For users who see SO as a "one-way street" would it be appropriate to post something like,

May I ask, with 53 questions and 0 answers, why not show a little more appreciation to those who have helped you (12 votes cast over 10 months)? StackOverflow is about community help, and need not be a "one-way street".

I ask because after posting a good answer to user Solingis I see his stats and now think that since this person doesn't seem to be a part of the community, I feel like I have been his tool not helper. Certainly this user is not the only one of the sort and I have wondered this before. Thoughts?

  • 13
    They'll just ignore you anyway
    – random
    May 23, 2011 at 1:00
  • 1
    @random, probably true May 23, 2011 at 1:03
  • 7
    Absolutely nothing wrong with users who only ask questions. That's an extremely important part of the site. The trick is that they're good questions that contribute something positive to the community. If not, close them, flag them, delete them, etc. Our automated detection algorithms will eventually ban those users from asking any more questions permanently.
    – Cody Gray
    May 23, 2011 at 4:04
  • "Computers are useless. They can only give answers" - Pablo Picasso
    – user149110
    Jun 30, 2011 at 14:00

3 Answers 3


Remember, you are not just answering the question for the person asking it, you're also answering the question for others who come upon the question.

Beyond that, I think you just have to accept the fact that in a large community such as SO there are going to be people who only receive, not give back.

Personally I don't care. I answer a question based on how good it is, not by the user's reputation as a contributor. Basing it on contributions is a thinly veiled personal attack and adds to the growing list of useless unanswered questions.

  • 7
    Thanks for reminding me about the future readers. I do this for them! (keep thinking that, keep thinking that!) May 23, 2011 at 1:48
  • Also I can understand not answering, perhaps they don't know much. But anyone can vote. May 23, 2011 at 1:50

Some effort has been made to keep this pattern of use from being too rewarding in terms of rep (and thus site privilege), and perhaps more importantly to detect those users who are not only taking only but also doing so without care and respect.

Aside from that, some folks just need a lot of help.


It is frustrating to feel like you are working directly for the questioner and not get an upvote or an accepted answer from him/her, even when it's clear that your answer is the correct one.

However, chiding the questioners can only ever increase your upvotes by one and so I've learned to forget about the hope of always getting the questioner to validate my answer. Instead, I've adapted to a guarded optimism that the rest of the community, which realistically means other answerers, will give me some upvotes for good answers.

As of this writing, you got two upvotes, neither presumably from the questioner, and over seventy question views in less than a day. If your answer came in early enough and the other readers were less frugal with their upvotes, then you could have gotten even more. I have seen awesome answers from Jon Skeet with only three votes after twenty-four hours.

If we want to liberate ourselves from dependence on the questioners, we can direct our retraining efforts on a more malleable audience: the answerers. Good answers deserve votes. If we as answerers read them, and think they are good answers, we should vote for them.

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