Upvoting requires 15 reputation, but the association bonus is taken into account, so if you have at least 200 reputation on any site, you can upvote on all sites in the network.

This is a bit problematic when it comes to per-site metas. The votes there are used to gauge the opinion of the community, and they are often taken into account when implementing new policies.

What can happen is that a post from a per-site meta is linked in an unrelated high-traffic chat room, usually because there is some entertaining drama going on or because someone posted a particularly bad idea. This can lead to an influx of votes from external users that usually wouldn't visit or use the site, but currently still can vote on their meta due to the association bonus.

I think a very low minimum participation on the site should be required to vote on meta issues. This would make the votes on the per-site meta more robust and less easily skewed by being linked from outside.

Not counting the association bonus for the upvote privilege would be enough, then all users would have to earn 14 reputation on the site itself.

  • 16
    This makes sense, and we should also consider not counting the association bonus for the rep requirement to vote in mod elections.
    – yannis
    Dec 16, 2012 at 11:01
  • Good idea basically, but I would apply this only on specific questions. Preventing voting on all meta questions seems like an overkill to me. Maybe only on questions with a specfic tag? Dec 16, 2012 at 11:07
  • 6
    @ShaWizDowArd That would be... too complicated. What happens, for example, if the tag gets applied at a later time, do previously casted upvotes from 101 users get invalidated?
    – yannis
    Dec 16, 2012 at 11:18
  • 1
    Good point @Yannis but still, totally preventing upvotes looks too "harsh" to me. Dec 16, 2012 at 11:26
  • 5
    I've been trying to construct a devil's advocate argument for the other position but I'm not getting very far. My basis was going to be the alleged wisdom of expereinced users of the network, but I suspect that questions for which that is directly applicable belong on the mother meta and of course the low threhold for association bonus requires scare quotes: "wisdom". Any way, I would find the change untroubling. Dec 16, 2012 at 18:27
  • Does we have statistic on the issue, low rep vote vs highter vote in number per meta post (if we can) ? as is it really an issue ?
    – user276487
    May 11, 2016 at 22:36
  • @yagmoth555 Votes are private, it's impossible to say whether votes on an issue were swayed by low-rep users. But there is some odd circumstantial evidence in some cases that was discussed in the all-site moderator chat room.
    – user154510
    May 12, 2016 at 0:34
  • 1
    @MatthewRead Like you told, as vote are private maybe the problem is simply there, that maybe a SO's employee could validate the actual vote in case moderator raise a doubt. (and your comment made me think of a comment I did at shog9 there )
    – user276487
    May 12, 2016 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


This is further compounded by the fact that people coming in with only an association bonus can vote up but can't vote down. I've seen this skew meta posts in weird ways. It seems to me that one of the following is true:

  1. People with some experience on the network are qualified to weigh in on per-site metas on sites they don't otherwise participate on. Many meta posts are about features common across the network, after all. People in this category should be able to vote up or down.

  2. People without some local experience are not qualified to influence a site's policies, scope, etc. Each site should be allowed to determine these matters on its own, and people with an association bonus should not have a vote.


  • "Post on meta" is a specific, low-rep privilege (5 rep to earn).
  • The upvote privilege comes at 15 rep, downvote at 125. These numbers work on main -- or, if they don't, disrupting them would be a much bigger conversation.
  • There exists one special category right now where the association bonus is excluded: you need 10 local reputation to answer a protected question. Thus, the concept of local reputation already has meaning.


I present two options, depending on which of #1 and #2 above you think correct. (I actually don't have a strong opinion on which that is; I just want meta voting to be balanced.)

Option 1: add a new privilege, "vote on meta", that comes at some low level (perhaps 15 to go with "vote up", or 5 to go with "participate on meta"). This privilege grants votes in both directions.

Option 2: redefine the two "vote" privileges to add "on main", and add another privilege, "vote on meta", that comes at some low level of local reputation. I propose 10 for consistency with protection. Yes this will require some explanation, as it'll be the only privilege in the list that relies on local reputation. If we do this we should add an entry for "answer protected questions" too, for consistency.


Voting on meta is different and the current system allows weird skew. People should get the privilege to vote in both directions at the same time. The status of the association bonus is an open question.

  • Recall there's already a "participate in meta" privilege at 5 rep. We could just make that 5 on the and/or include voting.
    – Kevin
    May 11, 2016 at 21:00
  • @Kevin that would work too (for option 1). Edited that in. May 11, 2016 at 21:03
  • I think option 1 is good. Otherwise might as well just remove the association bonus. Problem solved.
    – ɥʇǝS
    May 11, 2016 at 21:04
  • @ɥʇǝS I think voting on main and flagging are still good use cases for the association bonus. Google often takes me to SE when I have questions, and I appreciate being able to vote up a well-asked question that saved me from asking it, or an answer that worked for me. May 11, 2016 at 21:06
  • +1 for Option 2, especially for adding an entry for answering protected questions. May 12, 2016 at 19:31

The same potential problem exists (and is potentially far more serious!) on the main sites.

If this is an argument for disabling voting on meta, then it's doubly so an argument for disabling voting on main. Perhaps we should back up and start with a frank discussion of which privileges are actually worth basing on experience earned elsewhere?

Also probably a good idea to base important decisions on more than just raw votes.


  • 1
    Honestly, on communities like the workplace, who get a whole lot of drive by voting from SO, its often quite absurd how skewed the voting (on main!) gets by the influx. I had this effect just thursday, where a quick dirty answer I typed out in a couple minutes got like 110 upvotes from the HNQ status the question had. Maybe upvoting on main is not something we should give away just with association bonus.
    – Magisch
    May 17, 2016 at 6:29
  • TWP is an odd bird purely because of the topic. Remember, this is the topic that was disallowed first on Stack Overflow and then on Programmers because questions in it tend to attract a lot of bikeshedding and popularity-contest voting... So it shouldn't surprise anyone that this remains a problem, although in fairness the good folk on TWP have done their level best to keep it under control. Still, using TWP as an example in these discussions is sorta optimizing for the absolute worst-case scenario.
    – Shog9
    May 17, 2016 at 6:33
  • @Magisch what you suggest is a punishable heresy. See At smaller graduated sites, delay granting association bonus until at least after 2-3 days visited - this proposal sits at +7/-24, too many folks are too happy to grant HNQ lemmings immediate upvotes
    – gnat
    May 17, 2016 at 6:35
  • 1
    Shouldn't we optimize for the worst case scenario? Consider the very limited benefit of allowing voting right away. Specifically allowing upvoting but not downvoting. Surely other communities have the same problem too, but on TWP its more pronounced and thus can be better used as an example as to why. Also @gnat just because something at some point was not very popular doesn't mean its a bad idea.
    – Magisch
    May 17, 2016 at 6:35
  • 1
    Of course, plenty of sites also suffer from not enough voting, and must constantly plead with users to vote on the stuff they find useful lest the entire site stagnate. Ultimately, sites have to either bootstrap from internal activity or get some assistance from folks who arrive from elsewhere on the network, and with a handful of exceptions the latter has done an awful lot more to support these tiny communities than the former. So... Ghost town or HNQ skew - which is the lesser evil?
    – Shog9
    May 17, 2016 at 6:39
  • HNQ hardly help in increasing participation, per observations so far their effect is flash in the pan (and of course no stats on that can be obtained because there is no audit log). It is also worth keeping in mind that purpose of hot questions feature is not about helping in community growth
    – gnat
    May 17, 2016 at 6:51
  • 4
    I have the same feature request for main as well, but the reason I asked for a meta-only version is because the drawbacks of implementing this are much, much larger on the main sites. On meta the reduction in total votes doesn't affect anyone's reputation, and far fewer people try to participate on foreign metas than on main sites, so fewer people will be annoyed because they can't upvote. May 17, 2016 at 6:52
  • 1
    The purpose of the association bonus certainly has nothing to do with HNQ either, @gnat. That's just what folks complain about. Not, "oh hey, I can participate here without having to start from scratch" or "hey, look at all these people with basic abilities and the knowledge to use them helping this fledgling site get off the ground". This is the problem of staring too long in dark corners; everything else washes out.
    – Shog9
    May 17, 2016 at 6:57
  • 3
    I strongly prefer discussions over polls on meta. The scores alone don't mean much, but they're still useful, even if the decision isn't based on them in the end. There's also the annoying reversal of this problem, users dismissing a high-scored meta answer as "influenced by outsiders" and not the "real" site users. Not sure anything would actually convince those users, but just avoiding that discussion would be nice. May 17, 2016 at 6:57
  • Eh; you fix that & the same folks will argue that it's those damn outsiders who've earned 14 illegitimate points somehow doing all the voting. Guess how I know this...
    – Shog9
    May 17, 2016 at 7:29
  • @Shog9 What a thankless and arduos job you have, you are tasked with pushing a boulder up a mountain while also assuring the mountain there is no boulder and assuring the boulder that there is no mountain :P
    – Magisch
    May 17, 2016 at 7:50
  • @Shog9 What do you mean by that? The meta isn't very active, but there are posts on there from time to time.
    – Magisch
    May 17, 2016 at 8:12

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