I've seen several cases where the asker has simply put 'I don't know what to do' or 'help me' with no individual effort and in some cases it is clear this is a homework question (i.e picture etc) and these questions get more views and comments from people trying to coax a solution out of the asker and provide lot of hints to help he/she to answer the question. Admittedly these questions get more downvotes but that makes them stand out more and people visit the question to see why the question is so unpopular. This gives the asker an opportunity to show some working and get his question asked promptly.

Whereas if someone asks a genuine question with sufficient working to show effort it does not garner the same amount of attention per say. And often these questions are not answered as quickly as some of the worse questions on this site. I know there is nothing we can really do to combat this as people answer whichever question they like, but its just one of the small things that annoy me that I thought I'd share.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be nice if you backed up your assertions with some data. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ Per Gerry's comment, it would even be nice to see a few examples of bad questions with a lot of attention, and good ones without it, so that we know precisely how OP defines those terms. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ I could suggest an explanation for some cases: There are many users who try to help new users with formatting, correct choice of tag, grammar etc. So let us assume someone posts a question where MathJax is not used, there is no capitalization or punctuation and tags are completely incorrect. A first user comes and edits MathJax. Later another user adds capitalization and corrects grammar. Then another user notices incorrect tags and changes them. So this post was bumped three times, each time it reappeared on the front page, which increased number of views. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ If you have some examples, were they edited and bumped? (I think each bump could increase number of views.) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 5:30

3 Answers 3


I can speak to what is likely true, and what isn't. What isn't true is that people on this site are part of a conspiracy to kick people who work hard and show effort, and fawn over lazy cheaters. What is true is that questions that are brief, clear in scope, and concerning accessible material will get far more attention than one that reads like a novel. While the guy who posed the doorstop-of-a-question may undoubtably have worked hard while posing the question, the truth is that most of us just want to have fun and not, you know, have to work so hard to get to the job.

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    $\begingroup$ It's true that reader attention is probably a big factor. But it seems silly to bash so hard on long posts since the ones of "novel like" proportions are so rare. I guess you are using extremes to make the point, which is fair, I suppose. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 3:18
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb: I'm not bashing long posts, just recognizing how many of us select questions to answer. But I am glad you see where I was coming from. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 8:51

I would expect this perception to be a confluence of these things:

  1. The volume of badly asked questions being much higher than the well asked questions, nowadays

  2. The likelihood that you are more apt to remember bad questions doing well and good questions doing badly rather than remembering good questions doing well and bad questions doing badly

  3. Reader attention span.

I wish I could provide data for the first, but that seems like a challenge to measure outside of anecdotal evidence.


Apart from those already mentioned, the following confounding factor may contribute to the perceived causation:

  1. First post by every new user gets reviewed in the First Posts queue, and thus gets additional attention.
  2. First posts are more likely to have various flaws than other posts.

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