Question source: How sportsmanlike are our users?

Data sources: June 6, 2011 NDA dump; February 6, 2012 NDA dump

The results here are only for Stack Overflow.

How many sportsmanlike votes have been cast?

June, 2011      Answer votes:     9,687,945
                Competing votes:    363,454 (3.75%)

February, 2012  Answer votes:    14,072,290
                Competing votes:    468,421 (3.33%)
  • The Sportsmanship badge was introduced near the end of October, 2010 -- it's possible that people were still becoming aware of the badge by June, 2011 and were going out of their way to vote for competing answers, and now it's basically leveled off. I didn't do a time-series analysis to find out. It would be interesting to run the analysis again in 6 months.
  • The number of competing votes is relatively small compared to the total number of votes. That's somewhat expected because generally you don't submit an answer if your viewpoint has already been articulated by someone else.

Which users cast sportsmanlike votes?

Competing Answer Votes by Voter Reputation

  • For the calculations, when a competing vote was cast, the user's approximate reputation at the time of the vote was used.
  • I would caution about doing a trend analysis between the different ranges -- the ranges aren't even, so I'm not sure they're directly comparable (i.e., the "spike" in the 1000-1999 range is due to the grouping). For that, a continuous graph would be better instead of grouping by key reputation ranges.
  • It's pretty clear that 10k+ reputation users do a significant amount of sportsmanlike voting because that group accounts for only ~0.25% of registered users, yet ~20% of sportsmanlike votes.
  • Even though overall competing answer voting went down, the 10k+ reputation range went up significantly (+14.7%).

When do sportsmanlike votes occur relative to a competing answer?

June, 2011:      24.96 days
February, 2012:  28.75 days
  • I suspect these results reflect a huge amount of skew, where (a) now people submit sportsmanlike votes closer to the time, and (b) sportsmanlike votes are submitted against aging/very old answers (which could be over 1,200 days old at this point).
  • People definitely revisit old answers to submit sportsmanlike votes... which is, ironically, somewhat unsportsmanlike (badge-motivation in action). (For comparison, I remember doing another analysis that showed most activity in an average question occurred within the first 7 days of a question being asked.)

If you'd like to have a look at all statistics I collected for this question, you can download the Excel spreadsheet here.

  • Worth noting: a (possibly large) percentage of the < 10Ks of June 2011 have now moved into the > 10Ks of Feb 2012. It is possible the "more sporting" users are simply moving to the right and not being replaced on the left.
    – Flexo
    May 13, 2012 at 22:41
  • 9
    Personally, I tend not to cast "sportsmanlike" votes right away. Usually I'll post my answer and just watch what happens and then cast my votes at a later time, unless the competing answer is exceptionally good. This is especially relevant when the competing answers basically say the same thing. My casting sportsmanlike votes on those just skews the results, by giving those other answers a +1 and leaving mine one short, because you obviously can't vote for yourself. It makes it look like those ones are slightly better than mine, even though that may not necessarily be the case.
    – animuson StaffMod
    May 14, 2012 at 0:23
  • Is there any correlation with the average number of answers per question? It took me a long time to arrive at this badge, simply because many of the questions I've answered had no other answers in them. If fewer answers are being provided to questions on average, it might be giving fewer opportunities to vote for a competing answer. May 14, 2012 at 17:44
  • Tthere is no credit to help users who are not competing with you. There is a lot of credit to help users who are at the same level of reputation than yourself. This would be interesting to know the reputation differential for upvoted answers.
    – mins
    Jul 22, 2021 at 13:21


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