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It's obvious that really dumb questions with little votes can be voted down immediately. But imagine you have a totally average question which, in your opinion, bears no great interest to the general audience of the site, but has been upvoted in excess of 10 times – do you use a downvote to "correct" the score in the direction of your score – even if you might upvote the same question if it had only, say, 1 or 2 upvotes because you think this question is kind of worth 3 upvotes, no more and no less?

The same applies to the other way around as well. Maybe there is a bad question, but not so bad that it would justify 10 downvotes. Even if you would usually give 1 downvote, would you correct the score towards your desired target with an upvote?

Also, you might really like a question – but if it already has 20 upvotes, do you refrain from upvoting it even more? (I'm actually quite sure that scores would be much different if no-one could see votes by others.)

Or do you really only listen to your first impression towards a question when voting, without acknowledging existing votes?

I have the feeling that sometimes I want to "correct" the score of a question with my vote even if it's not an inherently bad question, just a totally overrated one – but I want to be sure that this is acceptable behaviour before I actually go on and deal a downvote to a user (I am of course aware that I lose rep as well by downvoting).

Edit based on first answer: Why do so many questions linger around 1 or 2 upvotes? Isn't that a sign that many users think "yes, this score is ok, but it doesn't deserve more"? I'm not convinced that it really represents the number of users who like a question. For example, I have noticed how community wiki questions tend to have much higher scores – I think this is a sign that people don't want to be so generous with giving reputation to others, but if no reputation is dealt, then they freely decide ...

Edit 2: I also just found this: Why doesn't GCC optimize a*a*a*a*a*a to (a*a*a)*(a*a*a)? , note Steve Jessop's comment on the answer concerning his upvote policy ("more likely to upvote if there are incorrect answers present").

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    You seem to have missed the opposite, herd mentality (people will vote in the same direction as the current score because they trust other people's judgement and follow the crowd), there seems to be a tipping point after which people are more likely to jump in with copy cat voting. It's also worth noting that CW posts have often been around for quite a long time and and so attract more views and hence upvotes...
    – forsvarir
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:37

2 Answers 2

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1- You don't lose rep by downvoting questions, only when downvoting answers.

2- I believe the number of votes in a question depends on many parameters: usefulness of the question, popularity of the topic, even popularity of the user who asks the question, quality of the question, and a very long "etc". I think that you should never decide your votes by the number of votes a question has, it would not be fair.

I emphasize popularity of the topic because you may find very good questions on difficult topics that are just "not so popular" as "how to do X in php or C#" for example. Comparing the quality of these questions by their number of votes is meaningless.

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    Thanks, by the way there is a similar meta-question here(meta.stackexchange.com/questions/74666/…). You may find some useful answers there too.
    – yms
    Jun 15, 2011 at 10:25
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    Ah well, I think I got it now. I also found some other similar questions, all of which were themselves heavily downvoted – very interesting that you found an example of a similar question which was actually heavily upvoted! Well, I could delete my question now, but I'm actually interested in seeing how low this will go :) Jun 15, 2011 at 10:33
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The bottom line is:

If you like the question or you think the user has put enough effort in it, vote up.

If you do not like the question or you think the user has not put enough effort in it, vote down.

Your up and downvotes should be totally independent of other up and downvotes.

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  • I see. But then, why do so many questions linger around 1 or 2 upvotes? Isn't that a sign that many users think "yes, this score is ok, but it doesn't deserve more"? I'm not convinced that it really represents the number of users who like a question. For example, I have noticed how community wiki questions tend to have much higher scores – I think this is a sign that people don't want to be so generous with giving reputation to others, but if no reputation is dealt, then they freely decide ... Jun 15, 2011 at 9:51
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    @Felix Community wiki questions are in general of greater interest to the public. There are quite some questions that receive a whole lot of votes, but they have to be exceptionally interesting for that. I only vote up if a question is really interesting. In any case, voting down because it has too many votes is a stupid idea.
    – Joris Meys
    Jun 15, 2011 at 9:57
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    @Felix, its more a sign that not many users see that question. If you have 1000 or more rep, you can see the number of up and downvotes on each post. Besides not every user uses upvotes for questions (but that is an older battle). Jun 15, 2011 at 10:03

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