I never planned this out, but I found myself more inclined to up-vote people with lower reputation. Is this something you guys experienced, and do you think it's unfair?

  • 5
    Is their contribution good? No problem. If not...bad Hassan...bad.. It's funny actually because not that long ago someone argued that people would be far more inclined to upvote high rep users.
    – Bart
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 10:07
  • Really? Could you post a link?
    – Hassan
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 10:10
  • I'll do so when I find it. Not sure if that particular question remained.
    – Bart
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 10:22
  • 1
    @Bart Here you go.
    – razlebe
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 11:35
  • @razlebe Bingo!
    – Bart
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 11:36

7 Answers 7


It's unfair, of course, by definition.

I'm also inclined to up-vote particularly good content from a newer or lower-rep users... this may be due more to surprise ("Look, somebody is paying attention and trying!") given their experience on SO.

All good, on-topic, reasonable content deserves upvoting, regardless of the user.

That said, an upvote for new users' content is likely more motivational than with higher-rep users.

Increasing the amount of well-maintained content while growing participation is what makes SO neat.

  • 6
    +10 Looks like you could use some meta upvotes... Oh... and your answer is pretty good too ;)
    – Lix
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 11:10
  • +3, because I think +10 is too much! ;) I like how you covered both angles succinctly, and suggested an answer without any appearance of dictating a behavior. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:23
  • 2
    @AndrewBarber My manipulation is more devious and difficult-to-detect. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:40
  • "Look, somebody is paying attention and trying!" Some days that really is a surprise, and it is worth encouraging. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 16:13
  • 1
    I don't agree that it's unfair. The more rep you have, the more your answer is trusted, and the greater the expectation of a quality answer. I think it would be more unfair to judge new users against the same standards as those who've been around for years. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 17:20

Upvotes encourage and denote good content. When a new user posts I am more inclided to remember to vote to encourage this behavior. There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to encourage new users in particular; this is why I'll often take a peek in Review and upvote good First Answers/Questions.

Don't just upvote people because they're new or if they clearly aren't contributing quality content, but there's nothing wrong with encouraging those who stand to gain the most from the encouragement. If you upvote Jon Skeet he won't even notice. If you upvote a brand new user who posted a good question/answer you might actually help encourage them to stay around and help the site for weeks/months/years to come.

  • 3
    The first few upvotes/accepts give a fantastic feeling for a new user. If the content is indeed worthy of encouragement then it's a win-win situation...
    – Lix
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 12:10
  • Agreed; As much as my flagging, commenting and voting tends to hit hard on 'new' users (often illegitimate/bad ones, but still), I like to balance that by seeking good content from new users to encourage. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:25

To drive up the quality of both questions and answers, it would be ideal for everyone to vote based on a cold appraisal of the question, and not for any other reason.


As Bart pointed out in the comments, it was recently argued in a seperate question that up-voters might be more inclided to favour high-reputation users. (Indeed, I was one of those who posted an answer making the argument for that being likely.)

What's clear from these two questions, and from countless examples across SO where upvotes and downvotes are cast with seemingly no explicable reason, is that users can and do upvote for whatever reasons they like, (and this is not a comprehensive list, of course:)

  • Some will favour a low-rep user's questions, whether to encourage them or out of sympathy for their low rep.
  • Some will favour a high-rep user's contributions, maybe because their high-rep implies some experitse, or maybe because they are a famous name with "real" reputation outside of the concept of SO rep.
  • Some will vote for questions and answers following a cold appraisal of their individual merits, regardless of who the OP is and his/her reputation. Surely this is what we should be aiming for in order to drive high quality standards.
  • ...and some will vote for whatever reason pops into their heads: because it's Tuesday; because they like the OP's gravatar; because they're voting tactically to bag some badge or other; or because they just do.

My point then, long though it's taken me to make it, is that there's really no telling why people vote the way they do unless they're willing to tell you; that we shouldn't read too much into voting patterns; and that in an ideal world, to keep quality standards high, a cold appraisal of any given question should be the only criteria used to vote.

  • 3
    It's Wednesday, otherwise I'd vote this up. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 11:56

I think it depends on what you are calling "new users". I think it's fair until ... well ... between 1 and 15 or 1 an 25. That lets them (us ? me at least ;)) discovering the happiness of being considered as "someone who is interesting". I got self caught up by the game.

Nevertheless, when I vote up, it's often because I'm interested in the thread, more than this is new posters.

When I posted for the first time on Meta StackOverflow, this was probably a duplicate. I was not sure of that, and I said that I would delete it, if true. But, peoples voted up for me, and I feel reasonably confident for future questions.

Don't mistake, I am not saying that whe should vote up for every questions of each begginers. I recently obtain vote down privilege, and I founded many situations in which I'd prefered vote down than up. But for new members who make some efforts (understandable english, explaination, reaseaches), I am also inclined to up-vote.

I don't want to give a straight range (1 to 25 for instance), especially since I am not registered for so long (6 monthes). However, until you obtain the privileges of voting up, I think this is fairly positive.


I hate pile-on downvoting.

Negatively scored posts aren't given the benefit of the doubt and are downvoted as an afterthought.

When posts get to be around -10, people are even more likely to downvote (especially if it is a question, since negative votes don't cost any reputation). This forms a pretty significant reputation-sink that is difficult to escape.

In these cases, given that downvotes are -2 and upvotes are +10 for answers and +5 for questions, I would say that this is behavior is perfectly reasonable. The "sympathy upvotes" are all that is preventing these users' reputation from going down the drain.

  • if you get -10+ on your question and don't make an effort to fix/ clarify your question, I'd say you deserve to get dragged down for it. had one the other day, -21 last I saw (it was a bad question) and all he did was call people names and spam the downvote on all his answers. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:10
  • I agree... I'd probably downvote the question too from what you've described. But there are also questions out there that are perfectly reasonable and don't deserve to be downvoted at all... those are the questions I'm talking about. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:13
  • Some people are quite downvote-happy and the criteria are loose. I'm still a fan of requiring a comment on downvotes or it doesn't count. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:19
  • When posts get to be around -10, people are even more likely to downvote I am curious where you get that idea. I have never downvoted a post that low, and almost never DV if a post is below the "visibility affecting" threshold, on the theory that the point has been made, and my vote is better spent elsewhere. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:27
  • @AndrewBarber, well I was mostly talking about questions (which can't be deleted if someone has already answered it). Most people will delete answers before they can even make it down to -10, and yes, I agree with your "visibility affecting" threshold argument. But I certainly think that questions with around -10 downvotes are more likely to get downvoted than questions with, say, -2. You are clearly an experienced SO user who knows better, but the majority of users will downvote these posts mindlessly. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:32
  • @AlexLockwood I don't want to give an incorrect impression; I don't think my personal experience here gives me a significant greater insight on this than you. I do think that the claim you make would have a clearly visible effect on the actual voting data, though. But deletion could skew that data. (related: questions can be deleted by their owner if there are no upvoted answers. Also, heavily-downvoted questions tend to get closed/deleted by the community, which can be done regardless of answers.) Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:36
  • I couldn't agree with you more. When one person down-votes for what could be an erroneous reason, others follow suit. I think the same thing happens with up-votes.
    – Hassan
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 21:26
  • You're right... but I don't mind as much about the upvotes ;-) Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 21:27

There's some value in encouraging participation early on. I would say my standards for a good answer go up as the rep goes up. An adequate answer from a 200 rep user will usually get an upvote from me; the same answer for a 10K+ user will not get an upvote without being complete. At that point they should know better and hold themselves to a higher standard.

  • So what you are saying essentially is that the user (and his/her rep) matters just as much as the content. I don't think that's the correct way to vote. A correct answer is correct no matter who posted it.
    – Lix
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:10
  • Well, we are discussing opinion here, but an answer from someone with a 10K+ rep has more weight and is treated more seriously, don't you think? Keep in mind the definition of "reputation" Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:11
  • It shouldn't... I've seen v.high rep users post absolutely useless answers. Doesn't matter who you are or how much rep you have - if you don't put some effort into your posts the votes will reflect that.
    – Lix
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:12
  • "It shouldn't" and "what is" are different things. High-rep users are more trusted, it's the purpose of rep in the first place. Likewise, if a low-rep user posts an ugly answer, I am much more likely to comment why I think it's ugly vs. a high-rep user who I will downvote with a polite admonition. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:16

I don't think is the best of the ideas, but it should not be big deal if you follow some kind of voting criteria.

My criteria for upvoting on posts that wouldn't normally vote up:


  • he is low rep (250 or less)
  • he showed some effort to solve the problem before posting
  • he took appropriate time to the esthetic of his post
  • the post doesn't have many of votes like this


  • he is low rep (250 or less)
  • answer works
  • doesn't use notably bad practices
  • there are notably better competing answers with tons of upvotes
  • the post doesn't have many of votes like this

If it doesn't met with ALL points, I will then vote normally

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