I was looking at this answer (which suggested that downvotes are hidden to the asker if there is more than 1 downvote), and I remembered Reddit's solution to the bandwagon effect. This is to hide up/down votes for the first hour. It replaces the number of votes with a circle, and after the hour it updates with the number.

Should this be applied to the StackExchange network?

How the voting looks on Reddit

This is what I'm talking about, for clarification.


Bandwagon effect: When one user sees a post that has a few upvotes or downvotes and decides to cast his/her vote the same way as the popular opinion.


As people have been saying, an hour is too much. I was using that as an example because that's what Reddit uses. I agree that an hour is too much. Perhaps five to ten minutes would be better.

  • 5
    No. Becuase questions on SO are likely to get fewer views overall, questions with a high amount of upvotes are useful to see topics that people care about. Rarely do I see a question that is downvoted just for the sake of being downvoted, its usually for good cause (RTFM question, low quality, code dump, etc.) Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 6:54
  • @RichardJ.RossIII Maybe the first five minutes or so? The bandwagon effect definitely does apply here.
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 6:59
  • then can you supply us with a few examples of this? I've never seen it happen on a decent question. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:02
  • @RichardJ.RossIII Just googleing (as I don't know of any off the top of my head) I found this and this. They aren't exactly the same (the first is about closevotes and the second is a proposal to mitigate the effect, meaning I'm not the first person to notice it).
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:06
  • I disagree with this suggestion. If bad posts do on occasion get voted down disproportionate to their quality, that's not a big deal. In fact it's a welcome balance from the much-more-common (in my view) pity-upvote phenomena. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:08
  • @CarlVeazey The pity-upvote thing could be (more or less) solved with this idea. If people don't know the post has downvotes, they won't give pity upvotes. Edit: Might have misinterpreted pity-upvotes.
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:09
  • @boj No, you're missing the point. Im talking about questions on SO that were bandwagon-downvoted, not the meaning of the term. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:09
  • @RichardJ.RossIII I don't know any off the top of my head. Those links were people who had a similar argument as me (and one of them had a SO link).
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:10
  • 2
    @RichardJ.RossIII No one is saying that bad questions should not be down-voted. This topic is about limiting the number of down-votes. Why? Because these "bad" questions typically come from new users, and massively down-voting these users is a form of public humiliation which will probably scare them away. It would be much more in the spirit of SO to gently show them how to participate rather than to down-vote them into oblivion.
    – EJK
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:22
  • 1
    @EJK This question isn't about limiting the number of downvotes. It suggests that the score of a post be hidden for an hour, which takes away a useful metric from users.
    – user200500
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:26
  • @Asad I've edited my question to show that I don't want it to be for an hour. I just meant that the votes shouldn't be displayed immediately. The hour was just from the Reddit example.
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:30
  • 1
    @Asad Technically you are correct, however the question does link to another which suggests hiding the score from the asker - which accomplishes the same thing. It hides hugely down-voted values from the asker, thus shielding them from the embarrassment caused by bandwagon down-votes.
    – EJK
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:32
  • @EJK Once again, this is not limited to downvoted questions, or even to the asker. It would hide the score on all questions for a fixed duration, for all users (not just the author). There is a vast difference between this suggestion and yours (which is only mentioned in passing here).
    – user200500
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:34
  • I think bandwagon effect is for real, but to truly fight it, upvotes would better be hidden, too
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 10:08
  • 2
    I agree also that an hour is long. But 5 minutes? Seriously, 5 minutes is worth arguing for Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 21:18

4 Answers 4


Voting on Reddit is opinion-based. We're not an opinion-based network, we vote according to the perceived quality and usefulness of a post. That may be different for everyone, but the general trend should be the same. (See also)

While this would be something that would be interesting to try out on metas, I don't see much of a bad "bandwagon effect" on main (By "bad" I mean that a post which probably shouldn't have been downvoted got millions of -1s).

  • 2
    Actually, it would be really good here on Meta - it would at least drastically reduce people complaining about DV's Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 20:27

This is the StackExchange network and not Reddit, I would strongly disagree that the bandwagon down voting is in effect here - especially as you offer no proof that it is happening. The two crowds are arguably poles apart.

Having said that I must qualify my statement by mentioning that voting works differently on Meta and isn't directly comparable to the the regular sites (on Meta a down vote can mean disagree rather than your question sucks). The current -4 vote count on this question simply means that people do not believe there is a problem, or that your question/hypothesis is incorrect.

Note that I've made my own answer a CW - not to avoid downvotes but because it's more of an extended comment than a real answer.

  • While I agree that SE is not Reddit, that doesn't mean they can't learn from each other. As someone said in a blog post (I forget who and can't find it ATM--they worked here), SE adopted some anti serial-downvoting strategies from Reddit. I agree that they are poles apart, however, they both have a similar voting system that affects your reputation on the site, which is why I think my question still applies.
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:35
  • Can't edit the previous comment anymore, but I think I found the article I was talking about here
    – Piccolo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:43
  • 3
    @boj Serial up/down voting is a different beast to bandwagon voting (and easier to identify). Notice that up voting is also included in that because it is an equal or greater problem than serial down voting. Populism has a part to play on Reddit, whereas on the SE sites we favour technical accuracy.
    – slugster
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:51

I disagree with this suggestion. It's acceptable and desirable for the community to express its rejection of bad posts in unambiguous ways. A question that accumulates a downvote every minute or two is clearly and quickly marked as unacceptable in a way that other members of the community can observe and learn from. If that information is denied to the community, then it will be harder to express community norms in a way that newer users, lurkers, and passers-by can understand. This will have an overall negative effect on the maintenance and transmission of Stack Exchange quality standards when the user base expands or changes.

Also, a highly-negative score is useful to users who contribute time to community moderation. It lets them know the question is likely in need of editing or closure and can help them triage where they focus their attention. Removing this information from users who spend time improving the site will degrade overall site quality as it will reduce their efficiency.

Setting aside the negative side effects of implementing this suggestion, I don't see any corresponding benefit to the site or the community. The intended direct outcome is that there will be fewer downvotes to certain low-quality questions. However, there is only one beneficiary to this outcome - a certain class of users that are likely to ask poor-quality questions and then become offended when the community notifies them that their questions are not up to standard. In my opinion, this type of user needs all the education they can get and trying to coddle them is no benefit to anyone.


I really like the idea of putting at least some buffer between the time from when a question gets asked, and when you see the upvotes/downvotes.

Two main reasons:

  1. Give the asker a chance to quickly fix up anything he/she overlooked. Sometimes we make mistakes, and the downvotes we get are because of oversights. Even a buffer of 1 minute would help.

  2. A more honest vote-score. Since we agree that there is a bandwagon-effect, you'd at least mitigate it at the time you most need that - when the question is still being edited/formed/enhanced.

5 minutes does not prevent moderators from seeing heavily-downvoted questions. It shows up and they can delete/close. Nobody can really claim that 5 minutes will hamper moderation.

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