In the recent podcast Jeff and Joel talked about the idea of having separate vote pools for questions and answers. So, for example you would have 10 question votes a day and 30 answer votes.

A quick analysis of 10 days of recent data at Stack Overflow shows that we are seeing that about 23% of the votes are on questions when in fact questions are 34% of the posts.

So, it appears, answers are favored when it comes to voting.

If we had separate pools we could tell people ... hey you are about to run out of answer votes, how about voting on some questions.

Additionally, we could restructure our voting badges a bit to account for the new pools.

Do you like the idea of separate vote pools for questions and answers? If so what should they be set to?

What badges do we need to restructure to take account theses changes? Which badges should we introduce?

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    This may not be a bad idea. I find myself voting on answers far more frequently than questions. This could serve as a good reminder. Then again, my voting habits are easily explained by the fact that there are a lot more high-quality answers than there are high-quality questions. Commented May 2, 2011 at 12:44
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    @CodyGray votes ≠ upvotes. I usually downvote really bad questions, much more than I do answers. But you are right, there are far more good answers than there are questions.
    – alex
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:01
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    I think you mean 10 question votes and 30 all-purpose votes? 10 Q, 30 A would still only give us 25% voting on questions. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:05
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    @Bill my math keeps on failing me ... earlier today I failed at calculating a simple percentage ... Just post an answer with suggestions for the pools. 15 take or give a few for questions should bring us closer to the desired percentage. I like the idea of having a Q pool and an A pool, but open to any other suggestions.
    – waffles
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:08
  • Has any thought been given to providing a graph showing how many votes a person has cast per day, appropriately split up (up vs down and Q vs A)? I vote a moderate amount, but seldom hit my limit. There is a (relatively new) voters tab on the stackoverflow.com/users page which gives an indication for week, month, quarter, year, all-time, which is some help. Commented May 4, 2011 at 2:50

6 Answers 6


Alternate proposal: Give us 10 question-only votes and leave the current 30 as all-purpose votes that we can use on either questions or answers. That way, people who already tend to vote more for questions will be mostly unaffected (except they'll be able to do a little more voting) and people who currently use all their votes on answers will be encouraged to vote a little bit on questions.

Badge implications: Electorate would need to change to reflect the vote proportions you're aiming for, and Suffrage should change to be awarded at the new vote total. New badges could be added for using all of your question votes after all your all-purpose votes are used.

(For future reference: see the May 2011 implementation.)

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    Like that idea better (for furthering askers). And additional votes are not going to complicate the site rules too much, and bring the voting ability on par with the present amount of incoming posts. (30 was probably appropriate two years ago)
    – mario
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 14:10
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    If it were implemented this way, you would need to make sure that question votes among the user's first 30 votes of the day were counted from the questions pool, and that question votes only got pulled from the "everything" pool once all question votes had been exhausted.
    – nhinkle
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 17:23
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    @nhinkle: Why is that? I was thinking it should be the opposite. You have 30 votes that you can use on anything, then once those are gone you still have 10 more, but you can only use them on questions. Commented May 2, 2011 at 17:32
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    @Bill: I don't think your way would have the desired effect: user votes on questions as they come in as encouraged. User finds himself out of answer votes. From the next day on user decides to keep voting mostly on answers as before. Fail. In the nhinkle order, the question votes appear like a bonus. Commented May 2, 2011 at 23:59
  • @Bill accepting this, and implementing
    – waffles
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 3:06
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    I just implemented this, keep in mind .... approx 3000 people vote once a day, 1200 twice, 500 three times, 300 four times ... and about 50 reach the vote cap. seeing this will only effect 50 people a day, and will result in a possible extra of 500 question votes a day out of approx 16k votes. The chance of this making any material diff is slim to none. Something more radical is needed.
    – waffles
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 5:03
  • @waffles: So does that mean there'll be two Suffrage badges available now? One for using up your 30 all-purpose votes, and one for using all 10 of your question-only votes? Or will the criteria for the badge only change for new earners? Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:19
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    @Cody I think we will probably just leave suffrage as is, we need to find a more effective way for people to keep voting, on a personal note I noticed that the total lack of daily voting progress tracking (how many times did I vote today) is a real pain ... been trying all day to get through my meta votes
    – waffles
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:47
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    @waffles: Wow, I wouldn't have guessed those numbers at all. You're right, this change alone can only help a little bit (3% increase in voting at best). Hopefully Joel's solution of questions with upvotes spending more time on the home page will cause a little bit of positive feedback and give good questions an extra boost. Commented May 3, 2011 at 11:17
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    I don't agree with this implementation. I always like to keep some general purpose votes in the bag as I hate running out of votes then seeing something that warrants a vote. This means that I am always going to attempt to keep myself within the 30 limit and will never get to "spend" the 10 additional votes. Commented May 4, 2011 at 21:31
  • @Martin: Then this change will make no difference for you. The whole point of the change is to try and get people to change their behavior. If some people don't want to do that, it's fine. Commented May 6, 2011 at 15:32
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    @Bill - The thing is though that I would be perfectly happy to upvote additional questions I just don't want to have to put myself in the position that I am unable to vote any answers to do so. Commented May 6, 2011 at 15:40
  • @Bill what @Martin says. Plus the system will no longer tell me if I'm about to spend all my all-purpose votes. Keeping some in the bag for especially bad content is totally legitimate IMO.
    – Pekka
    Commented May 7, 2011 at 6:56
  • @waffles: Martin & Pekka make a valid point. If people are keeping votes "in the bag" (I have no idea how common this is, or if it can even be measured), then they'll never get to use the 10 extra question votes. How hard would it be to take from the question vote pool first? Commented May 7, 2011 at 12:17
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    @bill I think we should change this ... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/90202/…
    – waffles
    Commented May 7, 2011 at 13:20

For those that missed the podcast, I want to reiterate the reason Jeff and I were talking about this. We want to encourage upvoting quality questions that have no answer yet.

A question with upvotes will spend more time on the home page and therefore gather more views and be more likely to be answered. The idea is that if you saw a question on the homepage that you thought was "well-asked" and deserved an answer, you would have an incentive to vote it up, even if you didn't know how to answer it yourself. We want to make it more likely to get good questions answered.

  • 1
    I like to think that I do vote up quality questions, though I'd admit that I don't always do all that I should. However, I don't see how an annoying pop-up and a complex voting points scheme is going to improve that.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented May 5, 2011 at 22:31
  • I think I usually upvote questions when I need the answer, too (or at least find it interesting), not necessarily when they are well asked. Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 17:09

I suggest 15 question votes and 25 answer votes (37.5% Q).

If you leave the Answer pool at 30 and give us an additional 15 Question votes, that will put us right at 33%, very close to the actual percentage of question posts, so maybe you want to drop the Answer votes to something like 25. That way more people will hit that limit and get the message to start voting on questions more. This sounds like a good place to start to see if it changes voting behavior. (Those numbers assume everyone will actually use all their votes every day, which I admit I'm guilty of not doing, but I do tend to vote more for questions.)

The two current badges that would be directly impacted by a change are Electorate (Voted on 600 questions and 25% or more of total votes are on questions) and Suffrage (Used all 30 votes in a day). We should probably adjust those so that Electorate is awarded when 33% or more of total votes are on questions, and Suffrage is awarded for using all votes in both pools.

More badges could be awarded for using all your Question votes for X number of days. (10 for bronze, 50 for silver, 100 for gold?)

  • badge implications ?
    – waffles
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:24
  • @waffles: I updated my answer. I'm not sure about the last bit with silver and gold badges, but the numbers can be adjusted. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:34
  • should one of those suffrage's be electorate? Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:37
  • @Brian: Yeah, I just saw that Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V error and fixed it. :) Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:38
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    This will just widen the gap between votes on answers and the disesteem for questions. I'm currently casting 20-25 question votes per day. And this proposal would skew that ability.
    – mario
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:44
  • @mario: I vote more for questions too, but I think we're in the very small minority. See my alternate proposal though. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:57

I think this may be a good idea; I'd like to see more total daily votes in any case.

I believe that answer votes are favored a) because there are more of them per question, and b) I think that it's much easier to make a good answer to a bad question than the reverse.

When reading through the site, you only have a limited amount of time in your day, so you look at questions that seem interesting to you or that you might want to answer. Some of these will have multiple answers already. More than one of these answers may deserve an upvote. Since you're in the mental and graphical context of the question, it's (unconsciously) much easier (and not wrong!) for you to dispense four upvotes on these answers than to go back to the question list, read through each of four more questions, and decide whether any of them is worth an upvote. Do this six or ten times, and you've used up your thirty votes for the day after having viewed many more answers than questions (no matter the actual ratio of those types across the site).

It's relatively easy, also, for any given poorly-formed question to elicit at least one answer that is well-written and potentially helpful to future readers. It's not as likely for a really interesting, well written question to get

Please chekc this link: <address/to/some/tutorial> it my help u! Thx.

answers, so again, you're looking at a situation where one question deserves an upvote, and multiple answers attached to it also do.


34% posts are questions but are less voted. I believe that the reason is simply fact that answers have in general much higher quality and much higher information value - at least for me.

How many times did you cast all your daily votes (I did it only once)? I think the problem with low voting is not in number of votes available. It can be good idea to divide pools into something like 10Q + 20-25A but it will simply don't increase voting. If you didn't cast all your daily votes regularly till now it will not change after increasing vote counts.

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    I cast all 30 votes almost every day that I'm actively participating on the site. I don't really understand why you wouldn't. If you look at 30 questions, there's a good chance you'll find 30 good answers to upvote. That's, unfortunately, not the case with the questions, but alas. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:30
  • @Cody: That can be another problem. You can cast vote on answer if you read the answer. Most often I'm visiting only questions without answers. I'm participating in less visited tags. With little bit arrogance I can say that people visiting same tags are me doesn't share your behavior. At least it is not visible on voting on answers. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:34
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    @Cody: If I see a good answer, an answer I would write myself or an answer describing something I didn't know about, I of course upvote such answer. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:54
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    This is very true. Additionally, there are often multiple answers to choose from. That questions get any votes at all has often mystified me. Which probably means that SO users vote for other reasons. Whatever they may be. Commented May 3, 2011 at 11:55

I see no sense in this at all. Quite simply, if the questions are worthy of an upvote they will get it. I see this change as nothing more than an attempt to artificially attract votes to questions that really don't deserve them. It also seems to go completely against the previous change which resulted in a lower rep for question upvotes compared to answer upvotes.

  • What previous change are you alluding at? Commented May 4, 2011 at 7:27
  • @Hendrik, upvotes for questions used to be worth 10 rep, now they're only worth 5. Commented May 4, 2011 at 7:44
  • Ah, thanks. But that was a change on meta.SO only, and it was about reputation for the asker; the business in this question affects all SOFU and SE sites, as far as I understand, and it has nothing to do with reputation. I guess that's why I didn't get it ... Commented May 4, 2011 at 7:46
  • @Hendrik, as far as I'm aware that rep change was across the network, not just MSO. It certainly applies to the sites am or have been on. While I recognise that the current change has nothing to do with rep the other change was brought about because there was a push to get quality answers and the questions were deemed to be far less important. The exact opposite of the reasoning for the current change. Commented May 4, 2011 at 7:51
  • On the other sites, it's been for a long time (>7 months) that question upvotes give only 5 rep. Only here on meta.SO they gave 10 rep until recently. Commented May 4, 2011 at 8:06

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