asking for clarification. I would keep the accept rate.
    – pavium
    May 11 '11 at 2:12
  • I agree, and I think accept rate is almost more about knowing whether they have been receptive to help in the past than some measure of "deservingness".
    – Nicole
    May 11 '11 at 2:18
  • I understand your point. However, many times I have several questions I know the answer to, but limited time. If I have time for one question, I would like to answer the one with the most responsive user, who might be able to spread the knowledge further.
    – jzd
    May 11 '11 at 2:21

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