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From user Icy Defiance in chat

enter image description here

The source query

The excel sheet with the graph setup

Discussion tag applied. Discuss.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a very pretty graph. \$\endgroup\$ – user15805 Aug 17 '14 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ We are running out of good questions. Just look at the growth of nobody care/not answered questions. \$\endgroup\$ – wondra Aug 24 '14 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've voted very little on this site over the past couple of months, because (from my casual observations): a lot of the questions popping seem to be about little technical issues, mostly about graphical aspects. I just feel turned off when I constantly see questions like this and this, that I frankly just don't care about. \$\endgroup\$ – NauticalMile Aug 24 '14 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could someone maybe create a graph, breaking down the questions by tag over time? Maybe tags can be grouped into rough catagories like engine-specific, genre, mechanics, and so forth? (don't have the know-how to do this myself, or the time to invest at the moment) I'm curious to see the number of technical graphics related questions are among those with zero votes and no answers. \$\endgroup\$ – NauticalMile Aug 24 '14 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does maybe the number of views (aka traffic) have gone down per question? I would like to see if the ratio of votes / views is roughly constant or went down. In the first case it's lest views per question in the latter it would be voting fatigue. \$\endgroup\$ – Trilarion Sep 4 '14 at 12:39
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Here's another piece of data for understanding what's been going on:

Number of votes per month

Number of votes per month graph

Something seems to have happened in July 2013. I don't know what, but the number of questions (as seen in the graph in the original question) and the number of votes being cast (seen here) were both at a peak, the number of zero-vote questions was under control, and then over the course of two months, question submissions dropped by a quarter, and voting rates were cut in half.

This seems to be the point at which the zero-voted questions really started to grow quickly; we stopped having as many up-voted questions because people had actually stopped voting, and for half a year voting levels were lower than this site had seen at any other point in its history.

It's interesting that there was a brief up-swing in voting activity around April 2014, almost back to its historically normal levels, and there was a surge in question submissions back to their normal level at that same time. But the number of zero-voted questions continued to expand.

Note that while this graph shows us as being in a steep dip right now (August 2014), that's because we're only halfway through the month. If things stay as they are, we're roughly on track to hit about the same number of upvotes on questions as last month, and substantially more downvotes than last month.

Caveats: The graph in the original question is showing current scores and open/closed status for questions based upon the month in which the question was asked. Having gone over the voting data while preparing my graph, I've observed that a lot of votes get cast on old questions; if I categorise votes based upon the date of the question they were applied to (rather than based upon the date the vote was actually cast), then this graph looks extremely different, because a surprising number of these votes were being cast against questions which were already very old, at the time the vote was being cast.

This means that the whole "look at how many more zero-voted questions there are now than there were back then" premise of the discussion may not be a valid conclusion to draw from the original graph -- it may turn out that there are fewer zero-voted questions in the past just because there has been more time for people to cast votes on those older questions.

It should be possible to correct for this; perhaps to only count votes which were cast within a month of when the question was asked. If anyone's interested, that would be a really useful bit of analysis to run.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming I constructed it right (forked your query), only counting votes which were cast within a "month" of when the question was asked doesn't show much difference as far as the trend goes. The numbers are a bit lower, but the trend is pretty much the same. \$\endgroup\$ – XNargaHuntress Aug 19 '14 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ it would be very interesting to compare this with other se's, there may be some se-wide trends. suggest some basic Stack Exchange Data Explorer queries be built up that can be run on any site, there seem strangely few std queries related to overall voting trends. a recent blog post pdocast #60, are we that predictable? states "Briefly: the perceived quality on Stack Overflow has been in decline for years. And this time, we’ve got numbers and things." \$\endgroup\$ – vzn Aug 20 '14 at 20:16

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