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Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 130 Stack Exchange communities.

Up-votes are easy on both SO and meta. You like something, you vote it up.

Down-votes are trickier.

On SO down-voting a question means that the question is a poor one. Poor meaning badly written or really annoying for some reason (e.g. give-me-da-codez).

Down-voting an answer usually means it's plain wrong.

On Meta, however, many questions revolve around matters of taste (e.g. the HW question). When voting on answers to such questions, I want to be able to push down the suggestions that I disagree with and promote the ones that I think are correct. But I don't want to hurt people's reputation by doing so.

Down-voting on Meta isn't really saying "your answer is stupid and wrong"; it's more like "I prefer we do it the other way". The whole site is basically meant to discuss matters of social preference, etiquette, do's and dont's, etc.

In SO most people wouldn't down-vote an answer just because some other answer is better. People generally accept that there may be different solutions to a problem and feel comfortable in letting up-votes alone decide on the most popular one.

In Meta, on the other hand, there might be groups that really care about some issue and would like to see it solved in a particular way. And, in case meta replaces UV, voting on answers would really be voting on preference more than correctness.

Should down-vote semantics on Meta be different than on SO?

Perhaps the system should not deduct reputation points if your answer gets down-voted, thereby allowing/encouraging more free down-voting.

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Actually upvotes in MSO are a problem as well, at least on questions, as you can't tell if the vote is indicating that it's a good question or agreeing with opinions expressed therein. –  Peter Alfvin Aug 18 '13 at 18:32
    
unbelievable.its such a nice post –  user249473 Jan 31 at 11:28
    
possible duplicate of What is a meta for? –  gnat Oct 10 at 10:31
    
@gnat now how is a question from 2009 a duplicate of a question from a week ago? –  Assaf Lavie Oct 10 at 15:31
    
@AssafLavie this doesn't matter, see Should I vote to close a duplicate question, even though it's much newer... –  gnat Oct 10 at 16:16

9 Answers 9

Now that Meta StackOverflow is the only Meta site that maintains a separate reputation, I thought that this question should be revisited.

The problem with Meta-rep is this: while reputation doesn't mean the same thing on a regular sight as MSO, it still affects what you can do on the site. Downvotes take reputation and upvotes give it. But reputation is still how you get privileges. And that's a problem.

At this moment, I've got about 970 MSO rep. If I post a number of suggestions that I see as perfectly valid, but the people on MSO don't want to see adopted, I lose a lot of rep. It's not necessarily that the ideas are bad; all it would take is that they were not... accepted among the community. And thus, simply by adding ideas to the site, I'm pushed farther away from greater privileges.

Indeed, there have been some MSO conversations that I've been reluctant to even consider bringing up, in part for these reasons. Questions about what forums are, what SE is, whether forums still have a place in a post-SE world, how best SE-style sites should build a community, the nature of a SE-based community vs. a forum, etc. My views on these issues would certainly be... controversial and in some ways antithetical to the prevailing wind of the people on MSO.

So if I were to talk about them, I lose rep. Not because I'm right or wrong, but simply because of the general feelings of the collective of people on MSO.

And that would be fine... if rep didn't give me abilities. The ability to create tags, to cast close votes, to see the up/down votes on a question/answer, unreviewed edits, etc.

For regular SE sites, reputation is a relative measure of the actual worth of the person. A person who has high rep has contributed significantly to the site. And thus, this person is more deserving of powers over the site. On MSO, this is not the case.

So my suggestion is this: leave the rep the same, but make MSO privileges based on the privileges you have for the highest rep site on your account. Since MSO is effectively shared (it's the default discussion place for Stack Exchange), it makes sense that being a member in good standing for any Stack Exchange site would transfer over. So if you are a 10,000 rep user of Super User, you would have the same privileges on MSO.

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But what you describe is actually a good thing. Once you have about 2k meta rep, you no longer care that you will lose privs etc. It acts as a slowing mechanism. By the time you have a lot of meta rep you know how things work. You will word your suggestions better and will know what has already been beaten to death a ton of times. Seems to me you were describing a feature. 6 months later, what do you think? –  Kate Gregory Jun 21 '12 at 16:49
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@Kate: I still haven't brought those subjects up, and I have 6K rep. Granted, I'm not sure if I believe in MSO as a place for actual meaningful discussion at this point. –  Nicol Bolas Jun 21 '12 at 17:07
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@KateGregory in saying "By the time you have a lot of meta rep", you seem to demonstrate that you missed Nicol Bolas' point. The time it takes to get a lot of meta rep is dependent on this issue! ...and the way things are structured now is strongly biased against anyone who might want to stand for an initially unpopular but ultimately beneficial position. –  A.M. Jun 18 '13 at 16:41
    
@A.M. It will take a long time to get meta rep if you start out by proposing things (in questions or answers) that people are likely to disagree with. If you start out non controversially (answering questions of fact instead of opinions about what we should do) you will accumulate enough rep not to mind downvotes, and can then branch out into opinion. My point was in fact that opinion is not a wise first move on meta. –  Kate Gregory Jun 18 '13 at 16:56
    
@KateGregory If there were many fact-based questions I could act on, I certainly would, but what I mostly see is questions of opinion. That is even reflected on the "voting is different" page I have seen linked to in so many places: "Votes on meta are generally used to express agreement or disagreement with a particular idea, rather than indicating the quality of research or factual correctness of a post." –  A.M. Jun 18 '13 at 17:35
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...and in the few cases where someone is looking for a fact, a new user is unlikely to know it (or the question gets marked as a duplicate, because of the maturity of this site). I wish there were some obvious uncontroversial but substantive ways to contribute, but I am not seeing them. –  A.M. Jun 18 '13 at 17:37

Down-vote on meta == i don't like your avatar...

Should down-vote semantics on Meta be different than on SO?

Naw. As with SO, reputation is influenced much more by up-votes than down-votes. You're gonna need to be desperately unpopular to really be hurt by 'em.

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Nobody could possibly dislike my doughnuts avatar, so i'm fine with that. –  Assaf Lavie Jun 28 '09 at 17:26
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Those are donuts? Oops... I thought they were flowers! runs off to revert downvotes on all Assaf's posts –  Shog9 Jun 28 '09 at 17:28
    
I like this answer, but I don't like your avatar. So I decided I'm not going to vote this up, or down. Or maybe it's just because I'm out of votes for the day. –  Brad Gilbert Jun 28 '09 at 17:31
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Well I'm living proof of how much it can affect a user on meta, I'd have more of a chance to recover what rep I lost as a new user if it was possible to find more problems with the site to be fixed or just a better way of doing things but is it really worth it for a new user like me who suggests 1 thing and gets reset bk to day 1 so can't even upvote other users posts anymore because a small group of people didn't like my idea. I'd have to say it's pretty clear to new users why down-votes shouldn't be used on meta or at least it should be used like it is on SO. –  Myzifer Jan 28 '11 at 10:37
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@Myzifer: You made one very unpopular suggestion, and as a result were temporarily prevented from showing your support for other suggestions. Surely that makes sense? As for "a small group of people" not liking your idea... yes, only 11 people down-voted it. However, no one up-voted it. A show of minority support - three up-votes - would have more than counteracted any effect on your reputation from the majority disagreement. That you didn't even get one vote says a lot about how poorly you justified your request - learn from that! –  Shog9 Jan 28 '11 at 18:54
    
I know this is older, but I logged in today thinking more about how to contribute to meta & not just SO. My problem in the past was the issue of misunderstanding down votes here and taking offense. I really wish for new folks with new ideas that are used to the culture of SO, could have a better introduction here. I also agree with @Myzifer As a newbie it's like One strike and your out & that's tough. Especially in an arena that should encourage new ideas from all. I hesitate to engage & make the perfect suggestion instead with the potential to be downvoted heavily and have no abilities. –  atconway Mar 13 at 12:44

I view rep here as different. It means nothing about you, your trust, or your knowledge. But I'm not sure what it does mean.

I vote up a "question" when I think it raises a good, valid point or suggestion. I vote up an "answer" when I think it provides a good solution to the "question". I vote down when I don't think it's a good idea or it's a subpar solution. If I don't vote, I don't have an opinion (I don't care, it doesn't matter to me, I'm not sold yet).

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I think the rep score on meta has something to do with the level of addic^H^H, ahem, enthusiasm with regards to SO / SF. –  Jonik Jun 30 '09 at 20:31

The route most people will come to Meta is:

  1. Use Stack Overflow (or other stack exchange site) for a period of time, see good questions and answers voted up and bad ones voted down.
  2. Notice a bug or feature they think would be good.
  3. Go to meta.
  4. (Possibly research whether it’s been suggested before)
  5. Post a feature request (possible that they’ve carefully researched and worded carefully).

I came down this route and at this point expected some or all of the following

  • Disagreement
  • Agreement
  • To be ignored

However what I got (admittedly in addition to disagreement) was being downvoted to oblivion, I reworded and reworded my question, trying to make it clear and polite but the downvotes continued. Someone eventually pointed out that votes are different on meta, but a first impression sticks and that first impression was that "Meta is deeply deeply unfriendly."

The meta FAQ does mention that votes are different. But I doubt it will occure to most people that Meta and stackoverflow have different FAQs.

The section in which I whine about how people were mean to me has now ended, now I attempt to suggest some solutions:

  • Separate out votes for/against a feature request from the normal vote up/vote down. [This probably requires much more developmental effort than I imagine and is probably not worth it]
  • In meta down votes don't lead to a negative reputation, this would make downvotes feel less like you've done something wrong. [But this then causes the problem of what about questions that are poorly researched or stupid]
  • Encourage a cultural change in which if you disagree with a suggestion (that is none the less well written and researched) you upvote one of the disagreeing answers (or make one yourself if there isn't one). [Clearly people are free to vote as they see fit but at present the FAQs actively encourages downvoting things you disagree with].

P.S. Is this a meta meta question?

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+1 for the solution of putting downvotes in the answers. I had thought of that and am thinking of putting up a proposal for that, but I worry about being downvote-hammered by people attached to the status quo. Also...more +1s for all of the valuable points in your "white space" question, to compensate for your reputation being on the line with a completely reasonable question. –  A.M. Jun 18 '13 at 16:52
    
@A.M. Thanks, appreciate the support, meta is certainly a rough and tumble enviroment, let me know when you post your proposal, I shall certainly support it –  Richard Tingle Jun 18 '13 at 17:24
    
I have posted a few proposals already (and in some comments about those I actually do bring up the voting problem), but I am hoping for those to get some more upvotes first. I want to wait until I at least break 200 (for the +100 to other SE accounts) before I risk being downvote-hammered on this, my highest-rep account. –  A.M. Jun 18 '13 at 17:45
    
Really like your quote here and this is spot on: "The meta FAQ does mention that votes are different. But I doubt it will occure to most people that Meta and stackoverflow have different FAQs." I came here a while back, made a post and got severely downvoted, taking it as "you idiot that was a really dumb suggestion" –  atconway Mar 13 at 12:46

In August 2013, the Help Center has been changed to show the following official statement:

Like normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta allows members to vote on questions and answers. For most posts, votes reflect the perceived usefulness: well-written, well-reasoned, well-researched posts tend to get more attention and more upvotes. Highly-voted and frequently-linked posts may become part of the community-curated FAQ or codified as part of the site’s Help pages.

Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta invites the community to discuss, debate and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software itself works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself.

(This does not cover voting on answers.)

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I missed this clarification, thanks for drawing my attention to it. –  psubsee2003 Aug 18 '13 at 16:35

I think downvotes on meta are just saying that you do not agree. But that can turn into people downvoting a lot.

Since opinions cant be wrong, just misinformed.

I think we should go easy on the downvotes to start with.

  • Spam
  • Offensive answers
  • etc

Should be things we obviously flag (or downvote if we feel so)

I think the answer is to turn off downvotes and make the flagging feature better fleshed out.

Like sorting flagged items lower than non flagged items and showing visually if the item is flagged.

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I agree. But I don't want to hurt someone else's rep because I disagree with him. Hence, the suggestion to make down-votes rep-free. –  Assaf Lavie Jun 28 '09 at 17:24

Why isn't it enough promoting the suggestions you like? If the others stay on a low level, it is shown what the majority thinks without downvoting. If they rise also, you have to live with that.

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Then why have down-votes at all? –  Assaf Lavie Jun 29 '09 at 4:07
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Yes, exactly. You do not need them here. –  Ladybug Killer Jun 29 '09 at 6:51

Reputation in this site means pretty close to nothing.

If you disagree, downvote, preferably with a comment, and if you agree, upvote. It's not really a big deal as far as reputation goes the loss of 2 points.

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Reputation does have one very concrete meaning (or corollary), i.e., the elevated editing & moderation privileges. For example, it slightly irks me that currently I can't fix tagging on questions here on meta... –  Jonik Jul 1 '09 at 10:26

On meta a downvote means "I'm jealous because you're right"

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2 jealous people read this post. –  bobobobo Jun 25 '12 at 4:51
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People treat this seriously, no need for that kind of sarcasm. –  Shadow Wizard May 28 '13 at 11:52
    
It's sarcasm with a point. –  bobobobo May 28 '13 at 15:24

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