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I encountered an Established User, quite active on scifi.stackexchange, who still had some quality problems. Looking at his profile, I realized he has not voted a single time.

That surprised me! How could one be active on a Stack Exchange site and not vote a single time? Not even on the answer he got on his own question or on the question that he answered!

So, I made a query to get Users Min Reputation and Posts, but low Votes and ran it against various sites. This behaviour seems to exist at varying degrees for a small minority of users of every site.

Voting is quite important for a Stack Exchange sites. To me, having such a low number of votes No votes at all for an active user is a sign of either a lack of understanding of the site's mechanism or a complete lack of civic spirit.

Thus, how could we goad someone to vote at least a few times Once? So we know they know how to vote?

  • Make sure they vote at least once before granting them higher privilege?
  • Forbid them to post any question before they vote once?
  • Nag them with banners, popup and unicorns so they know how to vote?
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Voting is completely up to each user. You can't pressure them or insist that they use their votes. –  bluefeet May 16 '13 at 13:11
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If their lack of understanding shows in their questions or answers, just evaluate those. Other than that, users are free to vote how they want, as often or as little as they want. –  Bart May 16 '13 at 13:24
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@bluefeet - and yet, we already do this if a user votes on answers but not questions. (Not that I disagree, but it's a bit inconsistent to say we'll nag voters about what they vote on but not non-voters for not voting.) –  JDB May 16 '13 at 13:35
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If they don't want to vote, they won't vote. Putting an arbitrary barrier such as voting at least 10 times before they do something else of have a privilege will only annoy them. At best, they'll reluctantly vote 10 times and never vote again. At worst, you lose a user. –  Daniel Daranas May 16 '13 at 15:35
    
@DanielDaranas And what about voting at least once? –  DavRob60 May 16 '13 at 16:04
    
@DavRob60 You will implement measure "X" so that they need to vote at least once, but, since they don't really want to vote, you'll get nothing else than that single vote. –  Daniel Daranas May 16 '13 at 16:17
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Dav, I think you have good intentions, but I think this is a case where freedom is better than making users feel forced into action. I think proper incentives are already in place. –  George W Bush May 16 '13 at 17:04

5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

To expand on my initial comment, voting is completely up to each particular user we cannot force people to use them. While there are incentives, i.e Badges, in place to reward users for voting I don't think we should be insisting that users vote.

The Stack Exchange sites are to provide useful content on a variety of subjects, through great questions and answers. If an established user is providing this, then why force them into participating in ways they might not want to.

I agree with you that voting is important on these sites, but we should be focused on the content and quality of their contributions, not whether or not they vote.

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What of the third suggestion - nagging via banners, popups, etc? That doesn't sound like such a bad idea (as I already mentioned - it's something we already do). Freedom is protected, but the importance of voting is emphasized. –  JDB May 16 '13 at 17:54
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@Cyborgx37 I don't think there is a benefit to nagging people to vote. If I choose not to vote on posts, that is my right as a user. If I continually get nagged to vote, what is going to prevent me from voting on crap/junk posts just to make the banners stop...nothing and that IMO is counter-productive. –  bluefeet May 16 '13 at 17:59
    
Again - not necessarily disagreeing, but we already do it. I find it annoying, but it does motivate me to vote for more questions. Would an occasional nag (or nudge) be worth more votes from high-rep users? –  JDB May 16 '13 at 18:04

Forcing, or nagging people to vote is rather counter productive. Instead of voting for a post based on its usefulness or merit, folks will vote on random things just to make the nag or block go away. This would skew things quite a bit more than the users that simply don't do it.

Part of the problem is that voting and the rest of our features aren't immediately obvious to newcomers, we've taken strides to remedy that by completely re-doing the about page, and showing similar guidance on the front page to new users. But that's as far as we can go - we can let them know that they can vote and voting is important; whether or not they do it is completely up to them.

The one exception to this might be the occasional user that clearly wants to say thanks, but somehow missed the fact that they can vote. You'll see this typically manifest in the form of an answer that's actually a comment, just saying thank you. If you see this, it's fine to inform the user that votes are the correct way to say thanks prior to flagging the post for moderator attention.

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I re-centered the question around user with no vote. When you got a a good amount of rep, you are not a newcomer anymore. It' not a big thing the verify they know they could vote. –  DavRob60 May 16 '13 at 16:02
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Well if they know they can, but don't - it's just not something they feel comfortable doing. The only thing that's actually compulsory for using the site is giving us the minimum needed to set up an account for you if you ask a question, or telling us the name you want to use if you leave an answer. I agree that it's very strange for an established user not to vote, but .. it's their call. –  Tim Post May 16 '13 at 16:12
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I'd agree, but we already nag voters. If voting on questions is important enough to nag answer-only-voters, how is voting in general not important enough to nag 1000+ users? –  JDB May 16 '13 at 18:01

There are already badges that reward voting. I don't think that anything more can be done without negative side effects.

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I once accumulated something over 500 points on a particular site in a matter of two weeks, making me a pretty "active" member wihtout casting a single vote. The reason was because I was unregistered, and therefore could NOT vote (except for "accepting" questions). I eventually registered and started voting.

You need to ask (or answer) questions and accumulat a certain amount of reputation in the process before voting. So forbidding people to ask questions until they vote is basically counter productive.

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Limiting the reputation amount or priviledges based on votes casted is not a good idea because voting is cheap and it could encourage people to vote on random posts.

However, there are some very unbalanced schemas, such as users asking very many questions and don't caring about upvoting or accepting the answers.

In my opinion, there should be hints (no annoying popups or unicorns) showing in the following situation:

If the user visits N questions (for example 25) without casting a single vote, a hint is displayed, for example between question and answers:

"You have not voted for long. If you find the question/answer provides a value to you, maybe you should consider upvoting?"

If the user asks another question, without upvoting or downvoting or commenting any answer to the previous (M) questions, a message is shown:

"You have not reacted to the answers to your previous question. Please upvote the helpful questions. If the answer is misleading, consider downvoting. However, if the answer has not help you solve your problem, appreciate the effort by writing some comment like "Thank you, but unfortunatelly I still have the issue""

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