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When I join a SE site I often look through unanswered questions and try to answer as many of those as I can. However on this site there seems to be a lot of "dead" questions, by which I mean that neither the asker nor the community are interested anymore. As evidence: of the 11 questions I have answered 6 still have no upvoted answers.

I admit a possible explanation is that my answers aren't very good, but I haven't experienced anything like this on any other SE site. And the view counts on these questions are all under 150.

Put another way: Are there too few active members for this site to function properly using the SE model? At this rate it would take an excessive amount of work on my part to reach a level where I can contribute more substantially (e.g., review queues).

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    This community seems to be a bit stingy with up votes. Not sure why, but questions/answers seem to get lots of views, but not many votes. Could be that all our answers stink, most viewers are unregistered users, or the average user lacks the knowledge to judge what the correct answer is. – Tester101 Aug 26 '14 at 19:12
  • Hermeneutics had a plea for increased voting a while back. Not sure how much it helped, but having a featured meta post in the Community Bulletin titled "Vote early, vote often!" could be a nice cue for folks. – hairboat Aug 27 '14 at 19:00
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    Food for thought: I see two possible methods to get voted up on this site. One method is to identify what behavior the site rewards and provide that content. And the other is to determine which content you want to provide and ask the community change their behavior and reward you. If you don't want to alter your method for getting up votes, do you believe you'll be able to change the behavior of the entire community? – BMitch Aug 28 '14 at 19:24
  • @BMitch: That presumes that there are meaningful numbers of participants interested and willing to invest the time, however small, in rewarding desired content. A site can effectively die if there is no such community. I am suggesting that we may be seeing evidence of this death here, in which case possible responses are (A) "Oh well, not enough people care about this site," or (B) "Maybe we can modify the site or incentive people who might care to maintain an active community." To be fair to your comment, I am assuming that the site wants to reward good questions and answers. Valid? – feetwet Aug 28 '14 at 20:30
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    While I'm not permitted to share specifics, the stats that I have access to show a fairly steady increase in questions, answers, page views, etc, over the past few years. While it feels quieter around here with many of the core users getting busy with other jobs (PUT is quiet, and our blog is updated infrequently) the overall site is in much better shape than it was a few years ago. I don't share your concerns of the sites demise. – BMitch Aug 28 '14 at 21:14
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In the past 30 days, 123 answers have been provided to questions that are older than 60 days. Of those 123 answers, 60 of them where voted upon. 35 were up votes, and 25 were down votes.

In the past 30 days 1491 votes have been cast on answers. Of which 1408 of them were up votes, while 83 were down votes.

Which seems to show that if you're looking for a reputation boost, older questions are not the way to go.


Queries

Data was obtained using the StackExchange Data Explorer, using the following queries.

NOTE: I'm not a SQL expert, so there's a good chance this data is incorrect.

3

If a question is unanswered, there's often a reason such as the question not being very good, or people not having enough experience to post their own answer. If you're posting answers to these questions, then many won't upvote because they don't have the knowledge to know your answer is good/correct. And others won't upvote because they don't think the question is defined enough and so it's impossible to know if your answer really solves the OP's question. I suspect we tend to be less strict about closing questions that are getting out of our main scope, and so it might be better to check if there's a valid reason the close the questions first, and if so, flag the question appropriately.

I will say that one of the most common reasons for me to upvote a question is when I go to answer it and see that someone else has said exactly what I was planning to say. And answers with the most upvotes tend to be those where everyone seems to know the answer. I also see that OP's are more likely give upvotes more often when your answer is soon after they have asked the question, so it may be best to focus on more recent questions.

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    And more pictures!!! People love pictures. More pictures = more up votes. Nobody wants to read all your words, they just want to look at pictures. – Tester101 Aug 28 '14 at 10:47
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Do badges motivate behavior? If so could the criteria for a badge be lowered, or its status elevated, for a site that needs more of the behavior? E.g., in the case of DIY perhaps the "Suffrage" badge could be elevated to "silver" or awarded after 20 votes.

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