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In this answer shortly prior to We're Rewarding the Question Askers, I wrote

I feel it's better to put more effort into encouraging users to selectively upvote worthwhile questions. Make them stand out on the front page. Draw attention to good, effortful questions.

In my opinion, Skeptics.SE is the best example of this. If you ask a good question at Skeptics.SE, you're going to be flooded with upvotes! And the front page is filled with good questions.

Many sites have issues getting worthwhile questions upvoted:

  1. On the smaller sites, users don't vote enough. I've seen it at both Islam.SE and Chinese.SE, which leads to issues with self-moderation.

  2. On the massive sites, there are way too many questions to vote on them all. This is very clear at Stack Overflow and Math.SE. An effortful post is unlikely to be appreciated, so why bother putting in effort?

I'm absolutely on board that we should Reward the Question Askers, but I believe changing +5 to +10 is "meh". Increasing an arbitrary number is not encouraging (you could change it to +1000 and it won't feel any more rewarding): it's the fact that someone has upvoted. The fact that a human being has upvoted my post makes me feel like they've recognized the time and effort I spent writing it. It makes me want to write good questions again and again ("hmm... that question was well received, I guess I'll keep doing that").

So...

  1. Please vote more! Upvote what you want to see more of, and downvote what you want to see less of. It works! Let's follow the lead of Skeptics.SE, to see how selective voting can make such a huge difference.

  2. Voting encourages voting. Let's jump-start the chain reaction at the vote-sparse sites, and get users to feel like voting is normal site behavior.

  3. Upvoting influences users. We can use upvotes to get users to think "I should keep doing that" (for one's own upvotes) or "how do I make my post like that?" (when observing other posts being upvoted).

Back in 2010, Jeff Atwood in Vote Early, Vote Often wrote:

Voting is so important that we belatedly realized we may not be doing enough to encourage new users to vote. But we’re trying to change that.

In my mind, voters are still vastly underappreciated. Of course, we need vote selectively (upvote good posts, downvote poor) for it to work. So finally to my question...

How can we appreciate and encourage voters?

Some brainstorming (I have nothing radical in mind; just reminders to voters that we appreciate their time spent on the valuable task of selectively upvoting and downvoting):

  1. It would be nice to have a site-wide Stack Exchange blog post that says "thank you" to the voters. (No changes, just a simple thank you.)

  2. Perhaps some minor reward after every 100 votes at each site (e.g. +10 reputation). Not enough to encourage pointless votes, but enough to say "thank you". Or perhaps even simply a message in the Achievements box which says "thank you".

I don't know if these are good ideas, but I'm hoping the community can come up with better ones.


There's other questions about this, e.g. What is our reward for voting? What is the metric for voting? (10 years old), Are people too miserly with up votes? (10 years old), How to encourage voting on questions (10 years old), Should there be more incentive to upvote? (8 years old), How about a new badge for people who vote a lot? (8 years old), and Encourage people to "Pay it forward" (6 years old). None of them feel all that relevant to today's situation.

Failing to vote for questions was considered a serious problem for Stack Overflow: Why aren't people voting for questions? (11 years old; +879/-13). People used to care about this a lot; and at that time:

Stack Overflow, 11 years ago: Quoting from the above meta post:

  • about 49% of questions have score of 0 or 1.
  • another 21% of questions have a score of 2.

Stack Overflow, today: From this data explorer query:

  • about 46% of questions have score of 0.
  • about 22% of questions have a score of 1.
  • about 10% of questions have a score of 2.

Well, hmm. That seems a pretty solid reason to, at the very least, revisit this topic.


Please note How to encourage more voting? We have the answer (8 years old) is not a serious question, but a response to an April Fools Day joke involving unicorns. A serious version that proposes an animation when voting is Animation to encourage voting (8 years old).

  • 2
    @ColumbiasaysReinstateMonica I'm moving to leave this open, because that question's answers are kind of outdated and don't take the current situation into account. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Nov 27 at 5:06
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    In reaction to Many sites have issues getting worthwhile questions upvoted I see that some sites have issues getting Q/A upvotes at all! Even when there are many people reading the content. It appears that many people browse the sites, but won't actively participate, how do you get them on board is maybe more interesting. – 0scar Nov 27 at 13:00
  • Re "proposes an animation when voting": Like the student that learns about the shoe event horizon in HHGTTG (at least in the original radio series). It could work. – Peter Mortensen Nov 29 at 1:50
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    Re "minor reward after every 100 votes at each site": That breaks the principle that you can only get reputation points by other peoples' actions (votes and accepted suggested edits), not your own.The only exception in the association bonus (+100). – Peter Mortensen Nov 29 at 1:59
13

You can start by raising the vote caps. I've had to ration votes the last two days and still hit the caps.

  • 2
    It’s probably not a bad idea provided it’s restricted to “trusted users”, perhaps those with sufficient reputation. I don’t see a risk to letting such users (those who have experience with the site) have more votes. – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 27 at 4:42
  • I note there is precedent for loosening the vote cap: Vote For This Question or The Kitten Gets It: The daily vote limit used to be 30 votes per day; we’ve increased that to a maximum of 40 votes per day — but only if you vote on a combination of answers and questions. – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 27 at 12:02
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones On small sites you rarely run into the caps. And how does lifting the caps get people to vote? If they aren't voting at all (or rarely), lifting the caps will not give them that extra push. Lifting the caps will only appreciate the current voters. – 0scar Nov 27 at 12:53
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    I believe voting encourages voting. On the small sites, if a small number (maybe even just 5) of dedicated users systematically go through and upvote worthwhile posts, then it'll raise the "bar" [a score of 0 or +1 among a bunch of +5s sends a louder message than a score of -1 among a bunch of 0s]. (It's something I did at Islam.SE and am currently doing at Chinese.SE. It just takes longer with the cap.) – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 27 at 14:02
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    The vote caps are for our protection (so we don't get too addicted). – Peter Mortensen Nov 29 at 1:54
4

I see poor quality SO questions where more people are willing to post comments about how to improve the post than have downvoted it.

I guess the commenters don't want to be mean but want to give the asker a chance to improve their question. The desired improvement rarely happens.

Perhaps if it was easier to retract a downvote after a bad question has been improved, people would be more willing to down vote? Informing down voters that a post has been edited has been suggested before, but I've not been keen on it because the rate of worthless notifications might be too high.

  • Sometimes, you are just out of votes... Also if you can go back to the question and see whether it is improved or not, you don't have to waste your votes unless OP chooses to ignore your suggestions. Works well in some less popular tags. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 27 at 10:15
  • I tend to reserve downvotes for posts which harm the site in some way (it influences the "roomba" auto-deletion, and question bans). Perhaps I am worried about being mean. (However, I treat "upvoting" as the default, and "not upvoting" is my ordinary downvoting mechanism.) – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 28 at 1:03
4

Solve the voting rep conundrum

Meta tends to reward the quick, easy to implement answer, but there is still value in identifying problems that need more eyes and more thought than can fit into a tiny box. With that in mind, here is one of those big issues that needs serious consideration.

Right or wrong, things you don't get rep for are perceived by a lot of people as things that aren't valued on Stack Exchange. No one knows if you've spent years upvoting every quality question and answer and downvoting every dangerously wrong answer.

That said, it's easy to imagine how getting rep for voting could backfire if implemented naively; it's not an easy Gordian knot to cut.

Edit: Since this answer was written the OP suggested +10 rep every 100 votes. That seems to break the feedback loop enough that it wouldn't be abused as much as a more immediate reward would be. On the other hand, it might not be enough feedback to encourage people who don't already vote to do so.

3

Perhaps it would help to know where the votes come from.

It's not just your opinion that Skeptics SE posts get flooded with votes. Almost any way you slice the data, Skeptics comes out as the site with the highest average score. Look for example at the average score for (non-closed, non-deleted) posts starting in March 2019, by site: Skeptics posts average a score of 14.

...But when you look at the same data but without Hot Network Questions and their answers, Skeptics posts only have an average score of 6 (and it doesn't have the highest average any more). Most sites experience a drop like that between the two lists and the sites that don't either have practically no HNQ presence (e.g. Islam, Chinese) or are too big for HNQ to statistically matter (e.g. Stack Overflow, Math).

(In the case of Skeptics, having strict requirements for question/answer quality and deleting most everything that doesn't meet that is probably part of the reason why the site has such a high average score.)

The association bonus makes the HNQ ideal for getting a high density of votes (and also answers, which can in turn be voted up), but I think that other sites, like Reddit, can also help in this regard, particularly for smaller sites. If you see something you like, share it.


P.S. The queries linked above were written by me (using a template for querying all sites created by rene), so let me know if there's some other way you'd like to see the data.

  • But Skeptics.SE has negative voting and 637 Q&A pages while TeX.SE disallows negative voting and with 12411 Q&A pages there are only 48 pages of negative votes. It is the Community Standard that -1 is the maximum desirable voting score (not everyone adheres to the Policy). That has resulted in a handful of users over 100K (IE: few). – Rob Nov 27 at 7:45
  • @Rob Tex gets 66 questions per day, which probably brings down the average just by them not getting votes. Skeptics gets 2.3 questions per day, so it’s trivial to see and vote on everything that happens there, if you wanted to. – Laurel Nov 27 at 13:13
  • TeX.SE has 237 Electorate and Skeptics.SE has only 50 Electorate badges - if that's one way to measure. – Rob Nov 27 at 13:54

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