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The vote count in the bottom right of your profile page is the one I'm talking about. I realize it doesn't show whom you down/up voted, and it's but what is the purpose of showing the vote count?

I haven't really paid much attention to it before, but I just noticed that I have more downvotes than upvotes. I expected to be the other way around but I guess I was wrong. I wouldn't want to be put in a position where others think: oh, what a (serial)down voter mehow is. It's a bit misleading since the commitment you make to SO and hanging by the rules reflects the truth: there are more down votes to be given on questions than up votes. (at least within the Excel, VBA tags)

Downvoting poor questions and answers may reflect how others receive you/look at you via your profile vote count.

I don't want to go around serially up voting Q&As to make the difference and to "look good" in other people eyes.

Trying to think of pros and cons but I really can't give any good reason why the vote count is being exposed and what the purpose is.

Would it be a good idea to hide to vote count or at least allow user to opt out of exposing it to the community?

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+1 - but only because I want to improve my own ratio. ;) –  user213634 Sep 25 '13 at 9:06
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Actually I've also noticed downvotes remain for spam / troll posts that are moderator / community deleted for that reason. –  PeterJ Sep 25 '13 at 9:17
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related (not a duplicate): Replace accept rate with citizenship level ...a variety of "citizenship" metrics that do not result in rep. Does the user vote?... –  gnat Sep 25 '13 at 11:37

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'm not quite sure I feel about this because I agree with the idea that your voting methodology should be your own and should not be influenced by anyone else's ideal standards on voting. And if the presence of the info in your public profile is influencing how you vote to in order to maintain some hypothetical ratio of upvotes-to-downvotes, then it harmful.

However, peer scrutiny is vital to maintaining some aspect of accountability on the voting process.


In the current version of the site, there are a lot of ways you can give back to the community by editing, reviewing, and other moderation tasks and what tasks you can perform is based on your privilege levels, which in turn is based on your reputation, which is based on voting.

So at the core, the single most important way to give back to the site is by voting. Voting is what drives the culture of the site. It provides the basis for reputation (which on its own, is a metric many use to measure themselves), and also provides the foundation for the moderation tasks you can perform.

So in the end, given the importance of voting, there needs to be something to hold users accountable for their use of the foundation of the site.

But because of the anonymous nature of voting, it is the only part of your participation in the site that is not subject to peer review and/or scrutiny. Virtually every other action you take is recorded and monitored, and you are held accountable for those actions. But voting is so anonymous, that even moderators cannot see what you have voted on (although they have tools to help deal with fraudulent voting).

So how would you hold users accountable while maintaining anonymity?


I think that is the reason that information is published. It provides a limited bit of information on how effective a voter you are. But it doesn't provide enough info to really identify what you are voting on, and when you cast up/down votes.

It's a bit misleading since the commitment you make to SO and hanging by the rules reflects the truth: there are more down votes to be given on questions than up votes

Sure, there are a lot of bad quality posts that need downvotes, but if you are only downvoting, that is a sign that either you are actively seeking out bad posts for the purposes of downvoting, or are overly harsh when judging posts. Likewise, if you are only upvoting, you might be overly generous in doling out votes.

The point is not trying to force you to have to actively seek out posts to upvote to meet some hypothetical ratio, but you should be performing both actions (upvoting & downvoting) and as long as you are doing both, it shouldn't matter to anyone what you are voting on.

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good points psubsee2003. I agree with most of you answer specially your explanation of the voting system, reputation, and privileges. See, stereotypes will force people to think generous or harsh but if you participate and give upvotes(me 500+) and downvotes(700+) you may be considered a valuable user as you can be objective, you know when to downvote and when to upvote. The 200 difference COULD lead people to think I am too harsh but the other part go more by the rules than by heart should understand it. I think my concern about having more downvotes should just vanish - no point to worry. –  user221081 Sep 25 '13 at 11:21
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@mehow check out the voting ratios of a few high rep users. They are all over the map. Some way more up votes than down votes, some the other way around. And I don't recall anyone calling them out before –  psubsee2003 Sep 25 '13 at 11:24
    
"if you are only downvoting, that is a sign that either you are actively seeking out bad posts for the purposes of downvoting" - That's a straw man. No one only downvotes; that's an extreme case. The real issue is disclosing the number of upvotes and downvotes. Why does anyone need to know what fraction of my votes are upvotes vs downvotes? I find it inappropriate that everyone can see that about me. I never would have guessed that was revealed, and it is now also making me think twice about how I will vote in the future. That's not what I want to be thinking about, when I vote.... –  D.W. Sep 27 '13 at 6:09
    
" the single most important way to give back to the site is by voting" - NO! the most important is ANSWERING, then QUESTIONING, Then EDITING, then COMMENTING. and the fourth is voting. We are here not to give marks, but to give information. –  Gangnus Feb 12 at 8:51

I completely agree with you. Publishing the total number of votes is perfectly reasonable, but I don't see any reason why the ratio of upvotes vs downvotes needs to be public. And it has a real downside: as you said, I don't want to feel pressure to go around serially upvoting to "look good" in others' eyes.

I think there's a simple fix: continue showing the total number of votes, but don't show a breakdown as upvote vs downvote.

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