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Okay so a few people have been here for awhile, and often times a question or answer comes along that amasses a huge score(whether positive or negative) that totally takes you out of left field because you thought it would never score like that. I've seen a couple of these myself that have led to me writing better answers and I was looking for sorts of questions that would take people by surprise and why so I can try to look a little closer at those patterns.

So obviously the question is: What question/answer(s) scored in a way that totally surprised you and why were you surprised?

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One answer I provided I meant merely as an addendum to what I thought was someone else's perfectly great answer that had a good vote score already. I only wanted to provide a different perspective, and I wanted to add an additional useful answer.

My answer eclipsed the other answer and I rep trained for a few days.

Something similar happened a few days later, but there wasn't another answer. I figured someone else would come in over top of me with a more canonical answer, but even though more thorough answers were offered, my answer got most of the votes.

As a result, I think I learned something about tone. I think I might try to emulate the "Bears" too often in trying to provide an authoritative answer. In one case, I even interviewed a famous expert in order to come up with an answer to end all answers (it got 4 votes). But the attitude I had while writing high-scoring answers was much lighter and I took myself less seriously, I even avoided being complete. To quote Rory, they were "throwaway answers".

But, here's the thing: I'm not sure that my high point answers are good answers, and I don't think that I should make all my answers emulate them. They might speak to the audience and reach some inner curiosity: "I never thought of that!" or "I always thought that was true" or some such, but they aren't the answers I'm proud of.

  • This brings up a really good point actually that if you can't tell my other questions on here are all kind of eluding too: What makes a good answer, and what makes a high scoring answer? – Robert Mennell May 6 '16 at 22:17
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    @RobertMennell as in everything, write for your audience. The OP, readers, voters, and voters from other sites (when a question becomes "hot") are all different audiences. So what makes a good (or high-scoring) answer? Well that depends on who you're writing for. – drewbenn May 6 '16 at 22:35
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    @RobertMennell perhaps votes are not a vote for your answer, per se, but a vote for the voter for being smart enough to agree with the answer. It's an "I'm with this guy" connection. The more an answer reaches the reader's self-identity, the more it prompts the act of voting. – schroeder May 6 '16 at 23:09
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    Oh god that's a terrifying concept. That means we'll written informative posts could be outdone by a horrible meme based explinations... – Robert Mennell May 6 '16 at 23:13
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For me it was a throwaway question I wrote for Hat Dash. It scored ten times as much as my next most popular question:

How can someone go off-web, and anonymise themselves after a life online?

I think this one also attracted more answers than any of my other questions.

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    How does that question have comments dated 2 years before the question was asked?? – drewbenn May 6 '16 at 22:12
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    One of my skills is time travel. You've seen my precambrian work, yes? – Rory Alsop May 6 '16 at 22:14
  • hah! Oh I see, another question got merged into it. – drewbenn May 6 '16 at 22:14
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Obviously I've had a few of these myself, and the one that really took me by surprise was Is there a legitimate reason I should be required to use my company's computer? (BYOD prohibited) since I thought this was pretty common knowledge and steps, but still I answered anyways expecting it to just be a reference at some point with a few points, and not explode like it did. That question even got featured in the newsletter and I never would have guessed that people would be so adverse to having to use company hardware.

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