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Since voting on meta works differently from other SE sites and is not thought to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness, but only to express agreement or disagreement, I'm wondering why downvoted answers here on meta are shown semi-transparent.

Shouldn't they be non-transparent then (like upvoted answers)?

Or am I missing something?

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Voting on Meta is used to show agreement / disagreement, assuming a quality post. If the post is of low quality, then voting works exactly the same as on the main site. The threshold for semi-transparent answers is -3 (if I'm not horribly mistaken). I guess it would make sense for Meta to have a larger (lower?) threshold, how does -8 sound? –  Yannis Aug 8 '12 at 1:30
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Or at least, if nothing else, put the transparency back to normal when mousing over the content. Sometimes it's necessary to be able to read the answer, like if it was a controversial statement from Jeff Atwood, for instance. –  jmort253 Aug 8 '12 at 1:52
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@jmort253 like if it was a controversial statement from Jeff Atwood You mean he makes non controversial ones? –  Yannis Aug 8 '12 at 2:17
    
@YannisRizos - **<search> controversial:1 user:1 would come up with lots of posts now wouldn't it? :) –  jmort253 Aug 8 '12 at 2:39
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Heavily downvoted meta answers are often "wrong" in one way or another, just like main site answers. It's just that on main your answer is probably terrible because of some more objective criteria, whereas on meta your answer is probably terrible because of some more subjective criteria. They've both earned their low sort order and their "not much to see here" styling in all likelyhood. –  Ben Brocka Aug 8 '12 at 3:46
    
closely related: Un-fade low score answers on rollover or click, and I swear this is a dupe but I can't find it. –  Josh Caswell Aug 8 '12 at 4:06
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@BenBrocka - Imagine your last comment was an answer. It's not a bad point at all, but the first 3 people to get to it didn't agree with what you said and voted it down. You've already been pushed to the bottom of the answer queue, and now you've passed the "greyed out" threshold as well. The first, fair enough- people don't agree. The second almost smacks of censorship, like the post has no worth. I agree there should be a 'grey-out' threshold (if a post is bad enough it WILL be heavily downvoted) but I thnk the bar should be around -7 as opposed to -3 –  Robotnik Aug 8 '12 at 4:07
    
@JoshCaswell This one: It is hard to read (comments at) a downvoted answer? –  Rob W Oct 17 '12 at 15:42
    
@yannis the threshold is already -8 on all metas AFAIK and has been for a very long time. This is much higher (lower?) than the main sites for that very reason. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 31 '12 at 0:09
    
@JeffAtwood, I think it's -3. –  Jefffrey May 20 '13 at 12:57
    
@Jeffrey, brilliant use of the interface to make a point¡ –  brasofilo Jul 7 '13 at 21:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 30 down vote accepted
+250

Why?

My guess is that it's there because meta runs the same software as Stack Overflow, in the main site this makes a lot of sense. Having greyed answers when looking for an answer to a problem is productive and useful and it removes focus from answers the community peer reviewed and deemed useful.

Is it useful?

I think that this visual cue is not useful in meta where answers express agreement and disagreement rather than usefulness of the answer. Reading an unpopular opinion is useful and helps me make up my mind on a subject.I almost always read the majority of answers when reading a thread on meta where on SO I almost always only read the first, or top two answers. Again, this is because these unpopular opinions make sense in meta and may still be useful.

Should it be dropped?

Yes. I believe that visual cue should be dropped in meta. I think it doesn't do much good. As it currently stands I just 'right click -> inspect element -> set color to normal' when I read such an answer.

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Note - this answer was origianlly posted on this merged post meta.stackexchange.com/questions/187763/… which was slightly different in phrasing. –  Benjamin Gruenbaum Mar 4 at 15:51
    
Feel free to set a new bounty with the rep you got from my two bounties, I'm giving up for now :) –  Stijn Mar 12 at 13:58
    
@Stijn sure thing - done. –  Benjamin Gruenbaum Mar 12 at 14:31

I like seeing downvoted answers all pale and sickly-looking.

But, y'all make a good argument for doing this and since it's obviously a popular idea I've lowered the threshold to -8 for consistency with the score at which we drop questions from the homepage.

Ditto for the handful of other meta sites where this actually matters.

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Perhaps go and slap a [status-completed] on this then: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/252529/… ? And thanks. :) –  Bart Apr 28 at 22:05
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Thanks, much appreciated. –  Benjamin Gruenbaum Apr 29 at 6:51
    
I still don't see the point of this on Meta at all (since it votes have a different meaning on Meta). Being at the bottom of the list should be a sufficient "punishment" on the Meta sites. If you don't want to read those answers, simply don't scroll as far down. –  Bruno Apr 30 at 21:52
    
Votes have an additional meaning on Meta, @Bruno. Which is to say, in addition to downvotes meaning "not useful", they can also mean "I disagree". But there are an awful lot of posts that still fall into the normal category. This change makes an allowance for the rather more frequent use of voting on meta sites, for any reason - but it doesn't preclude the use of votes for their usual purpose, and if you find your answer turning grey I suspect you'll be able to tell which reason is behind those votes. –  Shog9 Apr 30 at 22:11
    
@Shog9, downvotes on meta are very different. I only downvote answers on the main SO when I know they're factually wrong, misleading or simply of poor quality. 8 people disagreeing with an idea on Meta can happen quite easily. (To be honest, I only came to visit this question after getting on comment on my other related question, more about deletion, with a specific example that's clearly been treated unfairly.) –  Bruno Apr 30 at 22:23
    
I'll just reply to your question then, @Bruno. –  Shog9 Apr 30 at 22:52

Yes, I agree that even downvoted answers should be equally as visible as normal answers on Meta.

There already is a penalty for downvoted answers: they're at the bottom of the list (by default ordered by votes). Unlike non-meta SE sites where it makes sense to make such answers less visible because they would often be of low quality or misleading, negative answers on Meta simply express disagreement.

The problem is that, even with a -8 threshold, it's quite easy for a reasonable answer to lack complete visibility to anyone who might agree with it and upvote it.

It just reduces the debate to those ideas that were most upvoted first, not necessarily the best ones.

For example, I'm a reasonably high-rep user on SO, I mainly answer questions and vote (mostly upvotes but about 10% of downvotes). I also flag questions once in a while (e.g. for closure). While I'm reasonably active on SO, I must admit I'm not particularly active on Meta. It's partly because I find it less interesting in general, but it's mostly because I simply don't have the time for it.

It's clear that some people are much more active than I am on Meta, and I'm grateful for the enthusiasm and time spent by those who do, in particular moderators.

However, the danger is that a small number of frequent Meta visitors will just be able to make someone's ideas on meta far less visible, simply because this specific sub-group doesn't like it there and then. It's then almost too late for other users who are more focussed on the main sites and who might agree with this idea (generally regarding how to rule the main sites) to notice it and upvote it.

As a less frequent Meta user, I find the fact that such answers at the bottom of the (often long) pile deterrent enough. If I do find the time to read more answers on a topic, I'd like to be able to read a sample of all points of views with an equal degree of readability.

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