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For the first time today I toggled into my Stack Exchange network profile. The tab displayed by default is the "Top" tab, which lists my highest-rep questions and answers. Despite an earned-rep ratio of almost 100:1 (stackoverflow 4000, meta 41) my highest ranked question is from Meta. Granted my SO question scores are hardly anything to write home about, but I started looking through other peoples' network profiles and especially users with moderate meta activity tend to have "Top Ten" lists be dominated or at least heavily over-represented by Meta-posts. The same is true but to a much lesser extent for Top Answers... and of course this makes sense: (as is constantly being pointed out) voting is different in meta.

And it also makes sense that a user's network profile should include Meta questions, as Meta is part of Stack Exchange. But, given that voting is different in meta, it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. It's obviously a fairly trivial issue, but it makes the display either misleading or useless for a lot of users. I'd suggest:

  • Making Top-Question (and perhaps Top Answers) on network profiles display Meta Questions in a graphically different way than posts from other stacks.
  • Allowing users to hide/show questions from Meta so that you could see a user's top 10 questions or answers with with and without Meta-posts.
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While Meta may be the most different when it comes to voting, every site has its own atmosphere for how votes are applied to questions and answers. There are other Stack Exchange sites out there which can be more subjective, and agreement does occasionally come into play when voting on them. There's no 100% accurate way to compile everything across the network to be perfectly comparable on the same level. For example, this answer I posted on The Workplace was from personal experience over time, not from any sort of "factual" information that can be backed up by anyone but myself. A lot of answers on that site follow similar patterns.

I'm not completely against suppressing Meta a little, but what you write on Meta can certainly stand out as exemplary examples of your skills. I would be more in favor of allowing users to explicitly hide certain questions or answers that make it into the list, if they feel they don't accurately represent anything about them, such as a basic bug report that many other people are experiencing. I'm not sure how much effort it would be to add a simple "x" to the right to let someone hide it, but hiding everything may cause you to miss out on something big. The feature also wouldn't have to be specific to Meta, since it's perfectly possible to get a question or answer like this from any site on the network.

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I think you make some good points, and I agree that cross-stack voting behavior will be different so any comparison will be flawed, but I feel that because Meta stacks explicitly instruct users to vote differently that it should be a special case. It just seems odd to me that SE specifically cultivates a different rep culture on Meta but then uses that voting system to weigh posts against posts from other stacks. – Ben D Sep 20 '12 at 20:38
@BenD: I also completely disagree that voting on Meta represents agreement/disagreement; it's only another factor, not the sole factor. – animuson Sep 20 '12 at 22:28
I didn't mean to imply that meta voting is only agree vs disagree... I've upvote plenty of things I disagreed with because they were well-researched and well-argued. However, most posts by a brand new meta-user go something like this: "[Question]" -> 10 minutes and 15 downvotes later: "What gives?" -> 30 seconds later: 3 comments linking to the "Voting is different on Meta" FAQ. My brief and unscientific search seemed to indicate that meta posts are dramatically more likely to end up with large scores (+ and -) than any of the stacks I was looking at. – Ben D Sep 20 '12 at 22:38
Potentially, yes. But it's also not possible to detect that. Saying all Meta posts should be treated differently simply because they have the possibility of being skewed just further serves the inaccuracy of the list. I also think a lot of people just throw that link out there as a catch-all because a. they don't want to explain the real reason why they're downvoting or b. they didn't actually downvote and think it will cover the topic. – animuson Sep 20 '12 at 22:43

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