While going through some proposals and voting for questions on Area51, I found myself being very biased since I saw the current results.

What was the case for this feature and why is it ok?

In my opinion you shouldn't see the result unless you have voted. Perhaps have a number of total votes to this question somewhere, but not the score.


4 Answers 4


I was, just now, thinking about voting on your own example questions: it could sway results. But your solution is more general and better.

Example: What causes red-eye?
The first four votes went yes, but I intended it to be no. Had I voted no initially, it would have colored perceptions and their gut instinct may have been overridden—which can be both a good and a bad thing. (More reasoning about too-basic for that proposal on a comment on the site proposal itself.) Hiding votes makes people think more, and that's probably going to be a good thing, overall, for AFO.

To a lesser degree, it is ingrained in my head that "green votes" are good and "red votes" are bad. I keep thinking this whenever I see votes, and it affects my initial, subconscious perception of each question.

  • I bucked the trend, voted no, and offered a comment that may sway others back to the correct side of the street. crosses fingers
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 3:42
  • @Polly: No, there are two similar red-eye questions, the one you voted on (currently +0/-3) is not the one I'm talking about here (currently +4/-1, and I'm the -1).
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 4:15
  • @TheCat - ah-HA! Duplicate questions abound! Destroy them all!
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 4:27
  • I suppose they aren't truly duplicate in terms of "what vs why" but they are duplicate in terms of, "Does the site allow or cater to newbies who use low end cameras that cause problems professionals will never see."
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 4:35
  • @Polly: They are close on purpose. What is the level of the "too basic rule" that site wants? Anything goes? Is it okay to merely define a term like "red-eye"? Is it okay to describe a common(ly non-photographic) term from a more photographic standpoint? (I should have stressed this difference more, as-is one should really be deleted.) Is it interesting that they have such different scores? (currently +4/-3 vs +0/-3)
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 4:44

I think it's actually an effect of people not posting great, defining questions. Most questions are easy to decide which side of the line they belong on.

I've seen many questions with a few opposers in the face of many acceptors, and the comment stream is lively enough that you see people are thinking critically about their choices.

I don't think that it's bad enough that it requires hiding the votes - or at least you haven't convinced me that it is that bad.

I've been posting many of my own questions without voting on them to see which way they go, and have been surprised sometimes. The reality is that what I think should be so, is not always the way the community will go.

Either way, it's subjective and I don't know that there's a good way to determine how bad a problem it is.

Even if it was bad, there isn't a good technical solution - for instance if you have all the votes hidden you have no way of knowing what direction the site is going in until you vote for every sinlge question. Some questions are meh and shouldn't be voted on, though, so how do you vote "meh" so you can see if the community agrees with you?

If a "meh" vote is implemented won't we still be incurring a LOT more work by each individual to see how a proposal is going, especially with the limit of 100 votes a day (or whatever it is now)?

Finally, the site is new, and people are still getting used to it, limits, encouragements, discouragements, etc are still being twiddled, etc. It'll be awhile before I think we can say we've reached a stable point where we could even measure such an effect.


  • I don't think it's a big problem
  • If it is, there's no good technical solution (that anyone has proposed yet)
  • The site is still too new to really measure it appropriately
  • Like Robert said, people should only vote for exemplary questions. The ones that might have some discussion obviously aren't, else people would likely agree right away
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 6:27

My initial reaction is to have vote totals only displayed after you have voted. But then the on-topic, off-topic vote sort tabs would give away what the votes are.


Showing it probably does influence subsequent voters, but that's not entirely a negative.

Sure, if those voters blindly fall in line, that's a bad thing.

On the other hand, if all 604 of the votes on a question are in favor of something you were about vote down, or flag as offensive, those votes may help you second guess yourself long enough to read further into the comments and realize that a "woodcock" is a totally legitimate thing to ask about on the Birds StackExchange.

Individuals in smart, analytical communities benefit from the additional information provided by the rest of the hive, just as long as they don't lose sight of the fact that sometimes, rarely, everyone else is wrong.

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