Looking oldest (2008...2010) questions it's easy to find questions with 50+ votes and answers with 100+. This trend seems to be changed, new questions (specially for some tags) pretty often have few votes (or they stay unvoted even when the question itself is good and not just "what's wrong in my code"). Same is for answers, I see a lot of very good answers but very often they can't catch more than 5 votes (in the first 10 minutes of life).
I know that an old question has been around for years so it catched votes for years but for some tags (maybe with more disciplined users) everything still works as it should.
So my question is: SO rules were good for a more limited number of users and Q/A (thresholds for badges, for examples). Are this rules still valid? If the assertion "users are very interested in reputation" is true then to change something may increase both number of votes and number/quality of answers. For example:
- Add rep +2 for each up vote on answers and +1 for each up vote on questions (users, even newbie, will be encouraged to vote/check/read and other users will have more satisfaction to provide a good answer). This change may simply mimic what happens with down votes. I understand that it could start a "random voting" season but few restrictions may be applied (just for example the rep change may be applied only if the question reached a given number of up votes and it has no down votes).
- Rep change when someone down vote a question is -1 for downvoter and -2 for the one whom posted the (bad?) answer. Maybe many people do not down vote for the -1 but no one is afraid to post a random answer (untested, wrong, out of topic, answer instead of comment) because -2 isn't so much and with just one up vote they gain reputation enough for 5 down votes (and it's not common to see answers with five down votes, even when they may deserve it). The point then is: why up votes and down votes do not have the same weight? +10 for an up vote, -10 for a down vote (or at least -5). This may even stop posting quick and incomplete answers to be the first one (and to catch, maybe, some up votes when the question is in the period of high visibility).
After some clarifications in the comments I would point my topic better:
- Why votes per question and votes per answer plotted per year seem to show a decreasing trend? Is it just about users' discipline?
- Has it a negative impact? Is there a way to improve average quality using reputation system? Specially for the second point I think it would increase average quality for answers.
TEST (TO DO BEFORE ANY REPLY)
Quick test for old pro users (I would know results!!!): pick randomly (do not choose them by any criteria) five of your simple (= no more than syntax check) oldest (<= 2009) answers. Calculate the average score per month (twelve up votes in one year = one up vote per month). Please note that often this isn't really good because that kind of answers aren't reviewed many times (a better but more complex test would involve the number of views too). Now pick five new answers, calculate their score per month and compare them.
Moreover do the same for five pro answers. Something that involves a complex topic or something you're proud of.
What's the result of this comparison?