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, 2013 at 22:53
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    @Mysticial I see no problem with high positive counts. High counts attracting attention is the intended effect. Mar 7, 2013 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, 2013 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
    Mar 7, 2013 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, 2013 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, 2013 at 23:09
  • @nneonneo i've seen -20 in about 10 seconds before Mar 7, 2013 at 23:15
  • @Doorknob: Ooh, that is fun. Know of a good way to find such questions (besides my own -9)? :)
    – nneonneo
    Mar 7, 2013 at 23:23
  • @nneonneo Questions -> Votes -> Last page :)
    – Doorknob
    Mar 7, 2013 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


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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