Even my answer is more helpful, users upvote an answer which is written by a user who has the maximum reputation and owner of the question accepts that answer.

On the other hand, a downvoted answer is downvoted again by the users; and I am sure, they don't read the answer.

Isn't it absurd?

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    This is a great question for Cognitive Sciences SE, they could probably give you some great detail about mob mentality and perceptual dissonance to explain why people vote in such ways Apr 25, 2013 at 11:37
  • @JimmyHoffa Is my question off topic?
    – yfklon
    Apr 25, 2013 at 11:38
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    Also, if you're referring to your answer to this question here: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/196063/… I have to say I'm sorry but your answer is less correct than Michael's. It's not a bad answer and it is informative, but I would have to say overuse of -er classes is indicative of procedural programming Apr 25, 2013 at 11:40
  • Not saying your question is off topic, just saying you would get some really good answers if you asked it over there. Whether it's off-topic I can't say; but I can say it doesn't really sound like a question so much as a gripe here, or more specifically a straw man which isn't technically a question even though they often appear to be... Apr 25, 2013 at 11:41
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    Sometimes people write great answers to the wrong question. Sometimes the high rep users also write terrible answers... programmers.stackexchange.com/a/90449/25476
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Apr 25, 2013 at 11:43
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is better suited for meta.stackoverflow.com.
    – Jim G.
    Oct 17, 2013 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


There are a couple of factors to consider.

(While I use "I" in the following examples, I do not always do this)

First, in any community there are sub groups within it. When I see a question that has been modified by certain users, I look to see what that person said in the question (assuming they answered it rather than editing the question). If the question has a dozen answers in it, I look to see that person's contribution and vote on that question, leaving other questions unvoted. This will have the effect of boosting a single user's answer score while leaving others the same.

Furthermore, people with high reputations have likely learned how to write for the site. Each target media has a different style of writing that fits it best. One writes for Stack Exchange different than Wikipedia, which is different than Everything2, which is different than a blog post, which is different than a news paper article, which is different than a glossy magazine article, etc... Certain styles of writing will be more effective in attracting people to read it, and vote on it. It is a learned skill.

Personally, I am sometimes amazed at the more opinionated nearly content free answers that I have that have received more votes than the boring content rich answers that languish - but that's because they are better written (and more interesting) as something to read. That doesn't mean write content free things (unless its a grammar).

Lastly, as Jimmy mentioned in the comment, there is the 'mob mentality' of following the general trend of the votes. If something is upvoted, people tend to upvote it. If something is downvoted, people tend to down vote it (though that is less so because of the associated cost for a downvote). Not everyone spends the time reading all the answers, especially when there are lots of them it becomes more intimidating to read past the second or third one. Thus, the top one gets an upvote, the second one may get one if it is interesting and useful and then it starts petering out. Having a 'boring' higher voted question may be even more impacting on questions that are scored lower than it as its boring to read.

(Related to this - a techcrunch article The Science Of Reddit: Why Some Ideas Dominate The Net which looks into how initial votes on a question or answer may influence the following votes - the actual paper and abstract can be seen at Social Influence Bias: A Randomized Experiment)

Sometimes, there is a subtle difference between two answers that is the key to one being the 'right' answer. That one answer picks up a specific point that another does not include. This may not always be the something the person who answers it picks up on (the '-ers' being an indication of procedural code being asked about, or one of my own where I pointed out the dry being used as a justification for clever code - I was expecting that question to sit at the bottom with a few votes and it got accepted and now has the most).

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    ...a grammar, nyuck nyuck.. Apr 25, 2013 at 14:53
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    @JimmyHoffa one of the things I learned when writing for everything2 is to make what is being read interesting. Slipping in puns and other wordplay can help in keeping the reader's attention through otherwise boring material... and result in a better than average appraisal of the material read. Though, that depends on the readership (don't do it if you are writing for the newspaper).
    – user40980
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:01
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    I think The Onion readership (henceforth known as Onionites) would strongly disagree on your last point. In other news, wolf attacks are still the leading cause of death in the U.S. Apr 25, 2013 at 15:04
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    @JimmyHoffa I upvoted that comment solely because it made me laugh.
    – BrianH
    Oct 17, 2013 at 14:19
  • as for mob mentality, there was a scientific study, proving that only to some extent: if people see something downvoted in their opinion unfairly, they are very likely to upvote to counter that.
    – vartec
    Oct 25, 2013 at 15:01

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