The question How do you develop the ability to express yourself via your instrument (e.g. guitar for my case), as I write, has 0 votes (not just 0 score, but 0 votes) and 9 answers.

That prompted me to wonder how often we have a 0-score question with an above-average number of answers.

The average number of answers per question is 2. So a quick query for 0-score questions with 3 or more answers yielded 503. That's 2.4% of our total questions, which seems like a lot.

Nevertheless, the discrepancy between question value and answer enthusiasm doesn't raise my eyebrows until a 0-score question gets 5 or more answers. That's happened 67 times, which I suppose isn't terrible. Weird, but not terrible.

Nevertheless, does it seem odd to anyone else that we, as a community, have so much to say about questions with, evidently, zero value?

  • 7
    I've been struggling with myself whether or not to bring this up for several months, because I sense that this has gotten worse recently. I agree with Doktor Mayhem, and it's something that I've learned from other SE sites: if you feel a question is worth your time to answer, then it deserves an upvote.
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 12:35
  • 6
    We have had a vote drought from many of the most prominent and active users since the site was born. Go to the users page and check the most voted users, then check their vote count in their profiles. Feels like some of them love to hoard votes for themselves, without giving back to the community in that regard at all. It's a very sad sight. Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 13:51
  • 2
    @user1079425 Totally agree. This would make a good answer in itself.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 15:38
  • @user1079425 I've had a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this, as well.
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 14:00
  • 1
    It's funny, I think the only time I don't vote on the question, is when it's either something way too trivial (even for someone like me who doesn't know anything), something I don't know anything about, unsure, or when it's warrant a downvote (in which case I simply don't vote). But even if it fits in either of these, it can still be warrant answering simply because it's still on topic and worth it. I'm quick on the vote trigger, so I'm trying to restrain myself in some ways.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 11:33
  • 2
    @Clockwork You've hit on exactly the main issue, I think: what makes an answer "worth it" if the question fits that person's non-voting criteria?
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 14:16
  • @Aaron A random thought without thinking about it for too long: it would be worth it if it shows effort at learning, albeit a potential quick search didn't allow them to find their answer (even though they could have with the proper keywords which they were unaware of), yet a bit too simple that it's not worth an upvote, after which if a question of that kind ever pops up again, it could be marked as a duplicate of the previous one. Or something like that.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 16:25
  • @Clockwork So maybe, "useful to the asker, but not useful to the community at large"? That is, an upvote would mean the question is useful to people beyond just the asker.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 17:01
  • Something like that, yeah, although it can still be useful to a few handy.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 18:15
  • @Clockwork Makes sense. So, here's a counterpoint: in general, there are more beginners than experts, so we'd expect more "simple" questions than complex ones, and we'd expect the simple questions to be useful to more people. By that measure, the most naive questions would deserve the most upvotes. I'm not suggesting it should work that way; just putting it up for discussion.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 18:21
  • Yeah, I actually agree with you. I'm a beginner too, so many of my questions were about simple things, and 3 of them practically look like duplicate to me (I asked a lot about piano care). I was thinking about the questions that are "lacking" even more than I do. Like, imagine a question asking about "what's the difference between a black note with a bar and a white note with a bar". That would be easily answerable by just searching "music symbols", but still on topic enough that I would consider it answerable but not vote worthy.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 18:25
  • 1
    @Clockwork I see where you're coming from. In the interest of discussion, I'll offer another counterpoint. The specific example you give could be closed either as "basic analysis" or downvoted as "not enough research". So, back to your original point about questions of more limited value, maybe we should just be more vigilant about downvoting and close voting.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 18:30
  • 2
    On a more personal scale, the more I think about it, the more I realise most of the questions that I consider not worthy of voting on, are beyond my knowledge, too complicated even for my curiosity, or are close worthy.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 18:45
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 18:49

3 Answers 3


I totally agree that it is kinda weird. I try to vote on any post (both questions and answers) that I read, especially the ones that I answer. Or if I see a question that I haven't voted on and it has generated quite a few interesting answers, I will vote then. Because we have had some quite "uninteresting" questions that went on to produce many answers that proved that the question itself was more interesting and needed to be thought about, more that we initially thought.

Generally, you can see this phenomenon quite often across the various SE sites,i.e. users are more likely to answer a question and/or vote on the answers, rather than vote on the question itself.

There is quite a long discussion on meta.SE:

There are 56 answers to the post, so there are many valid points being made, but here is one that stood out for me:

As I see it, the 'workflow' of reading a question/answer goes like this:

  1. User opens page

  2. User reads question

  • Unless the question is abnormally good or bad, or otherwise provocative, this isn't likely to elicit any emotional response. It's just a question, carry on.
  1. User scrolls down and begins reading answers
  • As there are many answers, and good answers are rewarded by being 'accepted' and also with increased reputation, this puts the user in the mindset of 'make the answers better'

  • The emotional response behind having your answer accepted or upvoted is "I know stuff, I'm smart, I feel good." Likewise, conferring that reward on someone else is quite a powerful thing too. This provides a very strong motivation to rank and provide answers.

  1. Because of this motivation, people will put a lot of effort into writing answers (like me with this diatribe) and ranking them.

This works very well for providing and filtering good answers, but there's no such motivation behind voting for questions. For most questions, the strongest response they are likely to elicit is "I have that problem too", which while it's strong, is only going to apply to a small portion of the viewers/answerers.


  • 7
    Absolutely agree with this - if a question is worth answering, it's worth upvoting
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 12:11
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    This resonates with me, too, and reflects my own experience. I tend to react more easily/strongly to answers than questions. It also suggests why downvoting is (IMO) underutilized: the hit to reputation, though small, still elicits an emotional response -- a negative one -- coupled with the risk of creating controversy.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 15:35

My personal experience is that I came here after getting sick of [another site which has voting], and one trend I noticed on [other site] was that I frequently saw highly voted posts or comments that "sounded smart" but were completely wrong or nonsensical. As a result, I made a habit of not voting on subjects I'm not already quite familiar with, so that I would not inadvertently contribute to this misinformation campaign. I never really put much thought into voting since joining here, so maybe this post will achieve something just by reminding people to vote.

Although, I will say that I do sometimes write answers which are not really worth my time to write. I bet a large portion of my posts on [other site] fall into this category. So perhaps a few of the questions with answers but no votes are a result of this kind of thinking.

  • 4
    And ironically, I'm back here 10 minutes later because I forgot to vote on this one too.
    – Edward
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 3:51

To me it's much less intuitive what is a good question, in comparison to what is a good answer.

SE guideline is to upvote a question that

shows research effort; it is useful and clear

  1. Questions often demonstrate misconceptions or lack of knowledge. It's not unexpected, as we ask questions when we don't understand something. However it might be difficult to distinguish lack of knowledge from lack of research effort.

  2. Usefulness is difficult to judge. Questions about topics that are simple for me are typically not useful for me. So maybe a better guideline is "is the question written in the way that someone with a similar issue would easily find it when searching the internet or SE"? But it's often still difficult to judge.

  3. Questions are very frequently unclear. Many questions miss essential details or context (see e.g. Could SE ask for more details on the scores in questions). Some others are unnecessarily wordy and make it difficult to understand what is the particular question being asked.

In particular the question How do you develop the ability to express yourself via your instrument (e.g. guitar for my case) is rather wordy, takes very long time to get to the point, mentions multiple different issues and to me it seems unfocused and open ended. For the very same reasons it may attract multiple answers.

I like the following list of suggestions for writing a good question https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/337465/629012 . I wonder if there is something SE could do to help users (in particular new ones) to write better questions?

To summarize:

  • I believe many questions on Music SE are not so great, though I'm not sure whom to blame
  • It's more difficult to rate questions than answers

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