This thread provide some insights as to why vote counts are not displayed by default.
It is, for me, a rather unsatisfying reason. Not because it is not valid, but because it really is a shame that something that helpful has a restrained access for a very technical down-to-earth reason...
Now, I'm not sure showing the vote counts publicly for every post is the solution either. But first, why I think getting some information as to how much debate there is over a post is important.
Why I think such info might be useful:
I believe a 0-average or even a negative-average vote count may still have merit if 10 people voted up and say 10 people voted down (or even 11).
I feel negative votes put a lot of pressure on the poster (and that's good that it makes you re-think your answer), but sometimes, things are not that black and white.
Not to mention that there is quite a trend factor, I could sometimes witness some mimetism, to a mild extent of course. I think it is good for a user to see what the community thinks as a whole. Average votes are one thing, but is it significant all by itself? I am unsure.
Talking about peer pressure, when your post is down-voted, you (should) consider removing it, but if people are divided about it, then it might have some merit if only to show that, that people are divided about it.
Hence my feature request:
I think it would be interesting to have a way to measure how debatable (and debated) a question/answer is. If you can't show the votes explicitly, then I suggest something like an attribute saying that people are debating over it.
For instance, if a post has received more than n votes we might provide attributes like:
- "unanimous", if most post go in one direction
- "debatable"/"debated"/"discussed"/"subject to discussion" or even "to be considered carefuly" (although this one seems biased), if there are many votes on either side
Of course, n, most and many are yet to be defined.
Not to mention that doing this instead of showing vote counts has two good points on top of provided that information:
- only posts with more than n votes would be featuring this, so overall, the overhead is reduced,
- the accusation that less-experienced users might use vote counts to balance out questions/answers doesn't hold anymore since the vote count is unkown and since it requires many votes, adding one isn't that significant.
I think there is much to debate on this one.
What do you think? Why do you think it is a good/bad idea? Do you see the merit of such a feature? Do you even agree that such a feature would help the users evaluate their answers and those of others?