On moderator primary election pages (SO #1, SU #1, Programmers #1), scores are reported in a weird way:

score = max(upvotes - downvotes, my_vote)

(or something approaching), i.e. if the candidate had more downvotes than upvotes then what I see is -1/0/+1 depending on my vote for that candidate. This doesn't make any sense: either show the totals, or don't show the totals, or show the totals on demand — but don't show a meaningless figure.

Note that this is not about who should see the totals or whether to show the totals. This is about having totals that are actually totals.

  • @CodyGray Follow the links in my first sentence (you need 150 rep on the site in question to see the scores). Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 9:18
  • @CodyGray I can't provide a screenshot with circles since it would reveal who I voted for, but look at the scores for candidates with a negative total (DeadMG, Peter Lawrey, Rook). The total shown is -1 if you downvoted that candidate in the primary, +1 if you upvoted and 0 if you didn't vote. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 9:31
  • Bah! Okay, I see it now. I guess I didn't scroll far enough down... I have no qualms about revealing who I voted for, so I'd post a screenshot, but then it'd look like it was revealing who you voted for, I suppose. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 9:32
  • There's definitely some bugginess with the display, yes. For me, I see -1 for any negatively voted user who I voted for, but clicking reveals a vote split with the right numbers. Positively voted ones look normal though.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 20:12
  • I agree. The current output is just baffling. It's completely jiggered as if the system can't do math. Either seeing scores is useful (I would argue this direction) or it is not, but the mix of real numbers and fake numbers doesn't do anybody any real favors.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 12:33
  • I think it would be good to not show the scores at all so people are not influenced by who others are voting for.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


This is by design, and I think you'll be status-declined since it appears there was some thought put into it. To quote Dr. Mrozek:

There was talk during the SO election that massively negative scores was unnecessarily demoralizing; the point of the primary is to find the 10 best candidates, not to say "this person is ridiculously awful and deserves hundreds of downvotes" – Michael Mrozek Feb 8 at 22:13

You'll also note that you can just click on the score to see the breakdown if you really want to.

I believe the score shown is (scoreWithoutMyVote + abs(scoreWithoutMyVote))/2 + myVote. I.e.:

If you haven't voted

  • Score shown is 0 if total is negative, otherwise the "real" score
    • e.g. -4 is shown as 0, +4 is shown as 4

If you have voted

  • Score is shown as -1 if total is negative and voted down
  • Score is shown as +1 if total is <= 1 and voted up
  • Score is shown as the "real" score if total >= 2 and voted up
  • 6
    While I understand the motivation for this system, it's completely illogical and confusing - the total score should not claim to be the total score if it isn't actually the total score.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 20:13

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