All but one of my questions since September have gone unanswered. I am not complaining, of course: there's no reason why my questions should be answered. It's just that it seems to me that the style and type of questions hasn't strongly changed with respect to older questions. Thus I wonder, is there a general trend on CV, where the ratio of unanswered to answered questions is growing? Or am I wrong and my newer questions are less interesting and/or well written than the older ones? Can I do something to improve the likelihood of an answer? Other than putting bounties on each question, of course :)

  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean CV rather than CS? $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ Make sure to read first meta.stats.stackexchange.com/questions/1479/… if you consider editing your questions. Good luck. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Glen_b, whooops! Yes, of course I meant CV :) my bad. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaIV
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreSilva, thanks for the link. I am indeed in a similar situation to that of the other user - most of my questions get answered on other SE sites, but on CV the percentage is lower (apparently, not as low as for the other user, but lower than on other sites) . Again, nothing bad with that - it could just be that here people are more well-learned, and my questions are just too boring :) anyway, I'll read the link and see if there's something I could do better. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaIV
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The nature of statistics is that many questions are often considerably harder to answer (or at least answer well). When I answer on SO or on math.SE, it often takes a fraction of the time to write a pretty complete answer than it typically takes me here (if an answer takes me two minutes on SO it usually means something weird is going on, and it's rare for one to take me more than about three or four on math.SE --- but here, often I spend tens of minutes putting together a single answer) $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ Sort of off topic, but: After seeing this I skimmed some of your questions, which seem generally well posed. So I tried to answer a couple of them, although I do not feel fully qualified to ... on the theory that something is better than nothing! (Clarification: These answers should be "not wrong", but perhaps also not complete.) $\endgroup$
    – GeoMatt22
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoMatt22 thanks for your interest :) $\endgroup$
    – DeltaIV
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


The proportion of unanswered questions is indeed slowly growing because (among other things):

  • the number of people answering questions is growing more slowly than the number of people asking questions.

  • the proportion of very poor questions is increasing rapidly, sapping the time-resources of the very people who tend to answer questions into dealing with clarifying or closing questions.

I doubt this relatively slow process is the cause of a sudden drop in answers for you, however.

Part of it may be a matter of luck but you can certainly improve your chances of an answer by working on your questions. Several questions already on site here deal with such issues.

Looking at your recent questions, at least some of your questions seem unlikely to be of broad interest (for all they are sure to be useful to you personally); that will reduce interest in answering them; it's fine to ask but they won't necessarily be priorities. You can consider ways to make some of those questions more generally useful, which may help make them interesting to answerers.

You can also make it easier for people to answer some of your questions.

For example, the most recent one asking about references on probability links to three references but mentions neither the authors nor the year of publication. Since many books on probability have similar or even identical titles, the titles alone don't really identify them. So when I see a question like that, I have to ponder whether I have time to start loading page after page on Amazon just to find out what books you're even talking about.

I'm kind of busy (and then when I am here there's a lot of tasks to take care of besides answering questions) and even without that, there's more questions a day than I can even read, let alone give a worthwhile answer to, so if my connection is slow enough to make it take a few seconds each page, it's likely to be "Sorry, next question". I imagine at least some other answerers may be in a similar position.

Clicking through now, I only know one of those books. So even if I did decide I have time to click through to find the books, I would disqualify myself from offering a choice; again it would be a case of "Sorry, next question". [A rephrase of the question may make it more likely to draw at least partial answers.]

Lastly, a number of of your questions are outside my area of knowledge, or are just about within it but so specific I doubt I have enough specialized knowledge to give a useful answer. This, too, may be the case for several other potential answerers.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Agreed; I looked at @DeltaIV's questions; they're pretty good but just not tempting to me. On the rising tide of garbage, my gut agrees but I have no data. I think the essence is being perceived as a helpline. We're not Wikipedia, but certainly not a helpline either, the diagnostic of which is that all questions are answered and you lean over backwards to be supportive, positive and indeed deferential. Poor questions can't, or don't deserve to, be answered here. It's (not surprisingly) difficult for newcomers to grasp that we are much closer to Wikipedia than to a helpline. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ hey, great suggestions! Thanks. I will improve the last question: I only put the links because I thought they would be more complete than any description, but I didn't think that, as you correctly point out, strong contributors are overwhelmed with such a volume of questions that they cannot spend the whole day rummaging through Web pages. Concerning the book list, I indeed wrote that I was open to suggestions outside the list, as long as they are no Feller or Kallenberg. I will try to make the point more clear. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaIV
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's definitely worth having the link, but you also need to make the question stand on its own as much as you can (so that if the link died or moved it wouldn't matter); that has the coincidental effect of saving a click and page load per book (unless people actually want to look at the page for the book, perhaps to see what the cover looks like or something) $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Glen_b, sure, I agree with you, it just didn't occur to me when I wrote the question. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaIV
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 9:48

I now have some experience with CV and other SE venues. I think CV is more challenging than others because questions are more technical and scientific, and also because subspecialization is the rule in statistics.

My recommendations to improve your likelihood of getting a correct answer are the following:

  1. try to put your question in a comprehensible fashion, avoiding acronyms and jargon;

  2. use correct tags (and as many as appropriate) as this is likely to boost interest to those subscribing for particular topics;

  3. expand your question so that it reads as an intelligent and provocative piece on this topic;

  4. try to put the question into context, for instance by providing a sample database and code for a popular package (e.g. R); this will attract those more interested in specific packages and also help them give you a practical solution;

  5. provide references;

  6. return often to improve it by editing and boosting its content;

  7. if you find a solution yourself, then post an answer.


This is more a trick than an advice, but I feel that submitting a question when most users are online (e.g. when it is afternoon in North America) will increase your visibility.

In addition, I think as a community we need to upvote more the answers than the questions.


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