When I'm browsing around the trilogy, my policy is to only upvote questions/answers that I feel are underrated, and I only downvote answers that I feel are overrated.

For instance if I see a humorous response to a question, and it has less than 2 or 3 upvotes, I'll most likely vote it up. If that exact same answer had 20 upvotes, I probably wouldn't. If it had 200 votes, I'd most likely vote it down. This goes for any answers, not just humorous ones. I assign everything I read a value I feel it should have. I then vote either up or down to help move the rating to where I feel it needs to be.

My policy is as follows: Any answer that makes any effort to be helpful, deserves at least 1 upvote. Even if the answer is wrong (unless its blatantly wrong). If it's a few paragraphs and kinda goes above and beyond, it deserves 5 or 6 upvotes. If it really goes the extra mile to be completely thorough, and it seems the author did special research for the answer, that deserves more than 10. If an answer is really long and really thorough, but it doesn't answer the question in any way (I've seen this a lot), it deserves one upvote at the most. I hate it when people do that. Blatant rep mining. Unless they post an apology or something explaining how they mis-interpreted the question, I'll most likely vote it down (unless I asked the question, in which I never downvote unless they're spamming or something)

When it comes to questions, anything thats not "send me the codez" or so "localized" to the asker's specefic problem, should at least be 1, maybe 2 at the most. If the question brings up a really interesting "corner case", and it seems the OP did a lot of research beforehand, it should be a 5 or 6. Only the really thought provoking question should be a 10 or more.

It seems to me that most people here don't do it that way. They vote on questions and answers based solely on their own "vacuumed" opinion. If they like the post, they'll vote it up, regardless of how many people have already done so. Because of this, I've noticed questions that cover broad topics, (which have the most views), seem to get answers with the most upvotes, regardless of the quality of answers therein.

Is this be how it should be? Or should we encourage people to vote with a system such as mine?


Lets say you come across an answer that was a one liner, was only marginally helpful, and had 30 upvotes. Does this person deserve 300 rep points for this answer? Is that fair that that person gets such a bump, while most other people post much better answers all the time without even getting 2 or 3 upvotes? In this case is it "ethical" to downvote the overrated answer? I guess judging by the reception of this thread, it is seen an unethical. But why?

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    -1 Question was sitting on an odd number of votes. – random Sep 30 '09 at 6:23
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    -1 Question was sitting on an even number of votes. Death to the evenites! – Greg Sep 30 '09 at 8:57
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    Just to be contrary, I voted random up to 5 and Greg up to 4. – mmyers Sep 30 '09 at 12:54
  • This is a great question. I have a friend. On a scale (-100 - +100) he would always vote either +100 or -100. No compromises. I Asked him "why?". He replied - "what is the point to vote "+5"? your vote will be diluted by crowd. If you like it more then average - support fully. Otherwise - reject it completely. This is a valid strategy to make your vote count. Sadly, nbv4, you ask this question in a wrong place. See, here a point taken away from another user is a point earned. – Stepan May 11 '16 at 1:04

You should be voting based on the content of the post, not who made it, how many votes it has or anything else.


Closing out with this:

It seems to me that most people here don't do it that way. They vote on questions and answers based solely on their own "vacuumed" opinion. [...]

But reading back you write:

My policy is as follows: [...]

Don't see how you following your own policy isn't just like what everyone else is doing inside of their "vacuum."

If you want to go about handing pity votes, or upvoting wrong answers, that's your call. If you want to downvote to level out an answer that's getting too big for its britches, fine. If you want to upvote a well written answer or one that is correct, totally on your click of the mouse again.

They're your votes to give out as you wish.

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    You almost hit the nail on the head. A downvote deserves a comment explaining what is wrong with the answer. But a comment like "-1 because you already have 20 upvotes" sucks dead bunnies. – innaM Sep 30 '09 at 6:06
  • Almost on the head, but others are probably awake when it's the afternoon. – random Sep 30 '09 at 6:09
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    @Manni isn't "this comment isn't worthy of a score of 20" good enough of a reason for a downvote? I don't think it's fair when a person gets tons of rep for one popular answer that isn't even that good, while there are lots of people out there who have made lots of better answers, but none that have "hit it big" and so have smaller rep. Using me as an example, only about half of my answers ever even get voted on, but the ones that do aren't even really my best, but they make up the majority of my rep. I think it'd be better if things around here be more consistent rather than feast+famine. – nbv4 Sep 30 '09 at 7:05
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    @nbv4 keep in mind that 20 votes != 200 rep, due to the rep cap. If I hit the cap before I even made that post then my total rep for +20 & -1 will be -2, not +198. Thanks a lot :| – Greg Sep 30 '09 at 9:01

This is basically the advice the site gives for voting an answer:

Vote up if:

This answer is helpful

Vote down if:

This answer is not helpful

I think it's fair to consider that as pretty authoritative.

Now, if you downvote a popular answer (which you agree is helpful) just because you feel it has too many upvotes, naturally that will strike people as strange, as Manni pointed out, and it is also clearly against what the site designers had in mind.

Still, go ahead with your policy if you must. As jjnguy said:

You should use votes how you like. They are yours to cast.

  • The upvote/downvote paradigm has always works like the way I'm using it. If you think a post's score should be pushed up then you upvote it. If you think the score should be brought down, you downvote it. If the upvote simply just means "I agree with this", and the downvote translate to "this is noise", then we should change the interface to reflect that, so its more clear that this post is being +1'd because it's helped so many people, not because it amused a lot of people. Also, sometimes I see high upvoted answers whwre the author basically states the obvious, which people will upvote. – nbv4 Sep 30 '09 at 8:47
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    No. In my view, the paradigm has never worked like that. If you think a post is good vote it up, if you think a post is bad, vote it down. The post's current score is not part of the equation. – innaM Sep 30 '09 at 8:54
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    @nbv4. I do sort of see your point, as sometimes I mainly vote so as to move a particular answer up relative to other answers. But even so, I would never downvote an answer that's actually helpful. I'd recommend a milder form of your policy: if you think a helpful answer is overrated, simply abstain from upvoting it. – Jonik Sep 30 '09 at 9:02
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    @nbv4 This seems to be your interpretation of the voting system. The system is quite clear however, if you find the answer helpful upvote - if not helpful downvote. That is the paradigm that the site is built on. The users reputation is just an indication of how much we trust the person in the community. Nothing more. – BinaryMisfit Sep 30 '09 at 9:07

When you want to vote something up, go ahead and vote it up.

When you want to vote down, go ahead and vote down, but don't forget a comment that tells the person being downvoted why you did it. People want feedback, especially for their answers. Don't be surprised though, when people get angry after you downvoted them and stated that you did this because they had too many upvotes.


The question is not whether you are wrong when you vote. The question is whether the answer you vote on is wrong or not.

When 30 people (I took this number from your edited question) think that something deserves an upvote, who are you to decide that this is unfair or even unethical?

If you want more upvotes, post more and better answers or shift your expertise to more popular tags.

  • Why should they be mad? If I downvote something because I feel that their answer doesn't deserve 10 upvotes, how does that make me wrong? – nbv4 Sep 30 '09 at 7:17
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    Well, of course they'll be mad. This is vigilante justice, eh Manni? – pavium Sep 30 '09 at 7:51
  • Yeah, people may react negatively to such downvoting, and rightfully so too. After all, you would be using downvotes differently than what the site tells you (and what most people think they're for): meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23954/… – Jonik Sep 30 '09 at 8:47
  • @nbv4 "Why should they be mad?" Because we are wired to react more strongly to negative events than positive events. (Darwin - survival.) And to protect ourselves from those who seem to be "harming" us. Downvoting a decent answer, merely because you feel too many people liked it, would make me mad. Who are you to judge those other people's votes? If you want to become hated, keep doing it like you are doing it -- and have the courage to post a comment each time, saying WHY you are downvoting. – ToolmakerSteve Jul 11 '13 at 5:12

There are a lot of reasons to follow Jonik's guidelines (largely based on how the SO team expects questions to be ranked that way) but if we just assume that either system works as desired, Jonik's guidelines give

number of votes = average usefulness to viewer * people who care enough to vote

If we use your policy

number of votes = average usefulness to viewer

Of course this is very rough, but my opinion is that we want the people who care enough to vote factor. Sure, this means that questions regarding C#, .Net, app building, etc get a lot more votes than questions regarding some obscure numeric library, but that's because there are a lot more people trying to build an app and stumbling through it with SO's help. Helping minorities is noble and all, but we mustn't forget the majority while we're at it.


Instead of replying to each comment, I'll just make this an answer.

This is how I see it: The number of upvotes next to the post is like the community determined score. If a post is really good, the score should be really high. If the post is really bad, the score should be really bad. The effect of voting is that score being changed, so the intent of the voter should reflect that. VI think of a 0 rating as a C. A score of 1 is a B. Anything higher than a 2 is an A. -1 is a D and anything lower than -2 is an F. Whenever I see a -2 or lower score, I expect to see a F grade post. Whenever I see a post with a score of 15, it better be a really really good post. If the system worked like this, it'd be a better system, imo. Alog those same lines, downvoting a post from +10 to +9 is not the same thing as downvoting a post from 0 to -1. The overall effect is much greater by making a 0-post negative.

If you look at sites like imdb where they have a granular rating system (5-star, 4-star, 1-star, etc), you'll see that the most common votes casts in their system is a ten and a one. Thats not because movies have a tendency to either suck hard or be utter masterpieces, it's because people vote with the intent of making the movie rating higher or making it lower.

I know that as it is written right now, the definition of voting around here is to just simply vote up whatever you think is good, and not to downvote unless you think the answer is bad or wrong. This makes for a very lopsided system that results in rep-inflation. People love to get rep, but is it whats best for the community? I imagine 5 years from now, everyone using the site today will have 10K+ reps. Thats going to make it hard for the newbies to catch up to.

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    It seems you are confusing voting and rating. Voting is open-ended, rating is not. Don't translate so-votes to school grades. That won't work. – innaM Sep 30 '09 at 10:11
  • @nbv4 "a granular rating system" -- now THAT explains to me what you are after. I think that is a topic worthy of discussion. I love review sites, where I can examine the reviews sorted by # stars. See what 5-star, 3-star, and 1-star people have to say. – ToolmakerSteve Jul 11 '13 at 5:16

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