8

TL;DR: (I don't blame you):

Our voting on questions is 1.6 times that on answers. This is very different to Stack Overflow at 0.26 and Ask Ubuntu at 0.85. Do we need to do something about this?


I am expecting criticism, I just wanted to bring attention to this.

Initially, I was concerned that questions were being voted on a lot more than answers. I thought that the average question has about half the number of votes compared to the answers.

So, I decided to have a look at the figures:

┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Stack Overflow  │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  15355558  │  1141576   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  35223709  │  1058351   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  154 : 352 │  114 : 106 │ 
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  30.36 %   │  51.89 %   │ 
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘    
┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Ask Ubuntu      │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  353197    │  9687      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  546035    │  18073     │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  39.28 %   │  34.90 %   │ 
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Skeptics        │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  69562     │  2829      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  80075     │  5010      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  46.49 %   │  36.09 %   │ 
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Life hacks      │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  3646      │  275       │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  7478      │  505       │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  32.77 %   │  35.25 %   │ 
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘

Thanks to Jason C's Answer for the link to the Data Explorer search.

At first glance, this looks good to me. However, we have a lot less questions than answers:

┌─────────────────┬────────────┐
│ Life hacks      │  Numbers   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  563       │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  1,881     │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 3.34   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  23.04 %   │
└─────────────────┴────────────┘

This is good - we have, on average, more than 3 answers per question (SE aims for 2.5 according to Area 51).

However, that means that these are the average votes per question:

┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Life hacks      │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Question  │  6.48      │  0.49      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Answer    │  3.98      │  0.27      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ AvgQ / AvgA     │  1.6       │  1.8       │
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘

Wow. Questions are up voted around 1.6 times as much as Answers are (and down voted around 1.8 times as much).

Compared to other sites:

┌─────────────────┬────────────┐
│ Stack Overflow  │  Numbers   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  9061754   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  15191879  │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 1.68   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  37.36 %   │
└─────────────────┴────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Stack Overflow  │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Question  │  1.01      │  0.13      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Answer    │  3.89      │  0.07      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ AvgQ / AvgA     │  0.26      │  2.17      │
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘

┌─────────────────┬────────────┐
│ Ask Ubuntu      │  Numbers   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  183223    │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  239655    │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 1.31   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  43.33 %   │
└─────────────────┴────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Ask Ubuntu      │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Question  │  1.93      │  0.05      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Answer    │  2.28      │  0.03      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ AvgQ / AvgA     │  0.85      │  1.67      │
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘

┌─────────────────┬────────────┐
│ Skeptics        │  Numbers   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Questions       │  5525      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Answers         │  7057      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 1.28   │
├─────────────────┼────────────┤
│ % Questions     │  43.91 %   │
└─────────────────┴────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
│ Skeptics        │  Up votes  │ Down Votes │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Question  │  12.59     │  0.51      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ Avg / Answer    │  11.35     │  0.71      │
├─────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
│ AvgQ / AvgA     │  1.11      │  0.72      │
└─────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘

So ours is 1.6 compared to 0.26 and 0.85. That's a big, big difference - questions are being up voted a lot more on this site than others.

Let's have one more table:

┌─────────────────┬──────────────┐
│ Stack Overflow  │  Reputation  │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Questions       │  74494638    │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Answers         │  350120388   │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 4.70     │
└─────────────────┴──────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬──────────────┐
│ Ask Ubuntu      │  Reputation  │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Questions       │  1746611     │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Answers         │  5438604     │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 3.11     │
└─────────────────┴──────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬──────────────┐
│ Skeptics        │  Reputation  │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Questions       │  342152      │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Answers         │  790730      │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 2.31     │
└─────────────────┴──────────────┘
┌─────────────────┬──────────────┐
│ Life hacks      │  Reputation  │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Questions       │  17680       │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Answers         │  73770       │
├─────────────────┼──────────────┤
│ Ratio of Q:A    │  1: 4.17     │
└─────────────────┴──────────────┘

So it would seem we are pretty close to the middle in terms of rep from questions compared to rep from answers. This does comfort me a little, but I'm still concerned.

The amount of up votes going on questions is... worrying. Do we need to do something about it? I don't know.

Maybe this the way this site will work, and it's perfectly healthy. But maybe this is foreshadowing this site's (possible) eventual demise - too much focus on questions means problems.

The blog entry from June 2011, Optimising For Pearls, Not Sand says:

While we value good questions (and asking a great question is absolutely an art), we want to explicitly encourage people to provide the best possible answers. Without people interested in providing good answers, the questions are moot. We know that answers have more intrinsic value than questions, and the reputation balance should reflect that.

So, does this site need to change the rep balance? I don't know the answer. I don't know weather this is a good thing or a bad thing. I just know it is different, very different. And to me, different is a warning flag. The SE model works much better than every other Q&A site model I know of, and straying from it may do more harm than good to us.

What do you think? Do we need to do anything about this?

  • 2
    Most sites worry that they don't have enough votes on questions. So maybe LH is doing this right. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 21 '15 at 16:58
  • Perhaps. I'm not sure, because of the blog post cited. – Tim Mar 21 '15 at 17:03
  • Good analysis, I would say not compare with SO or ask ubuntu. I feel Life hacks should follow skeptics.SE model which is also a successful SE site. Would be much appreciable if skeptics data available in. – Joachin Joseph Mar 22 '15 at 11:49
  • @Joachin Added the Skeptics data. It just seems totally different from everyone else's - including ours. – Tim Mar 22 '15 at 12:47
10

I actually don't see that this is something to worry about. All sites are different, and the fact that our stats are vastly different from those on Stack Overflow doesn't bother me at all. It's normal.

Another thing to note is that, although many questions get multiple answers, usually only the top one has a lot of votes. Thus, the top answer often has more votes than the question, while the overall answer score is lower than the overall question score. This wouldn't be the case for a site where questions averaged less answers each.

Again, this isn't a big deal, but +1 for all the cool stat charts. :)

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