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.