After reading a few questions like this one, I was wondering what the primary aim of an upvote should be: To reward the answerer for a good response, or to drive the "best" answer(s) to the top of the list.

Now, I realize that it is of course a combination of the two, but I'm curious to see the community take on which is more important.

I tend to see a lot of comments saying "vote up if you think it is a good answer". However, what happens when you think a "second place" answer is actually superior to a good answer in first place?

Do you vote for them both and leave the ordering unchanged (since they both deserve an attaboy)? Or do you vote for the better of the two in the hope of showing that people should follow it as the best answer?

4 Answers 4

  1. Sorting/correctness
  2. Reward

In that order.

It isn't a problem for the vote to server two purposes. But the main point is for correct answers to questions to float to the top.

  • This is how I tend to operate. What gets in the way sometimes is when I've upvoted an early good answer, and I can't remove it a few hours later when a less-voted-for GREAT answer comes in.
    – TM.
    Aug 20, 2009 at 18:21
  • Well, in my eyes speed matters. So, the first answer still deserves my vote.
    – jjnguy
    Aug 20, 2009 at 18:25
  • I've been thinking about this, and I wonder if the site should drive moderator privileges based on badges rather than reputation. Aug 20, 2009 at 19:10
  • Don't they usually go hand in hand though? If you look at the users around you on the user list, they usually have comparable badges.
    – jjnguy
    Aug 20, 2009 at 19:18
  • They do go together, but they aren't the same. You can earn some badges without any votes, while reputation is based entirely on voting. If you accept that voting is primarily for sorting answers/questions while badges are all about encouraging good behavior, then earning badges would seem a much better way to show you've earned trust. Aug 20, 2009 at 19:45
  • Well, if your answer deserves to be on the top of a list of answers, I'd say that you contributed significantly to the site.
    – jjnguy
    Aug 20, 2009 at 19:48
  • @Joel the problem with badges is that they are awarded by a piece of code and not by the community (Except those that require votes). Without recognition from the community, I'd say it's hard to argue that you have gained trust.
    – TM.
    Aug 20, 2009 at 21:54
  • Most of the badges floating are the vote based ones.
    – jjnguy
    Aug 20, 2009 at 21:56

I bother more about correctness and an answer being well presented than about ordering. For example, if there are two good answers I'll vote them both up, even if the one I think is superior is second.

Likewise I'll usually only vote down an answer if it's incorrect or misleading. I certainly wouldn't cast a down vote for a correct answer just to try to move a better answer up.

  • Agreed, I definitely would never advocate downvotes being used for purely sorting purposes.
    – TM.
    Aug 20, 2009 at 19:33
  • Agreed, the ordering is a result of everyone's combined votes, individual users should not concern themselves with the order resulting from their own votes. Aug 20, 2009 at 19:58

If I think the second place answer is superior to the first place answer, I will upvote the second place answer only. If I have already upvoted the first place answer and I am revisiting the question, I will more than likely not remove my original vote, unless the second, more 'correct,' answer has identified aspects that even I couldn't detect as wrong.


Correctness only. Worrying about sorting introduces too much psychology.

Just vote for what is vote worthy. The aggregate opinion of the community will determine the proper order.

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