31

I have been spending a lot of time Serverfault lately trying to first educate myself, second see if i can be helpful and thirdly bring up my own reputation.

I notice 2 things:

  1. When a user with a low reputation asks a question there seems to be a good amount of views however no answers. I kind of see a couple of these questions as low hanging fruit being some are basic question that even I can answer.

  2. Even though my answer is the only answer and i had been talking with the user through comments and im pretty sure I have answered the question they do not mark it as correct.

Really feels like a waste of my time, and Im thinking that a lot of people have already learned this being that my 1 answer is the only one there. Not even comments.

Is there an unspoken rule i am missing or maybe its time for the moderators to think of a system of maybe forcing people to get to X reputation before even being able to ask a question.

I know this sounds harsh however it might keep the people who really don't want to learn and are looking for free help off the site and let the professionals keep learning.

Without rambling on too much more, I know not really a question here but it kind of grinds my gears.

Just my thoughts. Any feedback or thoughts would be appreciated.

  • 17
    Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you for joining our community and for answering questions. What you do is valuable if under appreciated. ... – HBruijn Dec 2 '16 at 21:58
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    Agreed. I see a lot of new users asking questions and then never returning to the site - not even to accept the answer even though it is correct which leaves the site with a lot of "unanswered" questions that will probably never have an answer marked as correct which is a shame if you ask me. – Frederik Nielsen Dec 2 '16 at 22:43
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    There are (almost) no questions from people who wouldn't be described as low rep. Answer the questions you find interesting for their interest. You will eventually get bored wading through the river of crappy questions to find interesting ones and leave. Find another hobby and go spend time on that and cut out the crap in between. – Iain Dec 3 '16 at 20:51
  • Thank you for this question (and the answers it got). As a C++ programmer I am tired of all the "my crappy C/C++ code raises segfault" questions on SO, so I understand the community's attitude. So, as a non-professional who would post basic questions, I accept the only answer I got here (now I know why) and say farewell. – Adam Trhon Dec 9 '16 at 7:56
  • I wonder where you draw the line for low rep. My questions often go without answer as well :). Probably because I ask stupid questions. – Reaces Dec 13 '16 at 17:49
34

There's a few things at work here:

  1. You're right that some people avoid answering questions from low-rep users because there's a good chance that the asker won't give any sort of feedback. Personally, I long ago let go of my craving for UIP ("Useless Internet Points") and I've been happier ever since, but I know it's a concern that some people have.
  2. Plenty of "old hands" have given up answering "n00b" questions because they're boring and repetitious. That's pretty much the boat I'm in these days -- I'm just not that interested in explaining some basic concept yet again. I might point to a canonical question if I'm feeling generous, but usually the expectation I'll end up arguing over why the canonical question does have the answer, if the asker will just engage their thinking organ for a little while, usually dissuades me.
  3. A lot of questions from new users are poorly thought out, incomplete, muddle-headed, or otherwise deficient in some way that can make it frustrating to answer, so for people who are already jaded and cynical, dealing with another round of "what are you really asking?" can seem like too much effort.

There's an upside to all this for you, the eager newcomer to our fine corner of the Internet: there's lots of questions that are just crying out for your care and attention. As long as you can avoid falling into the trap of thinking you "deserve" upvotes and accepted ticks (and the bitterness that results), answering questions can be very rewarding. You learn all sorts of things about how to ask good questions, think through a problem logically, communicate ideas clearly, and personally, I've found I need a much better understanding of a topic to explain it than I would if I were just "doing" it.

As for the suggestion that people get a certain rep before they can ask a question... it's been suggested before. At one time or another, I may even have made such a suggestion (or supported it) myself. The problem with it is that a Q&A site needs both questions and answers. While it's certainly true that ServerFault, at least, currently has a problem with the endless September of bad questions seemingly driving away all the people capable of providing answers, I'm pretty sure that if we made people jump through rep-gaining hoops (which basically means "answer questions") before asking, it would drive away an equal proportion of "good" questions as it does "OMFG srs?" questions. I don't think it would have the desired effect, unfortunately.

  • Thank you for your feedback, I get where you are coming from. Tell me how would I recommend a change? I have an idea that might fly. What if you made each new user than signed up watch a sort video about how the site works and then answer 5 simple questions, no rep boost and yes some will not watch and just guess the right answers, but there could be a lot of new users that will understand the importance and time other user take to answer their question. – Anthony Fornito Dec 2 '16 at 23:09
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    I don't think it'd do anything useful. Also, remember this platform isn't controlled by us, the users; any changes would have to be made by the Stack Overflow Inc developers, and would almost certainly be a network-wide change (ie not something just for SF). If you wanted to discuss those kinds of things, meta.stackexchange.com would probably be a better place. – womble Dec 3 '16 at 3:34
  • @AnthonyFornito, :) I experienced same thing, I believe that the best sort is voting (no reputation loss for down vote of question) and flagging (unclear, broad), I don't think that it need extra threshold to pass. I usually verify the users (lower then 100 in same site) if they accepted some question before and if they have the Informed badge. Also user over 100 (which may come from other site in SE network), I like to know more about the asker to know how to answer. Combination of lack of user info & I'm not quiet sure about answer, I leave it. – user.dz Dec 8 '16 at 10:51
  • People seem to forget (high rep) or don't know (low rep) that on a per question basis UIPs are community oversight. Sadly, many high rep users have really bad participation rates when it comes to community oversight (voting). We're not giving away PhD's and you shouldn't need to solve the halting problem to get an upvote but clearly many people who should know better act like this is the case. – Iain Dec 8 '16 at 19:56
8

In addition to what womble said, another factor is that on most "mature" SE sites - and certainly on ServerFault - there isn't that much voting. So even though your answers are fine, you'll find that accumulating votes is slow.

But don't lose hope, you will get votes trickling in.

  • 1
    I think that trickle overstated the rate of flow. – Iain Dec 3 '16 at 17:21
  • +1, I would note atleast that everyone is in the same boat for rep's gain. Thus a SF user with 500 points there mean he participated, while on SO he's still a low-rep newbie. – yagmoth555 Dec 8 '16 at 14:08
  • I think it's less that there isn't much voting as much as that there are enough questions that a power user can't read through and vote on all or most of them, so many questions just don't get many views from the type of people who support a lot of the rep-gathering in early sites. – Xiong Chiamiov Dec 8 '16 at 21:25
  • Volume of questions isn't the cause of lack of voting. Even when there there were fewer questions per day, there were never more than a few (and maybe only one ) who read and voted on a significant number of questions. If you go back through meta.SF, there are many posts about the lack of voting, going back to the early days. – Ward Dec 9 '16 at 6:28
  • You can see how bad the lack of voting has become if you look at the year-to-date stats. I got burned out and took a break months ago, and I'm still tops for the year. Then look at Iain at #2 - who's also burned out - and then of the top 20 voters this year, 15 of them are long-standing regulars. Anyone with a tiny bit of rep can vote and if anyone cared to try, at 40 votes/day it only takes 3 months to do as much as I did all year. – Ward Dec 9 '16 at 6:31
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    Maybe a nice mod could highlight this question. "We have to stick them with pins!" – Ward Dec 9 '16 at 6:33
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    The voting horse has long bolted - we're well into the death march now. – Iain Dec 15 '16 at 6:33
  • @Hanginoninquietdesperation agree - most of us that have been here for years are burnt out here. The questions aren't necessarily to blame, just that the days of active participation all day long on a second screen just aren't here anymore for a lot of us. – TheCleaner Dec 15 '16 at 14:18
4

My answer rate (the amount of accepted answers) is rather important to me. Low rep users, especially the ones who come from stackoverflow, generally don't accept answers. This is my primary reason for ignoring questions from low rep users.

My second reason is that the questions just flat suck. I'm pretty knowledgeable in Powershell and Automation so I gravitate towards those kinds of questions. Most are lazy people wanting someone else to write a script for them. Others lack sufficient knowledge to understand the difference between a technical question and the need for troubleshooting. I've tried in the past to explain in depth how or why something works the way it does so the person might understand their question is unanswerable. Those attempts generally end unfavorably. Even when a high rep user get's an in-depth answer you're not guaranteed to find out whether your time was even worth it.

The last reason is those UIP's which Womble references. I'd like to assist the community more but my rep level isn't high enough. I asses each new question (and by extension its asker) to determine if it's something that can be answered, doesn't need a ton of troubleshooting effort to get to the real problem, and whether or not the asker accepts answers. Programmatic questions generally require deep effort on my part as I need to parse code, write new code, and test it before posting. All the while not knowing whether or not someone else is also answering.

  • 3
    People seem to forget (high rep) or don't know (low rep) that on a per question basis UIPs are community oversight. Sadly, many high rep users have really bad participation rates when it comes to community oversight (voting). We're not giving away PhD's and you shouldn't need to solve the halting problem to get an upvote but clearly many people who should know better act like this is the case. – Iain Dec 8 '16 at 19:55
-5

This discussion leaves out at least one extremely important point.

Stack Exchange is not only basically useless for New User’s questions, it actively drives New Users away

Here’s why ...

That those who have low reputation on Stack Exchange:

  • Who have diligently searched for an answer
  • Found none,
  • Then asked a detailed question,

… get no answers at all. No answers even after months of the questions being opened.

This leads to New User giving up on the whole Stack Exchange concept.

So, I’m agreeing with Anthony Fornito’s root thought of something needs to be done on Stack Exchange as it seems great for answering a question that was asked years ago, but it is not only basically useless for New User’s questions, it actively drives New Users away.

My 2 cents,

Michael

PS: “You must have 50 reputation points to comment”

Since I can’t actually post a comment I had to add an “Answer.” Which should be it’s own discussion

PS2:

Yes, this is my personal experience, and yes I do want my 2 questions answered.

How to fix Apache2 w/ suPHP to scan the correct .ini directory?

Should I proceed with the 1404_HWE_EOL?

  • I agree with you, I do like seeing new users who at least look like they have read the Tour Page, and have a 1 rep, your questions are ones I would help to answer, I just hate to see the 2 liners, with no details and you have to comment 20 times to get the full picture. +1 PS: “You must have 50 reputation points to comment” Should be 10 Sorry your question has not been answered yet, I wonder if there is a way to bump... – Anthony Fornito Dec 13 '16 at 16:48
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    Ah, but getting an answer mean we got an active database of active user that can help you out on your subject, and low rep user keep discouraging active member, see the bad cycle ? – yagmoth555 Dec 13 '16 at 17:42
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    If you want your questions answered then you should pay someone to do so. Until then you are at the mercy of people who volunteer a bit of their lives to help you. If no one chooses to to that then tough. You get what you pay for – Iain Dec 14 '16 at 6:08
  • @Anthony Fornito : Thank you for the rep bounty :) yagmoth555 : The bad cycle is what I thought this discussion was trying to solve. That’s why I added what I did. Hangin on in quiet desperation : I’m confused by your name. At first I thought you meant that you were still ‘here’ on Stack Exchange waiting till it got better. But your comment indicates you think Stack Exchange is dead?, useless?, pointless? And you’re waiting until it completely dies and a pay model replaces it? @ [Minus] voters: Please explain how trying to help Stack Exchange become better is a negative event? – Michael Dec 14 '16 at 15:38
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    And there was me thinking I was being fairly direct. When you post a question on an SE site there is a fairly good chance you'll get an answer but it's not guaranteed. if you want answers then pay for them - simples. It's the English way – Iain Dec 14 '16 at 17:34
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    Oh and downvotes on meta are people disagreeing with you which is easy as your answer read like a rant. – Iain Dec 14 '16 at 17:39
  • @Hanginoninquietdesperation Fair enough I guess, it should be a comment on OP's post that he could then integrate into his discussion topic. – Michael Dec 21 '16 at 17:37

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