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I have come across one user who has asked 168 questions and never helped any other questioner with their problem. The OP has stated that their only interest is in posing questions and will not answer any. To me this seems against the interest of the site which is folk helping each other. Should anything be done to discourage this behaviour, and if so, how?

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    I don't think it is wrong, questions are important for helping others as the answers. If there were not questions there would not be any answer.
    – CarLaTeX
    Feb 1 at 20:04
  • By the SE rule, it's fine, but if we want to make own rules, yes we "can" suspend the user.
    – user202729
    Feb 2 at 4:29
  • I am sure that the vast majority of users ask questions (often just once or twice) and don't answer Feb 3 at 7:43
  • @DavidCarlisle It's not the majority of users asking a couple of questions I'm concerned about but those who ask hundreds and give no answers. Feb 4 at 18:03
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    @PeterWilson some people complain about people who answer thousands of questions but ask no questions. You can't please everybody. Feb 4 at 18:17
  • @DavidCarlisle: Yeah, I was just typing this up when I noticed your comment. I think we definltey need to do something about those who only answer questions. Makes the rest of us look bad. :-) At first I though this was a complaint about me as I ask a lot of questions, but only 168 questions!! They have a long way to go to catch up to me. But more seriously, the questions on this site are extrmely helpful so I'd say let them keep asking. If people here think they are not useful, they won't get answered, ... until someone needs a distraction. Feb 5 at 5:38
  • @PeterGrill I think that you do yourself an injustice. Looking at your profile it says that you have asked 16 questions and answered 16. I think that my particular problem was that I thought the whole tenor of the questions were not helpful and had little to do with any document the OP might be trying to produce. An intellectual challenge maybe. Feb 5 at 19:03
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    @PeterWilson You might be looking at the numbers from meta instead of the main site :) Feb 5 at 19:24
  • Sorry, my comment was meant to be humerous. And I think @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz right in that you saw the question/answers for the meta site. I have asked a LOT more than 16 questions. Feb 6 at 6:04

1 Answer 1

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We like questions, especially if they're good. Poorly-formed questions1, not so much. In fact, we have more than 20k users2 (as of early 2022) that have only asked questions In general asking a good question is not easy, so as long as the quality isn't poor it's completely fine. And our decision on quality is founded in votes.

In short, if the person posts good (quality) questions that are worthy of answer(s), that should build on the knowledge base of the site. If the quality is lacking, vote accordingly. When things become increasingly lackluster address it explicitly through (down)voting or consider bringing in a moderator as a last resort.


Some background considerations on posts and voting behaviour

Consider the following query result:

enter image description here

What is shown above is a moving average of 24 weeks (or 6 months @ 4 weeks per month) of questions (in blue), answers (in orange) and new users (in gray). It shows roughly 350-400 questions per week during the period from 2015 to 2019, with pronounced correlation between the peaks of new users. This is not new news, since we often see new users bounce after asking just the odd question. Now 2 years into the COVID pandemic we see a slump in the questions, echoed in the number of answers (of course, an answer needs a question). Fewer questions, again, isn't bad, as long as the questions are still good... right?

Now view the same setup, but this time for voting behaviour:

enter image description here

Again, this shows a moving average of 24 weeks (or 6 months @ 4 weeks per month) of votes on questions (in blue) and answers (in orange). There is a clear downward trend in voting behaviour.

In the land of TeX.SE, voting is often the deciding factor in quality. The more votes (often upvotes), the higher the quality. So, seeing a decline in voting could either imply that people are less-inclined to vote, or that the quality may have degraded.

1 These are questions that resulted from a typo, some technical setup unrelated to (La)TeX, or general questions that either could have been solved by some basic search.

2 This query provides a ranking of users that have no answers to their name, arranged in descending order by their current reputation. A filter on reputation above 101 (typical starting reputation on this site with an association bonus). Filtering out users below a 101 threshold may exclude users with questions that have been downvoted.

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    Interesting data, Werner. As the number of users on the site becomes larger I think we expect the voting patterns to trend downward. The the tradition of voting up questions if you give an answer (which has been the practice of many since the inception of the site), is much harder to maintain as the community gets larger, and we know from other sites that voting especially on questions is much less prevalent than here. So I would guess that this drop is less about quality and more about dilution of tradition.
    – Alan Munn
    Feb 13 at 17:47
  • @AlanMunn: Good point.
    – Werner Mod
    Feb 14 at 4:57

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