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Seeing a post voted +10 doesn't tell the full story. The votes could be split:

  • +10/-0, signaling a good post
  • +35/-25, signaling an awful post

Lots of downvotes on a positive-scoring post might indicate a wrong answer, a poor but popular question, or a controversial meta opinion. A reader should be warned of these even if they don't compulsively click vote counts to check the split or lack the 1000-rep privilege to do so.

So, I propose showing the number of upvotes and downvotes to all users, including those not logged in, by default without needing a click.

Votes up don't cancel votes down, both in meaning and in rep. They only cancel in that the votes sort order treats them that way, though alternatives have been suggested. The net score is a poor statistic to show because it conflates two attributes:

  • Quality, as suggested by the relative ratio of upvotes and downvotes
  • Visibility, as suggested by the total number of votes

These can be quite different, as witnessed by the Fastest Gun in the West problem and Hot Network Question voting trends.

There have been many discussions about removing or lowering the privilege to view vote counts on click (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). I question though why the counts are hidden behind a click in the first place. Answer from many years ago mention a performance cost (1, 2) – is this really still a limitation?

3
  • If you want this, then there's the Auto-Load Vote Counts userscript at Stack Apps, but you need to have the rep, and it only works for you and not everyone else... :/ Nov 13 '16 at 12:40
  • 1
    Well there is this script. It's not automatic, but it gives you the 1k privilege on all sites. Nov 13 '16 at 20:53
  • 1
    @ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Thanks! With that userscript in combination with the one Zacharee1 linked, I now see automatically see all votes splits everywhere.
    – xnor
    Nov 14 '16 at 22:03
10

I think performance is still a major concern. As you might have read from those other posts, the post score is kept as value in the posts table. That value is pre-calculated based on the upvotes and downvotes. That means that it doesn't need additional fetches to get the post score from the votes table.

You could say of course that the team could add two more aggregated columns in the posts table, one for upvotes and one for downvotes, which are calculated the same way the current score is. I am not sure what the impact would be in ways of performance or development time, but it seems the only feasible way to improve performance that much that it can be shown to everyone.

On the other side, I don't mind that new members don't see it. We don't want to confuse them too much with the way SE works, they are puzzled enough already. Step by step they are made familiar how things work. Showing too much information might not be a good idea for that reason.

1
  • 11
    I don't believe a +/- per-post count would confuse users more. If anything, it might confuse them less, in that it's more transparent what the numbers actually mean and what your vote does. Aug 31 '17 at 17:13
7

I agree that some sort of clear upfront indication of downvotes could be a good idea (whether this, a Reddit-like percentage-upvoted, although that takes up a bit too much space, or something else).

Downvotes tend to indicate problems with posts - there are usually comments indicating these problems as well, but not always and not everyone finds their way there - the score is much more visible.

If I didn't normally check the comments and I saw a +35/-25 post that seemed like a perfectly good non-controversial post, that'd definitely give me some pause and I'd go investigating to figure out why all those people downvoted before either deciding whether I should cast my own vote or making a decision based on what's said in the answer.

If a controversial (or even dangerously incorrect) answer manages to gather a few quick upvotes, that could snowball hard and the average user (who is not able to accurately judge the quality of the answer themselves) might be none the wiser about the problems with the post and this could potentially have disastrous consequences.

4

+35/-25, signaling an awful post

I disagree with this. I don't think +35/-25 is an awful post and the reputation algorithm does not either.

You have to have the rep to see up and down. In my opinion, it is a cleaner UX without the split.

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  • 4
    What do you expect when you see a +35/-25 score on a post?
    – xnor
    Nov 14 '16 at 21:57
  • 10
    +35/-25 is not really a sign of an awful post, but it is a sign of a controversial one, and the difference between decent and controversial can be important for users to see. Objectively awful posts tend not to get that many upvotes. @xnor Aug 31 '17 at 15:59

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