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Today, upvoting is anonymous; the recipient knows they were upvoted, but they don't know who upvoted them, so it's not a public personal gesture. The only way to let someone know who likes your answer is to comment, often by saying "Thanks!" which adds nothing to the discussion.

There should be some non-anonymous thing I can do to communicate that I (personally) appreciate your response.

For example, Quora has an explicit “Thanks” button. Here's an example: http://www.quora.com/How-does-Twitter-make-money As you can see, it has both upvoting and a "Thanks" button. It works great; check it out.

I think we’ll see a lot more people posting great answers when they get positive feedback from a personal “Thank You.” It feels really good to receive personal thanks, especially from an expert who you respect.

Apropos http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/how-to-say-thanks-in-an-answer/ and Thanking users who answered my question

Jeff says that the way to thank users is to upvote and "pay it forward" by answering other questions. I think that this argument goes against human nature, because the recipient doesn't know who did it (or even what they did). The point of saying "thank you" is to make a personal (ideally public) gesture of gratitude, which feels good to the recipient.

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A dedicated button seems unnecessary; I'd rather the upvote button just not change a post's score if the user has insufficient rep (I just read the duplicate and realized that's what that feature-request is) –  Michael Mrozek Jan 9 '11 at 2:33
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This question was marked as as a duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/72364/… but they're completely different solutions to a similar problem. This post suggests adding a non-anonymous gratitude gesture (upvoting is anonymous); that post suggests allowing people to pseudo-upvote when your reputation is low. –  Dan Fabulich Jan 9 '11 at 2:41
    
@Dan Why would it need to be non-anonymous? It kind of goes against how the site works to have an anonymous upvote and a non-anonymous upvote system at the same time –  Michael Mrozek Jan 9 '11 at 2:42
    
Quora has both "Thanks" and upvoting. It works great; check it out. –  Dan Fabulich Jan 9 '11 at 2:53
    
Getting thanked by an expert you respect is better (feels better) than getting thanked by a random user with 15 reputation. –  Dan Fabulich Jan 9 '11 at 3:20
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Thank you for your post! –  bobobobo Jan 9 '11 at 3:51
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Personally, I feel pretty good when an expert, like Jon Skeet, takes time to correct, comment, or point out a feature I missed. I am still learning a lot and constructive commentary from anyone, including those who downvote my answers, gives me more confidence in what I know and teaches me what I don't know. –  IAbstract Jan 9 '11 at 18:06
    
This is a valid suggestion and it has generated some good, thoughtful discussion. Why are there so many downvotes? I agree that this is probably a bad idea, and the world might end if it were implemented, but still, downvoting thoughtful discussions seems like a bad idea as well. –  Jay Elston May 22 '11 at 4:58
    
we do how have an anonymous "this was useful / this was not useful" feature, however: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/98630/… –  Jeff Atwood Jul 18 '11 at 5:59

3 Answers 3

I agree that this isn't a duplicate because of the focus on "show non-anonymous thanks", but I don't think the proposal has merit.

Seeing a random assortment of 10-20 users who clicked a prefabricated, mindless I liked this button does not make the internet better.

Or, if you prefer, in image form:

alt text

If you really want to thank someone, either

  1. Write a useful explanatory comment on their post that goes deeper than mere "thanks!". Not difficult to do, and a hell of a lot more heartfelt than "I clicked a button to show you that I care".

  2. Or, best of all, pay it forward and thank them by extending the same courtesy to others that they extended to you -- that is, answer other people's questions!

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Oak liked this answer. –  Oak Jan 9 '11 at 7:32
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Greg Hewgill liked this answer, but wants his 30 seconds back. –  Greg Hewgill Jan 9 '11 at 7:36
    
It doesn't have to be that silly. Only show high rep thanks, for example. Quora only shows Thanks from people I'm following; other Thanks are just sent privately via email. Honestly, whatever other problems Quora has, their Thanks button works pretty well. –  Dan Fabulich Jan 9 '11 at 8:04
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@dan that has about zero percent in common with our model; we care intensely about the information you can share with us, but not at all about who you are –  Jeff Atwood Jan 9 '11 at 8:12
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+1 for I don't care ;-). –  Toon Krijthe Jan 9 '11 at 9:30
    
Hello71 liked this –  Hello71 Feb 10 '11 at 0:59
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My friend likes this answer, but wishes to remain anonymous. The user in question has upvoted the answer. –  Pops Feb 10 '11 at 1:17
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I think this is the first time I upvotes Jeff on meta. Wow, I think that says that I appreciate the answer. So, "Thanks, Jeff. Your image is missing a freehand circle, though..." –  Moshe Feb 10 '11 at 4:24
    
muntoo loved this. –  muntoo Mar 6 '11 at 1:21
    
@Moshe Done –  muntoo Mar 6 '11 at 1:31
    
WHY NOT?? Adding something like this could very well allow people to know who their friends and enemies are. Then, alliances could be formed, then we could have more petty disputes about downvotes and why and why didn't you like this and page after page of name-mentioning upvote GLORY!! –  bobobobo Apr 12 '11 at 17:44

I want to comment on one specific aspect of this:

The point of saying "thank you" is to make a personal (ideally public) gesture of gratitude, which feels good to the recipient.

(and from a comment):

Getting thanked by an expert you respect is better (feels better) than getting thanked by a random user with 15 reputation

There are a handful of people in the tags where I'm active who I respect greatly, because their answers are informative, well-researched and well-written. The experts.

They've taught me a great deal, by correcting, disputing, or clarifying my answers, or more often just by posting better answers (which I read, am humbled, and delete my own inferior answer). But I can't recall a single instance where I've been thanked by one of them. I count as high praise the very rare instances where we both answer and the expert deletes his answer.

It's the non-experts who post "thank you!" comments, and thus I rather suspect it would be the non-experts who would use a "Thanks button". They're the most grateful, as they are the ones with the most to learn and the least to contribute.

You've designed a feature for streamlining ego-stroking praise, but those most likely to use it would be those whose praise means - by your own admission - the least.

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I agree, a thanks is a thanks, regardless of the reputation of the thanker. The reputation system is a good for checks and balances for maintaining the site, nothing more... –  Jay Elston May 22 '11 at 5:02

Well, I agree with the 'Wood that this information is noisy and irrelevant to most users of the site.

However.

Its not completely useless information to a poster.

Its all about the unobtrusive UI's. When I click upvote, a white box appears. Eventually it becomes like the answering machine - "You know what to do."

On voting, you can either fill it in, or just leave it (which is equivalent to hanging up without leaving a message).

Anonymous voting is a site wide setting that can be switched on/off on the profile page.

Cowardice mode?    On / Off

The useful info to the poster is displayed on flyover of the up/downvote widgets.

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All this does is leave people open to retaliation. –  Al E. Feb 10 '11 at 2:43
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Welcome all System Gamers, trolls and gang-members! –  Moshe Feb 10 '11 at 4:26
    
@Al Everett Hence cowardice mode. This system does hope/assume people grow up past that, however. –  bobobobo Feb 10 '11 at 17:09
    
So, if I think your answer is bunk, and I don't feel like leaving myself open to retaliation, that makes me a coward? –  Al E. Feb 10 '11 at 17:55
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______YES______. –  bobobobo Feb 11 '11 at 18:24
    
-1 I hate your idea –  muntoo Mar 6 '11 at 1:24
    
+1, I think this is a reasonable idea that has been downvoted because of the word "cowardice" –  Blorgbeard Mar 21 '11 at 17:39
    
By the cowards ` ` –  bobobobo Mar 21 '11 at 23:14

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