This suggestion evolved from this thread: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/41218/toggling-between-net-votes-and-plus-minus-votes.
When users hover over the vote total for a question or answer, they see the following tooltip: "View upvote and downvote totals". If they click, the display expands, and the net votes get replaced with a double-decker colored number sandwich.
This has me thinking, instead of adding a tooltip that says what will happen if you click, why not just display the data in the tooltip?
- User hovers over 3
- Tooltip appears saying "3 upvotes, 0 downvotes" or "4 upvotes, 1 downvote" or whatever
That's all there is to it. A much simpler design that accomplishes exactly the same thing.
You don't have to do anything to get back to the "normal" display. Nothing "weird" happens if you miss the vote arrow and click on the number instead. And, for those unfamiliar with the feature, there is no awkward resizing of the display and doubling of numbers to make them wonder if they're seeing a bug.