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Something I have noticed over the years is that interesting, and difficult, questions do not get upvotes. My biggest slew of upvote points was for answering an insanely easy question about voltages and resistors, and the question itself was trivial schoolwork related with lots of upvotes.

I doubt there is any way to fix this even if the will existed, but has it been considered?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps this is more "unintentionally-biased towards newcomers." I bet 99.5% of people whom experiment with electronics, do not pursue it. They find it too challenging, so end up in some other (completely unrelated) field. Hence, tons of beginner questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – rdtsc
    Nov 18, 2021 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ 'Difficult questions' are lost within the haystack of beginner questions lacking attention and views. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mitu Raj
    Nov 18, 2021 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ If I see a really advanced looking question, I have no idea if is actually properly formed or incomprehensible. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Nov 19, 2021 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that easier questions get more upvotes than advanced and usually more specialized questions. I think there is a psychological reason behind it which I observe in my own behavior: I click questions more often when I believe I can give an answer to it. Thus I will read and vote on those more often. Easy questions cause this chain of events for more users than do hard questions, regardless of how well the question is phrased or illustrated. \$\endgroup\$
    – tobalt
    Nov 20, 2021 at 12:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only remedy I see is abandoning reputation scores for answers..But of course this will remove most contributor motivation and lead to the death of the site. In general, voting (especially on questions) should be more incentivized: maybe by granting a small reputation score for voting. \$\endgroup\$
    – tobalt
    Nov 20, 2021 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with what the OP states. there has been several times where the "popular vote" was to close a question on the basis of not being focused, yet those in that field knew exactly what is being asked, with the correct terminology. Highest "upvotes" is still from "what is a sinewave"... \$\endgroup\$
    – user16222
    Nov 20, 2021 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Highly related, maybe even dupe even though it is worded the other way around: Why boring questions have so much attention? \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Nov 22, 2021 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dim Maybe I should post a question: How do resistors work? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2021 at 9:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DirkBruere If your aim is to farm rep, you can try. I have a suggestion, though: make sure the question can be framed as interesting enough for highly qualified users. "How do resistor work?" is an excellent bait because unexperienced people will see that and say "yes, how do they work?" then click, and high-experience users will see that and say "what is this stupid question anyway?", then click too. Now, if you can make experienced users change their mind about the question as they read it, because it's not that dumb, you'll reach Hot Network Questions, and you'll be overwhelmed by rep. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Nov 22, 2021 at 11:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Easier questions are read by a bigger audience and get more votes. It's the same for all SE sites. On SO you'll for example get the most votes by far if you answer beginner questions about the mainstream programming languages. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lundin
    Nov 25, 2021 at 10:18

4 Answers 4

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I think difficult questions are more likely to asked by more experienced people, and are much more likely to be quite narrowly focused. The question itself may be difficult to understand.

There are millions upon millions of "beginners" doing a 1st year course in physics or engineering who would love someone to give them the answer to yet another voltage divider question. These questions probably get more views, and then hit the HNQ and get even more views.

The pool of users "qualified" to vote on an in depth answer to a specialist question is correspondingly smaller as well. There are plenty of topics I have no clue about, and I wouldn't recognise a good answer from a completely incorrect one. It seems inappropriate to vote either way on those ones.

I'm in the same boat - lots of upvotes for things which seem obvious but of much more general interest. I say bank the votes, after all you are helping a lot of people and that's really the point (right?). Then enjoy answering/asking more interesting questions.

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There are many things that affect the voting on a question. This is dependent on the interest in the question and many factors affect this. Sometimes it's the amount of people that actually look at the question (or the people that are actually around to see the question as this varies from day to day).

There isn't a good way to fix this other than to remind the community that they should vote when possible and take the time to upvote good questions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While answering easy questions is the easiest way to earn reputation fast, it is part of this problem that a large fraction of people never even bothers to look at questions that sound difficult. Most fixes to this would bring quite a change to the essence of stack exchange, e.g. there could be reputation for voting or there could be a "difficulty" setting to questions that scales reputation, but the problem is how to determine this difficulty index. \$\endgroup\$
    – tobalt
    Nov 20, 2021 at 13:50
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Difficult questions (that have a more limited audience) just don't pay the SE bills as much as trivial questions (that have a much wider audience) hence, SE may not care as much about bigger and more important questions that the great unwashed will never likely comprehend.

OK, so traffic pays the bills and that traffic migrates towards the dumb-stuff. It's therefore not in SE's interest to award a greater rep score when answering difficult questions (just in case the great unwashed start to turn away from this site due to perceptions of elitism).

But, on the other hand, it might naturally turn SE into yet another website for banal questions. Is there a danger here? I think there is and, I think that the balance has gone a little too far in favouring the hobbyist/school-kid mentality. If I rant on about making sure your supplier has a good quality system, the hobby "buy it from ebay" brigade will just fall-over giggling.

More fool them of course.

But, where exactly to draw the line?

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A bias against difficult questions is one thing, suppression them is totally different and that occurs

It's one thing to farm "internet points" from easy questions (my highest voted answer is "what is a sine wave" ??? ) and hold out for interesting questions.

However, what isn't fine is when regulars vote down valid questions and vote to close valid questions simply because they do not understand what is even being discussed

I am using this as an example (note there are others) as I am extremely disappointed by the regulars to this site. Voting to close because "Opinion" when it is a power and control technical question. Disappointing, really... I expect a lot more from people here.

Need help with simulation of three-phase rectifier with hysteresis controller

I think this site needs to ask itself... does it want to be a collection of rehashed questions around "what is a voltage divider" or does it actually want to collect answers..

So lets see... to vote down a question you need a MINIMUM of 125 points to VOTE down and there are 12190 meeting that criteria. HOWEVER... you need 3000 points to be able to vote-close and there is 989 users meeting that criteria (ie regular type users).

If one of these 989 think such a question is 1) Opinionated 2) not suited here then EE.SE has a serious problem and the rewarding simple answers to attract those who only know simple questions has turned this place into the 5 monkeys experiment

CONGRATULATIONS moderators and Stackoverflow, you have changed this place into a zoo

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your last line is excessively rude. That's part of the task, so no problem :-). I became a moderator in order to attempt to assist people get a better overall experience. Helping newcomers find their feet and become productive community members was a not minor part of the aim. I too look with some trepidation at the 5 strikes and you are out drag along and beatings. To a significant extent the site is about what users make it and while I attempt to selectively instill my viewpoint I can not sensibly prevent the closure of all questions which others have closed. I sometimes note in comments ... \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Feb 15 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... that a question seems perfectly fine and on some occasions I edit closed questions and reopen them. On rarer occasions I have edited a question heading for closure and then closed and reopened it in order to shed the close votes. Overall I've had some negative comments - but not unexpectedly so. Overall I'd like to see the site be more accommodating of and helpful to newcomers. NOT with the aim of any lowering in technical quality but in an attempt to raise it through education. | Eeek Eeek Eeek :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Feb 15 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well... I would say whoever out of the 900 voted to CLOSE is the rude one. This isn't my question and this is a VALID question yet someone out of the subset is destroying content. Downvotes are one thing ( 12000 could) but vote close is different (900 could). If the aim of this site is to remove valid difficult questions then enabling this rude ignorant behavior will do it and that is evident. If such RUDE attitude in destroying the site is permitted then the only way to bring it into focus is to be rude otherwise it is just accepted and ee.se will become a collection of rehashed V=IR question \$\endgroup\$
    – user16222
    Feb 15 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close that question based on it having insufficient information so I guess I'm the rude one but, I also asked for more info and got it. I also removed my vote-to-close when more info became available and tried to assist but realized I knew nothing about the sim tool he was using. I finished off by wishing you good luck so, maybe not so rude eh? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Feb 15 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree, the question had more than enough information and thus re-affirming a bias against "difficult questions" as it is a sub-discipline in electrical-electronics. Difficult could easily be relabeled "different", this just happens to be 100% in my field. Disappointing and maybe tailoring for the type of questions has caused a concentration of view on what questions are. Its not the 1st time I have seen power/control/motor type questions posted talked down, especially when valid terms are posted (DClink is a good one) \$\endgroup\$
    – user16222
    Feb 15 at 17:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ On that note, I will be taking my leave from this site. I expected more. Good luck collecting more "what is a potential divider" questions, can't have enough of them \$\endgroup\$
    – user16222
    Feb 15 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JonRB Im sad that you choose to leave rather than help me and others try to make it a better site. I'm oldish - I'm used to people responding in a wide variety of ways - I'm not after a pat on the back, but I'm a bit sad that you did not make any effective comment on what I said. What can one man do? - quite a lot if working with others of like mind. Far less if working alone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Feb 16 at 4:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JonRB you don't need to be so hasty. Sleep on it more. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Feb 16 at 9:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that "what is a sine wave" question was mine, because it sounds easy but is tricky. People get lost in tautology. I thought it was a nice question for beginners \$\endgroup\$ May 17 at 15:52

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