Imagine two questions with the following vote counts: -2 and -8. Is the difference in vote count relevant in any way to the user? I find myself more likely to read a -8 question through sheer morbid curiosity, while I would most likely totally ignore a boring -2. I think the attention a really low negative vote count attracts is an unintended consequence of the vote count system.

Some alternative ways to display negative vote counts that would avoid this are below. In all cases, the system would still store the exact vote count and it could be displayed to those that have that privilege, if they choose.

  • Always display -1, no matter how negative.
  • Simply show a negative sign.
  • Simply show a blank vote count box.
  • And what about the high positive counts? – Mysticial Mar 7 '13 at 22:53
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    @Mysticial I see no problem with high positive counts. High counts attracting attention is the intended effect. – whiskeyspider Mar 7 '13 at 22:54
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    In any case, questions with -4 or lower (-8 for metas) are suppressed from the front page. So the system already denies them a lot of attention. – Mysticial Mar 7 '13 at 22:55
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    Interesting suggestion - although I expect it would lead to more heavily downvoted content. I'm pretty sure the thought of "oh, it's already at -3, that's punishment enough" is a strong pattern in the community, and prevents plenty of complete train-wrecks from happening – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 7 '13 at 22:58
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    And then, sometimes, you get questions downvoted to -15 or less. (Those, plus the comments, are always good fun to watch). – nneonneo Mar 7 '13 at 23:06
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    Agreed. Going to the least voted questions on meta is always really nice entertainment :D Example: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/148785/… – Doorknob Mar 7 '13 at 23:09
  • @nneonneo i've seen -20 in about 10 seconds before – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Mar 7 '13 at 23:15
  • @Doorknob: Ooh, that is fun. Know of a good way to find such questions (besides my own -9)? :) – nneonneo Mar 7 '13 at 23:23
  • @nneonneo Questions -> Votes -> Last page :) – Doorknob Mar 7 '13 at 23:24

Very low negative counts might draw a lot of attention, but they draw negative attention, more down votes, close votes, and they often get deleted or they quickly fade away into obscurity.

I might be a sucker, but to me it seems that even among negatively voted questions, the vast majority of them are not actually trolls or spammers, but rather lazy people and that they aren't actually seeking negative attention.

I don't think that this phenomenon is really that serious of a problem.

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