6

Case in point: Why does Yoda mourn the Jedi after Order 66 is executed?

The question itself is actually pretty good and insightful.


However, the answers are clearly subpar. They are not bad, but they are nothing more than probably-correct guesses, not backed up by even a shred of canon as of right now (the accepted and highest voted answer, when challenged, couldn't come up with anything better than user-generated image description on Wookiepedia).

Comparable answers on less visited/popular questions usually get at most 2-3 upvotes. Yet, these answers are already upvoted to 20+ by influx of people from Hot Network Questions list.

IMHO this severely degrades the site, by both:

  • Devaluing site's good content, which is NOT inflated by Hot Topics effect.

  • Likely repelling users who CAN contribute good content to that specific question (I won't speak for other site SW experts, but I personally refuse to research and answer that question because competing with existing 20+ vote answers isn't something I look forward to, nor is having my answer look "bad" by comparison).

  • Showcasing very poor content to the visitors as "good" (judging by upvotes) content. Those subpar answers are NOT an impression of a site I want to give to an influx of new users!

  • Do NOT accurately represent the opinion of subject experts - because such fly-in visitors have enough rep to upvote (101) BUT not enough rep to downvote (or incentive to, even if they could).

This was just the latest example, I see the same happening all the time.

As such, can we as a site either:

  1. Remove ability of a site visitor to upvote a question if they came to the question from Hot Topics list and their only site rep is a +100 association bonus[1]

  2. Opt out of Hot List participation alltogether.

[1] - this is a well-known request on Meta.SE but so far there appears to be no traction to fix this network-wide

Meta.SE related:


P.S. Lest someone things it's sour grapes at not having been the one to answer, here's my answer that unjustly got Hot-Question upvote wave despite being not all that good: Why was Sméagol affected by the ring so fast, while both Frodo and Sam could handle it without immediately trying to choke each other?. I don't think it's worth even 5 upvotes.

  • 1
    UPDATE: after I put in an effort to challenge the answerers, one of them did come up with a canon based answer. NOT really an awsome enough answer to deserve 40+ upvotes, IMHO, but at least it's a good answer now. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 1 '14 at 14:17
  • Via the hot meta questions shown on things I've clicked on from the main hot questions like, I've seen some version of this complaint on at least a half dozen sites. (And IIRC once on Meta.SE.) At this point I'm convinced that nothing is going to change to prevent hot question followers swarm voting whatever makes the list. – Dan Neely Nov 3 '14 at 20:05
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    You say "both" and then continue with four bullet points. That is not what "both" is for. – Mr Lister Nov 12 '14 at 15:06
  • @MrLister - feel free to improve the wording :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 12 '14 at 15:13
7

Looking at the answers that were posted, I see only two downvotes on one of the highest-voted answers given, and now zero downvotes on the accepted answer (which was later edited to include canon information).

Meanwhile, I see an answer given that was downvoted by 5 and is now -1 in ratings, posted at the exact same time (even sooner, in fact) than the other one. Most of those downvotes came late, as the current top-rated question soared upward and it remained at the bottom, but for the same reason you're citing the current highest upvoted question for - no canon source.

The solution here seems obvious, if a bit brutal. If we see an answer that shows little research effort, no canon citation, and only speculation, we must downvote it.

It is harsh on the answerer, true. But it is how the voting system is intended. When that answer was posted, it was low-quality. It has since been edited to be much higher quality. Our downvotes should have been the signal that poster needed to update his answer with proper references. Yet I only ever saw two downvotes on that answer. It's no wonder then that people flooding in from hot topic would assume it's high-quality and vote it up as well, especially since it already was near the top with a small handful of upvotes.

Downvotes are nothing to be ashamed of - we all write bad questions/answers sometimes, and we (hopefully) learn from them, and maybe even improve the quality of our answers/questions in the future.

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    And a note, since it wasn't mentioned and some might not know: You can change your vote after an edit. So your vote isn't wasted if that bad answer becomes a good answer (so long as you check back eventually). – Izkata Nov 4 '14 at 0:21
2

Don't forget that you have the option of protecting a question. If a question hits the hot network list, and it's obviously starting to get a bunch of so-so answers, you can protect the question (Anyone with I think 10k rep can?) to prevent 101 folks from posting - you have to have 10 site rep earned not from the rep bonus to do so. It would prevent a few people from posting valid answers, but it would mostly accomplish what you say here, if you did it fast enough.

Of course this would be subject to others agreeing with you that it needs protecting, but it seems a valid strategy (and one I've seen on the sites I'm more active on).

  • "this would be subject to others agreeing with you" - nope, you can protect questions by yourself. And as far as I recall, whoever protected it is the only one that can unprotect it.. (There were proposals to make it fade away after a month or something, but around a week ago I unprotected a question I'd protected like a year ago (no point anymore), so it definitely wasn't implemented) – Izkata Nov 12 '14 at 1:42
  • I thought questions that became Hot Network questions already got automatically given the "protected" status, or was I thinking of a different SE that did that? Regardless, this is good advice. – Zibbobz Nov 12 '14 at 3:23
  • @Izkata "whoever protected it is the only one that can unprotect it" - No, I think you can unprotect anything, even stuff protected by a mod (I have done so on other sites already, if I remember correctly). Would be quite a heavy power otherwise. – TARS says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 '14 at 3:47
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    And if you don't have 10k rep you can always flag and ask a mod to protect it! – curiousdannii Nov 12 '14 at 4:23
  • I have over 20,000 rep on English Language and Usage, and I definitely do not have the ability to protect a question, or at least if I do, it's very well hidden. Is this different on different sites, or what's going on? – Martha Nov 13 '14 at 16:45
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    It is right next to close/delete. You definitely should have it there. – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 17:46
1

What you describe is a problem on all SE sites and the only way to really "fix" this would be abolishing the hot questions for good. But actually, I like them, I regularly stumble upon nice questions I can contribute to which I wouldn't have seen otherwise. I do however try to refrain from over-voting those already over-exposed posts, and maybe a less severe alternative would be implementing a voting-cooldown of, say, 1 minute, when a question has been reached via hot questions. Plus a reminder "vote responsibly".

There's however another problem I personally have with your post:

I won't speak for other site SW experts, but I personally refuse to research and answer that question because competing with existing 20+ vote answers isn't something I look forward to, nor is having my answer look "bad" by comparison

SE is no competition. Sure it sucks to see a rather weak answer (or yet another xkcd-"answer") with so many upvotes, but if you are truly devoted to the subject you should still post a great answer when you see the opportunity. Often enough it has happened that late-comers ultimately "won" not only the checkmark but also got an agglomeration of upvotes (while the former "best" answer was from then on ignored or even downvoted) over a year - you have to take my anecdotal evidence on that though, since I can't give you a top-of-the-head actual example for that...

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    "the only way to really "fix" this would be abolishing the hot questions for good" - this is fundamentally incorrect - the very question you are answering contains tangible proposals on fixing (e.g. disallow upvoting on such questions from fly-by visitors) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 31 '14 at 19:25
  • Not entirely, my suggestion is merely a work-around - the time must be short enough to not annoy truly thorough voters while keeping away drive-by-votes. I'm afraid there won't be a perfect amount of time though. But personally, I believe the major problem is the voting system itself: If posts were rated and the average rating shown instead of the amount of upvotes, you'd get a much better measure for a post's quality. But that's my opinion only... (I hope you didn't take my remark on your statement above personally, you're not alone feeling this way, but ultimately it's counter productive) – Zommuter Oct 31 '14 at 19:32
  • You wouldn't get anything better from an average rating system - the upvotes we see in the question being addressed are all of the votes that have been placed in this question, and they're very heavily leaning towards early-answers of the sort DVK outlines. – Zibbobz Oct 31 '14 at 20:46

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