Personally I up vote questions I think are useful but not necessarily important to me (I only up vote answers I understand and agree with) and I ALWAYS up vote a question I answer.

But it obvious that people are very miserly with their question up-votes. I think this is because of the reputation rewarded for an up-vote.

I propose a reduction in reputation for question up-votes to 3.

This will encourage people to vote more and thus the amount of reputation earned would be similar.

  • Share the rep, share the rep
    – deleted
    Jun 29, 2009 at 22:55
  • I wish others did that I have a bunch of questions with at least 2 answers that have miserly up votes. One has 4 answers and a score of zero.
    – JPM
    Mar 21, 2012 at 15:21
  • I am pretty free with my upvotes as well, but I guess it is also a function of how one spends their time on SO as well. Those who review more generate more views and hopefully produce more votes. There are so many questions on here now after several years that haven't seen the light of day in ages.
    – demongolem
    Oct 17, 2012 at 19:05

4 Answers 4


I think people are pretty free with the up votes. My own analyis has show an up to down vote ratio starting at 10 last fall and growing to about 12 now.

Like Brent Ozar, I also investigated the relationship between votes and other user data (like reputation and up:down vote ratios, etc.) in a couple of blog posts, like these:

Here are some of my favorite graphs:

Down (x-axis) vs. Up (y-axis) vs. Reputation (bubble size)

Stack Overflow: Down Votes versus Up Votes versus User Reputation

Up Votes as a percentage by User Join Date and Average User Reputation by Join Date

Up Votes as a percentage by User Join Date and Average User Reputation by Join Date

Larger images and other stats on the blog.

  • 7
    the Rich B data point is hilarious. His friends call him.. MISTER DOWNVOTE! (and then he downvotes them) Jun 28, 2009 at 13:51
  • +1 for the neato graphs. :-)
    – Jason S
    Jun 28, 2009 at 15:43
  • 2
    I have friends?
    Jun 29, 2009 at 20:30
  • I nearly spit out my drink when I saw that graph
    – TheTXI
    Jun 29, 2009 at 20:32
  • 2
    Considering the scaling of the Y axis versus the X axis, we have some people with some serious 'splaining to do in regards to upvotes. Having a lot of downvotes is not a bad thing, but to just blatantly upvote everything you see? That is a massive detriment to the reputation system.
    Jun 29, 2009 at 20:43
  • 2
    Maybe they don't like to downvote. Maybe they prefer leaving comments to the user on how they can improve the question/answer. Let them use the site the way they see fit.
    – toast
    Jul 6, 2009 at 23:51
  • I thought Jon Skeet's circle would take up half the graph.
    – Troggy
    Jul 22, 2009 at 18:14
  • @Troggy: if the graph were done today, it most likely would :)
    – perbert
    Nov 15, 2009 at 21:41

This was one of the questions I explored at SPWho2.com:

What kinds of questioners do the most upvoting?

Or in other words, what tags are the friendliest? Are people who ask questions with a particular tag more likely to do upvotes? These are NOT the upvotes performed on their question - these are the upvotes done by the questioner themselves.

As it turns out, yes, there's a huge variation. Some examples:

  • People who asked "beginner" tag questions average 393 upvotes.
  • People who asked "homework" tag questions average just 33 upvotes.

You can see the full report on SPWho2.com, along with a report on average questioner downvotes. I find it hilarious that people who ask vim and emacs questions are much more likely to perform downvotes than other users - a little grumpy, eh?

Next month I'll add one for average answerer upvotes too. For example, are people who answer "PHP" questions more likely to upvote others? What are the friendliest tags, and what are the least friendly?

  • OMG -- t-shirts ?!?!?!
    – Jason S
    Jun 28, 2009 at 15:44
  • Heh - yeah. I was dying to build something to wear to the StackOverflow DevDays events.
    – Brent Ozar
    Jun 29, 2009 at 12:22

I've pondered this, but then you end up with questions about how people use scale. For instance I have an acquaintance who has said that on a scale of 1 to 10 he never ever rates anything 10 because there is always room for improvement. So even on a small scale is anything less than 3 reflect poor quality? Would people start up voting with 1s poor-mediocre answers?

The current system is clear an unambiguous. -1 if it was poor. +1 if it was good. 0 if it was unremarkable. Simple is better.

  • +1 I agree with the "simple is better" comment. And tell your acquaintance "Nine is the new ten". Jun 28, 2009 at 13:59
  • I just started asking him to rate things on a scale of 1 to 11 :)
    – Oorang
    Jun 28, 2009 at 14:01

Generally speaking, the number of upvotes an answer can expect is a function of its potential audience. Fun/CW questions have the widest audiences and receive the most votes. The most popular tags (like C#) are next. Most questions and probably most upvotes per answer of the "real" questions. And it trails away after that. JPA questions, for example, aren't often easy but will rarely garner more than 1-2 votes.

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