I've started to become a little more active on ServerFault lately, and I noticed that a whole lot of interesting questions are sitting there with 0 votes.

So, I wrote this SEDE query and discovered that ServerFault is dead last on the network when it comes to voting activity, followed closely by SuperUser and then Stack Overflow.

Since I know most users here are more active than I am on the main sites, why do you suspect there is significantly less voting activity on these three sites as opposed to the rest of the network?

  • Less high-quality/interesting content?
  • More duplicates on average?
  • More drive-by users? (possibly relates to the previous two points)
  • Less interest in voting?
  • Voting on SE sites is skewed higher because users on there are more interested/active?

The main thing I'm getting at is: are the low voting patterns a problem? If yes, what could we do to fix it?

  • I think you covered most of my thoughts with your points. Less high quality content, mostly because of drive-by users posting duplicates. Lots of new users especially disinterested in downvoting due to the rep hit (which is definitely needed), and the scope of these sites is so wide, sometimes there's possibly only a handful of people who can judge a question as useful. – Leigh Feb 9 '11 at 11:24
  • when you say lowest voting activity, what do you mean exactly? average number of votes (up and down?) per post (questions and answers?)? Are you excluding deleted questions? i would think deleted questions would be more common on the popular sites because they get more drive-by users who ask bad questions. – Kip Feb 9 '11 at 14:48
  • @Kip: Lowest average score per post. Sorry, there might be a miscommunication in terminology. – Jon Seigel Feb 9 '11 at 17:56

I'm sure that part of that is just the large difference in volume. I do agree with you, but the higher the volume of questions and answers, the thinner the 'love' has to spread. Sure, SO gets a lot more traffic so naturally it should have a lot more 'love', but a lot of people drive by just to get a bit of information when they need it. I don't know what percentage of SO's traffic by day is 'read only', but I'm positive it's got to be significant and on the rise. I'd expect the same (just to lesser degrees) for the other well established trilogy sites.

On the other hand, you have the new 2.0 sites that are started by an enthused group of people who really want the SE system to work for their topic of choice, and they have a limited amount of time to demonstrate that it can. I think it's a little early to be comparing the trilogy to the new 2.0 sites, I don't think any of them are yet sufficiently established to compare.

That being said, everyone who has not visited the site is shown a link to the FAQ, it's becoming obvious that people looking for a solution to their particular problem often just don't want to read anything that isn't a solution to their problem. Allowing for totally anonymous voting would be very problematic. I wish I could convert "me too" and "Thanks" answers into up votes for the OP cast by "Community". That alone would make a major difference. Some people do take the time to say thanks before they leave, just not in the way that we hope for.

I'm sure it's also a difference in cultures between the various communities, but I think you nailed it with drive by (read only) usage.

I think the real question then becomes "How can we better convert visitors from search engines into positive contributors?" You'd have to show them that it's worth it within a couple of page loads, and I'm not sure how to do that :)

  • 1
    It's easy enough for you to add your own vote to an answer that got a "thanks" post. I do that sometimes. – Robert Harvey Feb 9 '11 at 6:44
  • @Robert - I do, provided I'm sufficiently knowledgeable in whatever tag it is. – Tim Post Feb 9 '11 at 6:49
  • regarding 'read only' users, I seem to remember something about only 5% of hits being from registered users. – Benjol Feb 9 '11 at 12:24
  • Okay, this is fair. If I remember, I'll revisit this in 6-8 weeks. – Jon Seigel Feb 11 '11 at 2:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .