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Lately I've been trying to get more involved in the game development community, one of the things I try to do, is to try to contribute to the community by answering some questions that I think I know their answers. I am still trying to figure out how to provide better answers, but so far I failed to understand.

Better to explain with examples, some of the answers that I expect to be good to be upvoted, end up being not. For example this answer was only upvoted once, even though I think it was as good and even got into more details.

This answer was less upvoted than the highest, even though it's more comprehensive and explain things better.

On the other hand this answer, which I wrote in less than 20secs which I think was not that good (and honestly thought would be downvoted) got 5 upvotes.

But sometimes it works like this, and you get upvotes as you expect.

I am not trying to whine about answers not being upvoted, but trying to understand why good answers are not "always" upvoted, and sometimes not so good answers are, and I've seen a lot of the other peoples' good answers not upvoted?

Does that have to do with long answers? Community interest? or explaining basic concepts? or other reasons?

Understanding this might help me understand what makes a better answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 1. Add an image 2. Include a bulleted list or headings 3. Answer simple questions first (people like to upvote things they know, confirms they knew it) 4. Make it onto the "Hot Questions" list (found under the StackExchange link in the top left). \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Nov 15 '13 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56 thanks for the useful tips. I will keep them in mind. \$\endgroup\$ – concept3d Nov 15 '13 at 10:10
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It really depends.

Writing long answers is not always the best idea -- sometimes a short, concise answer is all that is warranted. It's certainly less time-consuming to parse and thus more likely to be fully-evaluated. Often I am browsing the site during down time at work or some other activity, and I don't have time to read and judge longer answers regardless of their quality (since I want to give a fair assessment and not just up-vote something because it's long or well-formatted or uses pictures).

Answers which are to a more niche domain or problem may tend to get fewer votes because fewer people feel qualified to judge the material.

Personally I find excessive use of bold in answers (like in yours to the displacement mapping question) to be annoying (to the point where I'd usually edit them out or at least replace with italic, except in cases where I've also answered the same question to avoid any concerns of trying to sabotage an answer).

It's going to depend a lot on the people who view the question, the mood they are in right now, how much time they have to evaluate answers, and what their own criteria for determining whether an answer deserves a vote (up or down) are.

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Upvotes reflect the number of people who find the answer useful. This is only sometimes related to the amount of effort you put in the answers (although some people do vote on answers that show effort, but anyone can vote however they want). In a sense the SE system rewards "good" answers, for a certain definition of good (which of course may not match your own definition):

  • Fast answers
  • Easy to read answers (including formatting, illustrations, the way you structure your answer)
  • Popular answers (expressing a popular opinion, or on a popular subject)
  • Polite answers
  • Answers that are not obviously wrong

Some other things people have noticed are covered here: Six simple tips to get Stack Overflow reputation fast some of it is satirical, but most of it makes sense considering SE's objective: getting fast, readable, quality answers. Some of the tips can be of practical use; better formatting really does make things easier to read and digest, it's part of being a good communicator.

This does mean that if you are an expert in a narrow field providing quality, lengthy answers, you'll get much less upvotes than trite, populist answers that touch nerves in the right way, but it's always lonely at the top :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I may not 100% agree with you, I more agree with Josh's answer, but what you said makes sense. Regarding my own definition of a good answer, I think a good answer should tackle the problem with the right amount of detail. The problem is about getting this amount right while maintaining accuracy, regarding your time, other peoples' time to read, and the length of answer (readability). Regarding the being on the top, statistically you are correct, but everyone wants to be on the top, and I know I should work hard to get to it. \$\endgroup\$ – concept3d Nov 14 '13 at 7:06

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