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I see people asking similar questions since the beginning of Stack Exchange, for different reasons.

What I think, especially after the latest events, seeing up and downvotes as a way to agree or disagree with someone anonymously: it made sense at the beginning, when it was about technical questions, but MSE is more like a social network, with lots of issues being discussed, and a lot of people pouring their emotion into their posts. Some can feel endorsed by a high number of upvotes, and think they are winning an argument because of the sheer number of supporters. That's not how a civil discussion should work, IMHO. I think this hampers inclusion, because users whose opinions are different from the majority don't feel welcome to participate.

It's not about "useful" vs "not useful", and I am not suggesting to remove the possibility of upvoting or downvoting. What bothers me today is that every question and answer has a big number of "likes", and that's the first thing I see. The signature on each answer has a name, a number of medals and a score. It's ok when you share some information and get feedback, not if you try to contribute your point of view on a particular subject.

This kind of gamification works well for technical Q&A sites (mostly), but I don't find it appropriate for general discussions like here in MSE. It keeps people from posting their opinion and risk becoming a downvote magnet, because upvoting someone else is cheaper.

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    "SE (and particularly MSE) is a social network" Oh? I thought this was a Q&A site. – Mast Oct 25 at 6:45
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    @Mast: Q&A means (in my opinion) that every question has a valid answer, and that's not the case for MSE where questions become a discussion and users are invited to share their opinion. The reputation system in its current form is a deterrent for poeple whose opinion is different from the majority. – G B Oct 25 at 7:04
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This kind of gamification works well for technical Q&A sites (mostly), but I don't find it appropriate for general discussions like here in MSE.

Yes, most people who have some experience here on Meta agree that the reputation system isn't such a good fit here as it is for main sites. Various suggestions for replacements have already been suggested in the past, e.g. using the combined reputation from all sites instead.

What bothers me today is that every question and answer has a big number of "likes", and that's the first thing I see.

Personally, that doesn't bother me: it tells me how the majority of the community thinks about a certain topic or opinion. You have to mentally correct the score for post age and half a dozen other factors, and that might be hard for newcomers, now that I think of it.

Some can feel endorsed by a high number of upvotes, and think they are winning an argument because of the sheer number of supporters. That's not how a civil discussion should work, IMHO.

Well, they are winning in a sense that they have the popular vote. That's important to know, but it doesn't mean they're winning the battle: just look at the badly received Code of Conduct changes.

It keeps people from posting their opinion and risk becoming a downvote magnet, because upvoting someone else is cheaper

I'd say that is a big plus for retaining the reputation system here. Why would you post your own solution to a specific programming problem when someone else already posted something along the same line? You don't; you upvote that answer instead. It works the same here on Meta. This saves all users here from reading a multitude of essentially duplicate opinions.

  • I was expecting a similar answer (as in your first revision): "Why would you post your own solution [...] You don't". What happens sometimes on SO is that people post the same answer with some extra details and get cheap upvotes. Same here: I have an opinion, but a different opinion has all the upvotes, so why disagree? Fear of isolation trumps inclusion. – G B Oct 25 at 6:38
  • To validate that idea, look at several Meta questions and see whether there are multiple answers, one with lots of upvotes and one different or disagreeing. – Matt Gutting Oct 25 at 10:14
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Yes it's still valid and useful on the whole, but I think there could be experiments to be done about changing how rep and voting is shown on the site. Similarly to how Instagram has hidden like numbers, maybe not all vote counts should be shown everywhere. For example, for new users I've wondered if downvotes on their posts should be capped at -2 or -3 (only for display - the system would still take everyone's votes.) Or maybe even just 0. Downvoting isn't bullying, but for new users it sure can feel like it, so changes like this could help people feel more accepted.

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