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TL;DR: Proposal: Raise the question+answer vote limit by 1 vote for each day a user reaches the limit.

Why? We have posts that need voting on; we have users who want to vote and know how to vote appropriately. It's wasteful to block them.

It's to help those few users who regularly hit the limit without causing problems (in particular, vote reversal). It's a deliberately cautious proposal: it won't solve every voting problem, but I feel voting encourages voting.

Note: To increase by e.g. 10 votes, the user would have to hit the (increasing) limit on 10 separate days. So at least 30+31+...+39 = 345 votes would be needed over 10 days.


The top answer to How can we appreciate and encourage voters? says

You can start by raising the vote caps. I've had to ration votes the last two days and still hit the caps. rockwalrus-stop harming Monica, 2019.

This happens to me too. So let's think about this again (I didn't find a discussion about this within the last 5 years)...

Why do we even have that limit?

Searching meta.SE, I found these reasons:

  1. If I always had more votes (or never came near the limit) I could vote for every post I viewed indiscriminately. Bill the Lizard, 2014.

  2. Because during the beta someone wrote a script that upvoted every question. The limit is to prevent that from happening. Craig H, 2008.

  3. It's not hard to imagine new people will simply keep upvoting everything in sight until they hit 300 just for the [badge for voting 300 times (Civic Duty)]. ベレアー アダム, 2008.

Even with limits, anyone can vote indiscriminately or write an automatic voting script. Ridiculous voting patterns would likely be reversed automatically, and perhaps limits might make it harder to identify voting fraud.

  1. ... limited voting causes more deliberate voting decisions. Ethan T, 2008.

    ... casting a vote has more intrinsic value, as you have a limited number to cast. Make each one count, rather than casting them willy-nilly. Jeff Atwood, 2010.

There is some wisdom here, but we're generally encouraged to ignore "meta" reasons for voting: When should I vote? We vote based on the quality of the post.

I feel the situation has changed over time. It's probably safe to claim that at any SE site except meta.SE, we're not in any danger of over-upvoting. Instead, excessive vote scarcity is a problem at multiple sites: Your post is not going to get upvoted (much) regardless of anything---don't waste time improving it.

Why should we change the limit?

It appears that several sites would benefit from more voting. Upvotes are welcoming, exemplify good posts, and encourage further upvotes. However, different sites have massively different voting cultures (despite having the same privilege and badge thresholds).

Major sites

Every time I go to Stack Overflow, I'm met with a wall of 0-score questions (with a few exceptions). Math.SE isn't much better nowadays. Flicking through the other most popular sites: Russian Stack Overflow, Spanish Stack Overflow, Super User, Ask Ubuntu, is much the same. The incoming post rate has scaled up rapidly over the years.

Where are all the good questions? How is a new user supposed to figure out how to post a suitable question when virtually all have minimal upvotes? Why should I bother writing a good post if it's virtually guaranteed no upvotes?

Small sites

There's a similar issue on some (not all) of the smaller sites: You get the feeling that practically nobody is voting. It's not worthwhile spending time on improving a question as it won't be appreciated. Perhaps Tor.SE (2 voters with 10+ votes in the month of November) or Monero.SE (4 voters) are examples of this.

On smaller sites, there are users who care a lot about the communities; they are willing to put in considerable effort to help them succeed. A single such user systematically upvoting worthwhile posts can have a surprisingly large effect. My experience at Islam.SE and now at Chinese.SE is

  1. if I (a single user) consistently upvote every upvote-worthy post, then people notice they're practically guaranteed an upvote if they put in a bit of effort, so they put in that effort, and

  2. it encourages other people to participate more, and indeed make their own votes, much like a chain reaction.

At the small sites, it only takes one user to virtually keep the front page 0-score free.

How should we raise voting limits?

We clearly need to avoid the "indiscriminate voting" problem, but we also need to be aware of serial voting detection. I can think of a range of ways to circumvent this (e.g. rating threshold (previously suggested here and here); restrict to those with the Electorate badge), but I want to propose something more gradual:

Proposal: Raise the question+answer vote limit by 1 vote for each day a user reaches the limit.

In this way, users who are frequently hitting the vote limit without causing problems (i.e., vote reversal) are slowly having the threshold relaxed.

It's not going to completely solve the problems above, but it's a cautious step in that direction.

I find it hard to imagine a way to exploit this (that's not already an exploit): it's simply too much work for very little benefit. [A malicious user (or voting ring) could far more simply create multiple accounts.] There's also lots of time for serial voting to be detected before there's any major difference in the threshold.

Other points:

  • I'd suggest doing this on a per-site basis.
  • It'd probably be worth having a "hard cap" at maybe 100 votes.

One realistic usage is for "garbage downvoters" (mentioned in the comments; better than my original example). If someone regularly downvotes effortless questions on e.g. Stack Overflow, the idea is to make it slightly easier each day.

  • What about putting a ratio threshold for votes casted that either led to closure, or an answered question, and to decide voting limits increasing regarding this value? – πάντα ῥεῖ Nov 30 '19 at 9:30
  • I wouldn't mind having more votes. But some observations... I am not sure if general voting count dropped, but some people (including me) are currently on strike so they don't vote or moderate (I do vote on occasion, but only few votes comparing to hitting the limit on daily basis when I wasn't on strike) Next, regarding to SO, there is so few questions worth upvoting, so questions being on 0 is not surprising. That is not problem with voters or number of votes, rather quality problem. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 30 '19 at 10:07
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    @ResistanceIsFutile so questions being on 0 is not surprising IMO, on SO, the fact that so many of those poor questions are on 0 instead of being lower is a related issue. If one frequently browses new questions, it's quite easy to find 30-something off-topic/no effort/no research questions in a relatively short period of time, but then you're out of votes... – CertainPerformance Nov 30 '19 at 10:24
  • @CertainPerformance Yes, many of those should be downvoted, they are not because we run out of votes... So having more votes would be good, but it would not result with more questions being upvoted, but with more questions being downvoted. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 30 '19 at 10:30
  • I see no problems with posts that deserve downvotes getting downvotes. But if there’s only 0s and negative score questions on the front page, it’s an issue. Voting diversity is needed to identify quality: the bad cop and the good cop. – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 30 '19 at 10:39
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    Speaking from personal experience on Hist SE, I could have used a few extra votes when I was a new user - but not many. These days (after a little more than 2 years on the site), I struggle to use 10 votes without doing some serious searching, and I've consistently been one of the heaviest voters on Hist SE since I joined. Maybe the number of votes allowed (and a few other things) should be relative to the size of the site, or maybe that's too complicated... – Lars Bosteen Nov 30 '19 at 11:22
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    "It appears that several sites would benefit from more voting." I don't think we should solve this by having a few hyper-active voters vote even more than they do now. It would be better to find a way to engage more users in becoming more active voters. – dfhwze Nov 30 '19 at 12:21
  • I believe this idea has merit as I, too, sometimes hit the daily limits on one or two sites, although I'm not sure if the maximum should be 100 (perhaps it should be somewhat less). Regardless, if it were to be implemented, I suggest also having any daily voting limit over the normal amount decrease by 1 for the next day for each day the voting cap is not hit. This way, it'll encourage anybody who's hitting the limit to continue doing so. Also, it will not permanently change their limit just for a relatively brief period when they were voting more often if they don't continue to do so later. – John Omielan Nov 30 '19 at 17:43
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Don't get me wrong, but this smells like a highly technical and complicated non solution.

The problem of "not enough votes" isn't caused by a few voters hitting their limit.

The problem is caused by the majority of people not voting at all, or way too rarely.

I would be surprised if your approach results in more than a handful of votes more per day.

If you want to change the endless wall of 0 questions on, then get the majority of writers to give better content. And somehow convince the majority of non voters to change their stance.

That is how you get to hundreds or thousands of more votes per day.

Anything else means spending a lot of resources for almost no, or at least insignificant small gain.


Edit: and I totally agree with the comment by Rob: we shouldn't encourage obsessive behavior, on any side. I had plenty of days with "various limits hit" in my past, too. And that typically meant two things: A) I was neglecting issues in my life and compensating "online" and B) the quality of my activities here suffered, too. When you hit limits for three days in a row, consider to stop voting for a few days, instead of spending time extending these limits.

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    Having 100 instead of 40 votes, would be better. It would not give instant results though, but it would be less frustrating to people who do vote. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 30 '19 at 10:32
  • That was one of my points: to get people to vote, vote on their posts. Voting encourages voting. – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 30 '19 at 10:32
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones If you are moderating, then almost all your votes are spent on downvoting poor posts... if you end up encouraging anything that would be revenge voting from people that post poor content and have enough reputation to downvote. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 30 '19 at 10:34
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones The problem isn't the people whom do vote, the problem is the many whom do not vote. The whole answer is a wall of truth. --- We don't need a very small number of people to obsess for 6-8 hours per day and use up 100 votes (because that's how long it takes to carefully read both Q & As, and vote thoughtfully), instead we need almost everyone to cast several votes per visit. That way we get an opinion from a variety of people instead of a few obsessive people. Find something else to do: spellcheck new posts, suggest improvements on child metas, edit wiki excerpts, etc. – Rob Nov 30 '19 at 11:14
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    "problem is caused by the majority of people not voting at all, or way too rarely" - exactly! On Hist SE, I upvote anything that both (a) answers the question and (b) is properly sourced, even if it's on something I'm not really interested in. Effort should be rewarded, or people will stop making an effort. – Lars Bosteen Nov 30 '19 at 11:27
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    There are quite a number of high rep users who barely vote themselves. Perhaps we should think twice upvoting their (admittedly excellent) posts. – dfhwze Nov 30 '19 at 12:26
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    @dfhwze Honestly, I disagree with that. The point of a free community is that members are free to decide how to contribute. Some might mainly moderate, vote, that helps upholding quality. Other might spend most of their time creating high quality content. Without the first group of folks, places like SO quickly turn into swamps that makes people run away. But group 2 is the one that "attracted" people in the first place. What matters is the overall outcome of quality content and moderation activities. How individuals balance such things: leave that to them. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Nov 30 '19 at 13:22
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    And also note: there are just so many variations ... a guy like Gordon Linoff on SO ... he wrote 60K (!!!) answers ... and hey, he has 10K+ edits, and 14K votes. I think there are tons and tons of "models" how to engage here, and there are better ways to spend our time than asking us "now, should we really vote less on people that only contribute high quality content" ... – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Nov 30 '19 at 13:25
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    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica I agree we should take into account the bigger picture. Good counter points. – dfhwze Nov 30 '19 at 17:07
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[A malicious user (or voting ring) could far more simply create multiple accounts.] There's also lots of time for serial voting to be detected before there's any major difference in the threshold.

Well, your feature request is mainly about encouraging active voters to vote more, right?

Reasons why users give votes on questions and answers are very many from my impression (despite it's stated so often that up-/downvotes should be given about posts quality only):

  • voting for reasons of empathy (with the user)
  • voting for interesting (but off-topic) questions
  • voting to express dislike for the user
  • voting to express disagreement (meta sites aside)
  • tactical voting by Q&A OPs
  • etc.

It would be quite hard to sort these kinds of votes (not necessarily malicious) out and to prevent the voters given an encouragement for their unwanted behavior with the realization of your FR.

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    It seems like it’s already hard to sort out such self-interested actors. Will the FR make it worse? (And without it being adequately counterbalanced by aiding good actors.) It’s conceivable that they’re spurred on by gradually having additional votes, but it seems a bit far-fetched to me. They’d have to be rather committed to avoid vote fraud detection while simultaneously repeatedly hitting an increasingly high threshold. – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 30 '19 at 11:43
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones Well, I am just saying ... BTW, I've upvoted your request, because I found mysel often in that annoying situation to run out of votes. – πάντα ῥεῖ Nov 30 '19 at 11:45

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