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This is not a duplicate of A Proposal for More Constructive Downvoting on Meta: Express Disagreement by Answering the Question because this is not proposing changing the Meta Stack Exchange users' voting habits and voting policies. This is about what the tour says and how to explain to newcomers why some posts are drowned in downvotes despite what the tour says.

The following content was taken from the Meta Stack Exchange tour few moments before creating this question:

Voting is different on meta sites

Your Meta Stack Exchange account functions like an account on any other Stack Exchange Q&A site: your reputation score goes up when others vote up your questions and answers, and you earn badges for your activity here.

For most posts, votes reflect the perceived usefulness: well-written, well-reasoned, and well-researched posts tend to get more attention and more upvotes.

Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, meta invites the community to discuss, debate, and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting can indicate agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself.

My understanding of the above section is that only on posts tagged votes are intended to be used to show agreement / disagreement, but from what I have seen in recent years, several posts are "drowned in downvotes" apparently due to people using downvotes to show dislike, anger, disagreement. Examples:

I'm not saying that posts written by staff are perfect, but considering what the tour says about voting in Meta Stack Exchange, there is a gap between the tour and the reality.

Should the wording of the tour be changed, or what should be said to newcomers about why certain posts get so many downvotes?

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    I mean upvoting the post about Monica just seems... disrespectful. I suppose most votes here reflect the voters' opinions, since Meta does operate differently than other SE sites. I think this system is fine and we don't need to start voting only based on quality on non-feature-request posts.
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 0:42
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    @bobeyt6isstricken Do you think the tour should be modified? Are you comfortable with the tour presenting one thing but actual events being different?
    – Rubén
    Jul 18, 2023 at 0:44
  • I suppose we should for clarity, but I think new users will quickly catch on regardless.
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 0:49
  • But A ⇒ B does not imply ¬A ⇒ ¬B. (Here, A = "feature-request tag"; and B = "agreement-based voting".) Jul 18, 2023 at 1:05
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones I think one could argue the exact opposite: many people infer that the implication is that agreement based voting is only for feature requests, when in reality that often isn't how users use their votes. At the very least the help pages are ambiguous and should be improved to more coherently reflect what users will experience on meta.
    – vandench
    Jul 18, 2023 at 1:10
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones technically yes but in normal conversation the converse is implied, just like "or" usually means "exclusive or".
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 1:10
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    simply remove the last sentence. ez. Now, how do we get the people bothered by this kind of voting to read it prior to complaining about it?
    – Kevin B
    Jul 18, 2023 at 1:34
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    @KevinB We can’t, and that’s the problem. For the same reason 30% of the questions here are off-topic: people don’t want to read what’s forced right in front of them, never mind what’s buried in a help center they don’t think they should have to visit. Jul 18, 2023 at 11:50
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    The quoted text doesn't really say anything about downvotes on non-meta sites, but several of the staff posts that have been heavily downvoted are hardly "well-reasoned", so according to that text there is at least one reason not to upvote them. Jul 18, 2023 at 15:49
  • @bobeyt6isstricken "voting only based on quality" What a crazy idea. That may have made the exchanges great but cannot work on meta. Jul 19, 2023 at 14:33

4 Answers 4

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Yes, the Meta Stack Exchange tour should be changed. At least it should include a link to What is Meta Stack Exchange, and how does it work?, more specifically to Voting, the answer about voting.

From the above-referred answer:

On many posts, especially feature requests, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the viewpoint expressed in the post rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself.

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    Okay, I agree this is an improvement. +1 Jul 19, 2023 at 8:21
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I agree with prior answer that wording of the tour needs to change, and specifically, needs to get rid of formally requiring particular tag. Instead of "On posts tagged feature-request..." it would better say something like "On feature-requests..."

Requiring feature requests to be tagged as such to allow "dis/agreement voting" opens a door to abuse.

For example, if one suspects that their feature request will met resistance they may be tempted to tag it differently and demand that voting was done as if it's not a feature request. Or, one can switch tags between feature request and others back and forth and require that at every retagging people change their votes accordingly.


This recent example demonstrates what's wrong with formally requiring a tag. It isn't tagged feature request but implictly contains two easily identifiable FRs.

First FR suggests us "evolving to bring community and AI together", second proposes us to "play a crucial role in how AI accelerates and helps with the accuracy and quality coming out of future GenAI solutions".

As far as I can tell, voters recognise above feature requests and vote accordingly. If they followed the letter of the tour (as opposed to its spirit) they wouldn't do that - but, since readers also can identify said FRs, in the absense of respective votes they would get wrong impression on whether community supports or opposes.

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    I wouldn't call them 'feature-requests'' it's more like: CEO Prashanth is going to do this, and he will be announcing his plans to the world.
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 19:18
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    @bobeyt6isstricken from a perspective of a meta reader these are routine feature requests, just very poorly presented
    – gnat
    Jul 18, 2023 at 19:24
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I think we should edit it for clarity's sake (and all the other reasons presented in the other answers), but after observing site culture for a few days new users should be able to catch on regardless. The real question is: would it help?

I'm pretty sure most new users here didn't read the tour or just skimmed through it for the badge. At least, when I first signed up on Mathematics, I didn't bother since I had been lurking for a while. A lot of people also seem reluctant to try and understand what this site is for, even if we shove it right in front of their face; around half of the new questions posted here each day are off-topic, even though we have a pop-up banner the first time a user posts a question.

Some new users view downvotes on their posts as personal attacks, even though the tour (implicitly) says they are only to measure content quality.

For most posts, votes reflect the perceived usefulness: well-written, well-reasoned, and well-researched posts tend to get more attention and more upvotes.

They either read the tour (but not really), or simply didn't bother. In both cases the tour had no impact on their misguided opinion.

On Meta, only 4% of users have the informed badge, and even if every one of those users read the entire tour page and took it to heart, that's still not a lot. I quickly skimmed through the profiles of some new users, and not a single one had viewed the tour.

So by all means, go ahead, but I'm not sure if it will correct any misconceptions that have/will occur.

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I do not see why voting needs to be different on Meta sites when on all Main sites upvotes/downvotes are simply a perceived measure of a post's usefulness.

Instead of:

Voting is different on meta sites

Your Meta Stack Exchange account functions like an account on any other Stack Exchange Q&A site: your reputation score goes up when others vote up your questions and answers, and you earn badges for your activity here.

For most posts, votes reflect the perceived usefulness: well-written, well-reasoned, and well-researched posts tend to get more attention and more upvotes.

Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, meta invites the community to discuss, debate, and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting can indicate agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself.

I propose a note like this:

Avoiding downvotes on Meta sites

Your Meta Stack Exchange account functions like an account on any other Stack Exchange Q&A site: your reputation score goes up when others vote up your questions and answers, and you earn badges for your activity here.

Votes reflect the perceived usefulness: well-written, well-reasoned, and well-researched posts tend to get more attention and more upvotes.

Unlike Main sites, Meta sites invite the community to discuss, debate, and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software works.

However, be aware that on some questions, especially those tagged , some users may vote to indicate agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself, and that can quickly attract a large number of downvotes. If just one answer to such a question gets upvoted, then you will not be able to delete your question and downvotes may continue to accrue.

To avoid the above situation it is best to write a question that only describes the problem/requirement, and then use a self-answer to write your proposal to address it. That way if your idea is unpopular you can always delete the answer that contains it, either permanently or while you address any issues in it that you think may be recoverable before undeleting it.

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    "That way if your idea is unpopular you can always delete the answer that contains it," this (while perhaps technically allowed) sounds a little bit like gaming the system, imo
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 20:39
  • @bobeyt6isstricken I don’t see it that way because it gives back a point to each downvoter who felt strongly enough to express that feeling and it provides a means to learn the feeling of the community without having to have that lesson pounded into you in perpetuity.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 19, 2023 at 0:21
  • I think the wording isn’t ideal m, as indeed it feels like gaming and makes disagreement seem like something making posts worthless. However, practically there were many posts on which I would have agreed with the problem statement but not the proposed solution - for example this answer. Perhaps pointing that out without the deletion angle is sufficient. Jul 21, 2023 at 15:58

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