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@uhoh's first two lemmas tell us that Stack Exchange is a collaborative effort to generate good answers to on-topic questions, and that answers simply can not exist without someone taking the time and showing the interest to post the question first.

Further, visibility (and up voting) of those answers to future readers (see @uhoh's lemma #3) will be to some degree modulated by the voting on the question: an intrinsically stellar answer to a question with zero votes will not be observed to shine as brightly if the question remains a red dwarf.

Even further, question askers can't start offering reputation bounties on questions until they are comfortable loosing some reputation points and bounties are good! Also, without some positive feedback like upvoting they are potentially somewhat less likely to stick around.

Therefore I'd like to ask:

Question: Why do some of our most prolific question answerers (and therefore reputation beneficiaries) rarely-to-never up vote questions they answer?

Related queries on voting behavior:

Premise:

I'm not going to name them, but after 6+ years of observing the site I'm going to simply assert that after coming across so many questions with zero votes (+0/-0) having excellent answers by a few of our most prolific answer authors, it's clear to me that this is a real thing.


1@uhoh's lemmas (from here):

  • @uhoh's lemma #1: Stack Exchange is a collaborative effort to generate good answers to on-topic questions.
  • @uhoh's lemma #2: A Stack Exchange answers can not exist without someone taking the time and showing the effort and interest to post the question.
  • @uhoh's lemma #3: Stack Exchange is both a floor wax and a desert topping2. Asking of questions is a superposition of (at least) two things; seeking solutions to our immediate problem or query and the facilitation of interesting, helpful and informative answers for the benefit of future readers.

2Shimmer, by the Not Ready For Prime Time Players

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    $\begingroup$ +1, and not specific to this SE. Asking questions tends to be underrated. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 20:49

2 Answers 2

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It isn't clear why you think that people answering questions should upvote those questions with 2-orders of magnitude greater frequency than those that read them. Currently it appears to require 100-200 reads per upvote on a question, so it seems to be the general readership, rather than question-answerers, that are responsible for any perceived problem with upvoting questions. There are examples of questions that I have answered, that have been looked at >100 times, and mine is the sole upvote to the question.

In the end, it is entirely up to each user how they cast their votes. That is the premise of SE. Encouraging new users is not one of the suggested reasons that a question should be upvoted. I did agree with your previous campaign to avoid kneejerk downvoting of new user's questions, but I don't agree with any suggestion that writing a question means you should get an automatic upvote from anyone that answers it.

You explicitly linked me to this question via a comment you put beneath Why don't question-askers accept answers? (that I have flagged as unfriendly/unkind). A brief scan of my (a) top-voted answers and (b) most recent answers, suggests I upvoted the majority of those questions. I obviously haven't upvoted all the questions I've answered (I've downvoted some), but the "rarely-to-never" description is way wide of the mark (in my case).

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  • $\begingroup$ "It isn't clear why..." several clear reasons can be found in the question, presumably an answer author taking time to compose a thoughtful, high-quality and well-sourced answer will have at least some interest in some combination of future readers finding and reading it, and/or some reputation (everybody's mix will be different) and It seems just logical that an author who took that time to compose such an answer would consider that question a good question. There's three. As far as linking, I am an incredibly active related question linker. Both questions ask "Why don't people do X?" $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not saying others should think the way only I do, just suggesting several views that answer authors might consider if they haven't already. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh It is the question that needs to be well-researched and of high quality in order to attract a upvote. I don't upvote questions to artificially draw attention to my answers. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Apr 25 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ I understand that, it's clear. To me a question that attracts great answers is a great question, the purpose of a question is to facilitate answers, not to demonstrate the OP's prowess. The tooltip suggestions ("researched") are just suggestions, not restrictions or rules. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 at 12:17
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I am certainly not one of the most prolific answerers on the site, but I am typically in the top 10 percentish. Also, I mostly upvote questions that I answer. Of course, I am probably biased towards my fields of interest: orbital mechanics and collisions.

When I don't upvote a question I answer, it is usually because there is something I disagree with in the question. This could be assumptions, or the way the question is phrased. I also admit taking umbrage for perceived insults to the field of astronomy. This is an example: What is the **actual** average distance of the Moon from Earth? I answered without upvoting since I don't like how the question is phrased. There are many equally valid ways to compute an "average".

I am a prolific upvoter, but I am also of the philosophy that:

If I upvote everything,

Then my upvotes have less meaning.

I suspect that some rare upvoters have a similar philosophy, but reserve their upvotes for only what they think are the very finest questions and answers.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellently put! $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 5 at 14:57

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