I've noticed a psychological effect with my own voting, and am curious to know whether anyone else sees the same thing. Simply put, if I see a correct or good answer, I don't always upvote it, if the answer has some reasonable number of votes already. Similarly, if a post already has several downvotes, I usually don't bother downvoting further (some sort of "they've been punished enough" logic, I suppose).
I think this is because in my head I'm unconsciously thinking of the number of votes as a 'rating' or 'score' indicating the quality of the answer. I then find myself thinking "this answer is correct, and the best one here, but it's not that great, it's worth about 4 points." So I don't upvote. Although it's hard to disentangle from other variables like number of views or age, I suspect the same effect may be a feature on many of my own answers rated by others - the answer reaches some sort of natural level, as judged by the community... and then sits there, with only very minor subsequent increments.
Since becoming aware of this tendency in myself, I've been thinking more carefully about what the vote represents. There are clear problems with using the number of votes as a quality rating, the most obvious of which is that the scale isn't normalised in size, and is also function of time. But, irrational as it is, I still feel this bias against answers with votes (positive or negative)!
To summarise my question:
- Has anyone else experienced this?
- Do you ever find yourself voting in this way, or should a good answer always receive an upvote?
- Is there a general consensus on what a vote represents?