After reading this morning's blogpost I thought I'd share just one random idea I had to help encourage / simplify up-voting on questions from a UI perspective:

Answer upvote shows question upvote pane below

This is obviously very crude, but I believe the idea is fairly simple:

  1. User votes on an answer
  2. If they didn't already vote on the question, display a voting control for the question right below the answer voting controls
  3. User votes on question (thus solving the unsolvable question)
  4. Make Millions of dollars
  5. Take over the world

This basically addresses the usability issue where the user has already scrolled past the question controls and only shows up when a user votes on an answer (so we don't offend simple passers-by)

Please let me know what you think. Thanx, T.J.

Updated based on feedback from @JacobM (Thank you) Question vote reminder includes voting control for question
I suppose the confusion here would be what exactly the voting control in the popup is for. It may not be immediately obvious that its for the question.

  • 3
    -1, that's just downright annoying, I think the spirit is to make people a little more conscious about up-voting good questions, and the steps take IMO are enough for now. – Trufa May 6 '11 at 18:27
  • @Trufa do you think this is more obtrusive than the current popup? I suppose the question is what in particular is annoying about it? In either case I appreciate your feedback. – TJB May 6 '11 at 19:00
  • @TJB: but the popup only pops up once every 15 up-voted answers with no up-vote on questions. – Trufa May 6 '11 at 19:17
  • @Trufa good point, I suppose the frequency of when you show this is another consideration. This could show up just as in-frequently. Thanx. – TJB May 6 '11 at 19:30
  • @TJB: I removed my upvote after the the edit, I'm not sure I would up-vote yet. But I definitely like it much more. – Trufa May 6 '11 at 21:07
  • Wow, that'd be both annoying and confusing. And against the spirit: you're supposed to read the question before voting on it. – Cody Gray May 7 '11 at 6:54

When doing UI design, especially for tasks that people do quickly, I tend to make the assumption that nobody reads anything. So I fear that having two sets of arrows would be confusing, even though one of them was labelled as pertaining to the question rather than the answer -- I just think the eye would pass over the label and it would make answer voting a bit harder, which we don't want to do.

Perhaps an alternative would be a popup, when you vote on an answer, that says "What did you think of the question, by the way?" and lets you vote on the question right there in the popup. Maybe have that come up only occasionally, or only for questions that haven't gotten many votes, or only for users who haven't voted on a question in a while. It's similar to what they started doing recently, but adds in your idea of making the question voting easy.

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  • The popup is already in place if you didn't up-vote any question in the last 15 up-voted answers. blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/05/… – Trufa May 6 '11 at 18:24
  • Right; my alternative proposal to the one given by @TJB is that the popup you refer to should actually have voting buttons for the current question right there in the popup (rather than just saying "Hey, you haven't voted for a question in a while"). The current popup is just a general reminder, but @TJB is saying, I think, that if you have opinions about the answers to a certain question, you probably have an opinion about the question itself, so lets collect it at the point you vote on the answers. – Jacob Mattison May 6 '11 at 18:27
  • I completely agree on the fact that people usually won't read anything, and indeed distinguishing the arrows between the question and the answer is a challenge. Both are good points. I was trying to "stay out of the way" with this approach compared to the popup (which overlaps some content) But I suppose that's the tradeoff you need to make. – TJB May 6 '11 at 19:05
  • ohh sorry gotcha! – Trufa May 6 '11 at 19:16

If the goal is to encourage voting, I believe the simplest means is to award +X (not sure what X should be) points for every day that you hit your voting cap (which includes voting on questions). Once that policy was implemented, I am sure there would be a measurable increase in voting.

I don't think this UI change would help much. Give positive reinforcement for the behavior your want.

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  • That's another route, though I would wonder what % of the population would take advantage of that, my guess is that people who are apt enough to be aware of these rewards are already voting on questions a sufficient amount. Either way, its an idea worth considering. – TJB May 9 '11 at 15:55

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