I ask this question for a very simple reason:

I love voting on questions on any SE site where I learn new things, or recognize bad user behavior on a particular site.

What I'm asking is this: why we can't vote on questions on SE sites where we are not registered members? Maybe it's an issue with potential bots creating one SE site account and vote-spamming all other sites at random? Maybe it's some other issue that I don't understand. What I do understand is that I don't like the idea of creating 30+ accounts just for voting. Is there an explanation to this problem and design decision by the Stack Exchange team?

This is to say that, for example, I like learning things from Physics.SE; I want to be able to upvote questions/answers that I find intriguing, useful, etc. I want to downvote clearly bad questions and answers that I know don't fit the format of the specific site.

That said, I am looking for a/the reason why the SE engine does not allow for voting on SE sites where the user is not a registered member. Continuing the example:

I am not registered on Physics.SE, but I often find Hot Network Questions that direct me to Physics.SE that are very interesting, and that I enjoy learning from. I want to vote on these questions, but I don't want to register (yet) another SE account on a website where I will not actively be contributing.

I firmly believe that the people who ask/answer these questions deserve the upvotes (or downvotes) for the quality of their question(s)/answer(s); however, I don't think that it makes a lot of sense for me to register an account solely for the sake of voting on questions.

So here's the gist of the issue, in numbered format:

  1. I want to (up/down) vote questions on SE sites where I am not a member.
  2. I don't want to register 30+ accounts on Stack Exchange solely for the purpose of voting, when I know that I will not actively contribute to these SE sites.

I have already registered several SE accounts using Google+ Oauth; on 42% (really, a coincidence) of these sites, I have 101 reputation (the minimum as a trusted user), and on which I will never actively contribute. In fact, I would say that of my 19 accounts, I only really try to contribute to 3. I simply find the information on the other sites interesting and/or useful, and want to give the people who dedicate the time/effort to asking/answering these questions the credit that they deserve, without complicating my own SE network profile to have 30+ accounts.

As an aside, I realize that 'maintaining' 30+ accounts on SE isn't really difficult, with automatic login on sites where I am a member, cookie re-authentication that never seems to expire, and the simple fact that creating a new account takes only a few clicks and it's done.

The issue is more of a technical one - if I am interested in things that happens on all 100+ SE sites, should I have the need to create 100+ accounts just to vote on stuff that I find interesting?

PS - looking at this question from a 'meta' standpoint, I'm disappointed in my lack of SE data query data. I don't think it's possible to get the number of accounts for a user with analysis on the number of their total accounts that have low reputation (compared to their max/total for a site/sites). If anyone can come up with such a query, please feel free to add it to this question or answer. I think that it would help my case in that there are other users who create accounts solely for the purpose of voting on certain SE sites, and nothing more.

  • For the down-voters, can I get a single reason why this doesn't comply with the FAQ that deserves all the downvotes? If you have a good reason why this feature shouldn't exist, please feel free to post an answer. This is exactly the reason why I asked the question. Jul 15, 2014 at 0:51
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    I think it was being taken as a feature request masquerading as a support inquiry. We get a lot of those, and this superficially resembles some of them. Making the title actually a question might help a little. Jul 15, 2014 at 2:07
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    Just wanted to say I feel the same way as the OP. SE seems to try very hard to get you to visit other SE sites (see sidebar), it tries very hard to encourage people to vote, but it prevents you voting on other sites unless you create Yet Another Stackexchange Account. I feel sad reading great answers and not being able to upvote them. Sep 8, 2014 at 23:10

3 Answers 3


What I'm asking is this: why we can't vote on questions on SE sites where we are not registered members?

Completely unregistered users

If you have an account nowhere on our network, you haven't earned the upvote privilege yet, or the downvote privilege. We have reasons for withholding the upvote privilege. If you're an anonymous user, you shouldn't be able to do it either.

Users registered somewhere on the network, but not on that site

If you have a rep bonus, you can upvote

If you have an account somewhere on our network, and you have 200 reputation on some site, then upon registering at a new one, you get a bonus 100 reputation:

If you are an experienced Stack Exchange network user with 200 or more reputation on at least one site, you will receive a starting +100 reputation bonus to get you past basic new user restrictions. This will happen automatically on all current Stack Exchange sites where you have an account, and on any other Stack Exchange sites at the time you log in.

This represents that we trust you with the basics of how the system works, so we at least trust you to upvote. If you're not at this point yet, keep working and eventually you'll be able to upvote on any site you reach.

But you can't downvote yet

That reputation won't push you over the 125 reputation required to be able to downvote on a site. Speaking as a user who's registered on a variety of SE sites covering many different topics: that's a good thing.

Different SE sites have different practices, including the kinds of questions they accept. Of the sites I use, each has a couple of kinds of questions that would be a bad question on some of the other sites. (For example: RPG.SE accepts various kinds of product recommendations, which a large number of sites ban outright, but we have some stringent requirements on how they're asked.)

As a totally new user to an SE site, it might be my immediate reaction to see those horrible questions (which are actually totally OK there), log in, and downvote. But as a new user, it's not my place to say what I don't want to see on that site: that's for the people actually using that site, who understand what does and does not work there and why.

As a new user, it's my responsibility to learn what is okay there before I am able to start saying what I don't want there. So take the time, and demonstrate you understand that site and contribute to it a little, and then you can downvote.

  • Right, I guess I missed the 125-rep downvote limiter. I don't downvote very often, but I do upvote often when I find things interesting. I suppose that I should have worded the entire question better to be more specific. This wasn't a feature request, this was asking why this isn't an existing feature - to which you answered perfectly, so thanks! I understand the down-voting of the question before the edits were implemented, but is there any reason (aside from the confusing wording of the question itself) that this would be down-voted into oblivion? Just curious! Jul 15, 2014 at 16:08
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    @ChrisCirefice, apparently downvoting feature requests on meta is standard practice for "I don't support this feature request". Sep 8, 2014 at 23:07
  • @SteveBennett Well fortunately I don't care too much about reputation :) Sep 9, 2014 at 2:42

You ask:

What I'm asking is this: why we can't vote on questions on SE sites where we are not registered members?

One of the reasons why this is a terrible idea is because unregistered users cannot be trusted. Period. They can't be trusted to understand how the Stack Exchange Q&A model works, and how you should vote on posts. They can't be trusted not to abuse voting by targeting particular users for serial up or downvoting. Et cetera.

Registered users earn reputation, which signals the system how much trust should be allocated to a user, along with privileges (including voting privileges).

Registered users who have earned at least 200 reputation on one Stack Exchange account are considered to be trustworthy enough (and are believed to understand the Stack Exchange model well enough) to be automatically trusted with a free 100 reputation account association bonus.

  • So would it make sense, theoretically, to allow trusted users to vote on sites they are not registered on? I think the idea might introduce some complications - for instance, how would the SE engine know if I'm logged in at all? Cookies probably, but it's one more layer of abstraction. However, I think that for trusted users, voting on unregistered sites would make sense. This idea could even be 'max reputation'-based: i.e., give users who have any site rep of 500+ the ability to vote on all sites, regardless 'account exists'. It's a tough issue... which is why I ask the question :) Jul 15, 2014 at 0:49

It's not clear how much you think you'd be voting. My comments above assume just a few votes per week on each site you might drop in on. If that's what you want to do, skim some of 30, 50 or 100 sites, great, skim away but don't worry about voting.

I also like to vote, I vote more than anyone else on SE - probably over 100,000 votes on Qs and As (I'll add it up at the end of the month). But in order for your votes to be useful and responsible, you really need to participate in a site.


Every site I'm active on could use more voting. Voting is what separates good Qs and As from "meh" or bad ones. If you're going to skim a lot of SE sites and cast a few votes here and there, that's not a bad thing, but really doesn't do much to help those sites function. It doesn't provide very much feedback to the people posting if you cast a couple votes a couple times a week.


Although the majority of the rules and norms are the same across all SE sites, there are variations, and they change over time. If you're just dropping in here and there you aren't going to recognize those norms.


If you're talking about voting regularly on 30+ sites, you'd be spending way too much time here.

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