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Easy questions get the most votes. I think that's undeniable. More people know the answer so vote. It seems clear to me that when people don't know they answer they don't vote.

Should we encourage answering harder questions by making votes for such questions proportionally worth more?

Edit: I should've been clearer. The idea I'm floating is that the value of each vote could be inversely proportional to the total number of votes for the question.

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How are harder questions identified? By the number of answers? Upvotes of answers? – Ladybug Killer Jul 3 '09 at 14:33
(-1) Votes are consistent. They always mean the same thing. Once you start changing that, then they don't really mean anything anymore. – devinb Jul 3 '09 at 15:24
Furthermore, some people do incredibly STELLAR answers on something and get voted up thirty times, you would be penalizing those people, just because there are other people who get voted up for answers that aren't quite as good. – devinb Jul 3 '09 at 15:25
I'm asking a question to get some opinions. Geez, relax people. – cletus Jul 3 '09 at 15:38
up vote 4 down vote accepted

A few questions I'm raising for this

  • What about the first few minutes, where the question has low votes and few answers
  • Is a question that is outside the domain of most people hard?
    • How about an easy question in a rare domain?
  • Will time be a factor in this as well. Since I think it will help in defining the difficulty of the question

How about this?

If you answer a question that has gotten the tumbleweed badge (or a similar criteria) and for each upvote you get, you get a bonus +5 rep (or something) until some criteria is hit.

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I've said this before - I'd like to see rep offered as a fixed potential amount per question with diminishing returns on votes such that early votes have more reward than later ones. This has the effect of mitigating popularity and bandwagoning.

It's a little ridiculous to earn hundreds of rep on a single question, and less popular languages etc have a harder time attracting interest if you're not likely to get more than an upvote or two no matter how good your answer is.

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It seems clear to me that when people don't know they answer they don't vote.

They may not vote for questions they don't know anything about, but that doesn't seem to stop them voting foranswers for which they have a similar level of ignorance.

So should we somehow discourage upvoting of answers? I sometimes think it should have the same penalty as downvoting them.

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Penalty for upvotes definitely wouldn't be good. Making someone sacrifice rep for an encouraged behaviour is a two sided sword. – Ian Elliott Jul 3 '09 at 14:39
Why is upvoting seen as "good" or "encouraged" and downvoting seen as "bad" or "discouraged"? – nb69307 Jul 3 '09 at 20:50

What about a uservoice (bear with me!) type voting system where you have got x points to grade the answer.

Rep points are then earned as certain levels are hit.

Say if you had a rate the answer 1 to 5 and basically. If you hit 10 votes you get 10 rep points but it takes at least two upvotes to get this.

This would hopefully make the grade of answers better as people fight to get the full 5 vote points. Answer with a simple link and you can expect 1 vote point, a more in-depth answer could get 5.

Alternatively give 2 rep points per voting point?

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It seems clear to me that when people don't know they answer they don't vote.

I have to deny that for myself. I constantly find myself voting a lot more for (good) questions that I understand but can't answer.

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Interesting idea... I'd like to see some data on the distribution of votes to high-ranked answers over time.

My gut feeling is that Ólafur is on the right track with the time-based approach. If multiple votes within a short time period (say, a day...) were considered less valuable than the same number of votes over a longer period, then truly great answers would still get rewarded. This could even be used to replace or inform the current daily rep cap...

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There's two major issues I can foresee with this

  • Who decides the difficulty of a question? An easy question to some may be difficult to others.
  • Allows system to be gamed easily. If I solve a very easy question it would be possible for me to mark it as hard to get rep in my favor.


I can see some instances where this may be helpful, but there's too many cases where it wouldn't hold true. A lot of the time partially correct or incomplete answers get voted up by one or two with the correct answer voted up much more. This is the expected behaviour.

Counter Proposal

  • Make upvote strength proportional to the upvotes on the question itself.


  • While usually answers to difficult questions have fewer votes, the questions themselves usually have more, and get set as a favorite much more frequently.
  • Using this method the community decides how useful the question was, and thus upvoted answers on quality questions are worth more.
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