Since you can't upvote your own questions and answers across Stack Exchange (which of course makes perfect sense), instead of a popup message after clicking the up or down arrows, for clarity and UX reasons--especially for new users--could some combination of the following changes be made?

  • Disable--not remove--the up/down arrow links on your own answers
  • Gray them out or lighten them to clarify they're not an option
  • Add a tooltip (replace the current title attribute) to the div.vote element (or maybe better, the a.vote-up-off and a.vote-down-off elements for your answer) that explains that you can't vote for your own posts (the current popup text, "You can't vote for your own post", would work fine)

I know there have been some similar suggestions (e.g. here and here) that want to remove that button area entirely, but I know there's good reason to be able to see the vote total (and later the break down). I think this current suggestion would provide a consistent interface (the buttons are still present), but with a subtle indication that they aren't functional in that context, and an explanation with a simple mouse-over.

  • 1
    Who is this confusing or inconveniencing to such a degree that it requires change? I end up trying to vote for my own stuff maybe once a month; I laugh and move on.
    – Shog9
    Aug 6, 2015 at 18:26
  • @Shog9 Well, (1) I don't really think that should--by itself-- be used as an argument for or against any change. It could be used as a deciding factor, but by itself I don't think it's relevant. (2) In terms of difficulty, I think it's a very small change as things go. (3) Stack Exchange has millions of users and millions of questions, small changes can add up and be worth it if they're not too expensive (by whatever metric) to implement. And (4), this change would most benefit new users. I think anything that helps get new users over that first-week hump helps any site grow more quickly.
    – R2-Dequeue
    Aug 6, 2015 at 18:40
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    @Shog9: ... as often as once a month? Man. That's actually a pretty good argument for making this UI change, in my book! If a professional user is still making UI gaffes on any kind of consistently observable basis, that's a good sign there's something slightly amiss with the UI. Aug 6, 2015 at 18:43
  • I'm not making this mistake because the buttons aren't disabled; I'm making the mistake because I don't realize that I wrote the post I'm reading, @Nathan. If the buttons were disabled, then I'd still have to figure out why (via title-tips or whatever) when I went to vote; I would learn, but new users might not; a pop-up after you act is hard to miss. See: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/26038/… At best, this is an argument in favor of making authors more prominent - but there are good arguments against that too.
    – Shog9
    Aug 6, 2015 at 19:28
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    @Shog9: So, a tooltip when hovering over the disabled buttons saying "You can't vote on your own posts" would seem to be the native way to do it; this captures the main benefits of the popup error and allows the obvious UI affordance (or lack thereof) of a visibly disabled option. The question is asking about a keyboard shortcut being silently disabled under certain circumstances, with no possible visual indication; that's just not applicable here. Aug 6, 2015 at 19:40
  • @Shog9 An important part of the suggested change was graying the button links out (or lightening, or darkening--something). That would be the visual cue that the operation isn't available in this context (or that you wrote the post, in your example). And then standard GUI tooltips to explain why. Most desktop applications have them, Stack Exchange has them as well (e.g. mousing-over the up and downvote buttons). I hadn't thought of it before, but a fourth bullet point could be to leave the popup as a fallback if a user still doesn't get it.
    – R2-Dequeue
    Aug 6, 2015 at 19:43
  • Also, I understand that issues like this elicit surprisingly strong opinions among mods, UX people, even everyday users, so please keep that in mind, but if I feel that given some of the arguments made here about user expectations I have to point out that I can't upvote the very comments I'm making right now, without any visual cue or text to explain why. The changes I'm suggesting would give the user much more information.
    – R2-Dequeue
    Aug 6, 2015 at 19:57
  • How would this give me more information? And, returning to my first comment, how does any of this actually improve over the situation we have today, which tightly couples both the indication and the explanation for why the option is unavailable. It's not sufficient to argue, "this wouldn't be worse and it might be better" - you start out at -100 and work your way up.
    – Shog9
    Aug 6, 2015 at 20:23


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