There seems to be a mysterious phenomenon where a question gets upvoted a lot, which presumably implies that people find it interesting, so one might imagine that they would also find the answer interesting, but then when it's answered the answer receives only a few scattered votes. This has happened with several answers of mine, and currently it seems to be happening with mjqxxxx's answer to this question. This answer has been around for $8$ hours now; as far as I can tell it seems to be correct and to fully answer the question, and so far no-one has claimed otherwise; yet only one person except for me has upvoted it. Note that not only does the question have $18$ upvotes, but it's also been marked as a favourite by $5$ people, so the answer can't be merely that people upvoted the question and then forgot about it. Perhaps $8$ hours isn't such a long time, but often answers to much less interesting questions with far fewer upvotes get $10$ upvotes within an hour or two. In other cases I've observed in the past, the upvote count stayed low permanently.

I don't know if more can be said about this than just "the ways of the upvoter are mysterious", but I'd be interested in any insights into the dynamics that might be causing this effect.

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    $\begingroup$ Lots of people saw the question when posted (a week ago) and upvoted it immediately, the bounty added extra upvotes, and not everyone who upvoted the question has had a chance to see the answer. Perhaps the answer was posted on a different time zone and it never hit the front page when the upvoters could see the answer. I can think of many contributing reasons. $\endgroup$
    – mrf
    Feb 19, 2013 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ This tends to happen when the answer takes more effort (or mathematical background) to appreciate than the question. $\endgroup$
    – user53153
    Feb 19, 2013 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ @joriki perhaps, for the specific question you tagged, people were expecting a full solution to the general problem (and not just the case that the OP suggests we study?) $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2013 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ Hm. This question has +9, but both answers have +1... :-D $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Feb 19, 2013 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @5pm: I think this answer serves to illustrate your point. $\endgroup$
    – joriki
    Feb 21, 2013 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ We already have two "requests" threads: for Re-Open votes and for Delete votes. Maybe there should also be a "request for votes" thread for outstanding underappreciated answers... kidding... mostly. $\endgroup$
    – user53153
    Feb 21, 2013 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @5pm I actually agree, though I think it would need a more specific classification. Maybe something like the featured questions, but run on votes rather than a single person's investment of reputation ? A more powerful type of vote, something that says "this question/answer is particularly elegant/beneficial/instructive/exemplary..."? Maybe a "question and/or answer of the day" vote? I don't know, but certainly with so many questions, some of the good stuff cycles out too quickly... $\endgroup$
    – adam W
    Feb 27, 2013 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ @adamW We do have a more powerful type of vote: bounty to reward for existing answer. Since a bounty cannot be awarded immediately, the question and the answer(s) get additional exposure for 1-7 days. $\endgroup$
    – user53153
    Feb 27, 2013 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ @5pm That is what I meant by the featured questions, correct? I meant the bountied questions. But what if someone excepted an answer because it was something to consider when they needed an answer, but then somebody later comes along and gives a more complete treatment, something that is difficult to find in the literature, and that no one gave in some months or years on this site, if ever? Maybe some kind of vote that says "wow, this looks like something I would spend my 'special vote' on". 'special vote' meaning one per day or week or something. $\endgroup$
    – adam W
    Feb 27, 2013 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ @adamW Bounties are an appropriate tool for that situation. They are completely unrelated to answers being accepted or not. $\endgroup$
    – user53153
    Feb 27, 2013 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @5pm I wouldn't want to make the site more complicated to partake in of course. I just thought that if an objective party decided to vote "request that this gets more votes" it would be useful. I see many comments of the sort that say "wish I could +2 you here..." $\endgroup$
    – adam W
    Feb 27, 2013 at 3:46

2 Answers 2


I'm not really an active user here but let me give you some insight.

Speaking generally here, but while votes have some standard meanings like "This was helpful", "This was good", a user can potentially give any meaning to the vote.

I can upvote because "I never thought about this!" or because "this question is really well-exposed"; even formatting can influence voting. I'd never upvote a good question with a very bad formatting. I'd even fix it first and then upvote it.

But this is just one side of the matter. You say that you've noticed more votes on questions and less on answers, sometimes I've seen the exact opposite especially when the question is controversial or a so-so question and the answer is very good. The voters will ignore the question (since it's not really nice) and upvote the answer to be outstanding especially for such a question.

Then you have to consider who saw the question and when, whether some edits were applied, etc. This are all possibilities but they are not supposed to represent what happens every time. There are many variables.

The same about the question you linked to: Starring a question doesn't necessarily mean you liked the question. Sometimes I've starred questions because they were really controversial and had a strong feedback (even negative) and I wanted to be notified of further changes. Starring it accomplishes that, because then in your profile you get the notification for the starred questions. I consider it more of a bookmark. Of course, I also star nice and outstanding questions.

Hope that helps. :)


Your 8 hour timeframe is too short. Not everyone visits the site every hour, you know, or even every day. See if you still have the question after a week.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, I already don't have it now with respect to that answer because I drew some attention to it with this post and it's now at $9$ upvotes :-), but as I mentioned in the question, in other cases in the past the upvote count stayed low permanently. $\endgroup$
    – joriki
    Feb 19, 2013 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @joriki Well, how about linking all examples here... not everyone would go and upvote every link... and, hey, if you did that, I would certainly upvote it (if i saw it of course) :) $\endgroup$
    – adam W
    Feb 27, 2013 at 2:22

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