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As it relates to voting on questions. There are two main categories of reasons why I vote up:

  1. The question is interesting to me and I either don't know the answer or think this is a good question to ask.
  2. The question might be boring but is presented nicely. Could just be a common question, but the asker included all the important details.

There are two main categories of reasons why I vote down that are basically the inverse:

  1. The question is a duplicate, is not appropriate, etc. (More of a vote for this question to be closed/deleted).
  2. The question might be good, but is missing details, lacks formatting etc. (More of a vote for the asker or someone with power to edit the question).

I have seen several cases where a question gets multiple down votes, because it is poorly formatted and then someone edits the question and people comment "why was this down voted" and up vote the question. Also reading discussions like this: Should the weight of downvotes be increased? make me think a possible solution would be to have two separate categories for voting on questions.

  • One category for interesting/appropriateness of a question. (This would have high reputation effects both good and bad).
  • Another category for style/format of a question. (This would have low reputation effects, maybe 1 point up or down and would not cost voters rep for down votes).

The downsides I can think of would be the increase in complexity and the space that two vote counters would take up. Regardless I interested if others agree or if someone has a modification of this solution that would even work better.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

at 3000 rep you can vote to close. At 2000 you can fix the formatting. my guess is that the most active users have achieved this rep and would probably choose to do one of these two things instead. So adding another way to vote probably wouldn't help much, but would dirty the interface

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I did not think of that. It doesn't completely solve the issue but it does mitigate the problem, possibly enough to forget about it. – jzd Dec 30 '10 at 12:20

All of this can be solved by simply adding a comment under the question explaining what you feel needs to be improved, and applying your downvote. You can always remove the downvote later (or change it to an upvote), after the question has been improved. If you want to get a notification when the question has been edited, you can favorite the question.

Your proposal may have some merits, but changing the voting system in such a fundamental way undoes all the programming work and subsequent testing and fine-tuning that was accomplished during the beta phase of StackOverflow.

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The answer is boring but is presented nicely. Could just be a common answer, but the answerer included all the important details. :) – Jeff Atwood Dec 29 '10 at 1:43
Adding a comment and marking the question as a favorite and coming back is a partial solution and might just be the best solution. I guess I was also focusing on trying to solve the weight of downvote issues. – jzd Dec 30 '10 at 12:18

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