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Update April 3rd, 2024

We have posted an update on the status of this experiment on MSO. Please leave any feedback, questions, or critiques on that post.


TL;DR: We are interested in finding 2-3 Stack Exchange sites willing to volunteer to test lowering the reputation required to upvote and downvote to 1 so that we can understand how this change impacts participation on sites. This test will be run with direct communication between the company and the moderation teams and we will be monitoring user behavior during the tests for specific indications that adjustments to tooling or ending the test may be necessary. If successful, we'd like to expand this change to the network.

What is the background of this experiment?

We've long understood that many users find it difficult to participate on Stack Exchange in some ways. We have collected user research over the years indicating that many people have struggled to participate because they feel the restrictions about who can vote are too limiting and prevents them from indicating when questions or answers are good or bad. While one of the core concepts of Stack Exchange is that anyone should be able to freely access the content and have the opportunity to ask, answer, or edit, this openness doesn't extend to other privileges on the sites.

We’ve historically used reputation as a way to prevent misuse, but in doing so we’ve made it hard for people to participate at all without creating content. By removing or changing some of these barriers to participation, we hope to spur participation and engagement - including posting, voting, and curation/moderation. The goal of this particular project is to understand the impact of removing the reputation required to upvote and downvote.

Reputation is a simplistic way to prevent abuse, but it doesn't reflect actual risk or a user's experience with the site or subject. By understanding the impact of removing the reputation barrier, we can find more targeted ways to address abuse for users of all reputation levels rather than sticking to the rather simplistic solution of relying on a reputation barrier to prevent wider-spread misuse of votes.

We have these restrictions in place for a variety of reasons, but the core concept behind all of them is to prevent misuse and protect the perceived value of the content on the sites. We do not want to make it more difficult for mods and community members to moderate content on the sites, nor do we want to see people inappropriately voting on content and thus reducing the value of the library of information.

As such, while removing the reputation required to vote is a five minute change to our privilege settings, we've spent the past few months understanding the potential risks of this change and adjusting our plans for this project. Based on voluminous thoughtful feedback from moderators across the network, we've made improvements to some moderator tools and have enhancements in the works based on their recommendations. While these changes aren't going to prevent all issues, they should make identifying and acting on them simpler.

Before we build additional moderator tooling and before we expand this test beyond these initial test sites, we want to see this change implemented on a few sites to see how it impacts engagement. It's important for us to hear from sites directly and see these changes in action to learn how changing the reputation to 1 changes voting behavior or if it adds an unreasonable amount of work for moderators and CMs to investigate. Our goal is to use this information to guide our future efforts, identify any necessary additional moderation tools, and validate whether these voting updates lead to increased engagement.

What would change for sites participating in this test?

There are three main privilege changes happening here as part of our test:

  • Reputation required to cast upvotes is changing from 15 to 1
  • Reputation required to cast downvotes is changing from 125 to 1
  • The 1 reputation cost to downvote answers will be removed

We will notify logged-in users with <125 rep to let them know that they can vote with a popup.

To understand motivations for new downvoters, the first few downvotes from a <125-rep user would require them to explain their downvote - this information will not be posted anywhere, but will instead be collected by our research team and bucketed into categories so that we can better understand reasons people downvote. While we expect that many voters may just enter gibberish, we feel like we'll get at least some usable information.

While we have considered various options for this test, since our goal is to be as permissive as possible, we want to start with opening voting to everyone. Regarding removing the reputation required to downvote and the cost to downvote answers, this is a situation where we want to balance the system. Users don't like receiving downvotes, but they are vital to a quality-based system. When we're looking at things like an aging content base, we recognize that giving even passive users the opportunity to say "this answer doesn't work" may help combat that to some extent.

One major thing is not changing - having a registered account will be required for voting. Unregistered accounts and logged-out users will not be granted the ability to vote. Additionally, users who are suspended will still not be able to vote during their suspension.

What are the risks and challenges of this test?

Over the last few months, moderators have shared their feedback and concerns about this experiment, which have been related to changes to vote quality, disproportional increases in vote fraud, and difficulty identifying handling sock puppets with the existing moderation tools. We understand those concerns and have done our best to adjust our test plan to find a path forward that allows us to test our hypothesis without risking negatively impacting the entire network by suddenly changing voting practices. Much of our test plan is designed to catch cases the moderators have identified and give room for communication throughout the test.

To address their concerns about identifying vote fraud and sock puppetry, we've made various improvements over the last three months to these tools. While we generally avoid speaking too publicly about moderator tooling, here are some of the general improvements we've made or are planning to make:

  • We have overhauled a moderator dashboard that draws attention to potentially suspicious votes and made it easier to find (live on site for use).
  • We have overhauled the Moderator Messaging and CM escalation UI to show mods and CMs more history about the user in the message context (live on site for use).
  • We are making it easier for moderators to find and act on sock rings (in design phase).
  • We are making it easier to escalate groups of suspicious votes for CM review and invalidation (in design phase).

We're still working out some bugs in these tools but the feedback we've gotten indicates the updates are well-received and they're looking forward to further improvements.

What is the test plan?

We want to find 2-3 established sites that are willing to volunteer for this test. Preferably, these will be larger sites that have moderators willing to work directly with the members of the Community Enablement team, the team dedicated to this project whose primary responsibility for the past year has been creating and improving moderator and community management tooling.

Our specific plans for data collection include:

  • Reviewing existing voting and participation data and analyzing the impact of the changes in collaboration with site moderators and community members
  • Conducting user research to assess perceptions of post quality before and after this change
  • Analyzing voting differences based on various factors including:
    • Reputation
    • Account age
    • Final outcome of the post - e.g. if a question is closed or deleted and why, or an answer is deleted
  • Keeping an eye out for changes in users going undetected by tools that use reputation as a signal to block participation
    • This includes both built-in tools like SpamRam, as well as community-created ones like SmokeDetector.
  • Setting guidance before the test that will help us identify cases where rolling back the changes or making other adjustments are necessary.

We intend to run this project as transparently as we can, considering it relates directly to voting, which is something that we try to keep as private as possible. Due to the sensitivity of this data, some of the communication will be on a Private Team with the moderators of these sites. We will ensure there is open communication of publicly shareable information with the sites directly through the moderators and staff working on this project.

Because our test includes regular monitoring and clear guidance on when reverting the change is the best course of action, our plan is to retain these changes unless we see evidence they're causing negative impacts that we can't address quickly by making changes to tooling or automations.

After the test has been running for a month, we will create a report to share with here on Meta Stack Exchange before we determine the next steps for this project.

Which sites will be chosen?

This is a big change, and we would really love to find sites willing to volunteer - we don't want to force any sites into this test group. While we have sites we think would be good options and we'll be reaching out to them directly, we encourage members of sites to discuss whether they're interested in participating in this test on child meta sites. We would like to have some of the larger sites participate and will likely lean towards them as the impacts of these changes will probably be seen more quickly than on very low-activity sites.

Conclusions / asks

Removing the reputation barrier to voting for all users is a change we feel will lead to more users being able to indicate post quality and usefulness, but we recognize that it will require a lot of care to ensure that we are educating voters about when to vote and encouraging them to follow acceptable voting practices while also preventing or removing votes that were cast inappropriately.

We recognize that you may have many questions or concerns about this project and that this post may seem like it doesn't include a lot of specifics about the risks of this change. In writing this question, we're trying to focus on the test to keep it short(er) - the version of this that was posted on the Stack Moderators Team three weeks ago was significantly longer, as it responded to many of the mods' specific concerns.

  • If you think a site you participate in would be willing to test this, let us know in a comment so that we can reach out on the child meta site or start the meta discussion and flag the question to request mods to feature it on the site. We can create an answer with links to site discussions network wide.
  • If you have questions, please ask them in answers so that we can respond to them individually. It really helps if you can try to limit answers to one primary concern.

We have spent over three months reviewing and re-evaluating our plans for this project based on a huge amount of very helpful feedback from moderators over the course of two questions on the mod team to get to where we are now. We really appreciate the feedback they shared with us because we want to investigate this change in a way that works to avoid negative impacts to the sites.

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    "We really appreciate the feedback they shared with us because we want to investigate this change in a way that works to avoid negative impacts to the sites." - our feedback saying the tooling isn't ready for the increase in abuse this will lead to apparently didn't make the cut Sep 19, 2023 at 16:44
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    @Zoe I understand that you and others have concerns - we've specifically made huge changes to this project plan to address those concerns and have clearly stated that we have additional changes in design and have planned to make further changes but need some data to know what changes are needed. This post doesn't invalidate those concerns - it actually recognizes them and validates them.
    – Catija
    Sep 19, 2023 at 16:52
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    You're still massively underestimating the tooling requirements, particularly for SO. Your plan still doesn't include massively extended and improved automated tools. The current automatic vote invalidation system is a potato, and the abuse vectors for evading detection are well-known. You're dumping a massive increase in workload on us, and not doing close to enough to reduce, automate, and improve the workflow for dealing with vote fraud (but especially reduce and automate) Sep 19, 2023 at 17:00
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    Remember, even a 1% increase on small sites might just be a couple cases, but on SO, it's hundreds, if not thousands (partly depending on how you count it) of cases per week, most of which will have to be manually handled when the brand new sock rings that can be established with no cost and with a disgusting number of users casting few enough votes to remain undetected start firing up Sep 19, 2023 at 17:05
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    Many low-rep users don't understand how SO works, don't understand how to ask a good question, and, a lesser proportion, don't accept and/or acknowledge an answer / respond to requests for clarification. How much confidence do you have re: voting for helpful answers. Yeah, I'm a little jaded on this. I also echo the sentiments re increased abuse and moderator effort.
    – QHarr
    Sep 19, 2023 at 17:10
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    I generally expect that upvoting things that are useful, and downvoting things that aren't is a fairly common thing across the web... not something unique to SO that users who previously couldn't vote at all won't be able to grasp. I welcome this change and hope the issues it may cause can be addressed.
    – Kevin B
    Sep 19, 2023 at 17:36
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    @QHarr I'd argue that equating voting to the complexity involved in creating and improving posts isn't quite right. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that voting is simple, by comparison to asking a question, it's a breeze. I think that it'd be far easier to educate users to vote properly and let them than it would ever be to educate them in how to create content or edit so they can come up with an idea for a question or answer or submit a bunch of edit suggestions just to earn reputation and then be allowed to vote. To me, that makes little sense.
    – Catija
    Sep 19, 2023 at 18:24
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    @Zoe I understand your worries. A major point of this test is to better understand what tools are needed. This is why I would deter us from testing on SO - while we need bigger sites, most sites have a fraction of the flag queues and suspicious votes list we see on SO. I really don't want to burden the SO mods further while the tools are still being developed. But I do believe that on most other sites, we'd be able to monitor votes throughout the test without creating a burden for those sites' mods.
    – Catija
    Sep 19, 2023 at 18:33
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    I'm concerned that new users may not be able to recognize a good answer from a bad one and might upvote convenient answers over correct answers. I'm all for engagement, but I hope that SE will take steps to check if "average voter behavior" is significantly affected by this change, which would be a significant red flag wrt the quality of the new votes.
    – A. R.
    Sep 19, 2023 at 20:17
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    @A.R. The comparisons you mention we should do are in the list of data we're going to gather because we understand this concern. I've gotten a lot of mentions of exactly that concern and I seriously have to ask - does having 15 or 125 reputation actually mean you know how to vote? I feel like there's a fallacy in arguments like this because of an assumption that privileged users vote "correctly" and that unprivileged users can't (excluding overt vote misuse). I think we should instead consider that "correct" voting isn't as uniform as we expect and address that for all users.
    – Catija
    Sep 19, 2023 at 21:02
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    @A.R. "I'm concerned that new users may not be able to recognize a good answer from a bad one and might upvote convenient answers over correct answers." If you have ever looked at the HNQ, this should not be a concern, it should be a known fact. It happens all the time, and if users earning the association bonus are free to do it already, I don't see any difference in letting every new user do it.
    – Nij
    Sep 20, 2023 at 12:45
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    @Nij HNQ has limits. The scale of the voting this proposal allows is the problem. Also the spammers that will get free reign. Sep 20, 2023 at 13:25
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    What is so important about users "engaging more"? I think at some point you have to choose between content quantity and quality. The current voting system seems to strike a healthy balance - why then are you pushing for more quantity? Sep 20, 2023 at 13:50
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    The voting system is already overburdened in the functionality that it encapsulates. It is the sole unmoderated, public marker of quality, interest, accuracy and also often stands as proxy for feedback on the user/poster's behavior. This breadth already points to a broken system and that is before one considers the 'point' values assigned to it and the privileges those points afford the user. A single highly rated question regardless of its quality will afford the poster vastly more power on the site than a user who diligently closes duplicates for years.
    – pilchard
    Sep 21, 2023 at 9:20
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    Is there any point in continuing discussion here now that @Catija got laid off in the most recent round of lay-offs? Is any other SE staff member going to take over? Is this experiment still on-going?
    – brhans
    Oct 17, 2023 at 17:03

48 Answers 48

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You claim to have "data" supporting that there's some kind of complaints about not being able to participate solely because of voting, etc. The biggest question nobody seems to be asking is the elephant in the room.

Where is this so-called data / "user research" for review by the community, community moderators, etc.?

During the past moderator strike earlier this year (2023), the intentions of StackExchange were called into fault over supposed "data" regarding moderators and the use of "AI detectors" blindly to filter on AI posts. SE claimed to have "data" that took the striking moderators and wider audience over a month to get this data produced and provided by StackExchange for audience and independent review. Ultimately, leading the data to not be helpful in StackExchange's argument, and ultimately calling into question the fidelity of StackExchange's claims whenever they refer to "data" that has not been publicly disclosed in any way (even anonymized) for analysis.

Like the claims made with regards to AI content handling which led in part to the moderator strike which ultimately led to the moderators who were striking to 'strong-arm' StackExchange into sharing their data on that situation, a claim is being made about "data" here (emphasis mine) without that data being visible/public in any way (even anonymized):

We've long understood that many users find it difficult to participate on Stack Exchange in some ways. We have collected user research over the years indicating that many people have struggled to participate because they feel the restrictions about who can vote are too limiting and prevents them from indicating when questions or answers are good or bad.

Interpretation of this means that "user research" is a reference to collected "data" indicating that "people are struggling to participate" solely because of voting. Which is not the case, and without the data being publicly auditable is unable to be substantiated and this is simply "hearsay".

Unless this data (even anonymized to protect the identities of those who contributed) is provided for independent reviews, there is no basis for SE to make any such arguments, and any such claims based on this research are as such hearsay.

Therefore, just like during the moderator strike, it is of benefit to the community and its moderators and wider audiences to make this data public, and I would like to see this data in order to validate these "claims" made by StackExchange.

Preferably, filters need to be put on this 'data' that exclude:

  1. Sock-puppet chains where "users" are in fact sock puppets and not actual users (and the chains are used for abusive purposes)
  2. Sock-puppet users of actual users (i.e. legitimate use sockpuppets that are not for voting abuse,etc.)
  3. Known problem users who simply complain about everything just for the sake of complaining (CMs: you know the list of individuals I mean)

Either way, can StackExchange provide this data so that it can be looked at and reviewed, even if treated as PII and only revealed to community elected diamond moderators?

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  • Hear, hear. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Also, I can imagine that only a tiny number of people "leaving" SE will bother to fill out a form/survey or something to let SE know why they're leaving. The question then is — how representative is that number? Also: what does it mean "a user has left"? Are we talking here about a certain plausible and measurable metrics such as "having not logged in for more than 30 days"? Of the total number of users in that category, how many have answered the survey? Where is the statistical analysis on that? Can it be peer-reviewed...? Oct 31, 2023 at 23:36
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Arduino SE would be a great place to test this out. We only get a dozen new questions in a 24 hour period, so if the users with only one reputation point go wild, it would do little damage (assuming the reader thinks it would cause damage).

Of course, the reputation points are like the points on the Tell-Lie-Vision show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway". Everything is made up, and the points don't matter.

I did a survey of my local grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc., to see if any of them accept SE reputation points as payment. I have yet to find any business where I live that accepts them.

See Should Arduino SE participate in the '1-rep voting' test?

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    Whilst this may be true for everywhere except SO, there have been multiple reported cases of SO rep having meaningful value, with cases of people selling SO rep and SO rep amounts being listed as a job requirement having been reported in the past. Sep 19, 2023 at 19:32
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    @user1937198 - Selling rep? Isn't that against the user agreement SE users sign?
    – VE7JRO
    Sep 19, 2023 at 19:37
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    It's against the user agreement, doesn't mean people haven't tried it and force mod intervention. Sep 19, 2023 at 19:38
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    Enough the mods put a policy on meta regarding buying/selling:meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/410831/… other than that, no idea. Sep 19, 2023 at 19:41
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    see cocomac's answer post about the association bonus. rep may not affect anything in real life (debatable, with people trying to get rep to put it on their resume), but it significantly affects the entire network
    – starball
    Sep 20, 2023 at 1:51
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    the focus here is not reputation, but posts scores
    – Juraj
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:53
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    @Juraj - We definitely have low post scores on Arduino SE. It seems even the "regulars" don't want to take the time to vote on posts. Can you believe only 36 users have been doing all the voting on our stack this year to date? arduino.stackexchange.com/users?tab=Voters&filter=year If the new users with 1 rep can figure out the "mystery meat" links to up-vote/down-vote Q+As, then maybe post scores would improve.
    – VE7JRO
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:56
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In my opinion:

Letting users vote from 1 rep is opening sites very much to botting and spamming.

Giving that power to users that created their account 30 seconds ago would open the door to people creating 1000 accounts with bots and upvoting/downvoting something 1000 times.

But, counter proposal: If an account is already vetted on another site (lets say they have at least 200 rep on another site of the network) then yes, they can vote on 1 rep.

But an account that is brand new to the network cannot.

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    if you have 200 rep on any site, then you get 100 association bonus rep on all other sites (unlocking the voting privilege, which is typically 15 rep). your counter-proposal is already a thing.
    – starball
    Sep 22, 2023 at 18:39
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    several answer posts have already brought up voting ring issues, and the question post already talks about it as well. I'm certain that that scale of voting fraud would be easily detected by the existing serial vote detection.
    – starball
    Sep 22, 2023 at 18:41
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    Account age is no guarantee it's not a bot. On Facebook, bots will frequently create accounts, and then let them sit idle for a year in order to evade certain types of spam control, before abusing them.
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 22, 2023 at 20:42
  • @starball very true! Completely forgot about it.
    – Fredy31
    Sep 25, 2023 at 20:27
  • @FuzzyChef I have the impression we could use it the other way even; an account that within a month has not enough score to even vote would be a redflag to me; but it could bring a bunch of false flags.
    – Fredy31
    Sep 25, 2023 at 20:28
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TL;DR: Please prevent the logical network-wide effects that this experiment might have.

This is slightly similar to a previous answer about the association bonus posted on Sept 19 by cocomac.

While the proper control and contingency measures aren't implemented across the whole network during the experiment, please isolate the network from the side effects of this experiment on 2-3 volunteer sites with other Stack Exchange sites. The change in the voting dynamic will have a direct effect on the users' reputation dynamic; hence, the dynamics of how post creators earn privileges will change and the dynamic of how actions might be triggered:

  • Association Bonus
  • Hot Network Questions

Association Bonus

The association bonus allows users to earn privileges like chat, comment anywhere and upvote on all sites across the network.

There is a debate about the reputation system in the comments on this question. A specific Meta Stack Exchange post about the reputation system has not been linked to this experiment. While this debate is relevant, there is no conclusion. Considering this, I'm asking that the sites not participating in the experiment be isolated from the possible overload that might imply this experiment due to the uncertain effect of the change in the reputation system dynamics across the Stack Exchange network.

Ref. What is the association bonus, and how does it work?

Rel. The Stack Exchange reputation system: What's working? What's not?

Hot Network Questions

The change in the dynamics of question scores from the participant sites in this experiment might impact Hot Network Questions, making the "competition" to appear on this list uneven. Sites like GenAI, which is also an experiment, have benefitted from getting questions on the HNQ and might be at a disadvantage against the sites participating in this experiment, reducing the probability of attracting viewers and posts through HNQ.

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    Can you clarify what you mean by isolating the network from the side effects of the experiment in relation to the association bonus? Are you suggesting that users who earn 200 reputation on the experiment sites should not receive the association bonus on other sites? That doesn’t seem fair to me if they earned the reputation legitimately, by contributing good/high quality content. After all, the experiment aims to increase participation and engagement in the SE network. Sep 25, 2023 at 9:31
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    @galacticninja The isolation should be only if there aren't proper means to avoid the transitional side effects. Once the experiment finishes and decide that the votes be permanent the association bonus should be granted.If the CM Team will handle the moderation burn on non participating sites, the isolation will not be necessary.
    – Rubén
    Sep 25, 2023 at 13:40
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    Even if the CM team allow for supporting other sites, it is worth considering that people may engage in abusive behaviors on the trial sites, specifically for the purpose of gaining the association bonus for stackoverflow to abuse SO. Which may result in a considerable burden, both on SO, and the trial sites. Sep 28, 2023 at 14:14
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In addition to my points in my other answer, I would like to pose a question: what do you mean by "participation" in this context? Are you implying that lowering the voting threshold will cause people to be more likely to answer questions? More likely to ask questions? More likely to propose edits? Visit the site more often? More likely to register for an account? Or merely more likely to vote?

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    All of the above, minus the "merely" in the last one. Voting on its own is very important to the ranking of the content on the site. While only increases in voting (that indicate votes are being used appropriately) would be the bare minimum we'd hope for; all of the other things would hopefully be knock-on effects... I'm not necessarily expecting a huge bump in (honest) signups because the current UI for logged-out users is to show an account creation popup with only tiny text indicating 15/125 rep is required to vote. But for the other things, I think we're looking for change, yes.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:09
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    Even if the people voting don't answer questions, the people who are and might be discouraged by having their effort go to waste might see an increase in votes leading to them posting more answers. For voters, they may be frustrated by not being able to vote and just write off the site because of it. Similar for question asking - though many sites see a lot of questions asked by less-engaged or new users, so I'm not sure there'd be as much difference. Someone who is more engaged because they don't feel gatekept out of the community might also edit or visit more often.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:13
  • quoting the question post: "we hope to spur participation and engagement - including posting, voting, and curation/moderation.". It's not obvious to me how cause leads to the desired effect here though.
    – starball
    Sep 24, 2023 at 20:07
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    "Participation" likely translates into "numbers we can use to appease our venture capital investors". Quality or usefulness of such "participation" to the community is of secondary concern (if it's a concern at all).
    – brhans
    Oct 2, 2023 at 12:49
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We need more people voting in general. People who are new/on the verge of creating an account so their vote will count, people who've been here forever and lurk, and everyone in-between; it's what makes these sites different from an old style discussion forum. This change at least should introduce new users to voting sooner and open up a very large group of users to being able to perform the actions that the community at large for whatever reason isn't doing enough of.

I don't expect this to fix our voting problem overnight, but hopefully it'll be a change that improves the situation over time or at minimum lessens the decline.

I think this is generally a good change, if we can solve the one good thing that the existing solution actually does: make voting fraud less accessible to new users. Hopefully the solution we come up with to that makes voting fraud less accessible to everyone.


I'm seeing a lot of varied arguments against this that I disagree with:

  • Users often downvote because they don't understand the question
  • Users often vote without knowing the norms of the community
  • Users often vote not knowing what voting is for
  • The 125 rep cost allows the user to learn that using votes for revenge is wrong
  • Small sites might get overrun by people from the outside voting

Frankly, these users are part of the community and their opinions matter.

  • A post being written in a way such that someone "doesn't understand it" is a valid reason to downvote, regardless of the user's experience level. These sites aren't meant to only serve users above certain level of expertise.
  • Posting a question or answer and receiving an upvote doesn't teach me what the community at large values nor should I care what the community at large values. My vote is mine. If I find the post useful it'd be wrong to not upvote it.
  • Earning 125 rep doesn't somehow teach me to better recognize what is and isn't useful. Again, my vote is mine, what the community sees as useful isn't relevant to the purpose of my vote.
  • You don't learn how to be an adult being by earning 125 reputation on a stack site. No amount of delay before being able to cast downvotes is going to somehow teach people not to cast revenge votes or other votes for malicious reasons. Instead of preventing this by preventing voting in general, tools should exist to detect it and the punishment should be appropriately targeted.
  • If people from the outside are voting maliciously, that's a problem for mods and staff to deal with. If we need more tools that will help identify when a sudden influx of previously inactive or new users are logging in and voting due to some outside source, they should be built and a policy should exist for dealing with this scenario. This isn't new, it happens all over the internet, it will (and does) happen here. Preemptively put tooling in place to detect it, however it may often require no intervention at all. These users are members of the community after all.

There's literally no benefit outside of preventing fraud from a select group of users for these tools to be so limited. Surely there's an opportunity here to create better tools for catching and dealing with fraud in general rather than relying on a solution that only targets one group of users. It'll also be easier to understand what tools are needed when we face them rather than constantly going in circles over what could happen.

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    "We need more people voting in general." I would contest that. We only need people who know something about the matter to vote. All others would just add noise. More voters wouldn't automatically mean better quality votes. And some questions or answers with thousands of votes rather don't need more votes. At some point the value of another additional vote is very small. What we really need are more votes from the right people on the right items where it actually makes a difference. Sep 20, 2023 at 22:04
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    see, i adamantly disagree with that, because, the sole person who is in the best position to decide whether or not a given answer is useful is someone who actually needs it as a solution to their problem, not some "expert" user who has been on SO for 13 years. A pristine library full of things deemed useful only by "experts" is less useful than one full of things that people actually need/use.
    – Kevin B
    Sep 20, 2023 at 22:06
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    Usage is surely one quality approximation but that has at least two problems. Not all voters really use all the content they are voting on and people can still simply use the wrong solution because it looked easier or what not. If there was a way to actually measure usage I would like it more. Until then I would trust the experts much more, would even like to give their votes a higher weight. I appreciate your disagreement though. :) Sep 20, 2023 at 22:17
  • 1
    bsides, that's never been the system we've had anyway. Earning 10 rep doesn't magically make you an expert. We'll still have all of the existing tools for dealing with incorrect/wrong/low quality answers/questions that we have now. I do appreciate engaging with my post though, I made it knowing full well it's going to be a controversial take on it, ;) This change is one I've been pushing for for years.
    – Kevin B
    Sep 20, 2023 at 22:17
  • 8
    People who have problems that they don't know how to solve are terrible at figuring out which of the proffered solutions is the best one. Not just on Stack Exchange but everywhere in the world.
    – benrg
    Sep 21, 2023 at 2:32
  • 5
    'A post being written in a way such that someone "doesn't understand it" is a valid reason to downvote, regardless of the user's experience level. These sites aren't meant to only serve users above certain level of expertise.' What utter nonsense. The C++ questions on SO that hit the HNQ are half incomprehensible gibberish to me because C++ has evolved so much from when I was using it. But they are comprehensible to the people who're supposed to be answering them - the C++ experts. The site may be for all expertise levels, but that doesn't mean that a particular question has to be.
    – muru
    Sep 21, 2023 at 4:14
  • 1
    @benrg Absolutely agree, that's why I think the accept mark should be done away with. I'd rather rely entirely on which answers have been the most helpful over a longer period of time.
    – Kevin B
    Sep 21, 2023 at 4:14
  • 4
    @muru i'm not suggesting that I, as someone with no C++ experience, should be browsing C++ questions and downvoting everything i can't understand. Rather, if the question is so poorly written that someone who has that problem can't comprehend it... it isn't a clear, useful question. We're talking about new users here, not "experts" looking for questions to answer, since they typically aren't the ones that would be gaining the ability to vote with this feature.
    – Kevin B
    Sep 21, 2023 at 4:16
  • But that's largely a straw man, @KevinB. The complaint about people downvoting questions they don't understand -- or, often, misunderstand -- is exactly about those people lacking the technical understanding needed to evaluate the question appropriately, not about the asker's linguistic skills. Nobody is suggesting that linguistically incomprehensible gibberish is undeserving of downvotes. Sep 23, 2023 at 14:28
3

Here's something I'd be interested to see explored as an alternative: Giving anonymous votes some kind / degree of public visibility (while still being anonymous, of course).

Interface options:

  • Make it a setting to switch between the two, or put it in a tooltip when hovering the vote count, or put it side-by-side (probably visually clunky and confusing), etc. I don't care too too much how it's executed right now.
  • Allow sorting by votes with anonymous votes taken into account. You could even get fancy and let the user give anonymous votes a custom weight / multiplier for sorting- Ex. 0.5 the weight of a "real" vote.
  • Or don't show the actual value of the vote count with anonymous votes counted, but at least still allow sorting with them taken into account.

Why: I can see the value of making votes only count for rep once you earn it as a privilege (to gatekeep bad actors), but personally, the only obvious reason I see not to let anonymous votes to be optionally visible to the public is that it would enable people to game their post to the top of that sorting option by sending requests from multiple IPs (Catija semi-confirmed that anonymous votes are per-IP-address (for two anonymous votes from the same IP, only one is counted)). But while that's not perfectly solvable, it's a mitigatable problem.

Mitigating "anonymous voting fraud": Ex. only take up to X (Ex. 1) votes (somehow pick them if more than X were cast) from one IP per given time period (Ex. a day or week), and in that time period, the median of the taken anonymous votes on a given post is taken as the one and only anonymous vote cast in that time period for the purposes of displaying anonymous votes. It's hecking complicated, but I think it would do a pretty good job at making gaming votes / "anonymous voting fraud" unattractive, while still making anonymous votes have a degree of meaningful visibility to the general public.


I'd also like for votes one cast with an account that doesn't yet have that voting privilege to be at least visible to the user. Ideally I think those votes would take "real effect" automatically once they gain the privilege to vote in that direction, but I can understand why that could be difficult / complicated with the daily vote limit and sudden load with handling any serial voting, so I can understand if that's not a good option. At least if a user can see the votes they cast even before they gained a voting direction privilege, they can go back and slowly cast "real" votes on them retrospectively.

Related: Once I reach 15 reputation, will my old votes be taken into account?

0

I think this is a good experiment if the following are excluded:

  1. Removing the 1 reputation cost to downvote answers
  2. Reducing the reputation required to cast votes in child meta sites to 1

Elimination of the 1 reputation downvote penalty would invite abuse and devalue upvoting

The elimination of the 1 reputation downvote penalty would invite abuse (downvoting answers other than your own, etc.) and devalue upvoting, which would be contrary to the experiment's goals to increase participation and engagement. It would discourage participation if there were more downvotes thrown around without penalty. The current top answer to the Meta Stack Exchange post “Why do you lose reputation for downvoting answers?", among other answers, explains this point well.

The motivation behind it is to put emphasis on up-voting or not voting at all. This way, down votes will carry more weight and it will also prevent users from abusing the system by down-voting excessively.

According to what the founders, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, discussed on an episode of the Stack Overflow podcast, they wanted to find a way to discourage users from down-voting for less legitimate reasons (say a pro-Java developer down-voting everything remotely related to .NET or the like).

I have to admit, it definitely puts it into perspective to compare how many points you gain for other activities vs. the 1 point you lose for a down vote. It is effectively the smallest penalty that the Stack Overflow scoring system will permit.

Reducing child meta voting reputation thresholds would allow bad actors to influence site policy

SE communities use meta discussion posts to reach consensus and set site policy. If we lower the reputation required to vote in child meta sites to 1, users who have not participated enough on the main site could affect site policy by voting on meta discussion posts. This is not a good idea for several reasons. For example, it could facilitate “brigading” from other communities (such as those outside the SE network) to influence site policy.

“Brigading” is a term that originated on Reddit for a coordinated attack by a group of users of an antagonistic subreddit (forum dedicated to a particular topic). The brigade would privately agree to “downvote” comments, either on a random or targeted basis, to deprioritise them in users’ feeds and effectively censor them. The meaning of the term expanded to cover all coordinated voting behaviour to make something or someone seem more or less popular than they actually are, and now it means all coordinated abusive engagement behaviour online.

- https://www.institute.global/insights/tech-and-digitalisation/social-media-futures-what-brigading

3
  • 1
    The potential abuse should be addressed by moderation tools, not by penalties to downvote. Sep 24, 2023 at 7:15
  • 1
    @MichaelFreidgeim I think both the downvote penalty and moderation tools are necessary to prevent abuse. The downvote penalty for answers has been a part of the SE network for 15 years now. It serves as a deterrent for users who might downvote answers indiscriminately or maliciously. Moderation tools can help to address such abuse, but they are not a substitute for the downvote cost. I don’t see any good reason to remove the downvote penalty now and rely solely on moderation tools. Sep 25, 2023 at 9:16
  • 1
    I know that for 15 years it was used as a deterrent for users who might downvote answers indiscriminately or maliciously. But maybe it is not necessary, if other tools to prevent the same exist ( or will be created). Note that downvote penalty also stops some users (especially with low reputation) to downvote bad posts because they do not want to lost their 1 rep. It is worth to experiment and monitor results rather than speculate. Sep 25, 2023 at 9:42
-1

To understand motivations for new downvoters, the first few downvotes from a <125-rep user would require them to explain their downvote - this information will not be posted anywhere, but will instead be collected by our research team and bucketed into categories so that we can better understand reasons people downvote. While we expect that many voters may just enter gibberish, we feel like we'll get at least some usable information.

The information entered by users when downvoting should be made public or at least made available to OP. This will serve multiple purposes. One is that the OP will get the idea about how the post can be made more useful to the community by addressing the concerns raised when downvoting the post. Second, if it is public, the community can flag inappropriate downvotes for moderator action. Third, users will be more cautious before downvoting knowing that the information will be made public and can be flagged if inappropriate. This will decrease the number of users entering gibberish descriptions.

Only the information entered for downvote will be made public. The identity of user will not be attached to the information when exposing it to community. Hence, the privacy will still be intact.

As a side note, I would love to see this extra step of describing the downvote becoming permanent part of Stack Exchange sites. It will be really helpful for new users to understand the reasons for down votes. On many occasions, users just downvote the post without leaving proper comments on why they downvoted or what could be improved. Having description will help user to improve their post or flag the downvote if its inappropriate.

6
  • 3
    This is very common feedback we get from users and I understand why. I am sympathetic to this. People requesting this sort of tooling often do want to improve their posts and don't understand why they're not being received well. Creating content here at the level expected by the community is not easy for everyone and there are a lot of places where we can improve that experience. While I am sympathetic to this, forcing downvoters to include explanations is often deemed concerning for a lot of reasons. I invite you to poke around on MSE or MSO, as I expect you'll come across it easily.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2023 at 18:18
  • 2
    As it relates to this project. In my responses to another answer, I've already mentioned that I'd be willing to consider sharing excerpts of these comments with the sites - particularly to see if they agree with the reasons for downvoting - but making these available to the poster is very much out of scope for this. Your answer actually recognizes exactly why this is out of scope - moderation of these comments and adding tooling for that would divert focus away from the test to something that really needs to be understood on its own because core community is against this sort of requirement.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2023 at 18:24
  • 4
    While I won't go into detail about why this sort of thing is difficult to implement well, I do want to point something out. You say that the comments could be flagged if they are rude - and that's very true. I see you recognize this would have to avoid adding the name of the downvoter as it would reveal who voted - kudos for that, most people forget it! One other aspect I'm not sure you're aware of is that responses to comments asking for improvements to posts are often hostile and rude themselves - this is why many people don't comment.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2023 at 18:30
  • 5
    I think a separate test where we can really dig into the needs of both posters and voters and find a better way to handle this would be time well spent. I think that the status quo leaves both voters and content creators frustrated. In particular what I mention in the last comment. If retaliation or rudeness are primary reasons people don't comment, people who really want the feedback are negatively impacted even if they wouldn't retaliate or be rude. I want to understand what could lead to more feedback being shared - but without requiring it.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2023 at 18:41
  • 2
    Existing suggesting to make downvotes explanation mandatory: Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are requests suggesting such negatively received? Sep 24, 2023 at 10:57
  • 1
    I’ve posted a feature request to make explaining reason for downvotes easier meta.stackexchange.com/questions/393416/… inspired by your answer Sep 30, 2023 at 1:23
-1

I'm not sure dropping the rep threshold for voting is such a good idea. However, I strongly believe that eliminating the bias towards upvotes is a good thing. That means:

  • equal reputation cost for up/down-votes (not necessarly 0)
  • equal reputation threshold for up/down-voting ability (not necessarily 1)

Right now, the voting system is heavily skewed towards upvotes, which promotes popular (fun / click-bait) content at the expense of useful content. As soon as enough people lay eyes on a post, you can bet it will get upvoted.

Note that I specifically don't suggest that up/down votes should have equal impact on the poster's reputation, as I believe it's a bad idea. A user who posted a poor question/answer should normally be able to undo the damage by posting a useful one, even if the useful one doesn't attract as many votes.

-1

1 rep voting is bad for reasons outlined in

In general, gaining reputation is an important educating and self-check step before being allowed to have effect.


Not sure if it's too complicated but

wouldn't it be interesting to allow new users to vote and only count their votes after they gather reputation themselves from other users who are not not new?

That both increases engagement for new users and prevents obvious drawbacks. It would be interesting to evaluate how this idea could be exploited and improved.

1
-3

What's the current barrier for voting? 100? Isn't that what you get for participating in more than one stackexchange community?

+100 Association Bonus

So what's the difference between giving 100 rep just for existing and allowing 1 rep voting?

You need 200 in any other site to get the Association Bonus so you're technically not a newbie to StackExchange, which means that you shouldn't misuse the privileges up to 100 rep level.

9
  • go read your site's /help/privileges page... or What are the reputation requirements for privileges on sites, and how do they differ per site?
    – starball
    Sep 22, 2023 at 7:11
  • Ok, so 15 to vote up and 125 to vote down, with the Association Bonus that's 0 and 25 with 2 stackexchange sites and 0 and 0 with 3 stackexchange sites.
    – Daviid
    Sep 22, 2023 at 7:15
  • "So what's the difference between giving 100 rep just for existing and allowing 1 rep voting" you seem to be missing everything else that unlocks with 100 rep...
    – starball
    Sep 22, 2023 at 7:16
  • I'm not, this question is about voting so I'm ignoring other privileges, but sure , what's the points of having 1, 5, 10, 15, 50, 75 and 100 rep levels if just by having 2 accounts on different stackexchange sites you will automatically get all of those. Just give them outright.
    – Daviid
    Sep 22, 2023 at 7:19
  • Here's a way better answer meta.stackexchange.com/a/303118/1387205
    – Daviid
    Sep 22, 2023 at 7:22
  • what does this even have to do with the discussion here?
    – starball
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:04
  • We're talking about allowing users with 1 reputation to vote. I said it was irrelevant because having 2 accounts on 2 different stack exchange sites you would get a Association Bonus which would give you 100 reputation and allow you to vote anyway. You mentione the other privileges that unlock at 100 rep, which have nothing to do with the discussion. Then I found an answer that explans that the ´Association Bonus´ is only given when the user has 200rep in at least one site, which is why I say that was a better answer to my question.
    – Daviid
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:12
  • 1
    having two network site accounts does not grant you the association bonus... did you read the thing you linked?
    – starball
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:54
  • Are you reading my posts?
    – Daviid
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:58
-3

Sorry, I think this is a bad idea (for reasons already explained in other posts).

If you want to increase engagement and - perhaps - highlight quality answers, how about allowing users above a certain rep level to have two votes?

Some likely benefits of this include:

  1. Allowing experienced and (generally) more knowledgeable users to have more input.

  2. Making it possible to upvote twice a very good answer and upvote once a less good but still worthy contribution without putting them on the same level when one is better than the other. Note: I've lost count the number of times I've seen users on History SE comment 'I wish I could upvote this answer twice'

  3. Helping people who spend a lot of time in providing comprehensive, quality questions and answers reap the benefits of their hard work.

This change may also help SE to keep older users active on the site (and there are a number of other things that could be done here as well).

4
  • 2
    This makes no more sense than allowing a certain class of people (for instance, those who had voted consecutively in the past 5 Presidential elections) to vote more than once for candidates they feel are twice as good as the others.
    – Ken White
    Sep 24, 2023 at 22:05
  • 3
    @KenWhite Err, a misleading analogy I think. High rep users have demonstrated an ability to ask and / or answer questions well. Voting multiple times demonstrates only that one can find one's way to the polling booth. Still, I appreciate your feedback (and any other downsides to this proposal would be welcome). Sep 25, 2023 at 0:34
  • 2
    No, voting twice is voting twice. You're allowed a limited number of votes per election (one), and you're allowed a single vote per question/answer here for the same reason. Allowing multiple votes is fraudulent, because it allows a question's (or answer's) value to the site to be inflated. It also would defeat the entire meaning of the voting system here. The idea of fraudulently inflating value is no different than fraudulently putting an individual into public office because they have friends who can vote multiple times.
    – Ken White
    Sep 25, 2023 at 0:44
  • 1
    Agreed, one vote per person in an election, and everyone has the right to vote regardless of beliefs etc. in a true democracy. But SE is not an election, nor is it a political system. The right to vote has to be earned through reputation. It's a privilege. I'm simply proposing an extension of a system that's already in use. Multiple voting is only fraudulent if one is gaming the system (i.e. breaking the rules). Also, answers with inflated votes are far more likely to occur because of the Hotlist. I'm not saying my idea is perfect, but it may improve things a little. Sep 25, 2023 at 6:23
-3

I like the idea of testing 1 reputation voting. While it remains to be seen what side effects it would have or if I'd want it to remain long term, that's the purpose of a test.

There's obviously a risk of depreciating the value of highly voted answers if they aren't voted on by experts. However, there's evidence this can work as seen by AskHistorians, a community known for high quality answers to field-specific questions.

I'm curious to see how this plays out.

6
  • 2
    it's not clear to me why this experiment would cause highly-voted-on-answers to be less voted on by experts. can you elaborate on your thought process?
    – starball
    Sep 20, 2023 at 20:25
  • 3
    my interpretation was, by increasing voting in general, you're reducing the ratio of the votes that are coming from "experts", assuming we're calling users with high "reputation" within the tag experts, but, that's kinda "the goal" i think
    – Kevin B
    Sep 20, 2023 at 21:18
  • @KevinB but it also says "aren't voted on by experts"
    – starball
    Sep 20, 2023 at 21:57
  • 7
    "this can work since it's essentially the same system Reddit uses" Reddit is known for high quality answers to specific domain questions? Then I just got it wrong all the time. I always only see highly entertaining content without much depth and there everyone can vote makes sense, but maybe not here. The experiment might be able to show that if the results can be interpreted in a clear manner. Sep 20, 2023 at 22:09
  • @NoDataDumpNoContribution I've edited my answer to use AskHistorians as my example, a Reddit community known for high quality answers to domain specific questions.
    – Stevoisiak
    Sep 26, 2023 at 17:52
  • 4
    r/AskHistorians does have high quality answers, but they achieve that by having mods who aggressively delete anything not meeting their standards, not by democratic voting.
    – benrg
    Sep 27, 2023 at 2:03
-4

If downvotes by everyone will be allowed, they require even better understanding what are the reasons of downvoting. The following proposal doesn’t sound comprehensive and complete:

“To understand motivations for new downvoters, the first few downvotes from a <125-rep user would require them to explain their downvote - this information will not be posted anywhere, but will instead be collected by our research team and bucketed into categories so that we can better understand reasons people downvote. While we expect that many voters may just enter gibberish, we feel like we'll get at least some usable information.”

There is an existing question about making comments mandatory for downvoters Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are requests suggesting such negatively received?. Even if it is not mandatory now, it is encouraged to leave a comment, explaining what is wrong with the post. Encouraging people to explain downvotes

If downvote with rep 1 will be allowed, it should be at least allowed (my personal preference -required) for downvoters to leave a comment or upvote one of existing comments(if the existing comment explains the reason for downvote). I.e. users with 1 rep should be allowed to leave comments as well

Btw, adding an ability to comment for 1+ rep users will be the useful way to increase new users participation. Current “chicken and egg” rules “you are not allowed to comment, and you should not put as an answer, what should be a comment” imho is the most frustrating restriction for new users.

If the comments explaining downvotes will become mandatory, it will not need to keep current downvote penalty -1 , the necessity of explaining downvote will be a better way to prevent unreasonable downvotes.

Related answer by Hem Bhagat

12
  • 4
    I wouldn't say it's "popular" - as I wrote in comments on Hem's answer, there are many reasons we would be unlikely to ever require explanations for downvotes. One of the primary reasons that there's a 50 rep barrier to commenting is that it becomes a vector for spam that can go years without notice. I don't particularly want to allow or require comments on downvotes as it could lead to spammers downvoting and then leaving spammy comments. I'd be more open to a multi-select for low rep users that allows them to pick valid reasons to downvote without giving a free text field.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:17
  • 6
    I understand that many people think comments for low rep users would be helpful and I have specifically avoided talking about comments in this post because I know it would be highly-controversial. What many people don't appreciate is that comments are a huge potential risk vector for spam. While new activity (questions, answers, edits) are is made visible on the front page of the sites for review by users, comments are completely silent. There's no review queue for comments that would lead to us being able to identify spam comments quickly and comment volume would make that tedious.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:21
  • 4
    While I focus on spam abuse of comments, there are many other issues with simple misuse of comments, either to answer questions in a comment or using comments to post rude and offensive responses. While these latter ones exist today (spam doesn't) and deserve some attention, until we can identify a solution to these and other issues, comments will continue to be gated behind reputation. While I think there's a lot of complexity in removing the rep to vote, I think removing the rep to comment would be even more difficult.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:24
  • @Catija You answered my question why current (relying on moderation) approach for fighting spam is different for posts and comments. Is it a good exercise for AI to identify spam or rudeness in comments? Sep 24, 2023 at 13:26
  • 2
    Users have created several solutions for comment spam - or at least ways to monitor for it, including creating chatbots that post every comment (or comments that contain certain content) into chat rooms. When I was a moderator on Interpersonal Skills, I got someone to create such a bot because the site had many controversial questions that often led to very late comments going missed containing abusive or offensive content. Users in chat would then flag the comments for mods to remove. While this worked on IPS, the volume on SO would be... impossible.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:30
  • 5
    We also have a homegrown tool on SO that automatically flags content that is deemed rude or offensive. It's not very good. I think there's also third-party tools that can do this. Improving our in-house tool or getting a third-party one are certainly options but something we haven't prioritized yet - but it's unclear whether there are viable options for spam. Many comments contain links. The Charcoal user project could likely be a foundation for flagging spam in comments but they have not needed to expand to them since it just doesn't happen right now. :)
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:33
  • 3
    Here's some related links for the Flagging Robot and Charcoal.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:35
  • 1
    @Catija, I feel that you should separate business requirements and technical problems. Which reputation is allowed to comment is the business decision. How to figure out spam or rudeness, is a technical issue, that can be solved by machine learning and AI, and (hopefully)will not require much manual moderation once trained. Moderators should be involved only when someone flag incorrect deletion (or not deletion) of the comments Sep 24, 2023 at 13:40
  • 2
    I'm not sure how separation makes sense if we absolutely won't remove the reputation required until we solve the problem. It's a business decision that a site full of spam and rude content is going to harm the reputation of the site.
    – Catija
    Sep 24, 2023 at 15:07
  • I think have completely misunderstood what exactly about that linked MSE post is "popular". you got it the other way around... Also, I'm almost certain that what you are proposing will just lead to a flood of "this doesn't work for me" comments, which are noise and should not be posted in the first place (see /help/privileges/comment).
    – starball
    Sep 24, 2023 at 20:09
  • @starball, I’ve removed “popular” from the reference to “mandatory explanation” meta.stackexchange.com/questions/325416/… .My interpretation is based on that the number of votes to the question is more that for the answer, explaining current approach . Anyway my answer is about the relationship between reducing the downvoters reputation and need to to allow downvotes explanation. How to achieve it- should be in a separate discussion. Sep 24, 2023 at 21:58
  • @Catija, I’ve extended your suggestion as a feature request: Prompt to specify downvote reason but allow to keep downvotes anonymous Sep 29, 2023 at 9:12
-4

How about a macroeconomic analogy? It's likely to be an inflationary measure.


This is one of the "government" actions that can easily lead to an increase in the "inflation rate", due to the "printing" of more of the previously more limited "means of exchange" (here: reputation). It may also lead to a re-distribution of such "wealth" at random, including to the "undeserving poor", and thus disincentivize those "hard-working middle classes" that contributed most value to the "society".

0
-6

Stack Overflow Inc surely knows:

  • when a user asks a question and receives a reply from a high-rep user, or a well-upvoted answer, and reads it, but never upvotes it or accepts it,

  • when a new user receives a quality answer but they downvote it (even though we are trying to help them) because it doesn't quite address their poorly expressed question,

  • when a user asks a question but never responds to requests for clarification.

So surely, if Stack Overflow Inc really wanted to encourage good voting and general behaviour, it could remind "errant" users how to behave by Email (since you presumably have all users' Email addresses) or interactively, maybe before letting them ask another question or downvote another answer.

6
  • 15
    Among other issues with this answer, SO certainly doesn't know "when a new user receives a quality answer but they downvote it". If we could programmatically detect quality answers, we wouldn't need voting, and LLM chatbots would work a lot better.
    – Ryan M
    Sep 19, 2023 at 21:33
  • 2
    @RyanM If SO can rely on 3 users with the "Close a question" privilege to deduce that a question should be closed, surely it can rely on a similar metric to decide an answer is likely of good quality - e.g. written by a user with, say 10,000 rep and upvoted by two or more users with 5,000 rep or some variant of rep + upvotes. Please also clarify what the "other issues" are. Thank you. Sep 19, 2023 at 22:31
  • 9
    Reputation is, first and foremost, an indication of answer (or question) quantity, rather than quality. A lot of thought has been put into moving away from reputation as a gate for features; the last thing we want to do is add more dependencies on it. I've seen plenty of users with thousands of reputation whose answers are absolutely terrible (often plagiarized).
    – Ryan M
    Sep 20, 2023 at 0:32
  • 5
    Additionally, how many "new user"s actually have the 125 rep required to downvote? Also, voting is an individual expression of whether the answer was useful. If it was not, then downvoting it is entirely appropriate; perhaps the answerer should have clarified the "poorly expressed" question before guessing at the answer. We need more voting on answers, not less. Another issue: how does one detect a request for clarification vs. any other comment?
    – Ryan M
    Sep 20, 2023 at 0:32
  • I defer to your experience as a moderator in seeing and understanding users' behaviour. I still feel that SO could do more to encourage users to vote more. Sep 20, 2023 at 1:37
  • @RyanM I'd say, every time you find one of those users with "thousands" of reputation and frankly terrible answers... well, report them :-) Oh wait, you're a mod yourself hehe :) Oct 31, 2023 at 23:42
-8

I would rather question certain other issues like you can answer before you can comment, questions get closed before new users had the chance to improve, edits must be at least 6 chars and edit queues are always full etc.

2
  • 10
    Questioning is always welcome, but calling SO past its prime isn't very constructive. Answering comes before commenting because Q&A is the most important content on the site (commenting is secondary). Edits needing 6+ chars and the queue size go hand in hand– the limit is there to help cut down on tiny edits clogging the queue (more than already happens), and once you hit 2k reputation the restriction goes away (on each site). The queue being full is a more complicated issue, since reviewing is managed by the community... I think incentives should be greater, but it's a tough problem to solve.
    – zcoop98
    Sep 20, 2023 at 22:01
  • @zcoop98 I agree and I will remove the unconstructive comment about my personal perception of SO's status. Sep 24, 2023 at 16:18
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