I checked out a question, How to redirect the output of a command to an already existing file without deleting its contents?, that was asked yesterday and got a large amount of upvotes. Some other user then gave, what I would consider a simple answer, and their answer also got a lot of upvotes.

My issue is that the asker could have just done a simple Google search and gotten answers which were essentially the same as the accepted one - (even stackoverflow.com had a lot of pages when I tried "site:stackoverflow.com append output to file bash" ).

If a question can be judged as low quality, such as, the user not trying to search on Google (or alike) for simple problems, is there some other factor(s) which led to this question and answer both being perceived as good which would correlate to the volume of upvotes?

  • 6
    SO is like real life. It's not so much about quality as it's about popularity. The easiest stuff tends to be most popular because most people can understand it and relate to it. Don't take the votes too seriously. Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 18:51
  • The problem with that is that votes give you rep, and rep is used as a very illogical way to limit what features of the site a user can use. So this could be giving a spammer rep and access, while the rest of us who actually want to contribute are forced to take the long road and get told off by other users for not using resources that we don't have access to yet. My example is that while trying to get more information to attempt to help someone I posted a question in the answers section (because you can't add a comment unless you have 50 rep) and got bitched at for not using the comments.
    – Kip K
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 17:09
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    50 rep isn't hard to acquire. only 5 slightly good answers, or 10 slightly good questions.
    – cas
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 10:29
  • 1
    as @PSkocik said, upvotes are largely about popularity and commonality. the more common the problem, the more people will see it, read it, and upvote it. It's just something you have to accept - even if it can feel frustrating at times to research and write a good answer to an obscure question and not get a single upvote for it (or even an accept from the OP). ditto with writing an obscure, difficult question.
    – cas
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 10:31

4 Answers 4


That question made the "Hot Network Questions" list:

enter image description here

This is shown on the right hand sidebar on every site on the Stack Exchange network. That's why the question and answer got so many votes: people came from other sites and voted for it.

Don't confuse upvoted with good. They are sometimes the same but certainly not always.

  • Isn't this a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing - the question shouldn't have made it to the "hot questions list" if it hadn't received a certain number of upvotes in the first place
    – iruvar
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 16:55
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    @1_CR on slow days, anything with a single upvote can make it to the HNQ.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 19:21
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    I actually wonder if those hot questions do enough good promoting SE sites to justify the harm they are doing by completely disturbing the voting process. Thanks to HNQ, my top tags include programs/technologies I never used, but was able to google a tutorial for. Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 21:53
  • @DmitryGrigoryev we all wonder that. The HNQ is one of those things that everyone loves to hate.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 22:44

My attitude is twofold:

  1. For myself, I don't bother asking a question until either (a) I have done some serious googling, or (b) I have a question so interesting that I think it should be here regardless of how easy it is to google. That is, assuming it's not already here.
  2. For other people, it would be nice if they googled it perhaps, but keep in mind that we want Google to be the stackexchange home page. The point being, if the first page of Google search results for the question don't include the answer on stackexchange, preferably as the first result, there is room for improvement. And if a search on stackexchange doesn't turn up anything, and the question is a valid one...then the question should be asked here, and answered.

The only thing to watch for in that second case is that the wording of the question and the quality of the answer is such as to attract more people to our community and give them a very positive impression of this site.

@Peter, I think that a "simple answer", providing only that it is well explained, is preferable. Particularly when the answer is simple. On the question under discussion, the accepted answer is absolutely correct and there is no need to get any more complicated about it. On a question like Why not use shell loops to process text?, the answer is extremely lengthy, and again appropriately IMO.

So I think it's a non-issue. If you want trickier questions, ask them. And answer the ones you find. And upvote them.


  • 1
    i upvote good questions that interest me. even if i know the/an answer. partly to reward the OP and partly because it's kind of a hint that a good, detailed, explanatory answer will get some upvotes.
    – cas
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 10:39

I don't understand it either... if someone can't ask a good question (like your use of "append" in the search example, but "without deleting" in the question), then it's not a good question, and does not deserve upvotes. Upvotes are supposed to be a measure of how useful the question is for others to come across, how likely they are to be interested in the answers that come out of it, and thus learn something.

But upvoting the answer is still good so less experienced people can see what seems to be the best answer to learn from. So the only problem I see there is the answerer is getting full credit for upvotes on such a simple answer, making their account seem more expert than it actually is.

Also, I find that terdon has it backwards in his answer. It was on the hot list before people clicked on it due to being on the hot list... so that can't be the original cause. I personally find that the highest activity is on questions where I think everyone ought to know the answer of it, and wonder why it doesn't already have an accepted answer. Such a puzzle, so I take a peek too, adding to the problem.


Looking at the way the question was phrased, the OP probably wasn't familiar with the term "append". Granted, simply searching for the title of the post would also find the answer, a bit down the list.

But to look at the bright side, next time someone asks the question using those words, this answer will probably be high on the search results :)

  • I thought that at first, but the OP put append in bold in the question text, and I checked the edit history and it was like that from the start (not added in by someone more knowledgeable later).
    – Wildcard
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 22:28
  • Haha, for some reason, I didn't see that word, no matter how bold :) It is a bit surprising that he didn't simply search the web then... Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 13:50

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