Something I've noticed is that as soon as a question gets a good answer, the question score starts increasing a lot. Is this an acceptable use of upvotes? I assumed that upvoting a question should be if the QUESTION is particularly interesting. Sometimes problem statement questions get upvoted if someone has a novel solution.

Should you upvote bad or only okay questions just because there is a good answer?

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    $\begingroup$ Which leads to: "should you undelete a question if it has enlightening answers?" Yes! More help is needed in that regard because many good answers are being deleted by a small number of users who have extremely strict question standards. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2015 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill Red Herring...delicious but rarely relevant...also I feel as though that comment is politically charged $\endgroup$
    – user228288
    Jun 27, 2015 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ @NonStandard Most everything on meta involves site politics. Any theory of valuation of questions vs. answers will also need to consider the closely related case that I mention (among others). $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2015 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque be that as it may, if you have a new question, post a new question. Filling the comment thread of another question with "related" content, especially if it is well known to be contentious, is not nice. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jun 27, 2015 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ @quid In my opinion it is highly relevant, since I think one must consider all of these very closely related issues if one is to devise a general, uniform policy of valuating question and answers, $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2015 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill, it's great that you value your opinion that much. But this is stretching the question here (note that questions with good, upvoted, answers do not get deleted automatically). If you want to raise the issue "should we undelete a question if it has enlightening answers?" please do that on a separate thread. It's an important issue. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 28, 2015 at 4:43
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    $\begingroup$ I do not downvote a question just because I felt the need to downvote an answer. There I keep those things strictly separate. Hmmm. The way to hell is straightened with consistency rules. $\endgroup$
    – ccorn
    Jul 1, 2015 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ As The User Not Yet Known As Aardvark to Zymurgy and Points Between says, it is an acceptable use of upvotes. You’ll find that people upvote questions for quite a variety of reasons. I, for instance, am most likely to upvote a question because the asker shows some evidence of having thought about the question. Very occasionally I upvote a question because I think it exceptionally interesting, and from time to time I give a question a compensatory upvote because I think that the asker has been slammed excessively. (And in practice I find the vote counts on questions largely meaningless.) $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2015 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ Absolutely. Unless you think it's possible for a truly terrible question to draw enlightening answers. $\endgroup$
    – Mr. Brooks
    Jul 7, 2015 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ Oh all these red herrings. Relevant to what? Relevant to who's interests? Please keep politics out of this. It is OK to be mad of someone because of politics, but it very seldom has anything to do with their skills or merits. $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2015 at 20:38

3 Answers 3


It is sometimes hard for a person who is beginning to learn a topic to pose a question which would meet the purist's standard of "good" - but often such questions identify the stumbling blocks in understanding which many have at the same stage of learning.

If such a question attracts a good answer, that is a great thing, particularly if it meets the person who has asked the question where they are.

A question in these circumstances has the potential to help other students at the same stage in their learning, and also to help teachers to understand what is causing students a problem - and a good answer helps the teachers further (and there are a good many on the site) because the community is sharing its best insights, and we are all learning.

I upvote answers more than questions, and quite often the questions I upvote have lots of votes. But I do look out also for questions of the kind I have described, and give them a nudge upwards occasionally, because I think they form an important part of what the site is about. But I don't routinely give out such votes.

My autocorrect insists that "upvote" should really be uproot!


You asked two questions with different answers.

Is this an acceptable use of upvotes?

This has an objective answer: Yes. People are free to upvote what they like, as long as they are not targeting a particular user.

Should you upvote bad or only okay questions just because there is a good answer?

This is a subjective question. I don't do it (obviously), as I don't want to increase someone's privilege level on the basis of just copying a problem from somewhere.

But some take the point of view that they benefited from an answer, and the answer wouldn't exist if there was no question. So they upvote the question too. This doesn't bother me that much (see answer #1).

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    $\begingroup$ You don't do it. Do you even upvote anymore? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 27, 2015 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Do we need to enlighten you about the user page? :-) $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jun 27, 2015 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: Enlighten? That's the badge you get when you answer first, get accepted and receive a score of 10. I think you meant Inform. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 28, 2015 at 3:40

I think that it's fair to up vote a question if it get's a good answer, assuming your definition of good roughly coincides with mine.

Answers on this site generally get up voted more than questions do. However, there would be no answers without questions. By up voting a borderline question with a good answer, you show respect to the person who indirectly created the opportunity for the up votes. In other words, without the question, there wouldn't even be an answer to look at.

So, I encourage you to consider up voting borderline questions with good answers, because in the end, they were at least interesting enough to generate a good answer.

IMHO if you've enjoyed an answer, take a moment to thank the person who asked the question.

  • $\begingroup$ (small caveat) on meta, votes have a sometimes different and often times opaque meaning so don't apply the above here ;) $\endgroup$
    – Zach466920
    Jun 27, 2015 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ I might also encourage people to edit borderline questions with good answers as well - if someone managed to write a good answer, odds are that the question has some good mathematical content worth saving from a bad presentation. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2015 at 23:44

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