On Stack Overflow and Server Fault, question voting (in my opinion) relates to the relevance of a question, as in, "Will anyone else struggle with this? Have I struggled with this?". However, on meta, I feel that it can also mean "Is this a good idea?".

In questions like this one, I think those are at odds with one another as I feel the question is one that others may well want the answer to although the idea is not a good one (in my opinion).

If Meta is to replace User Voice, do we need a second "Good Idea" voting mechanism? Thoughts?

This is intended to discuss voting on Questions as opposed to the answers to questions. It has been proposed that Meta replace UserVoice as the way ideas/bugs etc. are suggested for the SO-family of sites. I feel that unless the question voting is standardised, this may not be feasible.


I was working on the assumption that voting on questions was read as one of:

  • I'm having this problem too
  • I think this would be a good feature to implement

and that voting on answers was basically the same as on SO/SF:

  • This answer provides useful information

Now whether that's answering a question on how something works, or suggesting a mechanism for implementing a feature is, by and large, immaterial.

  • You are most probably correct and my concerns are quite possibly without basis. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 15:15
  • @Jeff - I think it's important that things that are implicit are made explicit. That way everyone uses the site in the same way and people don't get upset (too strong?) if they're misunderstood because they've made the wrong assumptions. – ChrisF Jul 9 '09 at 15:23
  • My impression is that people rarely vote on questions. Often they just vote on the answers ("I want that too") and the question is left alone - so your assumption might be quite wrong. – Hans-Peter Störr Jul 16 '09 at 17:56

I have approached voting (as far as how to receive upvotes) as this:

If you say something that someone else agrees with or likes, they will upvote (or at least not down vote)

If you say something that someone disagrees with or finds is inappropriate for meta, they will downvote.

  • In general, I think this works - but I'm not sure that it is enough if Meta replaces UserVoice. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 14:48
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    I hated UserVoice and it's limits to how much you could vote for at any one time. The only thing UV had was perhaps a more accurate guage of the most desired features because if something had a massive score it spoke more because of the limited number of votes people could cast overall. – TheTXI Jul 9 '09 at 14:50
  • Oh, I'm not proposing we keep UserVoice. Far from it, I just want to make sure that Meta can properly fill its shoes (at least the shoes we want it to fill) – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 14:57
  • I think this is a bad replacement for UserVoice, since it is not clear how to distinguish between general questions about the Q&A Systems and feature requests. 8-{ – Hans-Peter Störr Jul 9 '09 at 15:59
  • @hstoerr: How so? Are tags not working for you? – GEOCHET Jul 9 '09 at 16:20
  • I think the main problem is that the voting has no clear meaning, as it did in UserVoice. See my answer to this question. Tags might work if the FAQ would clearly define tags for bugs and feature requests. – Hans-Peter Störr Jul 16 '09 at 6:49

On questions labeled "feature-request" or that are suggesting a feature, I believe voting should display your interest in the feature. Additionally, an answer can be provided to express any additional thoughts you have on the topic that might be meaningful to others considering the feature.

For most other questions (how does feature x work? is this a bug? why did this happen?), I would treat voting similar to how you stated voting on SO and SF. Is the question well stated? Is it potentially helpful to others? etc.

  • I like your thinking. Of course, if something doesn't get tagged as feature-request until after some voting has taken place, those votes aren't necessarily going to be "feature request" votes. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 14:47
  • Perhaps, though I think it is generally clear based on the reading of a question whether it a feature request; whether labeled as such or not. – Timothy Carter Jul 9 '09 at 14:49

I think Meta SO is much better than User Voice. I had asked for comments to allow some simple markdown on User Voice, and nothing ever came of it. The same thing was asked for on Meta SO, and it got implemented in less than a week.

  • I'm not sure that qualifies it as better - just because one idea got more attention. To compare which is better one would have to look at how votes were applied and whether an idea with more merit was overlooked due to issues like those outlined by hstoerr in his answer. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 17:39
  • A lot of the things he wrote about were, possibly to a lesser extent, were problems on User Voice as well. With many of the problems with User Voice, being remedied by moving to Meta SO. And since there is more control here for the operators of Stack Overflow, any problems can be dealt with easier. – Brad Gilbert Jul 9 '09 at 17:55

I think Meta is good and necessary to answer questions that concern the Stackoverflow-Trilogy of Q&A Systems. But this is no replacement for UserVoice:

  • There is no way to indicate just how bad you want a feature except posting obnoxious "I want that feature too" answers / comments, since you have only one vote.

  • The worst problem: People tend to post "Mee too" answers instead of voting a feature-request question up, or vote on the answers instead of the question. (See, for instance, this question.) For example, there can be many upvotes on a particular answer that descripes a feature, but almost no upvotes on the question that poses the problem. So the votes on the feature-request question do not carry much meaning.

  • It might become clear to frequent users when a vote means "I want that feature" and when it just means "Well said", but it is not clear to casual users. On UserVoice it was clear.

  • There is no clear way to distinguish between actual questions, feature-requests and bug-reports. (That might change, though, if the Meta FAQ would define tags "bug" and "feature-request" for this purposes.)

Conclusion: I think it would be better to keep UserVoice, or it would be necessary to introduce a second voting mechanism like the one on UserVoice.


Depends on the question. Some of them are a call for suggestions where we vote on our favorites. Some of them are questions about how SO works where we can actually answer, so you vote on the one that best answers the question (Jeff usually wins). Some of them are suggestions where we discuss what the heck should be done and we vote on the best argument.

This is an answer.

P.S.-All links at random from the top of the front page...so as you can see, there are plenty of all of them.

  • I agree although I don't think this answers the question I posed, it merely adds more information as to why we may need it if User Voice gets replaced by Meta. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 14:43
  • Meta will replace User Voice, and the voting mechanism is not changing. – Eric Jul 9 '09 at 14:45
  • @Eric: In that case, I fear that the voting mechanism will not be adequate to support that use-case. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 14:49
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    Seems like it's working so far. – gnostradamus Jul 9 '09 at 14:50
  • @gnovice: In what way? I may be showing ignorance here, but I'm not sure how that conclusion is drawn. Do you have audit trails of several ideas competing for attention, receiving votes, and then being implemented? I'm seriously interested. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 14:58
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    You could check out, for example, The Great Tagging Reorg question (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2850/the-great-tagging-reorg). Suggested mass retags (or other minor retags) are added as answers, which can then be voted upon. Once implemented (or not), the answer is edited to show this. Desired retags bubble to the top, undesired ones sink to the bottom, and mods comment on them or get to them when they can. Like I said, seems like the voting mechanism is working so far. – gnostradamus Jul 9 '09 at 16:10

I vote based on whether I like your avatar.

  • 3
    I hate your avatar. – TheTXI Jul 9 '09 at 15:07
  • 1
    Oh man. I am so screwed. – Jeff Yates Jul 9 '09 at 15:07
  • @Jeff: If you change your avatar to a pony, I might undo my DV. – GEOCHET Jul 9 '09 at 15:08
  • @Jeff: Based on your avatar, I wouldn't be sure of that. – TheTXI Jul 9 '09 at 15:09
  • @Jeff: By the way, based on your avatar, I strongly doubt that. – GEOCHET Jul 9 '09 at 15:09

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