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...and, if so, can we do anything to get more of them?

This question mutated a few times while I wrote it... Originally I was going to say that the lack of questions from high-rep users was a problem, so how can we get more of them? Now, I'm simply wondering if the number of questions asked by high-rep users indicates anything.

Some very rough stats: The number of questions asked by users with rep > 900:

SF has  9 in the first 300 questions
SO has 32 in the first 300
SU has 24 in the first 300

I fully realize that these aren't directly comparable, since SO has many more high-rep users (so maybe the threshold should be 2000 or something there) and 300 questions represents a much shorter period of time on SO. But what started this question was noticing earlier today that all 50 of the most recent questions were from low-rep users.

7

I'm a vaguely high-rep user but I've only ever asked a small handful of questions, most of the things I could potentially ask are pretty much edge-cases anyway, I think someone's rep is pretty proportionate to their self-help abilities.

  • 2
    +1 My questions would tend to be very specific to odd and "edge" cases. The two I've ask have gone basically unanswered as it is. Most of the questions on SF can be answered by anyone with excellent Google-Fu in the first place. The really tricky/complicated questions tend to linger unanswered. – Chris S Apr 8 '11 at 17:33
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I'd consider myself high-rep (in terms of server fault anyway, but not on other sites), but I've asked some pretty dumb or reallllly edge questions (here here or here for just a few). These questions most likely aren't much use to anyone except me, or the complete newbie.

On the flip side, I'm constantly seeing great questions being asked by low-rep, new users. (I'm also seeing a lot of terrible questions too, but that can only be expected).

3

I wouldn't say that questions from high-rep users are intrinsically more valuable. But as we're all somewhat more invested in the site, it should be expected that they'd be of high quality, which has a value of its own of course.

  • 1
    +1 Questions from high-rep users tend to be useful to less people; so while it might build the knowledge base, I wouldn't say they're more valuable. – Chris S Apr 8 '11 at 17:34
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Well, think of it this way:

People who are really good at answering questions probably answer .. wait for it .. their own questions first most of the time.

Logical, no? So you'd expect to see the following patterns:

  • lots of users who ask many questions and provide little or no answers
  • lots of users who answer many questions and ask almost no questions of their own
  • relatively few users with a 50/50 mixture of questions and answers

This is also why question pump users are almost incapable of answering questions; they simply don't know enough to provide any answers to themselves much less anyone else.

I'd be interested to see a http://data.stackexchange.com or data-dump analysis of this as well.

  • Sure makes sense to me and is confirmed by a quick look at the top few users. Evan in particular, SF's highest rep member, has certainly answered more than his share but never asked a question. – John Gardeniers Apr 12 '11 at 3:08
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Answer to Question ratio of 95:1... Hm.

If a problem I'm having hasn't been resolved through my own Google-fu, next steps are to either take it to the vendor or go elsewhere. That said, I will ask a question here if time isn't a problem, or I'm fairly certain there is a person here who can answer it. Like Chopper3, the questions I get close to asking are edge cases requiring specialist knowledge in at least one area (though if I ever work for some place that doesn't pay up their support contracts, peer-sourcing becomes a lot more important).

The questions I do ask tend to earn votes, though. Some of that is probably relief at a well written highly technical question. Others, because it's broadly applicable in some way. I suspect a lot of that is because I'm asking on ServerFault for a reason beyond a simple need to know, it's because I think it would be a good question for the site.

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I'm kind of middling rep and have only asked a few question, none of which have received many answers. Whether that's because I've done my research before asking or whether they are simply crappy questions really doesn't matter. Either way they add very little value to the site. What I won't do is ask a question for the sole purpose of attracting answers, yet in many ways such questions are the most valuable to SF as they attract a larger audience.

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