I just joined the programmers stack exchange site in order to upvote an answer that I thought was particularly worthy but when I clicked on the button I was told that I needed 15 reputation.

This is not a problem, I now understand how reputation works.

However would it not be better to hide the upvote and downvote buttons on all questions and answers until you can use them? There are many other features of Stack Overflow that are hidden until they become revealed by reputation increases such as deleted questions, reviewing tools, etc.

The upvote a comment button and all the other elements above are hidden until useable so why not the main voting buttons? As it stands the interface seems to be inconsistent and frustrating for new and low rep users.

  • 7
  • Oh, in case somebody missed it, Joel Spolsky is one of the founders of Stack Exchange and the current CEO. Not saying that it will not be considered for sure, but it was done intentionally this way. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 9:37
  • @TimeTravelingBobby See my comment on AlienArrays answer below please Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 15:36
  • @TimeTravelingBobby First of all Joel is not absolutely correct in all things he says (I know, shocking thought isn't it), secondly there are many mnay elements of Stack Overflow that are hidden from most users - deleted questions, review queues, etc, etc. In fact the up and down vote buttons are one of the few things that aren't hidden. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 8:46
  • p.s. Read the page more carefully: 'Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well past it's experiation date. Proceed with care.' Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 8:52
  • @TimeTravelingBobby - But he applied the same method very late on some features.
    – Himanshu
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


However would it not be better to hide the upvote and downvote buttons until you can use them?

We want new users to know what they are missing out on, so that they will want to achieve the necessary reputation/trust to use that awesome feature. Same could be said for reviewing items in the review queue, creating tag synonyms, etc.

If you hide stuff, it only takes away from the site appearance and functionality. It clearly states that they don't have enough reputation to vote yet. So they know why they can't currently.

As an example, lets say that a person has never used air conditioning. Not in a car, not in a home, no where. Lets say they do not know it even exists. That person doesn't "hope" for a machine that blows cool air, because all they know is some days are nice, and others are really hot. They know how to go for a swim, or block the sunlight out, to help keep the warmth away. They can't wrap their head around something that they do not know, that they do not know exists.

Now take a person that does know what air conditioning is, but has never used it. They will likely strive to do whatever it takes to get that nice cool air machine so they have it available when they need it. Thus they do things necessary to get such a device.

Thus, people who want the nice features Stack Overflow offers, want them because they know they exist in the first place.

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    So why are the upvote and flag buttons on comments hidden until you can use them? Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 15:35

I think it would be better. "Teasing" users who only come to this site for answers alienates many and results in a bad first impression. In and of itself it is a bad programming practice to reveal interface that is not applicable in the current context.

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