- They should be allowed to upvote as it encourages people to answer questions from new users and the new users should be able to reward all the folks who post helpful answers (as they can accept only one); users don't always return to upvote old questions once they gain the privilege.
- They should not be allowed to upvote as it could lead to voting cabals and they've not earned the site's trust to be given the right to vote.
There are merits to both sides of the argument, and hence I propose a solution below that meets the two arguments in the middle.
New users can upvote helpful answers on their questions (and only their questions). This encourages users to reward answers when it is still fresh in their memory. People seldom revisit an old question to upvote helpful answers if they hadn't done so/couldn't do so then.
The upvote doesn't trigger a rep increase for the answerer until the said user gains the privilege to vote across the site (15 rep), which can only come from upvotes to their question from other users. This adjustment can take place during a system wide rep-recalc or user triggered recalc.
Answerer/other users do not see the upvote, whereas the user can. i.e., the vote count displayed for the new user and the community is off by 1. This is just to deter answerers from upvoting newbies solely to bump them up to 15 rep after knowing that they have a pending upvote, without looking into the merits of the question. Of course, the new user can always mention it in a comment, but that can't be avoided.
Once the user gains 15 rep, the shadow upvotes become permanent and are visible to everyone (again, only the counter will be visible. It still will not be obvious that the upvote came from the user. Perhaps the rep page can read
+10: Shadow -> Permanent, without mentioning the question it came from)
Some of the benefits of such a system are:
New users (question askers) get to participate & upvote early on, bringing them a little closer to feeling like being part of a community than the current system. Also, they get their voting badges sooner.
All answerers (not just the user with the accepted answer) who have invested their time in answering and have been helpful to the question asker (i.e., asker has upvoted) get rewarded, if the new user stays on to be active in the community and crosses the threshold at some point (this in turn is encouraged by giving them limited privileges)
This is also harder to game using sockpuppets (as was the concern in the previous discussions). For e.g., if a user creates sockpuppets A & B, and asks questions and answers with puppets and gives upvotes all around, all they're giving out is shadow upvotes which have no effect and no rep increase until the community decides that the user can be trusted (i.e., upvotes their question(s) 3 times). Gaming the system once the user has gained the reputation is no different from gaming the current system, and there are other checks in place.
One possible drawback is that it might encourage users to upvote a question they have answered in the hope that there's a hanging upvote. But, I don't know if its that big a concern.
I'd appreciate a discussion and comments on this suggestion.