I've noticed that a lot of questions with several 'answers' aren't upvoted, or are disproportionately upvoted (6 answers, 1 upvote). Is this normal or expected?

To clarify, the question being asked isn't upvoted.

Common reasons:

  • Don't want to give reputation to non sysadmin/IT professional questions.
  • Question itself wasn't interesting, but answers were.
  • Don't want to increase search engine results for some questions.


  • Comment on the original question to help the asker improve the quality of the question itself.
  • Make the question a community wiki so it can be modified by others to improve it.
  • 21
    The real problem I see is that people just upvote the highest voted answer, even when there are better answers below. More than once I've seen the highest voted answer incorrect or incomplete, when there's a better answer just below it!
    – Farseeker
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 10:46
  • Add your comment as an answer Farseeker and I'll upvote it ;).
    – jtimberman
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Farseeker - well that's always been the case with forums, a correct but unpopular answer can easily get ignored in favour of people being told what they want to hear. Of course, with "the community" voting, the cream should rise to the top in theory, but if the question asker approves a bodge that lets them carry on doing things the wrong way over someone telling them to rethink their entire concept because its flawed, what can you do eh?
    – Robert Moir
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 17:54
  • @Farseeker: 1 million lemmings can't be wrong.
    – Steve Schnepp
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 9:36

13 Answers 13


Just because I know the answer to a question doesn't mean I think it was worth asking.

  • Unless the question has already been answered, I think every question is worth asking since there are different skill levels on the site.
    – zooropa
    Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 14:02
  • I agree with zooropa. Also, if you take time out of your day to answer a question that isn't worth asking, what does that say about the value of your time?
    – Stephano
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 17:47
  • 1
    Well a question could be useful to the asker but mundane. As to the value of my time, answering a "poor" question once and pointing people at the answer afterwards is still cheaper than answering it all the time and more helpful than getting annoyed with them for asking.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 17:41

Example - and I mean this respectfully - but this particular question, for example, does not strike me as particularly insightful. That is, I'm not sure that it is something I'd want to see in a google search result ("serverfault how upvote works").

So while I am providing an answer to this question, I kinda feel like gaining reputation for this question - which isn't programming or sysadmin related at all - would be disingenuous. (haha, watch me get down-voted!) An increase in reputation wouldn't demonstrate that you (or any of the posters here) have insights into system administration.

Thus, no upvote here.

And that is true for many questions - interesting, good questions, but not something worth bringing to the attention of the greater community. Or, not something that has increased the stature and reputation of the poster in my eyes. With so many users, even if my opinion is unfair, it should certainly be out-voted by other community members! Invisible hand!

(Actually, I think this could be a thought-provoking question, but it should at the very least be community wiki!)

  • The tag is called "serverfault"
    – Ian Kelling
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 6:04
  • 2
    Your answer is good, so I couldn't help but upvote it. :)
    – Ward
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 7:04
  • Ditto, I had to upvote as well. Tempted to accept answer, but I made the Q a wiki :-).
    – jtimberman
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 8:03
  • Well put sir: "interesting, good questions, but not something worth bringing to the attention of the greater community"
    – Stephano
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 17:48

I think you can be discriminating about what you upvote. I upvote questions I can't answer, because they are interesting, and I sometimes don't upvote questions I can answer because... well the question isn't that interesting.

Besides, if the community tries to fall into mutually gaming the system so that we all have high reputation numbers, it will quickly fall into the same category of uselessness as the eBay Feedback comments did. "A+++++++++++++++++ SUPER AWESOME QUESTION DUDE!"

Did you know you can up-vote more than one answer in a post?


Due to popular demand:

The real problem I see is that people just upvote the highest voted answer, even when there are better answers below. More than once I've seen the highest voted answer incorrect or incomplete, when there's a better answer just below it!


I upvote questions that I think will be useful to a lot of people.

I upvote answers that I think will be useful for someone researching the question being answered.

I would hope someone finding their way here from Google trying to solve a specific problem can see a highly upvoted question on their problem and would go to it to find a thorough discussion of their issue. I would also hope that the highest voted answers would be the most useful and the ones they'd have the most confidence in.

  • 1
    Jay, You have 31 rep points, so you should be able to upvote, per the FAQ, upvoting only takes 15 rep points, and doesn't cost anything.
    – BillN
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 16:03
  • At the time I wrote this, I had only 10 points! I updated my response to reflect my 'enfranchised' status!
    – Jay Riggs
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 17:16

It's easy to say "That's a good answer" when something elegantly and correctly solves a question.

When do you say "That's a good question"? A bad question is easier, poorly worded and unclear, insufficient information, etc (and deserves a request for more information, which if not forthcoming might deserve a down-vote). What separates a good question from an "average" one?

Also, you have a limited number of up-votes per day; I've run into that limit more than once. I'm not sure what the number is, though. Edit: I think it's around 25.

  • 2
    The questions I've upvoted are ones that are clearly written and the topic is one I consider relevant to SF - something that appropriately technical and that I think is likely to be interesting to someone else.
    – Ward
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 7:30
  • 1
    All of that and the answer cannot be found easy using a search engine.
    – Bratch
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 16:20

That's a dumb/obvious/useless question so I'm not going to upvote it, but I will waste my time answering and expect votes because I'm an awesome genious. Wait...

I think questions deserve votes if they have a lot of votes for answers. Even if its not a great question, it needs votes to get people to open it and see the awesome answer. Maybe the site could use an option to sort questions by max(votes on question, votes on answers to the question).


The litmus test for me is really about whether the question makes serverfault a more valuable resource for sysadmin research (regardless of whether I knew the answer). I'd wager that most of my upvotes are for questions I didn't know the answer to.


I think I've only upvoted one question though I've answered many. Come to think of it, I don't think I answered that one because others had already said everything I would have said.

I guess it's like when you meet someone but you forget their name ...because you didn't actually listen to it ...because you were busy thinking about what you were going to say. I think that is why we forget to upvote questions that we answer. We are too busy thinking about our answer, so we forget to upvote.

Maybe they should let us upvote our own answers so that upvoting will be part of the answering paradigm. ;-)


I've found that there are lots of good questions and answers here, so I often browse around instead of searching for a particular topic. I look at tags I find interesting, and I sometimes jump to a "random" page number in the list of questions and look at the questions there. If I find a question or answer that's good and hasn't been upvoted very much, I'll upvote them and often mark them as favourites.

It seems to me there are so many questions coming in that unless you're on SF all the time, you're not going to see more than a small percentage of them. In order for the good questions and answers to be voted up, you need to have a large number of active users.

  • 1
    The good questions with few upvotes but have highly upvoted answers (even accepted) is really what confuses me. Why would people upvote lots of answers in a question but not the question itself?
    – jtimberman
    Commented Jun 13, 2009 at 8:02
  • I don't know... I just upvoted a question that was at 0 but with a few upvoted answers. It wasn't a complex question, which I think people are less inclined to upvote.
    – Ward
    Commented Jun 14, 2009 at 10:04
  • jtimberman: just because a question is not that interesting doesn't mean that it can't attract really good answers. Or even just have people think 'yeah, that's right' [click]
    – David Mackintosh
    Commented Aug 4, 2009 at 4:05

People vote a question up if they like the question. People answer a question if they have an answer. Just because you have an answer doesn't mean you like the question.

  • This is an interesting response. Can you explain questions that are "favorited" without an up-vote?
    – mrduclaw
    Commented Dec 4, 2009 at 14:38
  • @mrduclaw that's because the star-er thinks they might learn from the topic however do not believe the question is of great quality or contributes to bettering the site.
    – Krista K
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 11:01

I think it's a very valid question, contrary to what other's have said. It's basically "How can you have interesting and useful answers to questions that are not interesting, if the number of upvotes is an indicator of the interest level?". It might also be: "How am I supposed to boost my reputation when nobody upvotes my questions, even if the answers get upvoted?".

Should the question upvotes be calculated based on the votes given to the answers? It seems to some extent, intentional or not, if you want to get rep, you do it by answering questions, not asking them.


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