I've been pondering where voting behavior on Meta came from in the sense that it's not the same as ordinary sites. In the meta FAQ it says something along the lines of people voting based on how much they like or agree with a question or answer.

In response to some negative feedback, I am not against the notion. In fact, I would like to know what drives it and what makes it so useful.

From some posts I have seen, most of them admittedly negative in opinion, I have found a number of troubling points that I now find myself considering:

  • If the current voting behavior was community-adopted as one post suggested, especially as a result of site-specific metas where reputation isn't tied to privileges, then it may not be as appropriate on MSE as on other meta sites.

  • Since voting is tied to privileges, downvoting freely can discourage new questions and thoughts. It may punish individuality by scaring users into not asking questions, for fear of reputation loss. This might cause questions to lean towards topics known to be popular with the populace.

  • There are a few cases of uncertainty regarding when or how to vote because a question on meta is researched and useful (or otherwise).

I know that it is ludicrous to ask the developers to change the tie to privileges and I respect their choices. I will not ask that. It just seems that voting might not be working out on MSE in the same way as it does on other meta sites as a result of this.

My question is on how the voting culture of MSE came about. I hope to understand why it is more effective, thanks.

  • Some users may vote that way, but not all users vote that way
    – random
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 4:02
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    I think you forgot to complete bullet point #1 Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 4:13
  • I can't tell what you might want for an answer, thus this post is not "clear." I'm not sure that there is a problem with popularity on Meta being a basis for privileges; after all, this is MSE and nobody really needs to use MSE any more. Thus this isn't "useful." Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 4:17
  • @MatthewLundberg I want to know "why people vote based on whether or not they agree with the premise of a question"; not to assume that all users do, of course. As far as the post not having a direct answer, this is meta and it falls within the discussion tag.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 4:19
  • Ok, I'll enter an answer to that. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 4:23
  • Put another way, what is the rationality for voting by popularity, i.e. voting based on whether or not you "agree with" or "like" it. Sorry for the confusion; I will edit my question.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 4:24
  • 2
    Note that the question ban algorithm has been severely tweaked downwards on Meta.SE. The warnings are still given, but you need to do a hell of a lot worse before you are actively banned. I'd just ignore the warnings, because unless you deleted some whoppers of downvoted questions, I don't think you are anywhere near the actual danger zone. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 7:47
  • That said, I do think this question is probably a duplicate; I'm sure I've seen similar questions asked before here on this Meta, and downvotes on this question could be expressions of 'lack of research'. I did not vote myself, however, nor do I have the time right now to go find the duplicates. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 7:51
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    @FizzledOut: Perhaps it is that attitude more than anything else then; dismissing community consensus as fallible and not tested doesn't help either (you cannot engineer social interactions all that efficiently). There is a post by Shog about how what we have now works better than the alternatives tried in the past, perhaps I should point you to that instead. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 8:43
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    "Do not downvote this unless you want me question-banned" > On meta, votes are much more freely dished out. You got one from me simply by starting your question with a rude directive to the audience. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 9:45
  • @FizzledOut: and Gnat's link at least made me look for that post again. Here it is: Can we talk about the voting culture here on Meta? Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 12:01
  • 3
    The best way to attract downvotes: "Please don't downvote this." Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 13:27
  • Post reworded and improved. I stopped complaining.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 16:56
  • I don't understand how this question is a duplicate of what is a meta for? or how it is answered by it, since the linked question doesn't talk about the voting system in any way I can see.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


Metas were created to augment the sites on Stack Exchange, to ask for help with particular problems with a site or to clarify guidelines. These did not have reputation of their own, but carried the reputation of the main site. In particular, votes on the Meta sites did not affect reputation. At all.

Except for SO. SO had no meta of its own for a long time, but MSE was used as the Meta for the SO and for the entire network. As it was considered a Meta for SO, it carried the guidelines of a Meta, where voting meant agreement. But it did affect reputation.

Now SO has its own Meta, so you should be asking about SO problems on MSO. MSE should be asking questions about the network as a whole, and I will concede that as this question is asking about MSE, it is an appropriate question here.

  • 3
    Your second paragraph explains that Meta Stack Exchange was used as SO's meta, and it didn't have a meta of its own. You have that backwards though: it did have a meta, it was Meta Stack Overflow, but the problem was that it also served as the entire network's meta. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 6:55
  • 4
    This site was once Meta.SO, and this site has always had actual reputation and downvoting has always cost you points. When SO got a new, proper Meta, this site was renamed to Meta.SE. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 7:49

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