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Why isn't the number of up and down votes to answers and questions limited to a certain maximum?

The problem I see with an unlimited number of votes is, that a single post can have a huge impact on the reputation without any big effort, resulting in advanced privileges.

Moreover I think that, seen from a value-of-information point of view, that 100 accepted answers are much more valuable than one answer that has been up voted 300 times.

There exist many examples, but let me pick just one example here: this answer

How do I check if an element is hidden in jQuery?

to the question isn't really related to a complex issue. It's rather just a hint to a pretty basic jQuery command for a common and frequently uprising question.

In the end it resulted in 44980 point of reputation (as of 9.4.2015). This is enough reputation to be with the top 1% users. Just by one simple answer.

There are many other users that contributed much more (lots with a 1000 answers or more), but who have much less reputation. This looks somewhat wrongful. Compare for instance users 41942 (561 accepted answers) and 25449 at (17 accepted answers) with the tool at http://data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/7521/how-unsung-am-i.

Wouldn't it be more even-handed to limit posts to lets say 10 or 20? I could also imagine to have a kind of voting system in order to pick particular post that can have up to 100 votes - but not more.

  • @Downvoters: I've the slight feeling that your votes reflect your opinion about this topic, meaning: "No, I don't want this!". If not, may be you could help me to improve my question, so that it is no longer useless or unclear. This was not planned to be a survey. I was rather looking for reasons that explain why this system has been chosen. Though I think SO it is a great platform, I was wondering how others look at this question. Moreover, I'm not alone with it and others are much more critical about this (e.g. michael.richter.name/blogs/…) – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 9:52
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    You would make a stronger point if you bring in on-site support, not a blog post that has been used many times by several users in different contexts to explain/prove that something is wrong with the SE model. – rene Apr 27 '15 at 10:28
  • Where is the actual problem you're solving? So on a rare occasion a single contribution that's highly valued can get you a large set of privileges. Sure. But it's an outlier, and would only be a problem if those privileges are subsequently abused. Not doing anything about this is the easiest option. Making the system "fair" by whatever measure is complicated if not impractical. – Bart Apr 27 '15 at 12:07
  • @Bart: May be I misinterpreted this forum and the tag discussion. I didn't want to solve something, but to have an open discussion on the issue I brought up. Unfortunately I cannot delete my question, sorry for this! – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 12:20
  • I think the question is fine, as are the incoming answers and comments. No need to delete it. – rene Apr 27 '15 at 12:28
  • You make a proposal at the end of your post. So I can only assume this is to address an issue. And that issue is the gain of privileges that outweigh the actual contribution, correct? All I'm saying is that if that is what you're solving, you'll have to demonstrate it causes a problem that's large enough to address even though it doesn't occur all that often. – Bart Apr 27 '15 at 12:29
  • @Bart: "Wouldn't it be more even-handed to limit posts to lets say 10 or 20?" is a question. The sentence behind is connected to the question. It's not a "proposal" and not a change request or similar. I was just looking for pros and cons that other users see (beside those I can see). – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 13:06
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a single post can have a huge impact on the reputation without any big effort

This can at times be true, but usually the well upvoted posts are either very informative and well written, so arguably deserve the rep, or were written a long time ago and have gathered many votes over time.
A lot of rep earned from either of these scenarios is fair, because that's how the site works.

Most users with high rep have gained a lot of their rep over numerous other answers and activity.
So, even without their having a highly upvoted post or two, their other moderately well upvoted posts would have earned them the same privileges anyway - there's only so many privs you can earn.

100 accepted answers are much more valuable than one answer that has been up voted 300 times.

The accepted is primarily valuable to the OP, as it signifies they got their answer. While this can also signify it is useful to others because they have the same question, it's not simply the case where the answer which helped the OP also helped everyone else.

I have seen posts with accepted answer at the top of the answer pile, with a score of 4 or 5, and answers below it with a score of 20, or 30 or more.

Given the site is about more than one person getting an answer (the OP), the most upvoted ones are more valuable to the community and others users - as reflected in the many votes it gathered.

An answer being accepted has no bearing on this, as accepted is only one person's opinion, where votes gathered are everyone's opinions.

There exist many examples, but let me pick just one example here: this answer
Checking if an element is hidden

What do you mean precisely by "many" examples?
10? 20?
Even you had found 500 examples (which I very much doubt) consider that Stack Overflow has 16 million answers, even 500 examples wouldn't really signify a serious problem.

Also, while your example could be argued as receiving too many votes given the answer content, and perhaps argued it should be capped, how do we decide who's answers should stop getting rep? And who decides this?

Would you be happy if the answer in your example was your answer and at say 100 votes you rep was frozen?

Wouldn't it be more even-handed to limit posts to lets say 10 or 20?

Even if a limit was to be implemented, 20 is simply way too low.
Heck, 1,000 can and would be argued as far too low by many users.

With such a ridiculously low rep/vote cap you will greatly reduce users from writing "great/amazing" answers.
So what if many do it for rep as well as helping? If they spend time (20/30 mins, an hour) to write a great/fantastic answer, even if they did it mostly to get rep, it still provides a fantastic and very useful answer to hundreds/thousands of users.

It is limited already

There is already a limitation, the rep cap.
Which stops people getting too much rep each day which arguably limits their reaching privileges too quickly.
The rep cap seems to control the rep earned to a sensible balance of:

time on site + experience vs rep and privileges earned.

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    There are some good points in this answer (the most, I'd say) though I'm a bit surprised that everyone fights tooth and nail for the unlimited votes/reputation. The strongest point in my eyes is, that the statistical significance of the issues I described is relatively low. The reputation system is quite good working and might be sensitive against basic changes. In fact, SO provides in many cases the best answers, what confirms the efficiency of the platform. So why change a well working system? There is probably no good reason ... ;) – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 18:59
  • There are probably some minor or even major changes which could be an improvement. But with such a vast site (16 million questions, 4 million users, etc) you do have to be very careful not to upset the balance. And with the most tried and tested elements of the site, such as voting, even the slightest change might cause disastrous results. While improvement is good, in Stack (as with other big sites/companies) for the most part the major systems and functions tend to carry the old "if it ain't broke don't fix it" :) – James Apr 27 '15 at 20:57
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Why isn't the number of up and down votes to answers and questions limited to a certain maximum?

Because there is no limit on how useful or not useful a post can be. If I arrive today on a post that helped me I upvote. It doesn't matter how many votes there are already on that post. It is useful to ME.

The problem I see with an unlimited number of votes is, that a single post can have a huge impact on the reputation without any big effort, resulting in advanced privileges.

A great answer comes from a great mind. I will challenge that Jon Skeet didn't make a big effort. Maybe he wrote his most upvoted answer in a few minutes but only because he wrote a book about the topic.

That reputation gives privileges is true but with any privilege it still requires multiple community members to effectively use such powers. And if something is abused that same community will step in and/or a moderator will do.

There are many other users that contributed much more (lots with a 1000 answers or more), but who have much less reputation. This looks somewhat wrongful

What is wrongful about it? It is not about quantity, it is about quality. I see enough users in some doubtful tags answer anything they can get their hand on. That doesn't improve the user experience for the users that actually try to find a good answer for their question.

Wouldn't it be more even-handed to limit posts to lets say 10 or 20? I could also imagine to have a kind of voting system in order to pick particular post that can have up to 100 votes - but not more.

No, don't limit voting. If I find something useful or utter crap I need to be able to vote. And I'm really confused to have yet another voting system to pick a post that can have 100 votes? If this would exist, wouldn't that be the accepted answer?

Give it a little bit more thought. Your idea's will harm the way we do quality control and usefulness of posts on the sites. If something needs to change, it is not along this line.

  • It looks like you didn't read my question completely: reg. "It is not about quantity, it is about quality": the example I gave above shows that the reputation system is sometimes about quantity and not quality, because one pretty basic answer was voted higher than thousand other helpful answers. The number of up votes is often an indicator for the frequency of questions (and I'm fine with this). Reg. "Your idea's will harm the way we do quality": No, I don't think so. Whether an answer got 50 or 3500 up votes - both are most likely quite helpful. – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 10:11
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    I fully understand what you wrote. My point remains: I vote on posts, not on reputation. And you fail to make clear why it is such a big deal that some user got rep from a couple of good posts. It could become a big deal if you find users that abuse their privileges which they got from only a handful of posts. As long as that is not the case I feel there is nothing to be discussed because there is no problem to be solved except perceived wrongfulness – rene Apr 27 '15 at 10:25
  • First of all you failed to stay polite. I was just asking for some good reasons. I can clearly see pros and cons of the system and it's not a big deal to me in the way how it works today. Otherwise I wouldn't contribute to the platform. – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 11:53
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    @Trinimon I'm sorry you feel that way, it was not my intention to be impolite. What makes you feel that I am? – rene Apr 27 '15 at 11:56
  • It is the way how this question is interpreted. I didn't want to change the reputation system, but only know how others look at this issue. In addition I didn't fail to make clear why it might be an issue, because you said it with your own words: "It could become a big deal if you find users that abuse their privileges ..." - and you gave even an answer to it: " And if something is abused that same community will step in and/or a moderator will do.". So far so good. I'd like to see a bit more openness here .... – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 12:17
  • I'm as open as I can be. We will see and wait how this develops. – rene Apr 27 '15 at 12:23
  • @Trinimon Comments can often come across as harsh or a bit sharp, but that's usually just because we tend to simply be "to the point" in comments given the char limitation. They're not really designed for long discussions, so we often tend to negate pleasantries and just get on with discussions. I think you might have misunderstood rene's points as being sharp instead of just plain facts with no fluff :) – James Apr 27 '15 at 20:49
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Because it's too arbitrary. With daily reputation caps from upvoting and requiring users with 125+ rep to downvote, the system works. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  • You put it in a nutshell ("Because it's too arbitrary") :) - it's probably hard to say if (at all) and how this could be improved. While using Google to search for programming issues, I end up at SO in 90% of all cases - and the solutions are helpful many times. So it works well :) – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 12:28
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If I see a question where one answer has 10 upvotes and the other has 1000 I know that even though the 10 upvoted answer is good, the 1000 upvoted question is much more likely to be useful to me.

If upvotes are limited to 10 each then I wouldn't have the means to distinguish those answers any more. This question for instance has various answers that would presumably be indistinguishable with a cap.

Further, if we had a cap and both answers now have 10 upvotes it's presumably still possible for the answer that would have had 1000 upvotes to attract a random drive by downvote (maybe Tim is still looking for his keys) and now appear worse than the answer that has both a real and capped score of 10 upvotes.

You can adjust this argument to whatever arbitrary limit you wish to impose of course.

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    Quite good point (the question example) and a funny story - got your point :) – Trinimon Apr 27 '15 at 12:56

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