When I post a question I have the habit of upvoting any comment/answer that I get, to appreciate the time people have dedicated to me, even if it is a small comment (with the exception of answers/comments that I consider rude or not very respectful, which I don't downvote, I just do nothing assuming that if the moderator doesn't consider them disrespectful it is because they are not).

Of course I always set the question as answered when one of the answers actually solves my problem.

In a recent post, I have done this and have found that these upvotes are corrected because they are considered "dumping upvotes". So it seems what I do is not considered good practice on Stack Exchange, is this correct?

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    I upvote this while I disagree with your actions, as it's a valid discussion. Cheers, and I'll post answer soon. (Just letting you know so you won't delete in case others downvote) Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:26
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    You should vote based on the content. Who wrote the content is never a criteria.
    – rene
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:27
  • @rene I didn't mean I upvote as a function of who answered. I meant that I upvote by default as a way to appreciate everyone's time (except from the mentioned exception). In other words, I upvote as a function of the time dedicated to me for free, more than as a function of the content as you say. This might be wrong though
    – Martel
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:29
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    While we wait 6 to 8 minutes for @sha to post his answer, let me ask this question: Is it ok to downvote everyone who didn't answer my question, didn't leave a comment because I don't appreciate they didn't spent time writing stuff for me
    – rene
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:30
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    You're free to spend your votes how you see fit. If an answer or comment is useful for you, vote up. If a question or answer isn't helpful to you, vote down. Do not vote to reward effort. The next visitor will assume the post is useful due to your upvote.
    – rene
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:33
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    @rene With regards to your example question, I see your point but I don't find it reasonable. The criteria of appreciating other's time doesn't imply in any way or form that anyone that doesn't dedicate such time must be 'punished'.
    – Martel
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:39
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    It is worth keeping in mind that SE sites are not primarily social network sites. While it is common on facebook et al. to "like" whatever you stumble upon, that is not why voting exists in the Q/A model. On SE sites voting is a content-rating mechanism. An upvote should be seen as: someone found the post helpful, not as someone likes me.
    – rene
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:43
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    @Martel I used the extreme to make my point. In real life I'm much more reasonable.
    – rene
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:44
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    Heh, this went better than I expected, and now everything I planned to say is already said by others. Well done! :-) Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:50
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    Funny thing is, that I more often have this problem with whom to accept. :) Because when I get multiple acceptable answers, sometimes it's hard to choose only one of them. Especially when different answers cater to different aspects of the problem. :)
    – Devolus
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:58
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    @Devolus true, that's a very common discussion topic here, e.g. this one, the linked questions, and many more. :) Commented May 3, 2021 at 13:33
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    Regarding what you said about "assuming that if the moderator doesn't consider them disrespectful is because they are not", moderators don't see every single question/answer/comment. So if you see a rude or disrespectful comment or answer, you should click the flag link and select an appropriate reason to bring it to the attention of a moderator. Commented May 3, 2021 at 16:45

4 Answers 4


The tooltip on the upvote button says

This answer is useful.

That's the only criterion you should consider when upvoting an answer. Time spent should never be a consideration. It doesn't mean you may not upvote an answer that didn't solve your issue; if it provides you additional insight, it can be useful as well.

In a recent post, I have done this and have found that this upvotes are corrected because they are considered 'dumping upvotes'.

That sounds like you've upvoted several other (unrelated) posts, and that indeed gets reversed. Stack Exchange is about the content, not the users. It can't be repeated too often: vote for the content, not for the user.


The standard interpretation of an upvote for an answer on Stack Exchange is that the answer was “useful”. I generally interpret “useful” to mean that it included relevant and accurate information that increased my understanding and/or knowledge of the subject at issue, even if it did not solve my particular issue. To upvote an answer that does not contribute to my knowledge in this way would be to “break” the Stack Exchange model.


A simple example should give you some insight.

I ask some question on Stack Overflow. I get several answers and I upvote them. Because I'm not really good at the topic, I can understand the one answer that really helped me, but I don't understand the implications of the other. Now somebody who knows more about this topic writes a comment below such an answer, pointing out that this answer is not only misleading but even incorrect.

Would you say that this warrants an upvote, because the writer of the wrong answer made an effort, most likely even in good believe, but is still wrong?

If multiple answers are given, and they are useful, then you should upvote them. If you don't really understand the answer (which happens sometimes to me), then either research or try to clarify. You can leave the upvote to others in such a case, who might know more about it, but you should not upvote because future readers with a similar problem should easily recognize what a good answer was. And if they find another answer more useful, they can still upvote those on their own.

And as a sidenote: If every answer is upvoted, what would be the meaning of a vote? It could be just as well discarded, because it would only say "Somebody has seen your answer."

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    I like your closing statement. If someone (not necessarily the OP) simply upvotes all the answers at once, it would be the same like not voting at all because the level is simply raised by one, but the difference between the answers stayed the same. The main point is votes should help distinguish answers
    – Tomerikoo
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 18:10

While your motivation is pure-hearted and understandable, time spent shouldn't be a criteria for voting.

You have to remember that people posting here do so voluntarily and choose to spend their time doing that. I understand your need to show appreciation to someone who bothered to answer your own question, but simply upvoting because of that without relation to the actual content does more harm than good.

The point of voting is to show the quality of answers compared to each other in the same page. Therefore voting should be based on the content. If you really feel like it, you can post and award bounties to specific answers, without affecting the natural order of votes.

As an example, I answer many questions simply because I like it and I don't expect anything in return. On the other hand, I have a few questions which got some unhelpful answers. While I appreciate the intention, those answers simply weren't what I was looking for so an upvote seemed unnecessary.


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