I've always been slightly confused when it comes to giving upvotes to answers on bug/hardware issue questions. I've come up with two different ways of upvoting on them:

  1. Upvote if the answer provides advice that could be helpful to people in general with this problem, or
  2. Upvote if the answer helped the person who asked the question solve their problem.

The problem with the former is that when answers are upvoted, the questions are removed from the list of unanswered questions, meaning that we can end up with questions about these problems getting buried with no actual solution to the problem.

The problem with the latter is that it can be very difficult and often fluky to find the solution to the author's problem, and that answers which give great advice for troubleshooting but unfortunately don't end up solving the problem are given no upvotes. This makes it difficult to encourage users to answer hardware questions if they realize there's a high chance they won't be given any recognition for their efforts.

Does anyone have any advice on how to go about upvoting answers in situations like these?


This is similar to the situation from Does a solution suggesting answer lose the credibility to be upvoted, if the OP has declared the answer as non functional?. I'll reiterate my point from there.

Sometimes, there are multiple emergences of a similar problem, and thus solutions may work for some but not for others. So voting mostly judges the usefulness of the answer - it may be useful to other people even if it doesn't solve the author's specific instance. Useful information should be upvoted. Feel free to hold back your votes for only those that are proven to help the author (an admittedly rare scenario), but don't feel bad to upvote a useful answer.

Don't dwell too much on the unanswered section, if you ask me. Remember that unanswered means that no one has found a good answer to the question. Upvotes on solutions that work for others, however, indicate that people have found answers. So while it may still be an open question for the OP (who indicates as such by not accepting an answer), it may very well be answered nonetheless.

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