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I was thinking of this... when I vote on SO, i will focus not only on the answers... I find myself doing almost subconscious evaluations of people, reputation and vote count while deciding.

For example:


  • I will vote based on reputation
    • I will give the low rep guy a vote as long as the answer is good.
    • I will give the high rep guy a vote if it's something I don't know a great deal about ( the trust factor)
    • I downvote a high rep poster if it doesn't answer the question strictly ( I'm more picky with the higher rep posters, as they tend to get automatic votes anyhow )
  • I will vote based on vote count
    • If the top two are with a vote or two... but are both good answers, I will vote for the lower vote, to promote competition
    • I will often vote on any answer at 9 points, just to throw it over 10
    • I will vote up a -1 answer/question, to make it 0 if it has any redeeming quality
  • I will vote based on controversy
    • I will vote up controversial answers, if they're well-thought out.
    • I will vote down accepted answers if another answer is better ( if it wasn't accepted, I'd just leave it be )

What about you?

edit Please re-read the above in the 3rd person

share|improve this question
I will vote up a -1 answer/question, to make it 0 if it has any redeeming quality Burn in hell! – perbert Apr 16 '10 at 16:13
I downvote a high rep poster if it doesn't answer the question strictly Sometimes the questions asked by those low rep users are the reason you can't answer the question well. Half the time it turns into a tech support call. "Why won't my script work?!?!" – Josh K Apr 16 '10 at 16:17
OOohhh... I sense anger. Don't be hatin' on the question, folks. And, yes... I hold high rep posters to a higher standard, subconsciously, don't you? – Armstrongest Apr 16 '10 at 16:19
@json: Why not? I mean, if the answer has merit I find myself balancing it out. SO is a community effort and sometimes downvotes aren't necessarily justified. – Armstrongest Apr 16 '10 at 16:20
-1 for admitted pity upvoting. Flagged. Voted to close. Called parents of OP, suggested counselling. Alerted police. Extra-terrestrial overlord beacon deployed, message reads: "ATOMITON IS A META VOTER STOP SUGGEST RAISING POWER LEVEL OF BRAIN CONTROL NODE STOP DATA READOUT FROM RECTAL PROBING ANOMALOUS STOP". – JSONBog Apr 16 '10 at 16:20
Votes aren't "justified". They're opinions in the first place, representative of the individual who cast it. The only time I'd vote a -1 question up is if I would've voted the question up at any other vote count: because I felt it should be upvoted. Be it for a clear question, a question that should be answered, or I agree with it. Same for answers. – Grace Note Apr 16 '10 at 16:22
@Atomiton: what @ccomet said. sometimes downvotes aren't necessarily justified nor are some upvotes. – perbert Apr 16 '10 at 16:29
Ppl. I'm not talking about something that you regularly do here. There is definitely a psychological aspect to SO. Answers aren't solely based on their merit. – Armstrongest Apr 16 '10 at 16:38
@Atomiton: They are to good users. – JSONBog Apr 16 '10 at 16:39
The question one needs to ask is... if Jon Skeet had opened this question... what would the response be? – Armstrongest Apr 16 '10 at 16:46
@Atom: it would be generally accepted as sarcasm from Jon Skeet and tagged with Always Friday... – squillman Apr 16 '10 at 16:50
Assuming that he used his normal prose but otherwise had the same content and goal as your inquiry (as in he was serious, not sarcastic)... I would vote the same way. I might be a lot more disappointed considering all the stories, but I wouldn't let that specifically affect my vote. Even taking into account subconscious choicemaking. – Grace Note Apr 16 '10 at 16:50
@ccomet. See, I think you're in a minority. Like it or not, I still think there is an amount of subconscious voting. I still don't feel that this question isn't useful. If nothing else, it's worth probing. I know this question will likely be closed, but I really don't think it deserves the gratuitous downvoting. You'd be surprised about how much we base our "opinions" on things other than merit, as much as we try not to. – Armstrongest Apr 16 '10 at 16:56
+1 metavote for metavote question on meta. metametametavote is itself meta. – bobince Apr 16 '10 at 19:48
Interesting that at +3/-14 this is still nett rep +ve – Rich Seller Apr 16 '10 at 21:25

When you hover over the voting arrows for questions and answers, here's what you see:

This question is useful and clear

This question is unclear or not useful

This answer is useful

This answer is not useful

These are the criteria you should be using to cast your votes.

SO is all about getting the best answer to a question with the help of the community.

If you're voting to engender competition or spur on controversy, you're doing it wrong.

If you're voting based on Rep like it's a popularity contest, you're doing it wrong.

If you're voting out of pity, you're doing it wrong.

In short, I think you're pretty much doing it wrong.

share|improve this answer
+1 to everything you said there. – Josh K Apr 16 '10 at 16:40
+1 to all but the third word in the seventh line, counting the sample text. – tvanfosson Apr 16 '10 at 18:10
@tvanfosson: Okay, maybe SO isn't all about getting the best answer to a question. It's at least in some small part about unicorns and waffles too. – gnostradamus Apr 16 '10 at 18:25
It used to be about ponies, but the ponies grew horns. – tvanfosson Apr 16 '10 at 18:59
Great - <sigh> - we're back to talking about horny ponies. – Lawrence Dol Apr 17 '10 at 7:17

I don't vote nearly as much as maybe I should. There's just so much that I see on SO that I don't know enough about to cast an informed vote on, so I don't. If I point my browser directly at SO, I'm normally going to go moderator stuff, so I don't cast many votes.

A typical voting pattern for me goes like this, though:

  • Have a problem I don't know how to solve.
  • Google it.
  • Find a link to SO (getting more frequent all the time).
  • Read the question and the answers to see if it can help me.
  • Upvote the answer(s) that helps me the most, and the question because it saved me some time.

Also, if I see a question that I think is good enough to spend time answering, I'll usually upvote it and a few of the other answers. (Only usually because I often forget.)

Those two scenarios together are probably how about 99% of my votes get cast. I will very rarely go look for something to vote up if someone leaves a stellar edit that I think should be rewarded, but not much else plays into my decision to vote.

share|improve this answer
I upvote answers by people with googly-eyed unicorn gravatars. We googly-eyed unicorn types need to stick together. Actually, I mostly just like to say "googly-eyed" and will pretty much upvote anyone who gives me the chance to say (or type) it. – tvanfosson Apr 16 '10 at 18:07
Careful tv... Isn't that meta-voting? <tongue in cheek> – Armstrongest Apr 16 '10 at 18:18

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