Since the inception of the Electorate badge, I've been busy voting on questions -- both down and up. On Meta, it's been a mass upvote (with few exceptions), but on Stack Overflow, it's been mixed. I'll vote up questions that are generally well written questions, and downvote questions that are not well written. I also downvote questions that I vote to close and delete.
Before this badge was introduced, I hadn't realized how often I neglected to vote on questions.
My hypothesis is this:
The ratio of voting from answers to questions will be altered for users that possess a non-trivial number of badges, or have over 2,000 reputation.
Corollary: Up/down vote ratios for Questions voted on from these users will exceed their past ratio for Up/Downvotes for questions (viz: From 5/1 to 6/0 Upvote/Downvote ratio)
How do I test this? How do I post data to show this is happening?
That presents a problem. There have been a fair number of users that have complained about the unintended consequences of the Electorate Badge (myself included); but given that Jeff's de facto response is Show me the data, there's no way for us to prove our case.
The only way I could think to show that I was focusing more on questions than answers was to leave a comment on an answer that I would have otherwise voted up if not for the fact that I'm trying to get the Electorate badge. A comment like this:
I would vote this up, but I'm trying to get my electorate badge.
I left this comment on six answers that I would have otherwise voted up today; and two of those comments were made on a post that Jeff Atwood answered. They were not meant to be snarky, only to provide a data point. They were also deleted (it's strange that out of the 6 I left, only the two on his posts were deleted, but I digress).
So, here are questions amidst all these possible discussion points:
- Should we leave comments when we do not vote something up as to why we didn't vote it up? If so, why is my comment deletion material, but other comments are not?
- Feature Request: Will Jeff provide (in a blog post) aggregate voting data after a few months to show whether voting trends have actually changed? This is a data point that we can't get from the data dump, so it's really the only itch we can't scratch ourselves.
- Was the Electorate badge a good idea? Was it the 'right' way to solve the problem of users not voting for questions?
- Have your voting habits changed since the inception of this badge (On at least one site other than Meta)?
Regarding Stack Overflow as a 'Game'
Stack Overflow is a programmer's mecca. It provides a place to ask questions and get answers, and it even encourages that behavior by providing badges and reputation. Indeed, if I'd have to point out why it succeeds where others have failed, I'd put this near the top of the list.
If anyone gets mad that I'm 'playing the game', then I submit that I'm only playing the game thrust upon me. The system rewards me for voting on questions and not answers, so I do that. These badges are a form of reward, and to discount that is to also discount how it is that capitalism is the mechanism by which mouths are fed that would otherwise not be fed.
You'll also notice that I edit a great number of questions. I do this because I love clarity in code and in writing (indeed, I'm actually looking for ways to pare down my own question to its essentials). I'm not being rewarded for this, but I do it because I love bringing clarity out of chaos. Although I think editors should be rewarded, I fear the unintended consequences of a move would be far more disastrous than anything we've seen to date.