As far I researched meta, I cannot change my vote for a answer after 5 minutes, only when the answer is edited, despite how critic and brilliant the comments on this answer or another 1-2 days later given answer is. While this probably is no bigger problem on trilogy sites with so many experienced voters, on scientific betas with much less voters, much less experts and lower A/Q ratio it imho yields some very counter-productive disadvantages. Laymen will mostly just upvote a answer if it sounds right and logical to them, someone put much effort in a long nice edited post, and has a high rep and seems trustful. They might even upvote the better answer if they are completely unbiased by other upvotes. But as far I see on early betas fast and in some degree good answers get the most upvotes. Experts not related to programming dont have time to watch a site every hour like full-time programmers sitting 8 hours in front of their PC. Very often the same user give fast mediocre answers at first and gain much rep this way, obviously a win-win strategy if you like rep hunting. But in a beta phase trying to attract experts not familiar with SE and seeing mainly mediocre and fast answers succeeding and getting accepted will not really motivate experts to stay and improve quality of the site.

I'm not sure if the option to cancel your upvotes is the best improvment to change this phenomenon. You could also say:

  • Just wait, gather more users, create more competition, get a higher average vote/answer, higher A/Q ratio, the prob with this is, if the quality is not high on scientific betas from the very beginning, you will also in future not really attract more experts to a site with similar quality as digg or yahooanswers. So a solution would be that scientific betas need a much higher commitment number than e.g. culture proposals. The community dynamics and quality of Q&A between something like philosophy and christianity are simple uncomparable. And if the voting system is not wrong, than it doesnt work correctly as to less user. I dont see another explanation.

  • If you sort a scientific beta by high rep users, click on individual users, you will see very often (apart from moderators) many ask no or very very few questions but having 20-40 answers. Im not sure what I should think from such users, are they rep addicted, know just everything, frequent a Q&A site not having any questions and just enlighten everybody with their knowledge? A good scientist or interested guy always has more questions than answers, otherwise there is no progress. So can there something implemented like you can only answer 5 new questions after asking 1 question yourself If someone has no questions, I doubt he is able to rethink his answers considering comments/critics and actually think asking questions shows ignorance/imperfectness. There are currently scientific betas having 2 questions a day despite they are the most tricky fields in modern science.

Can there anything been done to improve community dynamics and expert attraction for scientific sites in the early beta phase (first 200 days), or will the Area 51 proposal process always work this way for the next months?

  • 9
    Don't upvote crap, don't upvote if you're uninformed, etc. etc.
    – user154510
    Sep 10, 2011 at 2:59
  • @matthew this works on isolated topics like programming with mostly experienced semi- and prof. programmers, on scientifc topics there are much more laymen than experts. Programming is much easier to learn than quantum physics or modern philosophy. You cannot vote guided mainly by experience or sounding reasonable, but exact knowledge. Laymen will just vote if it sounds reasonable to their experience, to recommend just dont vote doesnt work here. Its strange i get upvotes for similar statements on those metas but whenever you ask if the system/AREA51 process can be slightly adapted Sep 10, 2011 at 12:38
  • to scientfic topics, you earn downvotes without counter-arguments...Alot SE representatives wanted to merge theoreticalphysics.SE with physics.SE for obvious reasons, keep quality high on physics.SE. theophysics.SE will launch now. You cannot force experts to tolerate downsides of current system on and on if you want them staying. Is your solution/SE philosophy to split all topics in experts and hobby proposals? Sep 10, 2011 at 12:38
  • Perhaps you would find "Why don't high rep users ask questions?" enlightening. Sep 10, 2011 at 17:52
  • 1
    On a personal note, I would find it much easier to care about whatever arguments you might be making if you would take the time to write shorter posts (questions and comments). Sep 10, 2011 at 17:54
  • @dmckee dont care, this was the last try, its pointless. Obviously this discussion is not wanted, i cannot make the questions simpler as this is major bug here. If you think current AREA51 process/voting fits every topic and type of user distribution, than just live with further splitting into experts an laymen proposals, because thats the future. thx for the link, still only 2 questions/day on topics like astronomy/philsophy is something a AREA51 manager has imho to reason about... Sep 10, 2011 at 18:02
  • "Programming is much easier to learn than quantum physics" A more apt comparison would be programming and physics, where the argument could be made that both are just as easy to learn. Learning quantum mechanics is more on the order of advanced OpenGL programming. Speaking as someone with a Ph.D. in Materials Science, it took me longer to learn some advanced programming techniques than the quantum mechanics needed for our research group's semiconductor work. There are plenty of SO programming questions that only a few people in the world can answer. Sep 11, 2011 at 16:40
  • @Brad there much much more informatics professors who studied physics as phyiscs professors who studied informatics... You dont really think current scientific question in quantum computing/algorithms are less tricky than informatics/programming questions, dont you? Sep 12, 2011 at 20:04
  • why this severe downvote???
    – user309534
    Dec 29, 2015 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


I'm going to go ahead and suggest that the reason that this question has such a low rating is because you are not only asking to limit the freedom of often intelligent, capable, users, you are suggesting changes which are diametrically opposed to the very nature of the SE philosophy.

  1. Experts are experts and special topics aren't special.
    • The people who get high rep on the Christianity board are generally very intelligent, well spoken individuals. I actually started a Masters in Theology, and I have to say that some of the the people answering questions there are far more thorough than I -- despite the fact that I have spent years studying it and am no dullard.
    • I cannot imagine that any site which reaches critical mass would be able to tolerate, let alone sustain unintelligent answers for long. As more users come in, answers will sort appropriately.
      • I cannot confirm that the rest of the world feels this way, but if I see something egregiously wrong, I will try to correct it (I have edited Wikipedia).
      • While SE is still subject to the "pop knowledge supersedes scholarship" phenomena which is so prominent on other sites, there is no possible way to filter these, save by the consistent presentation of good data. We do not need fewer answers. We need more users who are fluent in their topic, and literate enough to answer intelligently.
    • There is not a sufficient, consistent, and logical reason to believe that we cannot trust a working and proven formula to continue working.
  2. The suggestion that a person is incapable of being an authority without also requiring assistance in given topic is not well-founded.
    • A person who holds a doctorate at a University is generally fully capable of answering questions posed by masters students, provided the questions are within scope of the doctorate. The same follows here.
    • The purpose of a Q&A site is assisting those who know less. You cannot truly believe that there are those who are not legitimate authorities in their fields.
    • Discouraging answers is just about the last thing that a given SE community needs.
      • Answers, more than anything else, promote ownership. People who ask questions are generally not doing it for the community as a whole, they are doing it to resolve a specific issue or set of issues. Answers, on the other hand, are always the moment when the user reaches out to actually build something, even if they are only shooting for 10 rep.
      • Discouraging people is... discouraging. The sites need to be as easy as possible because things which are not easy cause bad UX. Bad UX discourages participation. Discouraging participation means discouraging the site itself. This leads to devolution and dissolution.
  3. If you feel that an answer is good enough to deserve an up-vote, and that answer has not changed, then it still deserves an up-vote
    • If you find out later that it was a wrong answer, then you should either:
      • comment on the answer and perhaps help the author come to a better answer.
      • Post your own answer which is correct.
    • If you come back and find that other answers are better, then realize that this is non-plurality voting -- you are free to up-vote any and all answers you like. Trust that the better answer will rise to the top.

Personally, I feel that it would be your best option to go out and start recruiting. If you have more people, and specifically more experts, then the quality of answers will inevitably rise. And make no mistake about it. The best possible thing you can do for your community is to get it to rise to critical mass, because it is only at that point that the site will start superseding answer.com in Google results.

  • where did i undervalue christiantiy, i just stated that community dynamics are much stronger there (as obviously more programmers are interested in it as in philosophy, same with cooking or electrical engineering). So why not demand more commiters for highly scientific topics, when those sites only generate 2 mediocre Q/day after 100 BETA days? Then the whole work in AREA51 process was pretty pointless.There is a lot of counter-productive rep-hunting in those BETAs, no questions demanding answers implying new questions, Sep 10, 2011 at 12:39
  • the quality will rapidly drop as most experts get bored, just read those sites META. Why not establish something like 5 answers for 1 question. Intelligent users should be able to ask impromptu a question in BETA phase, doesnt limit more than demanding 200+ rep on other sites, basically the same. BETA still defines if a site will launch, so why does this limit freedom, its more productive for community dynamics! Why not demand answer 5 Q, ask 5 Q instead of ask/answer 10 Q to fullfill commitment??? Sep 10, 2011 at 12:39
  • Had StackOverflow had that requirement, it never would have lasted through beta. Actually, if I were to find a site like that, I would probably never come back. Sep 10, 2011 at 15:49
  • thats your misassumption and why this thread gets downvotes. People think i want to alter SO system. Im ONLY speaking about scientific BETAS. Your system work nearly perfect for SO, but SO is no science proposal with less than 1000 users... Exchange of programming experience and scientifc questions are simply two different things and one launch and voting system doesnt seem to fit quite well both. Theres a reason why we have peer review in science Sep 10, 2011 at 17:53
  • There's a reason there is a down-vote button. Sep 10, 2011 at 20:49

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