One way to improve this site might be if people voted more; for example:

  • Last night, in a chat, Lanka wrote,

    I remember when i just created this profile i could not find out whether a question/answer was correct or not. I remember reading a question or an answer thinking that it was a great one but the low votes made me think that the question/answer might be wrong so i didn't want to upvote. That might be a problem for other users too?

  • There are other reasons for voting, including those listed in Why is voting important?

  • And Crab Bucket wrote,

    I think the lack of voting remains an issue, I think this is a good example Doubts about Karma and/or Rebirth - 5 people have found this question interesting enough to write an answer to (so presumably has merit) but none have them have as yet upvoted it. There is one upvote and that is mine. Maybe it doesn't deserve it but i think the lack of voting makes quality control harder. I think this issue is also worth a revisit at some point to be honest.

  • On some sites, some users vote a lot. I think we each have a limit of maybe 20 votes per day.

Anyway, the purpose of this topic is to ask, How do you vote? What is your strategy for voting, how do you decide whether or not to vote?

I hope that by reading each other's answer to this question, we will learn from each other some tips/ideas on how or when to vote.

  • 2
    This is a very good topic. It might sound overblown but I would like this to result in perhaps some guidelines on what is appropriate to vote – Crab Bucket May 31 '15 at 14:27
  • 2
    If I'm not mistaken, we have 40 votes per day including 10 for questions only and you get a bronze badge Vox Populi if you use it all – ruben2020 Jun 1 '15 at 4:24

I think I'm one of the most prolific voters on the site so I might be on the outer boundaries of this but ...

I vote a question up when (one or more of these is true)

  1. I've answered it. If I'm interested enough to answer then it has some merit in my opinion
  2. It's original. It doesn't even need to be that original - a different angle on a well trodden subject is enough
  3. It's well written and cogent

I vote a question down when (one or more of these is true)

  1. It's spam
  2. It's hostile or disrespectful in some way
  3. It doesn't make any kind of sense
  4. I know it's mistaken or not true in some significant way. This is rare - I'm more likely to comment or ask another question

I vote an answer up when (one or more of these is true)

  1. I agree with it
  2. I don't agree with it but it's well written and argued
  3. It's an original point of view that I've not encountered before
  4. It's an answer to a question that has remained unanswered for months. The answer doesn't need to be great here but I'm grateful someone is giving a go to what is a difficult or obscure topic

I vote an answer down when (one or more of these is true)

  1. It makes no real attempted to answer the question
  2. It's spam
  3. It's a link or a cut and paste job. I dislike a answers with just a few original words then an enormous block quote stuck underneath

My general position is..

Up votes cost nothing and are motivating to contributors. Why not vote a lot

Down votes cost a little and can be really demotivating and aggravating. Downvote very sparingly

If any question is asked on the site - it is probably worth an upvote from me if it is halfway decent. Asking questions is hard and most people don't.


I think realistically I up vote too much and downvote too little. I think I over compensate on the upvotes because the site itself is quite miserly with votes. If we were generally higher voting I think I would discriminate more.


I upvote a question if:

  • I answer it
  • OR I don't answer it but I do want to read someone else's answer to it (my upvoting the question is a signal to other users that in my opinion this question is worth answering)

Because this site has decided to be very permissive about what kinds of question are allowed, I am not in the habit of downvoting questions.

So I sympathise with Crab Bucket's comment quoted in the OP: it's surprising (and slightly sad) to see a question with more answers than votes. If you would answer it, why wouldn't you upvote it?

I upvote answers if:

  • I think they're on-topic (i.e. answer or at least address the question)
  • AND they contain nothing that I can see is untrue or even may be untrue

My upvoting an answer is meant as a signal to the OP and other people reading it, yes you can trust this answer, it contains no falsehood.

If an answer looks mostly good but there's part of it which I don't understand (or, even, disagree with) then I post a comment to ask for clarification. If the author addresses my concern (by editing the answer or by posting a comment in reply to mine) THEN I will upvote the answer.

If I post an answer to a question then I also read every other answer to that question (e.g. because I'm interested in the subject, want to read other views, and am looking for any evidence that my answer might be wrong). Because I review them I therefore also usually upvote the other answers to the questions which I answer (see the Sportsmanship badge).

I downvote answers which:

  • Aren't helpful (don't address the question)
  • Aren't true (are misleading)

I usually post a comment when I downvote (though I also post comments without voting or before upvoting as described above).

Voting statistics are shown on the bottom right of each user's Activity page; mine is currently:

all time        by type             month    week    day

928 up          282 question        112      2       2
80  down        726 answer
  • Many more upvotes than downvotes.
  • More answers than questions, but questions too

I don't vote at all on the following answers:

  • I don't read them
  • I don't understand them
  • I don't know whether they're true

If an answer includes a reference to an online source that helps me verify that the answer is true then I am therefore more likely (more able) to upvote it:

  • The answer is more useful with a reference (because I can, not just read the answer, but read more of the online reference if I'm interested)
  • The answer is more verifiable with a reference.

Part of the reason for voting (see Lanka's comment in the OP above) is to signal other users that an answer is reliable. For that reason I don't upvote an answer which I can't vouch for.

I thought this advice of Andrei's was good:

Re: voting, if you don't really understand an answer, do not vote.

Re: criticism, I only downvote and criticize an answer when I see the topic clearly enough that I can be certain that my understanding is complete and the answer is mistaken.

If you have only a vague understanding of the topic, and can't really follow the reasoning of the answer, but the answer seems to mismatch some postulates/axioms you have heard about, ask a new question!

The comments under that answer are interesting too.

Sometimes I've really tried to think about (or read about) an answer until I understand it better, and then I upvote it.

We've been discussing whether an answer needs to answer the question. My opinion is that it needs to at least 'address' the question. If in doubt I ask myself whether the answer is "useful". The one other condition I put on an answer (apart from its being useful or valuable) is that I want to be satisfied that it's true.


Glad to see this topic in Meta. I've seen people compliment each other on answers that had no votes. I've seen accepted answers that had no votes. Possibly downvotes are offsetting upvotes; but it seems more likely that people on our site sometimes simply forget to vote or don't realize how important that feedback is.

I'm sure not receiving votes is discouraging to new people who are unsure if their contributions are welcome and to people who put a lot of work into an answer and to people trying to build rep to earn privileges. So with all that in mind:

I vote up everything that's understandable to me, correct, potentially useful to someone, and sourced, (if it's the sort of thing that should be sourced).

I skip voting when I'm unsure of the meaning or accuracy of something or if the post is too long in proportion to my interest in the subject to read it.

I down vote if something is obviously incorrect, rude, or disparaging.

I've been trying to treat new comers gently and vote up first posts to give them confidence unless there is a problem with their post. I've noted we tend to have 1 - 3 new users each day and encouraging them seems worthwhile to balance out our community and help it grow.

  • 1
    As an established user, you can view vote counts. – ChrisW Jun 1 '15 at 0:10
  • 1
    I didn't know that. That's cool. Thanks @ChrisW. :) – Robin111 Jun 1 '15 at 1:06

Im happy to see the topic being brought up again.

I upvote questions and answers when i understand them, when i think they are correct and useful for other users and the site and when i see people have put effort into writing a question or answer. Especially the last element i want to emphazize.

When one has put forth an answer or question i think one should also recieve some benefit from it in form of an upvote. I mean its not often that i see bad answers in here or answers where people did not put an effort into writing it. The majority of the time i think there are good answers and questions which deserves upvotes. As Crab Bucket said "Upvotes dont cost anything".

I have not downvoted anything yet. I try to leave a comment before doing it and if i were to downvote a question or answer it had to be non-correct, a one-line answer with no explanation or references, rude answers and the like.

Maybe we could get a banner or sign on the website that said something about remembering to vote and then the reasons for why voting is important. I know we have that in the guidelines but maybe if it were more visible it would encourage people to vote more. This is just a suggestion and it might be too intrusive/unethical to put a banner up.

  • We create the content of the web site but can't add new UI elements to it. The one kind of 'banner' we can add is adding a featured tag to a topic on meta, so that it's advertised in the "Featured on Meta" there near the top of the right-hand column of each page. – ChrisW Jun 1 '15 at 8:52
  • I like to emphasize correctness rather than effort. I avoid upvoting an answer that could be wrong (because then my upvote too would mislead other users about the accuracy of the answer). And my having this rule that I must verify/understand an answer before I allow myself to upvote it is good (a better learning experience) for me. – ChrisW Jun 1 '15 at 9:03
  • I agree. I do write correct and useful too. An answer that is not correct should not be upvoted since that would not be beneficial for other users or the user posting the question/answer. – Lanka Jun 1 '15 at 9:11

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