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Intent

To make down votes more useful and relevant.

Motivation

Down votes should be used as a tool to determine the quality of the question or answer. However, there is currently no mechanism to compel a user to revisit questions or answers that have been updated or modified to see if the down vote is still warranted. This causes two issues:

  • The down vote turns into a reflection of the community's collective opinion of the person that provided the question or answer, and not a reflection of the quality of the question or answer itself. This is a consequence of many in the community down voting a bad question or answer for the same reason over and over again. Even though there may be few (sometimes minor) problems with the content, it may solicit many down votes, with the negative consequence linearly applied to the reputation of the individual that provided the content. Even if that individual improves the content, it does not remove the down votes unless the users that cast them reevaluate.

  • The down vote no longer reflects the quality of the question or answer as it stands. This is a form of misinformation that could cause users to skip over an answer or question, even if it has been updated to be of high quality and greater relevance.

These issues ultimately degrade the ability of Stack Overflow to allow high quality content to stand on its own merits and shine.

Objective

  • Allow users that cast many up and down votes to quickly identify those questions or answers they have voted on that have had an update that garnered heavy feedback in the opposing direction from other users.

Proposal

I propose a mechanism to age out up votes and down votes.

  1. An up vote or down vote is still cast in the normal way as it is today.
  2. When a question or answer is updated, if the number of new up votes cast after the update constitute at least 50% of all the votes cast, the down votes cast before the update are aged out.
  3. When a question or answer is updated, if the number of new down votes cast after the update constitute at least 50% of all the votes cast, the up votes cast before the update are aged out.
  4. Aged out up votes and down votes are collected in separate counters associated with the question or answer.
  5. Aged out votes do not affect current scoring. A hover-over box on the down votes or up votes score would display the number that had aged out.
  6. Aged out up votes and down votes have their own lists under the user profile votes tab. An aged out vote remains on in its respective list until the vote is undone or reaffirmed.

Consequences

Benefits

  • Updated posts are more likely to get their up or down votes reevaluated in a more timely manner.
  • High quality content has a better chance to stand on its own merits.

Detriments

Objections

Down votes should NOT be aged out. -- A: This proposal originally suggested that an aged out vote would cause its contribution to the post's score to be discounted, but that aspect has been removed. Aged out just means it is a vote that should be reevaluated due to heavy movement of the score in the opposite direction of how the user had voted.

Alternatives

Show recent voted on posts that have changed. -- Adam Davis suggests a user profile tab that shows the posts that the user has voted on (up or down) that have had any recent changes made. This proposal includes such a feature, but uses a heuristic to determine which posts would appear on such a list.

Allow users to view a score that weighs votes after the a modification more heavily than votes before a modification. -- This would be a kind of opt-in feature that a user could enable to see a score that reflects more recent voting trends. This proposal originally wanted to make this part of the scoring system, but it would heavily complicate the voting system.

share|improve this question
7  
I wouldn't even consider this without it also applying to up votes. and really, I don't like it at all. –  Andrew Barber Jul 25 '13 at 2:54
1  
-1 Exactly what he said^ –  AsheeshR Jul 25 '13 at 2:58
    
@AndrewBarber: I didn't expect acceptance, but are the concerns valid? If the concerns are invalid, then I will give up on coming up with ideas. –  jxh Jul 25 '13 at 3:04
1  
-1 Exactly what @Andrew said plus the fact that I would get twenty notifications a day –  Doorknob Jul 25 '13 at 3:05
    
I can't judge for concerns, but I don't think the problems exist that you do, nor do I think this would do what you think it would. –  Andrew Barber Jul 25 '13 at 3:29
    
@Doorknob: Do you ever intend reevaluate the down votes you cast? If you do, what prompts you to do so? –  jxh Jul 25 '13 at 3:41
1  
@jxh Yes, a lot. Two things: being @-notified, and checking the "votes" tab in my profile –  Doorknob Jul 25 '13 at 6:57
    
What @Doorknob said; I actually go through my votes tab occasionally to random pages, and check out down votes I cast to see if they are worth removing. –  Andrew Barber Jul 25 '13 at 15:37
    
@Doorknob: Thanks for that. I've removed any mention of any need to add a method to notify for a aged out down vote. –  jxh Jul 25 '13 at 16:03
    
But then how do you know when a downvote "ages out," so that you can redo it anyway? I think I'm perfectly capable of knowing which downvotes I want to undo myself. I don't need some aging out process to force me to redo all... Let me check, all 1502 downvotes I've cast. –  Doorknob Jul 25 '13 at 22:45
    
@Doorknob: Thanks. I updated the proposal with a new list under the votes tab. –  jxh Jul 25 '13 at 23:02
    
@AndrewBarber: I have updated the proposal to treat up votes and down votes equitably. –  jxh Jul 26 '13 at 2:24

1 Answer 1

I think your proposal would lead to an awful lot of noise and complication, with many users voting down several posts a day, getting a notification every time one "aged out" would become irritating to say the least.

I understand your concern but I think a much better solution can be found here:
Allow an edit to notify downvoters: "I think I've fixed the issue now - please check"

It's a lot less complicated and I think it would accomplish roughly the same goal.


Post edit update:

While I think removing the notifications was a possible improvement to the proposal, the possible benefits are still outweighed by the added complication to the system.

Also, and possibly more importantly, users expect that when they cast a vote it is entirely their vote, to cast or resend as they see fit. Redesigning the vote system in this way takes a significant amount of that control away from the users.

I would agree that users perhaps should revisit their down-votes from time to time to see if issues have been resolved and possibly consider changing or removing their vote, but that should be an individual user's choice not something that the system automatically does for them.

share|improve this answer
    
That proposal looks simple enough, yet was declined. I am open to an actual proposal that has a shot at being accepted that addresses the concerns I raised. –  jxh Jul 25 '13 at 3:02
1  
@jxh I think that one probably has the best chance of being implemented... at least it looks to be one of the most up-voted. It seems like Jeff Atwood wasn't exactly a fan of the idea, which may be holding it back. Can't say for sure though. –  apaul34208 Jul 25 '13 at 3:10
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Also, for those who are interested in going back and reviewing posts that they have downvoted, there is a feature already available that makes it easy. So we basically have this as an opt-in feature, without the annoying part. –  Cody Gray Jul 25 '13 at 7:54
    
@CodyGray: I am proposing a mechanism to support Adam Davis's idea of showing voted on posts that have changed, except I am trying to put a heuristic on when the post should appear on the said list. –  jxh Jul 25 '13 at 23:08
    
@jxh I might support something like that. But if that's what you're suggesting, then the title of your feature request is very misleading. It suggests to age out downvotes, and I'm very much against that. –  Cody Gray Jul 26 '13 at 1:06
    
@CodyGray: I noted your objection. I have extended the proposal to age out up votes as well, and also increased the threshold for when votes would be aged out. –  jxh Jul 26 '13 at 1:39
    
@apaul34208: I have removed the notification aspect from the proposal. –  jxh Jul 26 '13 at 1:41
    
@apaul34208: The intent of the adjustment was to produce a score that more heavily weighed in recent votes over older votes. Perhaps it is just too complicated to create such a thing. –  jxh Jul 26 '13 at 2:57
    
@CodyGray: apaul34208 convinced me the scoring system is a non-starter, so I have removed that aspect of the proposal that would cause aged out votes to get discounted. Aged out just means it should get revisited because a post received many votes in the opposite direction. If you have a better term to suggest to use than "aged out", I'll gladly take it. –  jxh Jul 26 '13 at 3:19

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