On SO I've noticed that I'm about twice as likely to answer a question than to upvote anything. I feel like there are two simple drivers for me to answer questions:
- Helping others
- Keeping score
These are great and I think the system works well. Yet it seems like I should be upvoting more to help others gain reputation. And even if I consciously try to do it more, ultimately my ratio stays about the same. As well if you look through the top users the majority answer questions more than they upvote.
I think the reason is fairly simple: there's no reward for verifying an answer. In terms of an action it's very easy to click an upvote compared to writing out an answer. Yet I'm only going to upvote an answer if I'm confident it's good. Doing that is almost as much work as answering the question. So I'll tend to move on unless it's easy to verify or I'm already involved in writing an answer to the same question.
What if there was incentive to help not only the people asking questions but the people answering questions? Before I go any further, let me state a few things I believe to be very important:
- Changing the scoring for reputation should be very infrequent, perhaps never
- Users wouldn't be happy to see their reputation suddenly change one day
- There should be no way to gain reputation by only your own actions
After pondering this for a while, I came up with one potential proposal that fits these requirements:
- +1 after another user upvotes the same answer you previously upvoted
- Only applied when you upvote a single answer for a question to prevent gaming
I feel like this would change my behavior for the better of the community. The immediate concern that comes to mind is dealing with users that would randomly spam upvotes hoping that someone else also upvotes the same answer. Perhaps a variation then:
- +5 after an answer is accepted that you previously upvoted
- Again only applied when you upvote a single answer for a question
I'd think neither of these would be retroactive for the past. I'm sure there are other details and minor variations that would be possible. I understand this could be a sensitive topic with complicated details.
What do you think?