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A "problem/opportunity/potential" I have observed by introspection: An upvote could either mean that the answer is correct or helpful. Well there are other meanings but those seem most important to SE.

Users with high reputation could be more likely to mean correct, while users with less reputation could be more likely to mean helpful. This could be exploited to extract some interesting metrics for a question. The ratio and distribution of high vs low reputation voters.

A high ratio of high reputation votes is seemingly technically correct (trustworthy) while a high ratio of low reputation votes is seemingly easy to understand. This could provide good feedback to the reader as well as the writer.

Another interpretation is that the distribution tells what segment of SE users it is useful to.

(Ideas like this have possibly gone around for ages; I apologise if so.)

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Do you really think it's very common that an incorrect answer would be helpful or that a correct answer would be unhelpful? – murgatroid99 Feb 10 '13 at 23:39
@murgatroid99 No? I don't see that I seem to say that. – worldsayshi Feb 10 '13 at 23:42
You say "An upvote could either mean that the answer is correct or helpful". If those meanings align, then any attempt to extract useful information from a distinction between those two meanings is pointless. – murgatroid99 Feb 10 '13 at 23:45
@Mystical If using these ideas I would merely lift up the distribution or some similar metric and leave the interpretation to the user. – worldsayshi Feb 10 '13 at 23:45
There are others reasons for upvotes too. Like: he's my friend, I like his country, his answer is humorous, I like his profile pic etc :) Nobody can extract all such metrics nor are they useful :) – user210447 Feb 10 '13 at 23:46
@murgatroid99 What I mean is that a high reputation vote is likely to mean more correct than helpful. Nothing is exclusively one or the other. – worldsayshi Feb 10 '13 at 23:47
@KingsIndian: Those can be accounted for in an analysis. – Josh Caswell Feb 10 '13 at 23:49
@KingsIndian As I said, I would leave the interpretation of the metric up to the user. I should say that my own interpretation correct/helpful is merely a motivation of lifting up such metric. – worldsayshi Feb 10 '13 at 23:50
I was merely saying there are too many reasons for upvotes beyond the two "technically correct" and "helpful" you mentioned. – user210447 Feb 10 '13 at 23:58
@KingsIndian Probably, possibly. But that doesn't have to make the metric unuseful if the interpretation is up to the user. – worldsayshi Feb 11 '13 at 0:01
@murgatroid99: Lazy one-liners come to mind. – Dennis Feb 11 '13 at 0:50
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Voting on the site is anonymous. Such an analysis would require at the very least to link vote to rep, which would take away a part of the anonymity. So, doing such an analysis would require quite a bit of changes to the system itself at first, which I believe are unnecessary.

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Agreed. In some cases, this information would make it pretty easy to know with reasonable certainty who had voted for (or, if also applied to downvotes, against) a post. In other cases, people would think they knew (but perhaps be wrong). Both these outcomes is undesirable and erodes the principles that votes are secret. – Eliah Kagan Feb 11 '13 at 14:48
This could be alleviated by only introducing the metric once a post has a certain number of votes. Arguably such metric would make more sense with a certain amount of voters anyway. It would still have the non-anonymized information stored though, if that's seen as a problem. – worldsayshi Feb 11 '13 at 16:03
@worldsayshi The fact is the system doesnt record that information. It would require many changes, with far-reaching effects on the network. Taking out the anonymity even partially, can cause lots of problems. People tend to get very worked up about imaginary internet points :) – AsheeshR Feb 11 '13 at 16:57

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