I understand from Jeff's answer to "Show Total Votes (or Up/Down Votes)" why viewing the total up/down votes on SO requires "established user" privileges. It also makes sense because this is really a "nice to have" on SO - the total vote count is sufficient to let you know whether or not the question or answer is "Great!", "OK", etc.
But why is the threshold on Meta just as high? Comment everywhere is lower, requring just 1 rep, as opposed to SO which requires 50. Presumably this is because the purpose of Meta is different, being primarily about discussion, so the lower threshold was justified.
Voting on meta can mean many different things, but is mostly used to signal agreement/disagreement. Unlike SO, where the absolute vote count is really all that matters, it seems to me that the upvote/downvote counts are more important here. For example:
+11/-01 = 1091.7% of voters agree, ratio of 10-to-1
+50/-40 = 1055.6% of voters agree, ratio of 5-to-4
Now, if I saw a question or answer on SO that is, for some reason, addressed by a question on Meta, I'd probably include a link to that first Meta question as a comment, seeing that there is some general agreement building on the topic. However, I probably would not include a link to the second, seeing that there is obviously a lot of controversy around the subject and so the matter is "not settled". Or do I misunderstand how to read Meta posts?
Some very active users on the main site simply don't spend much time on Meta asking/answering questions, but are still interested in this useful information. Is there a technical reason that the threshold is where it is (for example, needing to stay consistent with SO), or is there a more intentional reason?
Please note that this is specifically about viewing vote counts, not a more general question about the overall thresholds (which has already been asked).
Some actual examples:
+20/-04 = 16
83.3% agreement, ratio of 5-to-1
+43/-24 = 19
64.2% agreement, ratio of < 2-to-1
Both are my questions, but even I could not easily determine whether or not consensus was forming around either question until today. I would likely refer someone to the first question, because 5-to-1 is fairly definitive. I would probably not refer someone to the second question as a ratio of less than 2-to-1 shows there is very little consensus, even though it currently has the higher score.