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Since the inception of the Electorate badge, I've been busy voting on questions -- both down and up. On Meta, it's been a mass upvote (with few exceptions), but on Stack Overflow, it's been mixed. I'll vote up questions that are generally well written questions, and downvote questions that are not well written. I also downvote questions that I vote to close and delete.

Before this badge was introduced, I hadn't realized how often I neglected to vote on questions.

My hypothesis is this:

The ratio of voting from answers to questions will be altered for users that possess a non-trivial number of badges, or have over 2,000 reputation.

Corollary: Up/down vote ratios for Questions voted on from these users will exceed their past ratio for Up/Downvotes for questions (viz: From 5/1 to 6/0 Upvote/Downvote ratio)

How do I test this? How do I post data to show this is happening?

I can't.

That presents a problem. There have been a fair number of users that have complained about the unintended consequences of the Electorate Badge (myself included); but given that Jeff's de facto response is Show me the data, there's no way for us to prove our case.

The only way I could think to show that I was focusing more on questions than answers was to leave a comment on an answer that I would have otherwise voted up if not for the fact that I'm trying to get the Electorate badge. A comment like this:

I would vote this up, but I'm trying to get my electorate badge.

I left this comment on six answers that I would have otherwise voted up today; and two of those comments were made on a post that Jeff Atwood answered. They were not meant to be snarky, only to provide a data point. They were also deleted (it's strange that out of the 6 I left, only the two on his posts were deleted, but I digress).

So, here are questions amidst all these possible discussion points:

  • Should we leave comments when we do not vote something up as to why we didn't vote it up? If so, why is my comment deletion material, but other comments are not?
  • Feature Request: Will Jeff provide (in a blog post) aggregate voting data after a few months to show whether voting trends have actually changed? This is a data point that we can't get from the data dump, so it's really the only itch we can't scratch ourselves.
  • Was the Electorate badge a good idea? Was it the 'right' way to solve the problem of users not voting for questions?
  • Have your voting habits changed since the inception of this badge (On at least one site other than Meta)?

Regarding Stack Overflow as a 'Game'

Stack Overflow is a programmer's mecca. It provides a place to ask questions and get answers, and it even encourages that behavior by providing badges and reputation. Indeed, if I'd have to point out why it succeeds where others have failed, I'd put this near the top of the list.

If anyone gets mad that I'm 'playing the game', then I submit that I'm only playing the game thrust upon me. The system rewards me for voting on questions and not answers, so I do that. These badges are a form of reward, and to discount that is to also discount how it is that capitalism is the mechanism by which mouths are fed that would otherwise not be fed.

You'll also notice that I edit a great number of questions. I do this because I love clarity in code and in writing (indeed, I'm actually looking for ways to pare down my own question to its essentials). I'm not being rewarded for this, but I do it because I love bringing clarity out of chaos. Although I think editors should be rewarded, I fear the unintended consequences of a move would be far more disastrous than anything we've seen to date.

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-1 for not voting on something that deserved it because of a badge. You're a badge person and you should feel badge. –  XMLbog Jan 4 '10 at 19:06
Meh. I often leave comments in lieu of voting. Sometimes, I'll hold off voting to see if my suggestions are heeded; other times, I'm merely conflicted over whether or not the post deserves more attention. And yeah, I have held back on a few votes now in hope of adjusting my stats. However, this doesn't especially worry me: eventually (6-8 months from now) I will get that badge. Since badges aren't revoked when the criteria for achieving them are no longer met, I'll then be free to vote as I like... (Muahahahahah. Hahah. ) Also agree with the "no extrinsic rewards for editing" thing. –  Shog9 Jan 4 '10 at 19:52
If it's worth voting and you've hit your max, bookmark it. When you get too many bookmarks, delete the less-vote-worthy ones. When you get to my point, write a SO question about how writing a program to vote every day according to your saved queue. –  Gnome Jan 4 '10 at 20:37
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I saw your "would have voted this up" comment on one of my answers today. I thought you were kidding, I didn't realise you were serious.

I got the Electorate badge on SO immediately without trying, probably because I usually upvote questions that I answer. The idea is that if the question was worth a few minutes of my time to write answer, it probably deserves an upvote.

The data dump does have vote data (just anonymised), so you will be able to get your data from there next month.

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It's got voting data -- but does it tie it to a specific user? (even if that user is anonymized) That's the important part -- how have individuals changed their voting habits to deal with this new badge? –  George Stocker Jan 4 '10 at 19:18
Well, you can't associate the votes with individuals. However, you can certainly see whether questions are being voted on more often, which is the point of the badge. –  Greg Hewgill Jan 4 '10 at 19:20
By the way, I will vote up this answer tomorrow, but I'm out of votes for today because I've been voting up questions all day. –  George Stocker Jan 4 '10 at 19:21
I predict serious comments of "I would vote this up, but I'm trying to get my electorate badge." and even that inclination will drop off dramatically as time goes on. The real question is whether there's the intended effect of less question-vote neglect or not after that point. –  Gnome Jan 4 '10 at 20:34
"The idea is that if the question was worth a few minutes of my time to write answer, it probably deserves an upvote.": my thoughts exactly ( meta.stackexchange.com/questions/139/… ) –  VonC Jan 5 '10 at 6:46
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It's inappropriate to leave comments that have no value.

meta-commentary on your voting habits is not of value.

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@Jeff Atwood : If that's the bar for whether or not one should comment, then I could point to thousands of comments that add no value. I understand why you selectively enforced deleting my comments (You probably saw it as an annoyance); but if administrating a community means concentrating on behavior and not users; then there's a lot of comments that ought to be deleted that aren't. –  George Stocker Jan 4 '10 at 21:23
@George: Because 10,000 comments are wrong, does not mean the 10,001st wrong comment should stay. Because 10,000 thieves are not caught, does not mean you should free the one you caught. –  Ladybug Killer Jan 4 '10 at 21:44
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