I sometimes catch myself withholding upvotes on "correct" answers just because it already has a high score and I feel that the answer isn't worth that much. I do feel guilty by doing so, but not guilty enough to overrule my decision.

This mainly applies to when I'm casually browsing through SO. Obvious exceptions are when:

  • I'm looking for a specific solution and find one
  • I have also posted an answer, then upvotes on competing answers are based mainly on merit.
  • I've learnt something new from the answer

What are your thoughts on this? Should I mend my evil ways?

Arguments for:

  • Everyone has the rights to use their voting quota as they please. I should do what I instinctively feel is correct.
  • Some answers do have disproportionately high votes. E.g. FGITW on dupes

Arguments against:

  • One should vote based on the contents, not based on existing score or poster (same argument used against pity-votes which in some sense is the flip side of this issue)
  • I don't do this consistently.
  • p.s. I'm not advocating this practice. I'm reflecting on my own actions and wondering if I should change. – Shawn Chin Apr 25 '12 at 13:55
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    You are free to vote as you wish. If you think an answer is worthy of an upvote, upvote it. If you don't, don't. – Oded Apr 25 '12 at 13:58
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    How I judge worthiness is the issue. Had I come across the answer before others have upvoted, I may have added mine. That's against the "vote the content, not the score" school of thought. – Shawn Chin Apr 25 '12 at 14:01
  • Fine, but that's a completely subjective measure - everyone judges worthiness differently. – Oded Apr 25 '12 at 14:04

I absolutely do this, but I also do the reverse: withhold down votes because I think a bad answer has been 'punished' enough already.

I don't think there is anything wrong with it. To the extent that people do it to save their votes for other posts which deserve it (which is why I do it), I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

Your ways are not remotely evil. Not in the slightest.

I think the fact that the absolute voting counts are displayed suggests that the voting system was meant to give this kind of weight to posts. The fact that we only have 30/40 votes per day gives some subjective value to the quantity of our votes.

That is; if you see two answers to a question, and one has a significantly higher positive vote count than the other one (which is also positive, itself), I think you can reach a safe conclusion: Both were found to be useful, but "The Community" found one to be more valuable.

This sort of thing requires that people make just the sort of judgements you speak of here.

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    Hm, already has 9 upvotes. Does it really deserve another one?? – Bo Persson Apr 25 '12 at 15:04
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    @BoPersson hehe! That actually an interesting point, due to the badge for +10. I think I find myself more often issuing that threshold vote, than withholding it. My thinking there being that my vote was worth that tiny bit of extra 'value' in such a case. Not sure if I use the same thought process on a -2 score post, with -3 affecting visibility. – Andrew Barber Apr 25 '12 at 15:14
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    @AndrewBarber: I've been known to do that. It's fun knowing you're the one that "awarded" the badge. Also, relevant comment by you. ;) – animuson Apr 25 '12 at 16:54

Per @Andrew Barber, I too

absolutely do this, but I also do the reverse: withhold down votes because I think a bad answer has been 'punished' enough already.

Furthermore, I also downvote posts that are mediocre or worse, yet have enormous scores (have been "rewarded" more than enough already). Such as this question, which has a a score of over 400 at the time of writing, yet is answerable from the most basic online references and should not even have been posted to a StackExchange site in the first place.

I think it's exactly the same principle.

And no, using our votes in this way is far from "evil". We're expressing an opinion about the value a post has to the community, which is not only a valid thing to do but benefits the community.

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