This is something I have noticed recently, where a question will have more answers than upvotes, and it seems a little unfair because if there were no questions, there would be nothing to answer.

I realize that some people only want to write answers and that is fine, but rep points are an important part of the system and if people aren't going to upvote questions, it means that people will have less incentive to write questions.

If someone took the time to write a question that is interesting enough to answer, then I think you should upvote the question to say thanks.

Personally, between this and the users who will insinuate that you are stupid if you don't know the answer, I am not sure I want to write questions that I can't self-answer.

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    On your final point - when that happens, raise a flag, and a mod will deal with it if it keeps happening.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 0:26
  • @RoryAlsop With the custom flag type I would guess? Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 3:02
  • or the rude/abusive flag
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 12:08
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    I am not sure I want to write questions that I can't self-answer You 100% should write questions that you can't self answer. :) This is a knowledge sharing site. As rory says if someone does insinuate that you are stupid for asking a question then it should be flagged.
    – user2766
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 13:58
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    @Liam I agree but I am trying to very nicely insinuate that if people want questions to answer, they need to upvote and be nice to the askers. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 16:02
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    Exception: a poor question that you might want to answer in a comment, to be helpful to some poor soul who needs help. It's not uncommon on English Language and Usage for a user to give a brief answer in a comment and immediately vote to close the Q. I don't remember such a case here, but eventually there will be one.
    – ab2
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 1:44
  • @ab2 Comments are not for answering questions. Comments used for answers are liable to be removed.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:14
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    @ArtOfCode The answer-In-a-comment I am talking about is too brief and unsourced to be a real answer. It is given "merely" to help someone who badly needs help and has asked a poor question that is going to be closed. I could not care less if one such of my comments is removed, nor would I waste my time writing a full answer to a question that is so bad or elementary that it is doomed to be closed. This happens often on English Language and Usage, coupled with an explanation of why the question is not up to standard and a suggestion for improvement.
    – ab2
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 18:14

4 Answers 4


This has come up on the wider meta.se on occasion as well. I think it is a good idea - and it doesn't cost anything - but the general consensus is that while it is good practice, we can't obviously force people.


Also the opposite applies, If you wrote a question and someone has made an attempt to answer it. Vote on the answer or leave a comment requesting more work. There should not be any answers without a vote or comment.

Someone is doing their best to help when you asked for it. Let them know they helped, or at least tell them why their answer missed the mark.

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    This is a 100% correct. You might add that doing this helps the asker, because I am way more excited about answering questions where I know that the OP will upvote all of the answers. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 16:01
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    Unless the answer is wrong (or even you feel it's wrong). Then it's actually very important to downvote. Correct answers should bubble up while incorrect answers should sink. The point is the correct answer should be on the top
    – user2766
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 16:04
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    I agree with Liam's comment, with one qualification. I've always had a problem with "The correct answer should rise to the top." Very few questions have an answer which is THE correct answer. The most interesting questions are often answered completely only by several answers, and maybe not even then. The best or most complete answer should rise to the top, but it isn't THE answer.
    – ab2
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 0:06
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    @Liam my answer does not say which direction to vote, Not sure how your comment suggesting it does got 4 votes. Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 0:18
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    @JamesJenkins my guess is it is because the title of the question specifies upvoting. Since you didn't specify the assumption was you were going along with the title of the question. This assumption might have been helped along because you said vote or comment if it needs work. Taken together it reads like you're advising to upvote or write a comment requesting improvements. Based on your comments it is clear you meant to say people should vote on the answer (up or down) and optionally write a constructive comment.
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 23:38
  • Yes, what Erik said :)
    – user2766
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 10:38

Charlie Brumbaugh, thanks for bringing this up. I like to vote, so this subject is really important to me.

You've done a great job of explaining your thoughts, as have the people who've answered you. My comments got too long so I wrote an answer. I apologize for the redundancies.

The bottom line, as you said, is that if a question is worth our answer, it deserves our vote.

Unfortunately the SE system is set up so answers are far more highly rewarded than questions. Question votes get 5 rep, (2 more if they accept an answer), but answers get 10, and accepted answers get another 15. It's a huge discrepancy, and is another reason not to answer a question without upvoting it. In fact, it can even appear self-serving to answer a question without upvoting.

Question upvoting empowers people. This is true for everyone, but especially new users. It takes 15 rep to upvote, 50 to comment and 125 to downvote. People can't fully participate unless we help them. It's really sad to see people ask a few questions, not get to the threshold they need to become active community members, and give up. It's especially sad when those same people have answers on their questions, which goes back to your original point!

If we have an answer but don't feel the question is up to our standards, we should edit the question (which may help many people down the line), or leave a comment asking for clarification, before answering. This is also part of the SE instruction not to answer questions which need work. See Answer well-asked questions in the Help Center.

@James Jenkins also made an extremely important point. The question OP should pay attention to all their answers. The first answer is not always the best. Every answer to our questions should have a vote (either up or down) or a comment, or both. Lots of people don't answer right away, but their contribution is just as important. It takes courage to add an answer when there are already others, especially if one is accepted. Late answers often get fewer votes, even though they can be just as good or better.

Anonymous voting is one of the most important foundations of the SE model. If you don't want to upvote when you answer, in case it exposes you as the voter, please remember to come back later and upvote. That way the question OP gets the support they deserve, and the answer OP keeps their voting anonymity.

Of course @Rory Alsop is right too. We can't control what people do, but discussions like this are encouraging, and valuable. I hope this one results in a stronger, happier community.


I usually do upvote questions that I answer, but not always.

Sometimes a question is not very good, but not bad enough to downvote or vote to close. If it is ambiguous, I'll either leave a comment asking for more information, or just move on and find a better way to spend my volunteer time.

However, sometimes a poor question gets into a good topic that I feel like espousing on. In that case I'll write a answer, but not upvote the question because I don't think it deserves it. I don't want to encourage the OP to write more poor questions.

If the meaning seems clear, just the writing bad, then it can be appropriate to edit the question. I've done that occasionally, but there is also a considerable downside to that. We don't want people coming here, dumping bad questions on us, and having others fix it for them. That too easily becomes a habit. Not only does it teach the OP that they can be sloppy, but everyone else watching too.

While having more traffic here would be good, quality of what is here is much more important. I would much rather see the site stay in beta for another few years, than to graduate with a bunch of crappy questions. We want the volume up, but only of good questions. Those who write bad questions are not who we want to retain here.

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    I do agree on your general policy of quality over quantity and not salvaging hopeless questions, but even more so I do believe in the ability of people to learn. Even if 99% proved me wrong, the 1% are worth it (and the latter share is higher). A chance for improvement requires willingness on both sides, which again requires a polite and constructive tone. Pointing out the problems and approaches to improve on a bad questions is not an invitation to write bad questions, but the exact opposite. Just calling the question shit, even if it is, serves no purpose but to alienate and waste your time.
    – imsodin
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 22:37
  • Some people may need a bit of instruction; people aren't born knowing the conventions and mores of SE. The test should be whether they respond to constructive criticism by editing their Qs and As and whether they learn fairly quickly how to write good Qs and As. If you don't want to be a teacher, fine, not everyone can be; leave it to those of us who have a bit more patience than you do, and refrain from biting the heads off newbies -- and reread some of your own comments before you post them. That said, I agree with the first sentence of your comment.
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 22:47
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    To put it another way, you recently posted a low-quality answer that ended up getting downvoted and deleted. At no point did anyone leave a rude comment during the process. Please remember that the next time you feel like a post is low quality.. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 23:25

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