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Primary tool used to quickly search for good answers (and often questions too) and corner brick of SO/SE is..voting. Other sites use similar method to highlight featured answers (for example Amazon).

Motivation

One point where I think this system lacks is to highlight answers with high number of downvotes. Let me use an example:

Answer              Votes            Score
             Total   Up   Down
1               10    6      4           2
2               10    2      0           2

They have same final score but their history is pretty different (and probably their quality too). Such controversial answer may be a result of raw voting ("is it +3? should be good, let me up vote!"), wrong down voting or anything else but for sure it's more controversial and reader should take much care (and this is should be highlighted).

Improvements

I can't suggest (and even imagine) to change this mechanism but a better index may be needed to highlight this kind of answers. For example Amazon style would be: 6 persons of 10 did find useful this answer.

A short text like "6/10" may be viable but a better index may be more useful. Let me call this index "agreement index", it should be calculated using the number of up/down votes. Let me use another example:

Vote   Voter's reputation
+1     1000
+1     2000
-1      100
-1      100

Score for this answer is 0 and unweighted index may be 50%.

I would even introduce another index with the score calculated according to reputation of each voter. For example weight of each vote in this index should be calculated using rep of voter. In this case we may have index of agreement 50% and weighted score of 0.875 (1000/3200 + 2000/3200 - 100/3200 - 100/3200) that may be rounded to 1 (see this meta question about this topic). I wouldn't suggest to replace score with a weighted score but to integrate it somehow.

What I suggest is (finally!) to add two simple numbers near the score, like this:

Example of new indices

Advantages

Weighted score: browsing answers you can quickly judge them with a weighted score according to voters' reputation. If we judge answers (also) according to user's reputation then why votes shouldn't be judged in the same way? At least if you want to see it...you can. This may be especially helpful for OP and for someone else who lands on that page searching for the same question (very often answer with more up votes is not the best one from a technical point of view but the one more easy to implement or to understand).

Index of agreement: you can easily highlight controversial answers: to read them carefully and to contribute with your vote, to better read them before use, to highlight "anomalies" in the votes for the question.

Disadvatages

Index of agreement: it's easy to expand votes to see how many up and down votes there are so we essentially duplicate information (and it'll make screen more "noisy"). It's true but it's an important information I would highlight more.

share|improve this question
1  
Really all thats needed is to allow all users to expand the votes. Or to make it truly equivalent, show it by default –  Richard Tingle Sep 20 '13 at 10:45
    
@RichardTingle to show it by default could be OK even if then you don't have a "quick sum". I would stress more about weighted score. –  Adriano Repetti Sep 20 '13 at 10:46
3  
In reality, how often is there a post that has many upvotes and downvotes (excluding meta posts)? –  juergen d Sep 20 '13 at 10:47
    
I think vote weighting has been discussed before; see here for one such example –  Richard Tingle Sep 20 '13 at 10:49
    
Additionally the (non meta) posts that get high negative and high positive votes are usually the ones that started off terrible and ended up great. I don't bregrudge them the ability to recover –  Richard Tingle Sep 20 '13 at 10:50
    
@RichardTingle ones I saw are one with high up votes at beginning because they provide a quick answer and then downvoted because someone else pointed out they're wrong or there is a better or more accurate solution. –  Adriano Repetti Sep 20 '13 at 10:53
    
@RichardTingle yes, that's why I do not suggest to replace actual scoring but to integrate it with a second (dimmed) index used to better evaluate an answer. –  Adriano Repetti Sep 20 '13 at 10:55
    
One can always click on score and simply see the count of up and down votes. Like here, this question is now +2 / -3 and we know it. Why to mess the total score? –  Mołot Sep 20 '13 at 13:03
    
@Mołot primary because it's not visible by default to quickly browse answers. –  Adriano Repetti Sep 20 '13 at 13:43
    
Quickly often equals "without thinking", and I see no benefit in making that easier. –  Mołot Sep 20 '13 at 13:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

One major flaw in your "weighted score" is you are equating expertise to reputation.

  • Why should Jon Skeet's vote count more than mine or a new user.
  • How do we know that a new user isn't an expert in the technology and his vote is actually meaningful
  • Likewise, how do we know the high rep user is an expert in the technology. The high rep could just be because they are experts in in Stack Overflow.

Then factor in a misunderstanding of the question or an accidental vote. If a very high rep user like Jon or anyone into a 6 figure rep make a mistake in voting, the weighted score will need a lot of votes from the other side to counter that 1 misvote.

While this is not a big enough reason to reject it if it were the only negative, you do need to consider voting anonymity. Right now, it is extremely difficult to know who voted for you because there are millions of users who can vote on posts and every vote looks the same. However, now a weighted score might help someone think they know who voted on a post simply because they know a high rep user was active on a post and then the weighted score was skewed in 1 direction. It would be difficult to know for certain, but it would narrow down the field and might lead to more accusations and revenge downvoting.

As for your "index of agreement" idea, I can understand the motivation, especially for users who do not have enough rep to see the vote splits. But I don't necessarily think it offers any information that allowing all users to view vote counts or total votes doesn't offer and is less confusing.

What I mean by the confusion aspect is from the user experience, especially the new user and non-members who find a question via google. Unless you are a member and familiar with the community, "Index of Agreement = 50%" doesn't really explain what it is or what it means. But the definition of "10 votes" or "+5/-5 votes" is more apparent to everyone.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 We may weight according to reputation "per tag" to minimize reputation/expertise prolem but I understand your point of view (even if I don't 100% agree with anonymity). Actually I didn't consider how new users may understand a messy of numbers... –  Adriano Repetti Sep 20 '13 at 12:24
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@Adriano same arguement still applies, just because someone has rep doesn't mean they are an expert, even if the rep is evaluated on the tag level. Weighting will not work as well as you think. Your example seems to be good, but what happens when you have an upvote by Jon Skeet and 3 downvotes by 2K users. The weighted score is 98% on a -2 post. It would take 150 opposite votes by 2K users just to counter a single vote by Jon. –  psubsee2003 Sep 20 '13 at 12:32
    
You're right... –  Adriano Repetti Sep 20 '13 at 13:44
1  
@Adriano even if I don't 100% agree with anonymity - I kind of agree with you here. My point on that is a reach and not a reason on its own to reject a good idea. But anonymity doesn't stop someone from trying to figure out votes now and guess based on downvote timing and who is active on the question. But give them one more piece of evidence and they will try to guess more. –  psubsee2003 Sep 20 '13 at 16:16

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