75

When viewing questions in the normal, "Interesting Questions" tab, (or any other view for that matter), the question's score is displayed to its left, and is labeled "votes".

Votes

But is it the correct word to use? Wouldn't "Score" be more appropriate (because a score of "1" doesn't necessarily mean "1 votes", it could mean "100 upvotes and 99 downvotes").

My suggestion, use "score"

Score

Your thoughts?

12
  • 3
    How about vote score?
    – Oded
    Nov 3, 2012 at 13:08
  • 2
    @Oded: Possible, but isn't it a bit too long and would break the layout? pokit.org/get/img/352389e53dccc8d9e040a371793ce68b.png Nov 3, 2012 at 13:08
  • Possibly. But there is lots of context lost if one uses score alone. Not sure that would be the best word, but I can't think of an alternative that has voting semantics attached (perhaps someone on English can help...)
    – Oded
    Nov 3, 2012 at 13:10
  • 3
    "Tally", maybe? (Disclaimer: I'm not on English. Yet.) Nov 3, 2012 at 13:13
  • 11
    @UphillLuge: But it isn't the number of votes the question has, it's the sum of it. That's why I don't think "Votes" is the appropriate word. Nov 3, 2012 at 13:14
  • 2
    Let's note for posterity that this arguably related question was posted here a few minutes before this one. Maybe we actually have to be more precise and consistent with the terminology we use, at least in more competition-sensitive areas of the site. Nov 3, 2012 at 13:55
  • I agree with the concept but disagree with the terminology score. Score, in general sense, means how much point or runs or goals i have did.... e.g. In cricket, if i say i scored 200 runs, it means i made 200 runs without taking into account of others. No plus or minus. The term should be change from votes but score isn't appropriate in my opinion.
    – itachi
    Nov 3, 2012 at 16:30
  • 3
    @itachi: Well, the score meta tags states that score "means the total number of upvotes minus the total number of downvotes". So I'd argue it's pretty darn accurate. Nov 3, 2012 at 16:36
  • @MadaraUchiha I just noticed that.... I guess there sould be a question on this regard too as well(if not already exists).
    – itachi
    Nov 3, 2012 at 16:38
  • What's "the score" @V2Blast? I mean "votes" sounds cool, at least it gives the impression of democracy... It could also be called "bottom line", "balance" or "imbalance" - in "the force" that is; why not call "deviation" or "difference". Next folks will complained they clicked "the score" expecting and OST...
    – bad_coder
    Nov 10, 2021 at 21:43
  • 3
    @Oded perhaps Net Votes would work better? it's shorter than vote score (2 only characters longer than answers for sizing concerns), more accurate than just votes and avoids the gamification issue that people have with the word score.
    – Andrew
    Dec 8, 2021 at 19:49
  • I looked at synonyms of score and the only one that kind of was okay, was rating but it isn't a unit either.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 3 at 17:38

4 Answers 4

31
+100

Looking at what done for this question, https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions reports 4 votes, but the question actually got 6 votes: 5 up-votes, and 1 down-vote.

screenshot

screenshot

4 is really the score of the question: the difference between the number of up-votes, and the number of down-votes. Votes for me means the number of votes, not the score a post has.

Score should be an understood word, on Stack Exchange, as it is already used in the description of some badges, such as Convention ("10 posts with a score of 2 on meta"), or Disciplined ("Deleted own post with score of 3 or higher"). I would not say it is a word that Stack Exchange users don't see in other places on Stack Exchange.

4
  • 2
    That's indeed true for most SE users, but from an outsider or a beginner's point of view, wouldn't using score emphasize the gamification aspects of the system in a (possibly) undesirable way? I'm not convinced it's the right term to use here. (There's a reason why we use reputation instead of experience after all ;) Nov 3, 2012 at 14:12
  • 5
    @FrédéricHamidi: That's true, but even the score tag's wiki refers to it as the correct word. Nov 3, 2012 at 14:50
  • @FrédéricHamidi I see your point, even if the only words I can think of are synonyms of score, such as rate.
    – apaderno
    Nov 3, 2012 at 14:50
  • @kiamlaluno, same here (I think tally might be correct but is definitely not sexy enough). When I dig further I'm tempted to fall back to terms like decision or value, that do not have much in common with the sum of votes on a post, or at least not in our context. Nov 3, 2012 at 14:54
12

This has been a long time coming, and we're not quite done yet! However I'd like to update you folks that we've just pushed some changes to wording all around the website regarding "votes".

Our main goal was to switch to "Score" where it made sense, which on this first pass meant:

  • The layout doesn't display the word "Score" as a unit. (e.g.: "15 score" as opposed to "15 votes" just seem weird to us right now)
  • The number displayed is an actual "Score", which as described by you folks, is the combination of upvotes and downvotes

Unfortunately these restrictions mean that question listings all around the website will remain unchanged for now. We are working to find better wording for "Score" that can also be used as a unit (e.g.: "points"), and on a plan to implement those with minimum negative impact to you.

As usual, thanks for reporting this issue, we appreciate the help! Ironing out inconsistencies that make the website more confusing and less welcoming is one of our priorities for this year.

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  • 4
    Why not just write score as a label instead of as units? I never read "votes" as units. I thought it was a label, i.e. Votes: 10+/2- Score: 8. (Well, at least not until the views got rearranged.)
    – ColleenV
    Feb 1 at 20:16
  • 1
    @ColleenV exactly because of what you said: our old layout allowed us to get by with "Score" being a label. The new layout (and some other places around the website) put the data and the label together, which require a unit-like word to not read weirdly.
    – Felippe Rangel StaffMod
    Feb 2 at 16:27
  • 7
    Maybe the problem is the new layout and not the word "score". I don't mean to jump on the dog pile, because I understand how complex an undertaking it is to unwind a code base that evolved over more than a decade and ended up far surpassing what the original vision was for its functionality. I just worry that "finding a better wording" is treating a symptom and not a cause. Replacing vocabulary that is widely used and understood throughout the user base should only be done with extreme caution. I'd rather see the label gone than replaced with "user appreciation rating units" or whatever.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 3 at 13:42
  • 3
    @ColleenV that's a fair observation, and definitely one we have in mind. It is important to us to provide both a consistent experience and take advantage of existing widely used vocabulary, which is why we're stepping cautiously here.
    – Felippe Rangel StaffMod
    Feb 3 at 14:55
  • 2
    I like Andrew's suggestion of "Net Votes". Feb 3 at 17:12
  • 2
    Frankly, I do not see why "score: N" reads any more awkward than "N votes". This also avoids the embarrassing "1 votes" pluralization bug neatly while aligning the wording with what community is used to - "score". Feb 3 at 17:26
  • 3
    @OlegValter Problem is that then the numbers wouldn't all be on the left. The current state looks more like work in progress. There is still the search for a better alternative ongoing. Visitors might be somewhat confused when reading this feature request seeing no visible change in the question list and status completed as tag.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 3 at 17:35
  • 2
    Right! The number itself should still be in evidence in contrast with the label. I'll bring "net votes" to folks in here as well! I agree that this status-complete might confuse some folks, but I was instructed by our triage team to do so, since the layout from the request doesn't even match our upcoming stuff. It is in our roadmap to fix this though! (Also, I've fixed the pluralization issues in a couple of places! Hopefully I got the one that was bothering you once folks translate it :D)
    – Felippe Rangel StaffMod
    Feb 3 at 17:55
  • 2
    @Trilarion well, another thing I do not get these days is the "one layout to rule them all" :) but in this case, I'd just go ahead and change all stats to follow the "Label: N" approach - no pluralization bugs, presentational unity, no concern for "better unit wording". P.S. I did not notice the post was marked [status-completed], btw (was pointed to the answer from a chat room) - it does look like WIP to me. Just wanted to add 2 cents that "just seem weird" sounds like weak justification for not going all-in with the change, IMO Feb 3 at 17:58
  • 2
    That said, "net votes" does not seem too bad and can be a reasonable concession as this is what score essentially is. Although I would still advise the team to go with "score" as the latter is well-known and has a lot of references, while the former is not used (and thus has a high potential for generaring confusion amongst users, as well as requires a lot of busywork for updating references) Feb 3 at 18:01
  • 2
    @ColleenV 10 would be the total votes, 6 would indeed be net votes (i.e where downvotes count negative) but votes itself doesn't say which of it it is. Net or total.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 3 at 20:06
  • 2
    @ColleenV Deduct down votes from up votes (makes sense to me) and you get net votes. My vote in this case is for either score, rating or net vote. Score sounds great to me. We have to write something there. The question is what most people can live best with.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 3 at 20:53
  • 4
    @Trilarion The point of the labels is to communicate something to a typical user, not twist a dictionary definition until it fits the purpose. If it's this hard to figure out what word to use for a label, then the UI isn't communicating meaning very well. It would be far more informative to just show the up votes and down votes, and it would help people understand whether the score was controversial or not. I still don't understand why everyone can't see the positive and negative vote totals, which is much more meaningful than score.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 3 at 22:12
  • 1
    It looks like you're going with "Score of N"? That's how it appears to me on a completed suggested edit review on Mathematics right now. Feb 4 at 19:26
  • 1
    thanks for the lively discussion here folks! People are monitoring ideas and debating within. @TheAmplitwist that is correct for a few places where we believed it made sense.
    – Felippe Rangel StaffMod
    Feb 7 at 14:53
4

Not only would this be a more accurate term, it would also avoid the famous pluralization bug! "1 Score" is just as proper as "2 Score", but "1 Votes" just looks terrible.

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-4

It's been pointed out that "score" is a bit confusing for new users, especially given that it already has a perfectly ordinary meaning that's not obviously out of scope. But the OP is correct that "votes" is not merely a bit confusing, but wrong and misleading in important ways. And "vote score" or similar, while neither misleading nor confusing, is too long to fit.

Instead of any of those, then, I suggest using "voting". This has the advantage of clearly tying back to concept of votes up or down, but without implying that it actually counts the total number of votes. Its meaning is deliberately skewed from the normal in an obvious way, so users unfamiliar with it, rather than being misled, will know that the site is using it in an idiosyncratic way, and will know to find out what the actual meaning is. A tooltip can then inform them efficiently that it's the sum of up and down votes.

In other words, treat it as a short caption for a figure ("for question quality, see fig 1-21, voting"), rather than an inline phrase ("24 votes", "Score 2").

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