This experiment has been graduated. The new styling for vote arrows is now live across the Stack Exchange network.

About a year ago, the Product team, focused on improving the general experience, conducted an experiment to update the styling of the voting arrows on Stack Overflow in order to improve accessibility and meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance. We shared positive results from the experiment: a net 28% increase in overall votes.

At the time, we decided to not move forward for a few reasons:

  1. We wanted to take a broader approach to looking at the question page instead of one particular element and decided to roll this into a different initiative.

  2. Additional accessibility issues were raised that needed to be re-tested in dark/high contrast modes

We’ve decided to revisit our decision and to graduate the experiment on Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange network. Before we proceed, we acknowledge there are still a few outstanding accessibility issues and bugs that we need to address first before we graduate.

Here is what the arrows look like before and after the change:

Before After
Screenshot of the voting buttons before the change (simple up and down arrows) Screenshot of voting buttons after the change (arrows with circles around them

Your feedback

We’ve heard your feedback from the previous posts about this change, and are not moving forward until we address them. We are prioritizing issues specific to accessibility compliance and bug reports. This might mean that any drastic visual changes to the styling will not be within the scope of this first iteration, but that does not mean we won’t iterate the design.

Moving forward, we are committed to:

  1. Prioritization of bug and accessibility reports to be addressed before we go live such as:

  2. Open communication

    • Any future iterations will be adequately communicated earlier in the process (i.e. designs, experiment plans).
  3. Monitoring accidental voting and other relevant data points

    • In the previous post, we saw feedback from users with >1k rep who flagged the risk of accidentally voting when checking the post score. We took a closer look at this report and pulled the following data:
    • Last month (Apr 2023), we saw 175k users who voted 870k times. Of those users, only 8% (14k users) had undone their votes.
    • The number of posts that had votes undone only accounted for 3% of total votes. This is the benchmark we will use moving forward.

We will continue to monitor these numbers to see if there is a noticeable uptick, and then determine if it’s a widespread issue to prioritize.

What's next?

This change is part of a holistic exploration of the voting mechanism and what it means for everyone. Voting is an essential part of the mechanics of the platform that makes this repository of knowledge so successful. It is how we acknowledge the good work of our contributors, and we want to really explore different ways in which we can make this process more streamlined and engaging for everyone.

Year over year, we are seeing 28% fewer votes (upvotes + downvotes) and 21% fewer users voting. During our research, we also found that voting is a pain point for new users as well. In April alone, we saw:

  • 72k unique users who attempted to vote 166k times (avg 2.3 votes per user).
  • Of those 72k users, 17k users were new users which is 24%
  • This means that 1 in 4 new users attempted to vote, but could not due to system limitations.

Because voting is one of the lowest barriers to participation, we felt that this was the best place to start to help users engage more on the platform. In the coming weeks, we have plans to roll out more ideas that we have to iterate on voting and it’s part of the user story of this site to increase engagement, so please stay tuned for those updates.

  • 107
    Do you have any theories, thoughts, etc, as to why the change caused a 28% increase over that period of time? Was the increase primarily from a specific group of users?
    – Kevin B
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:05
  • 51
    How did you A B test this?
    – Akixkisu
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:06
  • 77
    They're not particularly pretty, and they're quite big. This might be a problem especially on mobile. Edit: somebody already posted an answer about it Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:24
  • 59
    I also regularly vote by mistake on mobile (a few times per day). Making the buttons even bigger and more prominent, will make this even more of an annoying problem. Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:27
  • 228
    The new buttons are terrible. No offense to whoever made them, surely it's some fancy super popular design somewhere, that's just my personal opinion. There is no reason to enclose arrow with a circle. It makes the arrow itself smaller, and overall just looking bad. And no, it's not the standard "don't like moving my cheese", that's just a much worse design, and I'm really sad it went through all the levels without someone saying "Stop this now". Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:46
  • 97
    Does the increase in votes also mean that the votes are actually indicating quality (or lack of it, in case of downvotes)? Because wrong-voting is way worse than no-voting (and I've seen a lot of wrong, low quality posts getting some upvotes). Increasing the number of votes means nothing if the votes are used in the wrong way (as a social media's "like", instead of a quality indicator).
    – hkotsubo
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:52
  • 105
    What is graduating an updated button styling?
    – Quasímodo
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 17:26
  • 30
    @Quasímodo "Graduating" in this case means promoting the test of this change that occurred previously into active use on the main site. SE experimented with this change previously, decided not to make it permanent (not to "graduate it" to usage on the public site), but are now apparently reversing course.
    – zcoop98
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 19:35
  • 47
    It must be hard to push changes on a site whose users seem so paralyzed by changes. It's a small difference in the up/down icons, I'm amazed the amount of vitriol garnered by such an arbitrary change.
    – rob
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 20:56
  • 171
    @rob it's the mentality of changing things for the sake of changing them (see "seagull management"). Not to mention the lame excuses for metrics. "Hey guys, our research indicates that 42% more elevator floor buttons get pushed if we remove the labels so it's not obvious which one is your floor. So we're rolling out this change across all elevators. You're welcome. No, we can't put the labels back on - what if a blind person can't read them?" Commented May 22, 2023 at 21:26
  • 54
    @rob The problem is not the icon change itself. It's the waste of resources on irrelevant things, while other things like this (way more useful IMO) are completely ignored.
    – hkotsubo
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 23:36
  • 53
    Could the increase in voting simply be because they're different, and so they grab people's attention more, resulting in more upvotes because more people looked at them? If that is the case, then as soon as people get used to them, the upvote increase will decline back to what it is now, and we'll have to change the button design again to get back that upvote increase. At this point we might as well have a random button design each day! ;)
    – dwb
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 13:07
  • 34
    I'm surprised by the presence of this post on Meta. There was widespread opposition to this change in the past, and this post is yet-again heavily downvoted. I hope that the staff at Stack Exchange can "read the room" and recognize that that this unpopular change is strongly rejected by the community. And I hope that the moderators can see that we, the community, respectfully would like to make it clear that these downvotes and comments show clear opposition to this change. Commented May 30, 2023 at 14:48
  • 77
    I find it harder to see if I've voted or not. Also they're offensively ugly.
    – Oskar Skog
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 15:23
  • 31
    I can hardly tell when I've voted for something now. At least make the colours easier to read
    – FShrike
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 16:05

46 Answers 46


I have realized that there is another state that I have been considering posts to be in: "Not (yet) engaged with". And previously, those posts had nicely greyed-out up and down arrows, which very well reflected their status wrt me.

I know you went ahead with this change in part because it increased the number of votes. Well, I'm mostly on math.se, and on most posts my opinion would be fairly uninformed - I shouldn't be voting on them. And now I'm getting poked "vote, vote, vote", as intended.

Listen, I know what you want is "more", while what I want is "better", and this isn't enough of of an irritation to make me stop using math.se, and like all modern irritations it'll eventually become ignorable and ignored. But it's not appreciated.

  • 3
    Even SE needs to realize some day that in the long run, only "better" leads to "more", so let's assume we are on the same side.
    – Philippos
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 14:03
  • 3
    There's plenty of money to be made with "low quality / high volume".
    – JonathanZ
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 14:15

The buttons have 100% opacity by default; they look selected when they aren't. The circles also make the arrows way too small.


As many other users, I find the new design of voting buttons not quite appealing. But that is not a serious problem for me.

What is worse about them is that since the buttons have occupied a larger area on the screen, the area for the text of a question or an answer has reduced. I don't bother about PCs and laptops as I use SE mostly on mobile device. But the size of the default text has surely diminished a bit which forces me to zoom in the page. However, after zoom in, the page starts looking rather odd and other features of the site will vanish off the edges due to zoom. Also re-adjusting text size for the browser itself is not a good alternative as it will cause too large text for sites other than those of Stack Exchange network.

The new style buttons might not have been bad but what makes it worse (at least for me) is that it costed the default size of the text.


This is like:

  • How can we improve our income?
  • Let's make the "Buy" button bigger.

I'm really not interested in this change, either as a member answering questions or an elected moderator. But still, how will the button-pressing rate help the community grow or help answer quality improve?

Potentially some new members will gain a few more votes. Potentially some more members will become active members, right? ...Wait a minute! I see that the downvote button size was increased too.

Regarding the UX, I think that the visual weight of the post votes counter was significantly decreased in contrast with the button size. "Accept answer" button was also affected. There was not an improvement but a tradeoff. A change that changes nothing.

Regarding UI, I like this answer.

Finally, what about "Accept answer" button? It doesn't look like a button at all.


The new design has a bad developer experience (dx). the developer can't focus on the content.

As a developer, it attracts my eyes, but I can't focus on the real content. (it's distracting / annoying).

The picture below (no circle border) is a clean design and developer experience (dx) (no distraction, so we can focus on content): enter image description here

(Note that for accessibility, the circle can still be there on hover state, the circle border is just transparent in normal state. or you can make the buttons a bit bigger, like prev design, so there will be no need for a circle on hover state.)

And the below one (circle border) is a bad design and a bad developer experience (dx) (it always has an extra attention to the buttons, so we can't focus on content):

enter image description here

Aside from the dx, the design is also not suitable. the simple big circle doesn't fit to the rest of design (it doesn't have harmony, and it's odd looking). the ui may seem beauty, but for the long period and this usecase, it's not a clean solution.

  • 8
    That "dx" you're talking about? That's just UX. :-P Developer experience would normally mean the experience of the people developing this website (i.e., the people using Stacks and C#).
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 0:31
  • @wizzwizz4 Hey. DX (developer experience) means the experience of a developer. (Like : "Developer experience is the overall feeling and experience of developers when they use a technical product in their workflows".) (It can also refer to the experience of developers as employees, as you said.). so it means both.
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 8:12
  • 2
    In such cases, the developer experience is not much relevant. As developer, I find hexadecimal numbers more convenient. Does that mean scores should be shown in hexadecimal?
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 20:22
  • @apaderno hey. That's an invalid analogy. you don't find hexadecimal numbers more convenient. (it's just for some special cases, like working with colors.). in here, the upvote has extra (unnormal) attention, so it gain focus from looking/reading the content/answers. so it's bad for developers.
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 19:07
  • 1
    You missed the point. As developer, I find hexadecimal number more convenient, but what I find more convenient as developer should not matter for a page that is used also from people who are not developers. The analogy is perfectly valid because what you find more convenient as developer for the voting buttons is irrelevant.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 7:29
  • @apaderno Hey. your previous comment was a "Fallacy". It's defined as "the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument which may appear to be a well-reasoned argument if unnoticed". We shouldn't get the point, when there is a fallacy in the reasoning. Btw, I think the main target of stackoverflow is developers, so we should care about their experience/workflow. for developers, even if they don't notice directly, it ruins their focus for focusing on the real content. (I beleive your job/career is not developing.) (for stackexcahnege/mobile, you may be right.)
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 12:58
  • 2
    This is the meta site for Stack Exchange, not for Stack Overflow. No, Stack Exchange sites are not just for developers; in fact, there are sites about Esperanto, English, Italian, religions, etc. (I do not believe you are a developer, but I do not see how that is relevant, in the same way what you believe about my job is not relevant.)
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 18:47
  • @apaderno Man, that wasn't an attack. look at the first post (it's announced for stack overflow). for stackoverflow, this is bad (because stackoverflow users are mainly developers). for the rest of stackexchange, it may be ok. (I'm also aware of other languages.). my main role (job/career) is currently developer, but i think your main career is not a developer (but that's not an attack. I didn't mean "you're not a developer", i meant "your main career is not being a developer"). for the people who are mainly developer (more specifically: the people who use stackoverflow for code), this is bad.
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 22:12
  • 1
    It is always an attack when you say something about the person who is commenting, instead of commenting on the comment that person wrote, especially when it is something you believe and it is not relevant for what being said.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 11:48
  • @apaderno well, kind of agree. there is a "personal attack". that thing ("i believe your main role is not a developer") was personal. (it wan't an attack. but using something personal like that, i agree that wasn't kind of good.)
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 11:55
  • 1
    Wow - juxtaposing those two examples really showed my how my eyes kept pulling to the circles! I mean, after all, things that are circled are meant to draw extra attention, aren't they?
    – Randall
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 16:36
  • @Randall Man, it's just talking, it's not a fight. (I see "i feel someone tries to make me cheap" in your comment, but it doesn't exists. (you said that i'm looking for attention, it's not there at all. but why you may think like that? maybe because you think it's a public debate / fight, and i'm trying to make you cheap in that. but it's not, it's just a conversation.). the intension you may see in me, it's not there. I don't have any bad intension. it's just talking.)
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 15:36
  • @yaya - Sorry you took that the wrong way! I meant exactly the opposite. In general circles are meant to draw attention, like circling the date on receipts for reimbursement. So, I was agreeing with you that the circled arrows pulled my eyes (my attention) over to the side, instead of the actual answer. I guess I needed to be more clear I was speaking in the context of the two example pics in your answer, and had seen, but was ignoring, the previous comments directly above. Regarding those comments, UX vs DX is really splitting hairs to me; aren't Devs a subset of Users in Q&A interface?
    – Randall
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 16:05
  • @Randall Thank you. well that refers to "why dx is different than ux"? first reason : for a normal user, the "ui" is usually his "using website" experience. but for a developer, it's direct part of his workflow/life. (an example: "changing the design of a program that bank staffs work with. that will change their work/life". they look at if from the workflow, not from normal ui/ux perspertive.). i'll put another reason on next comment.
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 16:56
  • 1
    @Randall so i think the ui/ux of the products that main target are developers, should be coordinated with developers. they should ask what developers think about it. (you can see the downvotes on the first post. it means they don't like it, it ruins their workflow/intuition part.). But i'm not sure about other stackexcahnge websites. i feel like it's a generally bad move, cause the q/a website content needs focus also. but i think it doesn't hurt them as much as developers.
    – yaya
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 17:10

An analysis of the statistics

When I read lots of numbers, I like to see in which context they are used. Here's my review of those numbers, regardless of the button design(hint : I moderately dislike them :p).

We shared positive results from the experiment: a net 28% increase in overall votes.

28% increase compared to what? If it's overall, note that if there are 28% more users overall, there will be a normal and expected 28% increase in votes, too. No real cause-to-effect can be determined from this number alone.

  • In the previous post, we saw feedback from users with >1k rep who flagged the risk of accidentally voting when checking the post score. We took a closer look at this report and pulled the following data:
  • Last month (Apr 2023), we saw 175k users who voted 870k times. Of those users, only 8% (14k users) had undone their votes.
  • The number of posts that had votes undone only accounted for 3% of total votes. This is the benchmark we will use moving forward.

Five things here :

  • Have you excluded from your search unexperienced users as you looked at >1K users? Because if so the 8% value is certainly lower than real. We don't have any source to check what you tested, exactly.
  • "only" 8% of potential misvote is an awful lot. Let's be our kindest and remove half of misvotes from users who actually changed their mind (e.g after a post's edit), we're still left with a very big 4%. This means that every 25 voters, one has mis-clicked at least once (one out of ~12 for 8%). Since voting is a critical component and your "lowest barrier to participation", do you actually think this is a good stat?
  • Where's the number of votes that got undone? Votes are not users. Some people could be undoing their votes repeatedly, and that'd be interesting to know why!
  • "The number of posts that had votes undone only accounted for 3% of total votes.". Are you actually comparing posts to votes? Is it from the same time period as the 8%? Total votes over this period, or overall? In what is it relevant to misclicking? It is extremely unclear what you're talking about here.
  • Why didn't you checked how many people removed their votes within the 5 or 10 minutes of voting? Those are very likely actual misvotes : The post likely didn't change meanwhile, and most people quickly realize when they've done something wrong.

Year over year, we are seeing 28% fewer votes (upvotes + downvotes) and 21% fewer users voting.

Again, isn't this due to other reasons? It's really easy to mistake correlations and cause-to-effects relationships. Users becoming less active overall is a much more reasonable explanation for this : A system that didn't change isn't very likely to change much the behavior of users because in there only the user could have changed!

During our research, we also found that voting is a pain point for new users as well. In April alone, we saw:

  • 72k unique users who attempted to vote 166k times (avg 2.3 votes per user).
  • Of those 72k users, 17k users were new users which is 24%
  • This means that 1 in 4 new users attempted to vote, but could not due to system limitations.

Well, let's exclude the absence of source explaining the test procedures because I'm really starting to feel I'm punching a underfed dog to death. First and foremost, what do you mean by "attempted to vote"? How did you notice attempts that failed? If the user failed, then it's not reflected in the "succesfully voted" KPI, right? If so, how do you know?

Then, 24% of new users who failed has no meaning if you don't tell how many new users are there in comparison to old users overall. For instance, I can have 60% of new users overall, which means that there are less new users who make the mistake than old ones (60% > 24%). If there are only 12% of new users, yes here potentially we have an issue, but a new user's ability to vote still needs to be reviewed with actuals user-experience tests, not KPI reviewing.


From this text alone and without even considering the designI moderately dislike :p, I feel like the KPIs used are at least not explanatory enough. At worst, and that's what I think because they're piling up quite a bit, they're not displaying an honest behavior. Throwing in numbers semi-randomly does not make a point stronger, they need to make sense and be explained correctly.

Here -and complementary to the other answers proving the buttons are not as accessible as you try to make think they are-, I find the downvotes count on this post and the test one much more speaking than any of the numbers you gave. A ratio of 14.8% of "likes" vs total votes on this question means this isn't what the community's core sought at all, ie. the one that run the inn and bring new travellers in. There is no doubt in that.


My eye-sight is rather poor.

I have found that, on non-meta sites, I seem to have to squint and peer more closely at these new arrows to see if I have voted or not, because the ring highlighting just isn't sufficient.

The previous arrows never made me need to squint.

I also find that after a while, I am getting eye-strain and headaches from the squinting to check for any previous upvotes/downvotes.

Note that if I don't bother looking at the arrows, then I find no need to squint to be able to read the text - so it isn't that my eyes are completely shot. It is clearly just these arrows and the fact that it is harder to see their highlighting.

So, one has to ask, was any accessibility checking done when testing these new wonderful (hard to see) buttons..?!

It should be noted that, however, on the meta sites, the filled-in/inverted highlighting of the vote buttons is perfectly visible. Taking these examples from SuperUser:

Non-meta vs Meta:

Non-meta voting buttons Meta voting buttons

  • 1
    "was any accessibility checking done" - sure, among the developers only of course, who all appear to have a good eye sight. sad laugh Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 7:32

I don't like the new styling for two reasons:

  1. It doesn't fit in well with the rest of the layout where everything is, well, rectangular (search boxes, page buttons, horizontal and vertical lines, profile icons, sidebar panels, selected or marked menu items etc.)

  2. For some reason it feels like something is wrong with the voting arrows. Cognitively, the first thing that comes to mind is that some CSS is missing and the browser tries to apply some sort of default rendering.

Honestly, in comparison, the comments' borderless up-arrow and flag look much better.


Fully aware that this seems to be a small minority opinion here, I personally like the change, even though there is always room for improvement.

  • Most people seem to agree that the buttons are generally more eye-catching than before(even though for some people that is because they find them ugly ^.^ ). This was the whole point, so at least in that regard, success! (I am avoiding the important accessibility aspect here, about which I don't feel knowledgeable enough to really talk).

  • I personally noticed that I'm more likely to leave a vote, especially for the usual google search -> solution sort of visits.

  • I can understand the opinion that the current buttons feel somewhat out of place with the rest of the style, maybe a square with rounded corners would be more in line with the site's other button-like things:

  • On the other hand, that stark difference is part of what makes them stand out so much in the first place.

  • While the discussion seems to have remained mostly civil, I just want to thank the many members of team trying to improve the site for all of us, even though the community often gives them tough love in return :).


I would like that the experiment included a measure on comments, specifically if there is more comments and if comments including content like '+/-1'. That would make also something that doesn't affect the likeness of the votes themselves (after all they scream "USE ME"), but also what actions those users stopped doing.


I prefer the new vote button arrows because they have a much more obvious contrast between voted and non-voted arrow vote buttons in dark mode (through the Dark Reader browser extension), even on meta sites. I use Dark Reader to enable dark mode on all websites whenever possible.

In the previous UI, some SE site themes conflicted with Dark Reader. This made it difficult to see the difference between voted and non-voted posts. The new UI addresses this issue by increasing the area of the button that is a different color if it has been voted on, making it much easier to see the difference between voted and non-voted buttons.

Screenshot of the new vote button UI in Dark Reader dark mode (in Movies & TV SE) — notice that the area covered in orange, contrasting it to the non-voted button, is much larger in the new UI than in the old UI.

screenshot of new vote button UI in Dark Reader dark mode (in Movies & TV SE)

In the old UI, it was harder to see the contrast since only the arrow had a different color (a smaller area), and some site themes made the difference even less obvious in dark mode.

I hope that SE will eventually implement native dark mode for all Stack Exchange sites. This would improve the overall user experience for users who prefer dark mode.

  • 7
    But that is part of the problem: the experience with the voting buttons changes severely based on which browser extensions were used, which site in the SE network is being visited, or which theme was picked on the site itself.
    – E_net4
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 8:45
  • 3
    @E_net4 I believe that what you've mentioned also applies to the old vote button styling. IMHO, the vote button experience is worse in the old vote button styling, especially in certain site themes. The area covered by the contrasting color of the voted arrow button was too small. The contrast is much easier to see in the new button styling, regardless of the site theme, due to the larger area covered by the contrasting color. I can't comment much on non-dark mode since I never browse sites in non-dark mode. Commented May 31, 2023 at 9:38
  • 2
    The buttons may cover a larger area, but most of that is using a dimmer color, or using stronger, contrasting colors in the outlines. These perceptions may indeed be biased by the use of browser extensions.
    – E_net4
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 9:56
  • 3
    This varies between the SE sites. On many sites the color of the clicked button changes very little and it's actually more difficult to see if you already voted, in comparison to the old icons. Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 22:04

Seriously, this insignificant change should not elicit so much whining.

If you go all ballistic because of a button design change (!) nobody will listen to you when it concerns more serious issues, because you oppose everything anyway.

I know I make the prediction after the fact, which is cheap, but still.

  • 5
    For me it's about SE lying in our faces, throwing false details (e.g. it was done to improve accessibility while it only harms it) and worse, ignoring any and all feedback. I don't care if they'll change the arrows to poo emoji, just do it the right way. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 12:02

If you really wanted to emphasise voting buttons WHY didn't you make them look like buttons?

E.g.🔼/🔽 or ⬆️/⬇️

I have never seen a computer application that uses round buttons

  • 12
    IMHO buttons is buttons even if they are round. Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 9:17
  • @PeterKolosov and they are buttons even if they are triangles. Frankly I don't care what shape or understand why this totally unnecessary change generated so much controversy.
    – Milliways
    Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 6:04
  • No thanks. It's even worse that that we have now. (Yeah, hard to find something worse, but you did. ;-)) Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 8:53
  • 5
    "I don't [..] understand why this totally unnecessary change generated so much controversy." This is a prime example of bikeshedding.
    – Velvet
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 9:09
  • You've never been in the button's Heaven, right ^^? There are actually a lot of examples of round buttons (excluding "roundish" ones), here are some examples from websites and elsewhere : imgur.com/a/2Ef6HrP . You just don't notice them in day-to-day life. Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 16:39
  • Primarily, the prevalence of round buttons can be attributed to historical factors rather than considerations of usability. Square buttons, on the other hand, were favored due to their simplicity in terms of implementation. The straightforward shape facilitated easier drawing, click and hover detection, resulting in higher efficiency. Moreover, square shapes and straight lines held dominance in design due to their inherent simplicity, hence round buttons would have been difficult to integrate without compromising layouts stylistically.
    – Edenia
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 22:18

For devices like Apple Vision Pro, round icons are better. If the icons have sharp corners (like before), it makes eye tracking more difficult - people will instinctively stare at the corners.

Apple advises developers to use round-cornered icons when developing apps for visionOS, for the same reason.

(That's probably not why they changed the icon. I'm just sharing information that I think might be useful.)

  • 2
    Off topic: the website in your profile is dead, better change link or remove it. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 8:58
  • 2
    I highly doubt the change was made specifically for VR or AR headsets. I'd expect the amount of traffic SE gets from such devices to be negligible. Note as well that the A/B testing for this change was conducted almost a year ago, whereas visionOS was announced last week.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 9:07
  • @F1Krazy: Thank you for your information. But I would like to say that I am only discussing the possible benefits of this change, not the purpose.
    – shynur
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 9:29

I feel like (at least some) people express such a disaffection because of a something called the "mere exposure effect".

This is a psychological bias that suggests people tend to develop a preference for things simply because they are familiar with them.

It is evident that some individuals concoct seemingly rationalized justifications to disapprove of these familiar elements, thereby framing their preferences as matters of personal choice rather than engaging in constructive thinking. Hence, it becomes imperative to approach such discussions with a critical and open-minded attitude.

When I think of a button, I think of something round. Historical design conventions have predominantly favored round buttons, and this dates back to at least 1880. On the other side of the spectrum, they could also be squares, but this is often regarded as antiquated (and often for a good reason). Personally, I strongly prioritize simplicity and user-friendliness over subjective aesthetics. Round buttons, in particular, convey a sense of a larger click surface area, a crucial aspect contributing to enhanced usability.

Nevertheless, I harbor reservations regarding the compatibility of these circular buttons with the overall design scheme at hand.

  • This isn't entirely true. While I'm sure "mere exposure effect" plays a role, the top comments actually point out very valid issues with accessibility. They also highlight weaknesses with the company's analysis and "proof" that these buttons are better. (Honestly I don't think anyone really cares all that much, I'm already used to the new ones, but I do hope they deal with the accessibility concerns) Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 8:39
  • I wasn't specifically referencing the top comments. A number of people seemingly criticize mostly how they look, not to mention that once the accessibility issues are taken care of, those buttons are actually easier to use as stated above.
    – Edenia
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 18:37
  • 3
    When I look at my keyboard I don't see many round buttons. In the lab, most of the instruments have a round button for power on/off, but nothing else.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 13:03
  • It wouldn't matter what shape the buttons were if all buttons on SE shared the same characteristics. If a circle is such a great indicator of a button, why are most of the other buttons on the site rectangular? The voting buttons aren't even styled similarly to the "Add comment" button I'm looking at right now which has a slight 3d effect to look clickable.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 13:33
  • @JonCuster Right, but they are not even called buttons. They are called keys. And if all this is irrelevant - the reasons for the keyboard keys being square-shaped is again only historic anyway (but also I suspect easier to press?). (Also there are plenty of modern keyboards with round keys, which I haven't tried, nor I want to). Also the actual buttons in your mouse, which are called push buttons are guess what.
    – Edenia
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 5:57
  • @ColleenV I agree, exactly.
    – Edenia
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 5:59

If StackExchange wants to increase voting, I encourage StackExchange to actively encourage kindness across its network (and the world) and explain why upvoting is a kind thing to do (and how unnecessary downvoting is a mean thing to do).

I've noticed that quite a few prominent StackExchange users have a 2:1 (or even worse) downvote to upvote ratio. These people often become community moderators, and continue their pattern of negativity.

Perhaps StackExchange should start penalizing users with downvote to upvote ratios that are greater than 1:1.

If you desire healthy and engaged communities, the first step is to act kindly towards other community members. Slightly changing a button's appearance isn't the big issue.

Upvotes literally cost nothing, yet so many people are incredibly unwilling to be kind enough to upvote helpful posts. I find it sad and indicative of a larger problem in society.

  • 30
    What if the great majority of the downvotes are necessary? What if the votes are on the post, and have nothing to do with the person who made the post? Commented May 30, 2023 at 12:35
  • 47
    Votes are not for showing kindness, never have been. They are there for quality control. Suggesting voting should be used for kindness is a bad idea. You're right about the larger problem in society though, where everyone seems to think everyone needs to be kind to them instead of controlling the quality of a society.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 12:41
  • 6
    @AndrewMorton Then I'm sure the community member could also find an equal number of useful posts to upvote. Commented May 30, 2023 at 12:41
  • 9
    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket If you can make a business case for having a separate "add kindness" button, you can post it as a feature request. Commented May 30, 2023 at 12:50
  • 6
    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket Not just eugenics, any kind of excess on both the left and right of politics will be caused by this problem in society. As long as people can keep extending the overton window under the guise of 'you need to be kind to me and my ideas', you can end up anywhere, including eugenics. That's why a society needs quality control (which involves being mean and 'punching nazis' sometimes) just as much an SE site does.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 12:50
  • 8
    The argument of RockPaper is interesting. The point is not that upvoting should be the determined by kindness, of course it must depend on the quality of the question/answer, but the atmosphere of a site also determines the quality of participation. If you feel that the site is unfriendly, you don't feel involved, you don't like to collaborate, you could be unwilling to make the effort of thinking about a post and evaluate it. You can just think: "I'm not interested in collaborating to such site", you are demotivated. The vibe affects the behavior, it is a law of human psychology. Commented May 30, 2023 at 20:39
  • 6
    @BakerStreet Clearly much of the StackExchange community (including some moderators) have demonstrated animosity towards even the idea of kindness. This speaks volumes about the community and where its headed. It's sad, but if people don't want to act kindly, at least they won't be alone. Commented May 31, 2023 at 3:39
  • 4
    @BakerStreet I agree that the atmosphere of a site can have a significant impact on the quality of participation, and that a negative atmosphere can lead to demotivation and discouragement. The snarky comments to this answer actually prove the point of the answer and your comment. Commented May 31, 2023 at 5:11
  • 6
    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket If that's (including some mods being against kindness) what you took away from my comments, read them again. I'm not against kindness, that's why you got my downvote and a comment explaining why. I could've been 'mean' and not leave a comment, like so many users complain downvoters do. What I'm against is any suggestion of using votes for any other purpose than quality control, including 'kindness'.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 8:01
  • 4
    @Tinkeringbell What RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket is saying, I believe, is that quality control (which is indeed necessary) is more enthusiastically practiced when it comes to negativity.
    – Velvet
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 8:33
  • 9
    @Velvel That's not what I read when the post states "explain why upvoting is a kind thing to do". SE should never go around explaining the need for upvotes as 'a kind thing to do' and feed even more into the 'votes are for kindness, downvotes are mean' narrative. Luckily, they don't have to. Voting is important for quality control, getting users to help with quality control is important, users need votes to be able to help with quality control. No need to explain upvotes as 'kind', they're there for quality control.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 9:29
  • 3
    @Tinkeringbell You seem to believe RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket wants to undermine quality control. But I don't think that's the case. ("Upvotes literally cost nothing, yet so many people are incredibly unwilling to be kind enough to upvote helpful posts.") They're simply stating that helpful posts tend to attract less voting that flawed ones. But maybe I'm interpreting my own thoughts...
    – Velvet
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 10:34
  • 5
    @Velvel that quote is again equating upvotes to kindness: "unwilling to be kind enough to" before even mentioning quality control (helpful). I don't see any data in this post to support the interpretation that 'helpful posts get less voting than flawed ones' either. Just data that may suggest users most involved in quality control are voting more on flawed posts, and thus have higher downvote-to-upvote ratios.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 10:56
  • 4
    In my experience modding another site, any post gets indiscriminate votes (off-topic sob stories get upvotes, out of kindness, I guess?) and these users involved in quality control are sorely needed to counteract the damage done by these indiscriminate votes, sadly, that makes them and their vote ratios, according to this post, 'unkind'.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 10:56
  • 3
    I walked away from this because a moderator has already drawn incorrect conclusions & does not appear interested is letting anything change their mind (despite Velvel's polite attempt to steer Tinkeringbell in an accurate direction). Velvel is completely correct. I'm simply pointing out that for helpful posts, upvoting helps the community & is a kind thing to do. Most readers aren't willing to click a free button to upvote helpful content, yet many people are willing to click to downvote (especially some of the most vocal users/mods). It's sad, and not indicative of a healthy community. Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 8:30

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