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Following on from The Electorate badge discourages voting on answers I'd like to make the case that the fears expressed in this question are valid and therefore the badge should be modified.

I hate to admit it but I am myself the perfect example of how this badge negatively influences voting behaviour.

I'm a sucker for 'achievements' and hence the badges that SO offers. I thought I'd tackle some of the easy to achieve ones so set about voting. You have no way of tracking your progress on any of the badges and therefore in this case there is an incentive to actively not vote on answers at all or at least very rarely. This problem is amplified further for users who have been on SO for a long time and have already built up a large answer-vote count and therefore need to vote only on questions for a long time if they want the badge.

Suggestions of changes to mitigate this:

  • The suggestion in the accepted answer of the linked question seems much more balanced
  • Being able to access progress information or stats regarding the question/answer vote ratio could prevent serious deviation from not voting for answers.
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Related: Why should one vote on questions? (And: did you also downvote, or take the easy way and just upvote anything you saw?) –  Arjan Apr 12 '11 at 12:16
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I can't remember if it was this badge or another where I commented on the announcement post about the Law of Unintended Consequences. –  Powerlord Apr 12 '11 at 15:28
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At least there isn't any outcry about people who gain all their rep from question upvotes since the friction is far less when gunning for Electorate –  random Apr 12 '11 at 15:29

2 Answers 2

If you are only after the badge, then that “bad behaviour” is limited to 20 days for most users. You can cast 30 votes per day, so you easily reach the mimimum required 600 after three weeks. You keep the badge even if you later run afoul of the achievement ratio.

Now if people keep voting on questions over answers that's their own decision. And it's certainly not worse than only valuing answers and only ever voting on them.

Myself, I've kept the bad habit. That's because I see numerous questions each day where 10 users felt the need to post an answer but nobody bothered to upvote. And since I have often more than half my votes still available by the end of the day, I spend it by upvoting vivid questions and noobs. (Actually I should write a bot, since my voting algorithm is that dull.)

There are still way too few votes on questions in my opinion. Answers often get an inordinate amount of them. But nobody looks after questions. And unless that voting pattern changes in a significant way, the Electorate badge is a good workaround to get a more healthy site. However, the Electorate badge achievement requirements should be raised (now that I have it).

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Yeah I like your take on it actually. I have kept up the habit somewhat too. I still maintain that knowing your ratio would be beneficial. –  Dolbz Apr 13 '11 at 13:10

I don't like the ratio built into the Electorate badge. However, the impact of influencing voting towards questions is the exact purpose of this requirement. Questions don't get the attention that they need and this badge helps that. So the impact is not a negative behavior because voting on questions is good. If you are having to do that a lot to make up for all the times you voted on answers instead of questions then it is a good thing that you are balancing your vote count.

Secondly, the impact is not that large. The only people possibly changing their habits are people who have achieved the civic duty but have not yet reached electorate who are actively pursuing the electorate badge.

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It takes a bit of stretch to call voting almost exclusively on answers 'healthy'. And, as it was noted numerous times, that's the only reliable way to get E now. Also, that's the problem which proposed modification fixes. –  Nikita Rybak Apr 12 '11 at 12:20
    
@Nikita, you mean 'questions' right. I think it is fine to call voting on questions exclusively healthy if you have been almost voting exclusively on answers up to this point. It is good to have a mixture and if you have been way out of balance and only voting on answers, then changing your diet to heavy questions is good. –  jzd Apr 12 '11 at 12:26
    
@jzd I have to disagree. I found myself consciously not voting for good answers as I didn't know what my ratio was and therefore felt like I had to vote questions. If I knew my ratio I would have been more inclined to vote on answers that truly deserved it. It is not healthy to ignore good answers purely because of a lack of information regarding the ratio. –  Dolbz Apr 12 '11 at 12:44
    
@Dolbz, the point of the badge is to encourage the good behavior of voting for questions. If that doesn't allow you to vote for some good answers because you are voting for questions, I think that is fine because that is the purpose of the badge. It is supposed to force you to vote more for questions then you have in the past. If you have been voting for at least one question for every 3 answer votes in the past, then this is not an issue. –  jzd Apr 12 '11 at 12:47
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Here's a simple example: Person A votes on 600 questions and 0 answers. They get Electorate. Person B votes on 600 questions and 3000 answers. They don't get Electorate. How is that possibly sane? –  Michael Mrozek Apr 12 '11 at 14:04
    
@Michael, that is what bothers me about the ratio, I would argue to change this requirement. However, my understanding of the purpose of the badge is to increase voting on questions and someone who votes 3,600 times but only 600 times on questions, will be encouraged to vote more on questions by the badge. –  jzd Apr 12 '11 at 14:08
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@jzd So that person decides to step it up and vote up every good question they see. They open a question, it's good, they upvote it, and they see a handful of good answers, so they upvote those too. Maybe they downvote some, whatever. Now they're further away from the badge than before, because there are so many more answers than questions. You're right that in theory the badge rewards people who take the time to vote on questions; in practice it's pretty undeniable that it actually rewards people who stop voting on answers specifically to get the badge –  Michael Mrozek Apr 12 '11 at 14:15

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