I don't upvote when I don't understand the answer
Often other people post answers, to questions which I don't know the answer to.
If I read their answer, and suspect that it's a good answer, even so I don't upvote their answer because I'm not certain that it's correct, because I worry is that the sequence of events might be:
- Someone posts a difficult question
- Someone writes a plausible but incorrect answer
- I read the answer and (being ignorant) think "it looks good to me", and (being careless) I up-vote it
- The next person who reads it sees, not only a wrong answer, but an up-voted wrong answer: my up-vote will have made the problem (bad answer) worse, and would be wrong speech.
Therefore there are answers which I don't up-vote, because I'm not sure of them: they're not bad or boring answers, they are answers to difficult questions.
I don't upvote if I think it's not a good answer
Theoretically there might be another, completely different reason for not up-voting an answer: which is that the answer isn't very helpful.
Can we tell the difference between different kinds of upvote? What does it mean if an answer has no votes?
Here's a proposal: if you read an answer that's not helpful, if you don't want to up-vote it because you think it could be better, if you see a way to improve it, how about add a comment to criticize it?
At the moment when I see an answer with no up-votes and no comments, I can't tell the difference between:
- This might be a good answer but there's no-one competent enough to judge (up-vote) it
- There are people competent to judge and they have decided that it was not worth up-voting
If you answer this question feel free to include personal answers: e.g. "yes, criticize my answers" or "no, don't criticize my answers" and/or "I do/don't like to criticize other people's answers".
I admit that criticism can seem dis-harmonious, and that SE is not intended for discussion/dialog.
OTOH some people post answers in public, not only to help others but in the hope that if their answer can be improved, someone will point that out.
See also Vote Early, Vote Often