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I've been paying attention the the questions raised and upvoted over the last few weekends, I don't have much of a sleeping pattern so I'm on at all kinds of times and I've noticed a distinct pattern as we move through the timezones.

At around 330/4am GMT, which corresponds to the start of the day in India many questions are raised which are either very poor quality (ie no research done by the poster and no attempt to even try themselves) or where no actual question is asked. These questions are then routinely upvoted, earning reputation, as are answers which offer no solution or are hugely wide of the mark.

Later in the day when much of Western Europe come online similar questions are downvoted (which I consider to be correct), but not only that many other very reasonable/fair questions are also routinely downvoted without explanation

Towards the end of my working day (around 1800 GMT) both the up and downvoting appear to balance out.

There's clearly a cultural or knowledge difference here which is only compounded by the pity vote problem, or perhaps it's even an issue with the review system as raised here.

The problem has really stood out to me now the moderator voting is open - I viewed the required badges and it seems that many users have earned some of the badges plus many others such as 'famous question' without ever having posted a valid question and when providing no useful answers ever, so they have a good deal of reputation which doesn't reflect how they have acted on the exchange

Is there any thought being put into making this system fairer to account for these differences? For instance, when a question is flagged or reviewed, shouln't 'fraudulent' upvote reputation (where the question or answer clearly isn't valid) be negated?

Another reason I think this problem needs addressing is that on these badly upvoted questions downvotes will penalize the person doing the downvote - but still leave the poster of the bad question with an overall positive reputation gain.

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People can vote as they see fit, even if the answer is "clearly not valid", although off topic questions/answers will be deleted, negating all votes. But I expect cultural differences exist, probably largely on the likelyhood of downvoting –  Richard Tingle Feb 12 at 13:04
    
I'm not sure I really get what you mean by "But I expect cultural differences exist, probably largely on the likelyhood of downvoting". As for voting as they see fit it feels to me like there's a real issue there. People upvoting others out of sympathy or just to give reputation and people not putting any effort into their own posts because there isn't any real penalty to it. With the enormous traction SO has now I can only see it snowballing –  Nick Cardoso Feb 12 at 13:21
    
Free voting is one of the founding principles that the site is based on, its not really negotiable (with the exception of targetting particular people with votes) Feel free to downvote bad questions/answers though –  Richard Tingle Feb 12 at 13:23
    
I do, and I lose reputation for it, so does the poster, only they end with a positive gain overall and I end up with a negative. I wouldn't want to remove free-voting. But I do think there should be some review mechanism for the votes and their affect on reputation –  Nick Cardoso Feb 12 at 13:29

2 Answers 2

I can well believe there being a cultural difference in voting preferences; some people may find downvoting more difficult than others. This is somewhat unavoidable, and not necessarily a bad thing. Diversity gives a greater pool of view points after all.

The problem has really stood out to me now the moderator voting is open - I viewed the required badges and it seems that many users have earned some of the badges plus many others such as 'famous question' without ever having posted a valid question and when providing no useful answers ever, so they have a good deal of reputation which doesn't reflect how they have acted on the exchange

This is an excellent argument for not judging moderator candidates on broad figures, look at the specifics of their decisions so far not the big numbers. That said many of these things aren't wildly relevant to moderation. For example I would look at their closure vote record in preference to their questions and answers.

Is there any thought being put into making this system fairer to account for these differences? For instance, when a question is flagged or reviewed, shouln't 'fraudulent' upvote reputation (where the question or answer clearly isn't valid) be negated?

Ultimately a persons vote is their own, with the exception of targeting a specific user for voting a user should be able to vote as they see fit; this is after all the communities view of quality. We are not here as human computers to implement official policy, we are members, here to have our own view on quality.

If we are to invalidate votes what basis would it even be done under? You may disagree with their reasons for voting but equally they may disagree with yours. Who ultimately makes the distintion as to who is right and who is wrong?

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I keep strange hours as well and I've noticed the trend you're referring to. I would guess that what we're seeing has more to do with language barriers than with real quality differences.

Take a sentence like:

i try X but it not work

To a user who is very comfortable writing in English, this sentence looks really rough and may make them more inclined to down vote and move on without much further investigation.

But for a user who has, or at some point had, similar difficulties writing in English the rough sentence is more understandable and they may be more inclined to ignore the poor grammar and try to help the user anyway.

On the other hand with a sentence like:

I tried using method X, but it didn't work.

The language barrier isn't as much of an issue, and the question is judged on its merit.

Note that both sentences are basically saying the same thing, "I tried this and its not working" and neither are describing specifically how its not working, but they are received very differently by different audiences. In the first sentence the lack of specifics can easily be attributed to a language barrier, while the second sentence shows a clear ability to communicate the specifics and just didn't...

I think this may account for a big piece of the difference in voting patterns.


Is there any thought being put into making this system fairer to account for these differences? For instance, when a question is flagged or reviewed, shouldn't 'fraudulent' upvote reputation (where the question or answer clearly isn't valid) be negated?

Something to keep in mind here... If a question is deemed "invalid" by being closed and later deleted, all reputation gained or lost from being involved with the question is removed from the record. Likewise if a moderator acts on a flag on a post by removing it, all reputation gained or lost from being involved with the post is removed from the record.

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I've tried to bear that in mind. You've probably seen 'questions' like the following yourself though. "I need site like facebook chat, please kindly post me the code", these are the type of questions I think clearly aren't valid and shouldn't boost anybody's reputation –  Nick Cardoso Feb 12 at 14:30
    
@NickCardoso Downvote and flag or vote to close and questions like those will eventually be removed, when they are removed all rep gained from them will go with them. –  apaul34208 Feb 12 at 14:36

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