Example (at the time I'm posting this question, the question below has 0 votes): Setting IActiveView extent?

And maybe the example above isn't the best example, but I see this happening a lot with better questions. IMO, if a question is worth the time to answer and it gets upvoted and an answer is accepted, I think that is a good indicator the question is useful and adds value and should get an upvote or two (if I see these questions, I usually +1). Am I being too generous with my upvotes?

And since I usually +1 when I find them, the moderators won't find as many but it seems like I'm always upvoting up 4 or 5 a day that fall into this category.

Something else to keep in mind: a lot of stackexchange users put a votes:1 or a votes:2 in their searches to filter out the crud. If you do that on gis.stackexchange.com, you'll miss some good questions that actually have good answers.

  • cool. question urls are automatically swapped with the question title. Has this always happened and I'm just now noticing? Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 1:00
  • 3
    Wow...I answered this one and then forgot to vote it up!
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 2:01
  • 9
    This begs the question: Can a bad question have a good answer? Commented Mar 14, 2011 at 17:01
  • 5
    @Kirk Sure it can. There's even a (gold!) badge for it: meta.gis.stackexchange.com/badges/57/reversal
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 21:35

3 Answers 3


(I think you're correct in observing that many deserving questions aren't voted up, but the one you link to is not a typical example. In particular, any question that requires two pages of code in order to pose usually has not been well thought out or researched and shouldn't garner many readers.)

There actually is a badge to encourage voting for questions: Electorate. A couple of users have it already. Maybe as more acquire it others will get the point.

I recently raised this issue in an answer to a different question on meta, so I won't repeat those points here.

Other SE sites are discussing similar concerns. A few months ago @jrista on the Photography meta site provided a nice analysis along with a proposal to measure overall voting rates. It's worth a read.

In other meta exchanges (I forget exactly where), people have pointed out that it's psychologically easier to vote for answers than for questions. I have constantly to remind myself to return to each question in order to vote for it, even after I've been sufficiently engaged to answer it. Maybe the mods here can think of some gentle ways to remind or encourage people to vote for well-formulated questions.

That last adjective is helpful, I find: "well-formulated." It has been objected on some sites that few people can understand even a fraction of the questions. Well, I have that trouble everywhere, especially here. But I believe I can tell when a question is well posed, neatly and succinctly put, and invites an interesting or useful answer. I vote those up whether I really understand them or even sympathize with them. It's genuinely hard to come up with good questions and to express them well.

Finally, many questions here don't get many views. That's a shame. One of the most useful aspects of the SE sites is that you get a daily overview of the issues that are engaging people in the community. In short order you can get a larger sense of the things people are working on. Intellectual curiosity, if not professional diligence, would suggest that we all take a few minutes occasionally to read these questions rather than focusing only on the familiar subjects--and why not vote up the good ones as we're doing so?

  • The link to photography meta seems broken.
    – underdark
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 13:45
  • @underdark Sorry; I fixed it (and checked it!).
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 15:24
  • Maybe the mods here can think of some gentle ways to remind or encourage people to vote for well-formulated questions. I used to see a message about "Don't forget to vote on the question if you found it helpful" or something to that affect. I haven't seen it in a while but I think it was up-voting an answer that triggered it. Is that still a thing?
    – BSMP
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 19:00

I often see very poorly expressed questions generating a flurry of very good answers. In these cases I think it perfectly appropriate for the question itself not to be upvoted.

Sometimes I've been tempted to edit the question to bring it up to the level of the answers. I restrain myself though because writing my own well formulated questions is hard enough, and I know what I'm after (mostly). It's rare that I feel confident of understanding the asker's goal well enough to attempt reformulating.

  • Just curious - do you consider editing the question a bad thing if you restrain yourself? I've edited a few questions that I thought were poorly structured grammatically and I appreciate when people edit mine.
    – djq
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 19:30
  • 2
    no I don't consider editing questions bad. It's purely a decision I make for myself based on how I think and feel in the moment. I edited more freely when I wasn't a moderator. Now I'm conscious of the extra weight and perceived authority my actions may carry, and I tread lightly. Commented Mar 14, 2011 at 3:34
  • Perhaps I am completely off-base here, but does it not make sense to reward a question that sparks a truly informative series of answers, even if the question itself is less than stellar? The information is still passed, and I wonder at the passively discouraging nature of having your question viewed as of less value than the answers it inspires.
    – Nathanus
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 15:03
  • @Nathanus, In regards to voting, I approach answers and questions the same. One of the questions I ask myself before voting is "how much work/thought was put into it?". I think the Stack Exchange system actually rewards questions more than answers, at least that's been my perception thus far. Interesting to read that others may see the opposite. Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 9:22
  • I'd be interested to see numbers on this, but I would bet dollars to donuts that, overall, votes for highest-voted answer more than usually surpasses votes for the question which inspired such an answer. I don't think this is wrong, per se, as the real worth of a question is the information it digs up from the community at large. However, like I said, when the divide grows too distinct, the questioner (?) might find it discouraging.
    – Nathanus
    Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 14:14

In my case, upvoting a question is also because of how the system is presenting the upvote. If you look at the question upvote, it says :

the question 1) shows research effort, 2) it is clear and 3) it is useful

now if you look at answers, it says :

the answer is useful

So there are 3 conditions to upvote a question, and only one to upvote an answer : the system is clearly biased toward upvoting answers if you follow those marks. This could partly explain the difference.

My point is that many questions do not include the research efforts of the OP (even if he did search). In the example given, the research effort has only been described in the edit of the question, so you need to return to the question in order to see it.

Finally, it is worth noting that popular questions are rewarded with badges, so that an useful question that is unclear or lacks some research can still bring some reward. Also, there are new badges to act as incentives for the answerers to edit the questions.

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