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Sportsmanship badge is awarded for voting up 100 competing answers. But how often is there really a good reason to vote up a competing answer ?

  • Another answer is better than mine, or says the same thing > Upvote it, and delete mine to remove clutter.

  • Another answer is good, but missing a bit of detail > Upvote it, then edit it or add a comment instead.

  • My answer is better, because other answers aren't good enough or don't answer the question > Why upvote them then ?

  • Another answer is equally good, but answers the question in a different way from me > OK, this would warrant a competing answer upvote.

Seems like the last one would occur much less often than than the others, and if you were only to upvote answers like this it would take forever to earn it. It's much easier to answer an easy question that attracts lots of other answers and upvote them all good or bad, which doesn't really help anybody in the long run. So is it a badge rewarding bad behaviour ?

Edit: To clarify, I'm not suggesting Sportsmanship should be scrapped, rather than the criteria should be changed a bit to make it more reward good competing upvotes and less easy to game. How about:

  • Only one competing upvote per question is counted towards Sportsmanship, and/or
  • Your answer has to be scored at least +1 for your competing upvote to count towards Sportsmanship, to remove the incentive to add a clutter answer and upvote others.

I think these restrictions would make it much harder to game, while not having much effect on getting it 'properly'. Maybe it'd be fair to reduce the number of answers from 100 to compensate for the marginally increased difficulty they'd cause though.

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If another answer is better than mine, I up-vote it, but I don't delete my own answer just for the sake of a single reference answer. Even if it's not that good an answer I wouldn't delete it, and be it just for the sake of archiving. I would only delete if it comes out to be plain wrong or if I misunderstood the question. Just deleting an answer because another one is better or somebody wrote some bad comment and pointed to a small error is IMHO bad practice and I've already seen interresting answers get lost this way. –  Christian Rau Dec 10 '11 at 23:40
    
«Your answer has to be scored at least +1» Good thought, this is already the case. –  Josh Caswell Dec 11 '11 at 8:18

3 Answers 3

Does Sportmanship badge encourage clutter?

I'd say "No", and most moderators on SO have the badge (surely they wouldn't contribute to "clutter" (^_^) ).

Unfortunately, the SEDE doesn't provide the data that would allow us to test whether questions -- where 1 or more answerers upvoted a fellow answerer -- are more "cluttered". (It would require revealing who voted for what answer -- an obvious no-no.)

We don't force questions to have one big community answer, edited by all like Wikipedia. That way lies madness! ;)

So, it follows that more than one answer can be correct or contribute helpful information. And, it's perfectly fine to upvote someone else's answer -- while providing your own answer, instead of editing his.

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Upvoting competing answers, as long as you do it for the right reasons, is a good thing.

Of course, you can just randomly start to upvote competing answers in order to get the badge, which is bad, but this applies to most badges.

Examples:

  • Civic Duty (Voted 300 or more times): You just start voting randomly until you have the badge.

  • Strunk & White (Edited 80 posts): Easily achieved with 80 meaningless edits.

  • Disciplined (Deleted own post with score of 3 or higher): You could just delete a good answer.

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I agree with Civic duty in particular, and perhaps more so the suffrage and vox populi badges (30/40 votes in a day, respectively). –  Kevin Dec 10 '11 at 22:32
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Disciplined you can even delete your answer, wait a minute, then undelete it. –  Simon Sheehan Dec 10 '11 at 23:06
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Or Peer Pressure, you intentionally write a terrible answer and delete it once it gets three downvotes. I had fun doing that one. –  Peter Olson Dec 10 '11 at 23:55
    
I think it's not really the same though - With Civic Duty and Strunk & White, gaming the badges is only marginally less time-consuming than getting them 'properly'. Gaming Sportsmanship is way,way easier than getting it as intended, and has the actively harmful side effect of clutter too. –  mikel Dec 11 '11 at 0:09
    
Upvoting competing answers sets them apart from your own, reducing the chance of receiving further upvotes and/or getting your own answer accepted. In return, you get a silver badge. Bad deal... –  Dennis Dec 11 '11 at 1:08

On UX.SE and many of the other sites where there's a degree of subjectivity it is almost always the case that competeting answers are correct and or well researched enough to warrant an upvote, even if your answer is most correct.

There is of course, always the situation where someone else answers the question better than you. In this case upvoting the opposing answer is the only right thing to do. I have even seen people insisting the asker accept an answer other than their own, as in the comments on that question.

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