Has anyone considered running analytics on this?

For example, if one were to mock up multiple sample SE posts, or clone existing ones, what would be the effect on perceptions as regards...

  1. ...the general public's perceptions of that post?
  2. ...general SE users' perceptions of that post?
  3. ...high rep SE users' perceptions of that post?

I feel this could be a rich area of study and could also take in other factors like number of badges, how well the community knows the account (e.g. if posts are presented as coming from accounts with very high view counts, like John Skeet) etc.

One big question is: are people much more likely to upvote posts already upvoted (or vice-versa), or accounts they already know? This would help with understanding if quality posts really do rise to the top and could help improve community standards.

  • 1
    Comments archived.
    – Shog9
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:31
  • Note: the answer to this suggesting a study should be conducted to establish effects of non-content related voter bias in voting patterns was deleted by three high rep users Jun 19, 2017 at 15:38
  • 5
    @PeterDavidCarter indeed, and it was deleted because it should have been an edit to the question. Since you couldn't be bothered to actually edit your own question, Shog did it for you, because he's such a nice guy. You could have simply done it yourself, as was suggested to you numerous times, if you felt it was an important change.
    – Servy
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:43
  • @Shog9 actually answered the question and I am grateful for the answer. I am not grateful for hostile language like 'couldn't be bothered' since I have given s full range of my efforts just engaging with the criticisms given. Of course, you may believe my efforts would have been better spent in other areas, but nevertheless, when someone is giving their all to engage with responses to a post it is objectively wrong to say they 'couldn't be bothered' regardless of how many upvotes a comment gets. Jun 19, 2017 at 15:46
  • 3
    @PeterDavidCarter So then what else was stopping you from editing your question to include the information you felt should have been added to it, if it wasn't just your own willingness to do so? Is there a bug with editing that prevented you from editing your question?
    – Servy
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:57
  • Rolled back and locked. Nowhere in your question do you express a specific interest (or rationale) for meta users' opinions on studying voting effects; your first sentence explicitly asks if anyone has considered studying this. I've tried several times to clarify your question, reopened and even wrote you an answer, and you're still fighting to have a misleading title (and one that goes out of its way to invalidate my answer at that)? If you have a specific reason for excluding folks who study this stuff but aren't on meta, post a different question that explains your reasoning for that.
    – Shog9
    Jun 21, 2017 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


A few years ago, we had a researcher contact us requesting assistance on conducting just such a study: they wanted to either manipulate the voting on posts in order to construct test cases, or for us to fake the score on posts for the same purpose.

We declined to assist them in this, and encouraged them to avoid it. As interesting as the results might have been, screwing with users' expectations for our own amusement isn't a practice that anyone at the company was particularly comfortable with. Even tests to gauge the effects of changing little bits of text is something we prefer to be open about - intentionally misleading readers is crossing a line. Seeing how your proposal was received, I feel we made the right decision on this.

That said, you're not the first person to wonder this; although not as accurate as a controlled study, it is possible to make a guess as to the effects of voting on future votes by looking at the public data. See: Is there an actual "pity" or "sympathy" upvote problem?

  • This sounds like bad methodology and I can understand why people might be hostile if that was the case. However, it would be possible to construct test cases that existed in a simulated Stack Exchange environment and where the users knew in advance that the environment was simulated. While this would introduce some bias, this would likely be worth it from an ethical perspective and I feel the results, though perhaps not perfect would be at least more useful than no data. Jun 19, 2017 at 15:43
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    It would be possible to do that, and I reckon anyone sufficiently motivated to do so could do so. If we ever catch wind of such a study, we'll post it here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/134495/…
    – Shog9
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:44
  • If it seemed user opinions were not sought on the usefulness of such a question then if this opinion had been expressed prior to question locking it would perhaps have been possible to edit in this light. Forgive my cynicism but given the response and the fact that unconstructive personal abuse towards me has been explicitly left in the comments to the deleted suggested answer after being reported: it seems the reaction constitutes a negative reaction to what the study results might have been combined with a desire in some corners to 'screw with a user for you own amusement' in your own words. Jun 22, 2017 at 7:15

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