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This is inspired by Should downvotes on questions be "free"?

  • What's the desired voting behaviour? What's the best behaviour for the community?
  • Do you want that every question/comment/answer we read are categorized in our heads?
  • Poor average and good, and vote according: Do you want more people to reach their voting cap?
  • What percentage of read questions sounds like a reasonable one for voting (forgetting the up down issue at the moment)?
  • Should people be clicking into questions they think are bad, just to down vote them? The major problem with bad questions is that people are less likely to read and then vote.

I'll try to adjust my behaviours according to what's best for the site, given a chance.

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What do you mean when you say "on questions having no cost question"? – kiamlaluno May 8 '11 at 22:30
@kiamlaluno fixed now. – Wes May 8 '11 at 22:33
@Jeff Atwood If you ever read this this is more aimed at you. As you seem to have a clear idea of what you want. – Wes May 8 '11 at 22:40

I like Jay Elston's answer format, but disagree with several of the points.

Specifically, I think usefulness means in general, not just for me.

For Questions, the qualities the hover-text says it is looking for are:

...shows research effort; it is useful and clear

I don't vote up questions based on whether I need the answer or not. I simply vote up based on if I think future users will benefit from the question.

As an example, in the question Block elements vs inline elements in HTML: why the distinction? I even made a comment to that point. The question posed a dilemma which I actually didn't believe to be a problem at all, but I have worked with many programmers who ask these types of questions, and it was asked clearly, therefore it deserved my upvote.

I vote down if, as the help text says, it doesn't seem like an answerable question, is a rant instead of a question, is confusing or pointless. Roughly, it's the opposite of the above: if the asker doesn't seem to have the goal of asking a question which might benefit others, then I vote it down.

Also, please don't down-vote just because the question has been asked before! That's what close-as-duplicate is for, and it's not a bad thing. If it's blatant, then it probably doesn't "show research effort" either, so vote based on that.

For Answers the hover text simply asks if the answer is useful.

That's basically all I consider. I consider my vote for what it is — a tool to push the answer up the page and give a mark of agreement.

The answer must be right — this means that if the answerer posted some good and some bad advice, I will not vote it up. In addition, I don't consider it to be right unless it paints a sufficient picture — if the real truth is that A is probably the thing to do, but the user might beware that sometimes it could be B instead, but the answerer only said "Do A" with no context, then I don't vote it up, or I might even vote it down.

Essentially — if the answer guides the reader in a good direction, I vote it up. If it guides the reader in a bad direction, down it goes. And no vote if I don't think someone is either helped or harmed by reading it.

Your other questions...

  • Do you want that every question/comment/answer we read are categorized in our heads?

    Like I said above, for most I think you should at least categorize them in up/down/neutral. Therefore, you don't vote on all of them, but if they are either up or down, you should use your vote.

  • Do you want more people to reach their voting cap?

    I think they'd love it if everyone reached their voting cap. I read so many neutral questions and answers that I rarely do, though (and by neutral, I mean I don't feel good about pushing it either direction, so I feel like I would be doing a disservice to choose one).

  • What percentage of read questions sounds like a reasonable one for voting (forgetting the up down issue at the moment)?

    Putting aside the issue of not knowing enough about all topics — if it's a tag you know very well, I'd roughly say you could vote on, answer, or vote-to-close at least 50% of questions.

  • Should people be clicking into questions they think are bad, just to down vote them?

    If they really are bad, yes! That is absolutely a community service.

share|improve this answer
I do not think that voting for something because you feel that "in general, but not for me" is as productive as "is is useful for me". The former assumes you know how all the members of your peer group feel, and can act as a de facto representative of your peer group. Maybe Jeff Atwood has that status, but not us mere mortals. By voting only on the items of interest to you personally, you are close to "one-person-one-vote" than voting and offering opinions on issue that do not directly concern you. – Jay Elston Jun 8 '11 at 4:37


For questions, upvote if you need the answer to the posed question.

For answers, upvote if the information is useful to you.


For questions, downvote if the question is poorly worded, or if it has been asked and answered before, or if the question violates the established community guidelines.

For answers, downvote if it contains misleading or false information.

On meta sites, the voting rules appear to be a bit different for questions that are asking for a capability to be implemented:

For a question that is a suggestion that you want implemented, upvote the question, downvote if you do not want the suggestion implemented.

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I think that this question is about the following:

I submit that you could model voting in one of two ways.

  1. You compare the content to the current tally. If it's 'too high'[*] you vote it down, and if it's 'too low' you vote it up. If it's 'just right' you leave it alone.

  2. You only look at the content. If you like it[*], you add +1. If you dislike it, you add -1.

There are plenty of people who do each of these things, and you can see it in the tallies. Questions which are not going to get the Pulitzer Prize end up with very high votes, and vica versa -- and then plenty of questions get left alone, because people who see them say, 'Meh, I'm neutral.'

(*) According to the criteria in the FAQ/tooltip.

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Yes but I think if there is a problem with A too little voting in general we need to adjust our policies regarding what should be voted on. I would rephrase the question to make more sense If I was sure how to word it. – Wes May 8 '11 at 23:05
@Wes I don't take a position on whether or not more 'policy' would clarify this and elicit more voting. – Rosinante May 8 '11 at 23:06

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