I have a question about my Super User post: Which cloud storage providers allow SFTP access?

My question (as above) got closed, which I kind of get but it's not useful to me or anyone else (loads of questions have outdated answers, but that's not my point).

More objectively, this then prompted me to go scrolling through other questions. I noticed that a very large number had negative marks. I've not seen this on any of the other SE family. So, I've just summed up the first four pages of scores for "Newest" questions which covers around the last 24hrs of questions. My results:

First page: -26 +2

Second page: -11 +8

Third page: -21 +41 (mostly from two questions which were +30 between them)

Fourth Page: -15 +9

Sum total: -73 +60

As can clearly be seen, the negative scores FAR outweigh the positive scores. If you remove the ~30 points for two particularly interesting questions, there are over double the negative votes to positives. SU users like certain questions and quickly vote them very highly, but for the vast majority of the cases, there seems to be an underlying theme of "if in doubt, vote down".

Why is this? I would argue that it is indicative of a problem. Are the wrong sorts of questions being encouraged compared to what the voters are expecting?

How can SU improve at this?

  • 4
    If new users actually bother to read (and take note of) the help pages (in particular On-Topic) there wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately they don't. And we can't force them to read those pages.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 21:55
  • its the worse stack exchange site. I don't see this kind of negativity on other stack sites and I frequent lots of them. Pretty unhelpful too, I have never received an answer on any of my questions, which is why I won't bother with this site again. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 15:41
  • 1
    I don't disagree with your assessment. There seems to be less caring on superuser than some of the other boards. I feel many elders lack compassion and a willingness to play the teacher role. Maybe its just personality, been-there-done-that, or some of the deficiency we have as humans working IT and computers all the time. An improvement could moving How To Ask on the right side to just under Title (especially for new users) may improve question quality. We could do some A/B testing so we can collect data over time. It is too easy to ignore on the right which encourages poor questions.
    – Sun
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 17:51
  • 1
    @Ramhound when you present information at the most appropriate time the chance of it being read is greatest. How to ask a question has the best chance of being read at the time you write it and have it be in the center not on the side. Your eyes are focused on title and body at that time so you are likely to read how to ask. Be hopeful and let's try it with a/b testing you see if I am right. Why the pessimism?
    – Sun
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 1:14
  • Prove to me that this community is not negative by digging out my 2yo questions and downvoting them, because i dared to comment on this thread. Stackoverflow too is very negative at times, but it soves peoples problems, questions get answered in 2min. I don't see that here and I have never heard anything positive about this community. Deny as much as you want. Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 12:08
  • @user1721135 My vote had nothing to do with you as a member or any comment you said directly, I voted on a closed question, same as I always do. Wish you luck in life though.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 19:32
  • We are not Negative, just anal....
    – Moab
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


It's easy to identify a poor question. Figuring out when / if a question will be useful might take a bit longer. So browsing the first few pages of recent questions isn't a particularly good sample...

Fortunately, the data is public! Instead of slogging through the site page by page, you can just query the aggregate score of all posts & see how it adds up over time:

graph of aggregate question scores by month for the history of the site

As you can clearly see, the total score for questions is mostly negative over the past 10 months (though last month was a nice outlier and next month may be as well if history repeats).

Note that this includes posts that were deleted: spam, abusive trolling, blatantly off-topic, etc. If you exclude deleted questions, the picture is somewhat more rosy:

graph of aggregate question scores without deleted questions

Both queries reinforce the notion that the true value of a question becomes apparent only with time...

  • Is the massive spike in the middle of 2009 when Super User opened to the public?
    – Burgi
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 23:20
  • Yes, @Burgi. Well, the peak of it is; August '09. Datapoints prior to July are migrations.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 23:41

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