With all due respect to the following (et all) : Andy aka, Spehro Spephany, Olin Lathrop, Russel McMahon, Phil Frost, Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams, Dave Tweed, Passerby (darn, can I type in all of your revered names ? ) Thus "et all".

Sometimes I feel like I cannot get an answer in before you gentlemen answer. I want to be a part of this vibrant community. And I do understand that the above mentioned gentlemen contribute mightily to this Exchange. I also have recently become aware of the competition among the above mentioned. These people are so good at using their knowledge and resources they are capable of answering all questions with concise answers, but with follow up beyond the question.

Now to my question (request ?) How will we build the base of knowledge for the future? .

All of us have felt the frustration as a newbie. And now I (as a fairly newbie) find myself frustrated by the early and quick answers by the Guru"s of Electrical Stack Exchange.

This is not a complaint. I love your answers, and I learn (even fundamentals daily from you) from your answers, and I love it. I hope I am not being impatient. And I will not be impatient.

I think my expectations were that moderators, and the major players would eventually become the last resort (or the Guru type who were called upon later to settle the subtleties )

I will continue to answer to my limited abilities, with thanks to all of you. But a tiny request would be to give just a little time to all of us who want to contribute and advance would be appreciated.

In conclusion, I just ask that the major

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Please re-read your last sentence, I think something is missing (apart from the '.'). \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Jul 3, 2014 at 5:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ the last 2 paragraphs were cut off for some reason. But I think I accomplished my goal in the body. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marla
    Jul 3, 2014 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jippie . the real question without all the fluff is whether the site moderator's are insuring future contributions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marla
    Jul 3, 2014 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I kinda enjoy when the first couple answers are technically correct, but completely miss the knowledge level of the original post. Couple days ago someone posted a question with a circuit diagram showing a battery, an LDR, an LED and asked how he could reverse the effect of the LED to lighting up in the dark. Comments and answers using microcontrollers and opamps started to appear. I didn't answer that particular question, but it happens more often and that sort of questions are good rep-makers ;o) \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Jul 21, 2014 at 5:47

4 Answers 4


This has been discussed quite a bit on the Stack Exchange network and the overall Meta for the network has over 50 questions with a fastest-gun tag that has it's own Wiki description:

A recognized issue on Stack Exchange sites in which the first answer posted gets the most reputation; that is, the "fastest gun in the West" wins.

While it can be frustrating in one way one if higher reputation users were either encouraged or prevented answering questions quickly it would make the site worse for people stuck with a problem when they need to wait longer for a solution.

If you read through some of the above questions / answers you'll see a few solutions that have been proposed (but not implemented) but some of the ones like random ordering for a while really apply more to larger sites like Stack Overflow where simple questions can easily get half-a-dozen answers in a few minutes so other answers are quickly lost at the bottom.

Normally when I vote on answers I like to hold off on it a while so I can vote on the best answer(s) rather than the first. But how people use their votes is up to them and it's inevitable many will vote on the first correct answer and then it staying at the top of the list causes more votes on it than later answers. But that's only a concern regarding reputation and you mainly seem concerned with making a positive contribution which is good.

In that regard apart from providing more detailed answers to questions that have been answered hastily you can also take a look at some good older questions that have no answers. I see you have a background in RF and if you plug the following into the search box you'll currently find 43 RF questions without an answer at all and some have quite a few upvotes meaning people are likely to be interested in a good answer:

[rf] closed:no answers:0

On the How do I search? page you'll see there's quite a range of options and you can also search on things like questions that have answers but they aren't accepted. One advantage to those slightly older questions is you can spend time putting together a really high-quality answer rather than rushing.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ After a sleep on my thoughts, I realized that the competition is likely a necessary ingredient. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marla
    Jul 3, 2014 at 11:54

I understand your feeling, and I can assure you that it's even harder on Stack Overflow, where literally hundreds of users read the questions at the same time as you do. That's also one of the reasons why I never managed to hit the rep cap of 200, it's just too hard to provide a number of good answers or questions (that stand out in the crowd) in a day.

At the same time, I don't think it's fair to ask these guys to "slow down": they enjoy doing it and they give a great contribution to the site and its users.

My strategy is to focus on what I'm most familiar with, and reserve a "segment" of topics where I think I can make my (little) knowledge useful to the community. This usually means the topic I'm currently working on or the ones I worked on the most.

It can also help to take a look to the Unanswered section: even if the question is old, if it has no good answer it's always a good thing to provide one.

It's not easy, but don't get discouraged!

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Because I can only choose one answer \$\endgroup\$
    – Marla
    Jul 3, 2014 at 11:55

Most of us (except Andy and Spehro apparently) have to sleep or do work some time. Just check when you have a minute. There will often be one or two new questions nobody has gotten to yet. It helps to set your view to be sorted by activity. That way the new questions will be near the top.

If it makes you feel any better, this same thing happens to me, and I expect everyone here. Sometimes I see a new question with no answers. When I post the question after a few minutes writing, I find that Spehro answered it before I did and already gotten two upvotes. That's the way it goes.

All of our time is limited here, so the trick is to use that limited time in a way to likely yield the most effective result. Tricks I use for this are:

  1. Look at questions sorted by activity. You can set the sort order and get a overall nicer display (in my opinio) by clicking on the "Questions" button in the top left corner instead of browsing the home page for this stack.

  2. I Rarely bother looking at anything beyond the first page, which I think is the most recently active 20(?) questions. The pickings get slimmer the further back you go.

  3. I Ignore any question with a accepted answer. These can be identified by the green box around the number of answers.

  4. I Don't bother with questions that have a lot of answers. The more answers, the less chance there is something new and useful you can add.

  5. When I do go into a question, I skip it if Andy or Spehro have already answered and gotten upvotes. I don't have to read those answers to know they are accurate, complete, and useful, so I find a better place to spend my limited time.

I have heard others complaining that such a system is unfair, there are good contributions to make in obscure corners, blah, blah, blah. That all misses the point, which that it's a probability game. Given that time here is fixed and limited regardless of how it is spent, it makes sense to spend it in a way that gives the greatest chance of making a useful impact. That doesn't mean any one action will bring the best result, only that as a aggregate they do more so than by following other methods.

Yes, the three answers to a question with one of them accepted could all be wrong, but usually not. The time spent chasing this rare case prevents providing many more useful answers to questions with no answers, so is not time well spent on average.

Anyone still thinking this is unfair or unreasonable not swayed by the above arguments then simply needs to remember we are all volunteers and don't have to justify to anyone how exactly we spend our free time here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you Olin for taking time to write. I have read all the responses and have come away refreshed with a new viewpoint. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marla
    Jul 4, 2014 at 13:00

If you're answering questions with the goal of getting up-votes, then I understand your frustration.

So, maybe you should consider changing your goal.

Write the answer for your own benefit. The act of focusing one's mind to pull one's thoughts together and compose a succinct, coherent answer is almost always profitable.

Revisiting something you learned some time ago refreshes that knowledge and sometimes allows you make a connection you hadn't noticed before.

In other words, make it your goal to come away with an improved understanding of the material for having written the answer.

Moreover, chances are good that, over time, some will visit the question and find your answer valuable too and show their appreciation with an up-vote.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have done what you suggest, thus my comment above to Olin Lathrop, " with a new viewpoint." I am enjoying being here now more than ever. Thank you Alfred. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marla
    Jul 7, 2014 at 13:38

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