Closely related: Why privilege to view vote counts?

The previous question explains why this is a privilege and not a feature, though I understand the argument I don't think it is "enough" for one argument in particular:

Seeing the vote count is very valuable information to asses the quality of an answer.

Why? Because if an answer has 10 up-votes and 8 down-votes, it will score 2 and seem like a fairly good answer while it is actually a very polemic one.

Actually, you would have to be very careful with that answer since, in a way, down-votes "count more" that up-votes since they carry rep lost.

I would suggest then (considering that the operation is expensive):

  • Leave the privilege as it is for users over 1000, they will able to request any time (as is).
  • Give a new privilege to logged in users with a score of 1* or more.
    • Once an hour* allow them to see the vote count of the question/answer**.
    • (Optional) Allow this only if the question/answer has down-votes.
    • (Optional) Allow this for only one post every hour.

Opinions on the matter? Do you think it is reasonable? Useful?

I think the voting system is an essencial part of SO's user experiences, and thus, being such a valuable information, shouldn't be limited "so much" and should be available to "everyone".

Thanks in advance!

Note: The solutions I suggested are just that, suggestion, the main point is getting this feature closer to the new comer.

* Are completely open to suggestion
** Maybe only for answers

  • 4
    I personally don't care how any up or down votes a post has got. If I think it is good/helpful I'll vote it up. If I think it's bad or unhelpful I'll vote it down. Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 13:59
  • 6
    @Barry: I agree with that, but you might care when you are assessing the quality of an answer you might want to use in your project.
    – Trufa
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 14:02
  • 5
    As a workaround, with some basic arithmetic you can use the timeline view of a question to derive the upvote and downvote counts of all answers. For questions with few answers, it shouldn't be particularly large, and this can be used before you reach 1000 reputation. It's not as convenient as the privilege, but perhaps the workaround will help you until the situation changes.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 14:18
  • @GraceNote: I had no idea that was possible I guess it does help, though as you say, not very practical and (most?) people don't really know about it, specially new users?
    – Trufa
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 14:52
  • 1
    Of course, nowadays there's a user script that will enable this feature for anyone, regardless of rep. (It uses basically the same API method as described by Sven Marnach below.) Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


I find the split so useful that I would argue that anybody should be able to view it, even anonymous users. An answer that has 28/25 votes must be unbelievably bad, but to an anonymous visitor that isn't apparent. The only hope is that there is some very high-voted comment saying how bad it is.

Jeff's answer here suggests that this is performance related because the total vote count is denormalized and the split needs to be computed via an aggregate. I understand that, but so what? It seems extremely straightforward to denormalize the up- and down-vote subtotals instead and make the total score a simple computation either client side or server side. I can't see the fundamental barrier to making this happen. Both cletus and Jon Skeet mentioned this with no response from Jeff.

The other comment from Jeff is that 1) 98% of the time the total is all upvotes, and 2) that desiring to see the split is prurient in nature. To 1) I'd say I agree, but a) you can't know when you're in that 2% case unless you have the rep, and b) obviously it's the 2% case that matters to us. To 2) I'd say that that is ridiculous. The ratio of upvotes to downvotes is a far better measure of quality than total score. It is not prurient to want to see that information for a technical answer. I might agree with the sentiment for questions.

  • Re performance: Or just cache it? Let users with >1000 rep get a non-cached value, perhaps, and anonymous or lower scoring users get a cached answer unless they're the first person to see it since the cache expired, in which case it does the expensive thing. Voting could also be made to invalidate (or directly update) the cache.
    – lindes
    Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 16:08

The vote counts actually are visible to everyone via the API. Here is an example in Python (version 2.6 or 2.7). Call with either a link to a question or a link to an answer as command line argument, and you'll get the vote counts. The link to api.stackoverflow.com is hard-coded, so this version only works for the main SO site. And excuse the low code quality...

#!/usr/bin/env python

from urllib2 import urlopen
from urllib import urlencode
from urlparse import urlparse
import zlib
import json
import sys

def get(action, **params):
    response = urlopen("http://api.stackoverflow.com/1.0/" +
                       action + "?" + urlencode(params))
    response = zlib.decompress(response.read(), 31)
    return json.loads(response.decode("utf-8"))

if len(sys.argv) < 2:
    print "Usage: %s <link-to-question-or-answer>"

path = urlparse(sys.argv[1]).path.strip("/").split("/")
ids = [component for component in path if component.isdigit()]
s = [None, "questions", "answers"][len(ids)]
r = get("/".join((s, ids[-1])))[s][0]
print "Up: %(up_vote_count)i, down: %(down_vote_count)i" % r
  • 2
    Fair enough, but my problem addresses the problem for newbies/newcomers chances are that if you are under 1000 rep points you wont be downloading from the API.
    – Trufa
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 15:28
  • 1
    @Trufa: I understand that this does not solve the problem. Just thought it was worth to point out (and could not use a comment because of the code block). Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 15:38
  • agreed adn understood, thanks for chopping in!
    – Trufa
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 16:10
  • Example Api call for this question: api.meta.stackoverflow.com/1.0/questions/82442 Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 10:39

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