Despite the fact that votes mean something different on meta, or at least can mean something different on meta, the mouse over text when hovering over the up/down vote buttons on meta sites is the same as in the main sites:

This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

This answer is useful

This answer is not useful

We all know we get an inordinate amount of whining about downvotes; I have often had to explain to new users on different sites that downvoting on meta means something different. It simply means that "I don't agree with your proposal". Could we make that more explicit in the mouse over text? Perhaps something like:

  • Questions

    This question is useful/I agree with it

    This question is not useful/I disagree with it

  • Answers

    This answer is useful/I agree with it

    This answer is not useful/I disagree with it

I am not hung up about the wording, I am sure it can be improved. What I'd like to see is a message clearly explaining that downvotes on meta sites are something you should take even less offense at than downvotes on main sites. I feel that would help new users understand how meta sites work better and might even decrease the whining.

I am aware of Change upvote/downvote tooltip on meta sites; however, that recommends changing it completely and while it has overwhelming support, the only "official" answer (which has been downvoted to oblivion) argues that this is not a good idea because not all meta posts are things one can agree or disagree about. Fine, in that case why not have a message like the above (or a better worded version thereof)? We already have two separate reasons for voting on questions, based on either clarity or usefulness, so why not simply take a similar approach on meta, giving more than one reason to vote one way or the other?

Important note: Please bear in mind that this is not a request about meta.so, this is a special meta and is the only one where votes affect reputation. My request is aimed mainly at the various "normal" meta sites, where voting does not affect reputation in any way.

  • 3
  • @Arjan I know, that's why I want both to be mentioned. But the opinion voting applies to both discussion and feature requests and that is a large part of the content on meta sites.
    – terdon
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:42
  • Related.. the mouse over text for this question is obnoxiously huge(from the question list).
    – Daedalus
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:48
  • 6
    While I agree with all of this I doubt this will stop the whining Mar 27, 2014 at 19:48
  • 1
    "research effort" also means gauging how a feature request will go down in flames. So the current still stands.
    – random
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:49
  • @Daedalus thanks, fixed, apparently it takes the first N characters so it was using the newlines between the images.
    – terdon
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:50
  • @random as I said, I would like to have both possible meaning mentioned.
    – terdon
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:51
  • 1
    Perhaps the up / down arrows could be replaced with thumbs up / thumbs down icons. In the spirit of going big or going home, close reasons could be revised as well (in particular, "opinion based" conflicts with this proposal). For the record, though, I'm OK with how it is now, I'm just thinking of ways to improve the suggestion.
    – Jason C
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:53
  • @JasonC that might be worth an answer. This question has been prompted from various recent threads on child metas that complain about downvotes on meta answers.
    – terdon
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:55
  • @RichardTingle nothing will stop it, but perhaps decrease it?
    – terdon
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:55
  • @terdon I'm going to avoid an answer, because I generally suck at meta, and at least nobody can downvote my comments.
    – Jason C
    Mar 27, 2014 at 19:56
  • 5
    Yeah , , honestly I'm a little tired of saying "Uhhh oooon Meta, downvotes are different. Yadayadayada be happy dont be sad." It should be obnoxious too. Like once you open your post a huge javascript-screen blinks saying "here... downvotes are different. downvotes are better." Mar 27, 2014 at 19:58
  • 1
    @JasonC on meta sites, downvotes don't indicate anything is necessarily wrong with your post, only that the downvoter disagreed :P.
    – terdon
    Mar 27, 2014 at 20:03
  • 1
    @Adel That could be trivially implemented with jQuery.
    – Jason C
    Mar 27, 2014 at 20:09
  • 7
    By the way, related, perhaps the comment upvote mouseover text could be changed from "this comment adds something useful to the post" to "LOL" or "totes mcgotes".
    – Jason C
    Mar 27, 2014 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


When I hear people say that votes on meta represent (dis)agreement, it makes me grind my teeth. That is so annoying. It's mostly used as a cover-up because people just plain don't want to explain why a question or answer sucks, so they just say "I disagree" and move on. You're better off not saying anything. This is exactly the same thing as people who post "What have you tried?" as a comment on Stack Overflow and then don't provide any sort of guidance, further reading, or other information that explains what the hell you just said.

The simple truth is that the reason you agree or disagree is because you think the feature being discussed in that question would be useful or not useful. When you downvote a feature request, yes, you're saying "I disagree" but you're not finishing that statement. "I disagree because" ... "it's not clear what you're talking about"? "I don't think this feature would benefit the community"? "it lacks research effort to prove the feature is needed"? Huh? What? That's what the tooltip covers?

Answers follow the same path. Your agreement or disagreement with what's being said in that answer correlates to you thinking the information, ideas, analysis, or whatever else is useful or not useful - which is exactly what the tooltips identify.

The Counter-Proposal

STOP MENTIONING THE (DIS)AGREEMENT CRAP! Yes, I meant to type that in caps, because I want to shout it at the top of my lungs. That is a completely useless thing to say to anyone, and I honestly think we should start deleting any comments that mention it without explanation. If you're not willing to explain to the author why you think it's useful or not useful (and therefore agree or disagree), then just plain don't say anything at all.

There are very few cases, even within the feature requests, where agreement and disagreement are the sole indicators for upvotes and downvotes. So few that mentioning it in the tooltip flat-out gives users the wrong impression of how they should be using their votes.

A better explanation to give users:

Downvotes are private and we can't possibly know why another user finds your question non-useful. We can only hope that someone who downvotes eventually gives out some reasons why they think so.

  • 2
    I think your points are much more relevant to this particular meta. On various child metas, we very often post Qs and are asking for opinion, such threads are used to gauge the community's position on something and there is no reason to add an explanation. Also, in the other metas, votes don't affect rep in any way so the whining is even more absurd and it would be nice to clarify that. I am not suggesting that this necessarily be applied to meta.so since this is its own site with its own culture and preferences.
    – terdon
    Mar 29, 2014 at 17:04
  • You appear to have entirely missed the point. Dec 9, 2014 at 22:06
  • 1
    @Lightness I did not miss any points. I am adamantly against any form of putting agreement or disagreement in the tooltips. I don't even think it should be in the help center, and I'm sick of hearing lazy people use it as an excuse because they don't want to explain why something sucks.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Dec 9, 2014 at 23:30
  • 1
    Metas are used for discussion. Really, the SE model (which is specifically targeted at Q and A and to avoid discussion) does not fit well with the nature of site Metas.
    – user226495
    Jul 15, 2015 at 14:00

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