It was recently brought up in chat that people are rewarded for trivial answers sometimes, which makes sense because this site is all about short code, but in other aspects, is bad because some answers that took a lot more work get very few upvotes in comparison.

This might discourage people from taking the time to answer longer and harder questions because although reputation is just a number, it's nice to get some reward, tangible or not, for your hard work.

Therefore, to counteract this, what can we do to help promote people answering harder and longer questions?

This is similar to this meta post about answering old challenges that get pushed to the bottom and become inactive, but is slightly different in that this post is about long and non-trivial answers that don't get noticed as much.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaggy
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:50
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ To me, this is simply the PP&CG version of the network-wide "early bird gets the votes" problem. Trivial answers are faster to develop and post, and they sometimes get an "early answer" boost. I occasionally post trivial answers, but only when I can't find a shorter solution in my language. What other people vote up is up to them. \$\endgroup\$
    – BradC
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ xnor's proposal might help with the trivial answers. (Encouraging answers to hard problems is still a good thing to discuss though.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 17:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, bounties is the real answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BradC I agree; that's true, so this is to try to incentivise harder and interesting answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 18:17
  • 19
    \$\begingroup\$ Trivial answers are a symptom: the problem is trivial questions, which were discouraged in the early days but now constitute 90%+ of those posted. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor That raises a fair point too; unfortunately, I don't think we can banish trivial questions or even reduce them significantly, but I think this could be a step forward, if only a small one. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 18:25
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't say that trivial answers get too many upvotes, I would rather say that non-trivial answers get to few upvotes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fatalize
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 6:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor And recently there has been an influx of "we don't have a very simple <whatever> challenge yet so here's a trivial one" because they were discouraged inititially \$\endgroup\$
    – cat
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fatalize Better. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 16:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does anyone know why the display algorithm (which does use randomness, presumably to increase fairness) can't be adjusted even further to counteract the early bird problem? On SO it makes more sense not to do this, since people arrive to find answers and you want the likely sought one to rise quickly to the top (though even here, the first 24 hours could implement a fairer algorithm). But on CG there's no reason why a 3 byte built-in that's garnered 8 votes can't be displayed lower more often, giving newer answers a chance to catch up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonah
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jonah The display algorithm is fully deterministic. There are three ways to sort answers. You can sort by votes, date of creation, or date of last modification (edits, not comments). There is no randomness. Sort by votes make sense for SO but not PPCG; that's why some answers have huge score gaps. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 1:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HyperNeutrino Weird. My own answer sometimes jumps around (without any score change) so I just assumed. In that case, I amend my comment to say that it should use randomness for the reason I suggested. It doesn't seem like a hard problem to fix... \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonah
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jonah Sorting by newest or activity is a good option (unfortunately, newest sorting doesn't exist), but sort by votes promotes drive by votes making a huge score gap. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HyperNeutrino, I'm saying it should be enforced (or at least, default and opt-out) that here sorting happens by an algorithm which uses randomness to show newer answers always at the top, with a probability high enough that a better answer would in fact be expected to catch up eventually. Relying on educated users and opt-in behavior is effectively deciding not to fix the problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonah
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 1:50

2 Answers 2


Run a contest

The chat room is now open for nominations


This idea is inspired/copied from Peter Taylor's answer to the linked meta post.

I propose running a contest to reward undervoted answers, as I call them. I envision to run it in a chatroom to avoid cluttering meta.

My current idea is to follow these rules:

  • The contest runs biweekly.
  • Nominate non-trivial answers that don't have a lot of upvotes, and especially those that show that a lot of work was put into them (a short answer isn't necessarily trivial)
  • The winning answer will be decided by the linked answer with the most stars.
  • Attempting to corrupt the process via bribery and/or blackmail will not be tolerated, and may result in moderator action.
  • Prizes will be awarded as bounties; the bounty-giver will award a bounty to the winning answer at the end of the contest. The bounty-giver will rotate between those who sign up to be bounty-givers.
  • The bounty is not necessarily a certain amount and will change based on how much effort was put into it, and scales down inversely to its score.
  • Other users are welcome to make their own selections and award bounties as well.

I have created the chat room here.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd reword the second point slightly to simply ask people to "nominate non-trivial answers that don't have a lot of upvotes." Maybe also include answers that show that a lot of work went into them. A short, seemingly trivial answer, might not have started out like that, it might have taken a lot of golfing to get to that point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaggy
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shaggy Good idea; thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 18:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I dislike the idea of you and you only being the final judge. Since we place a lot of emphasis on community, maybe the winner should be based on number of stars \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 23:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Similarly, it's not fair on you to be the main bounty giver. Maybe have a rota so each week, a different person awards the bounty \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 23:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BetaDecay Maybe that would be a good idea. I like your previous suggestion especially. As for the second one, that would work too; we could have a signup of people who want to be bounty-givers. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ If we get a moderator on board, these can be marked as events and appear on the yellow side-box. (ROs might also be able to do this - I'm not sure.) \$\endgroup\$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did this project die? \$\endgroup\$
    – Leo
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 11:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Leo Yes; there wasn't enough support for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, sad to hear, I didn't know of it :( \$\endgroup\$
    – Leo
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 12:01

Upvote them

Literally just upvote answers that take work. Be the solution.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ And comment! Comments help garnerattention too! \$\endgroup\$
    – tuskiomi
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 7:30

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