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In general, I'm an overly positive, helpful, "go get-em" sort of person. You might see me on one of those stupid motivational posters giving you a kleenex after you trip over a misplaced mouse-cord (Perservere!)

I don't want to treat upvotes like a mere pat on the back. I like the need to earn reputation on Stack Overflow, vs. a simple "ra ra" attitude on other websites. Makes every point I get more valuable and fulfilling to me. But, I don't want to be a stingy jerk, either.

Any guidelines people use when upvoting answers and questions?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • Was the answer correct?
  • Was the answer complete?
  • Was the answer carefully explained (for example a description or explanation provided, rather than simply a code or documentation reference)?
  • Was the answer unique (that is, did the answer add information not present in any other responses)?

The first one is mandatory (at least for objective questions, where there is a correct answer); any combination of the others are good, the more the better.

Additionally, perhaps, for the really high-ranking responses:

  • Did the answer provoke debate or further discussion?
  • Did the answer contribute knowledge or ideas not previously published?

And, depending on the fickle demeanor of the community that day:

  • Was the answer funny, particularly in some manner universally recognized by the geek culture?

How stringent I am at applying these criteria generally depends on the quality and difficulty of the answer. If it is a trivial question with a fairly trivial answer, I may not upvote any response, or only upvote the best answer of all. If it is a difficult question, particularly involving answers from multiple people to put together different parts of the puzzle, I might upvote everyone.

I generally don't downvote answers unless they are either:

  • outright incorrect, or
  • a direct duplicate of an earlier response (with no improvement in phrasing or additional references provided)

...but perhaps you are saving an "Etiquette for downvoting" question for tomorrow. :)

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I happened to log on and find some discussions about down voting, and that discussion made sense: there's rarely a reason to; be constructive instead; save downvoting for a last resort/someone who doesn't take the advice given. – jeremyosborne Nov 15 '09 at 18:18

The rollover text for the upvote button is my guidance: "This answer is useful".

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+1 Maybe I have low standards, I dunno. – Brian Ortiz Nov 16 '09 at 1:15

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