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[META] Why are you so stingy with your upvotes?

by (77348) Updated January 20, 2014 at 9:10 PM Created June 12, 2011 at 6:35 PM

We have a ridiculous number of upvotes to use every day, yet I see popular questions that haven't broken ten votes, with dozens of answers unsorted by voting.

If a thread is interesting enough for me to click through to, I'll upvote it. If there is even one good line in an answer, or something else I like about it, I'll upvote it. Despite my liberal usage, I've only run out of votes a handful of times.

Does anyone have similar, or otherwise interesting voting habits? Despite having a virtually unlimited supply, why are you so stingy with your upvotes?

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9551 · June 13, 2011 at 1:18 AM

Here's my voting policy.

I try to vote up a lot. I didn't used to do this, but in the last four months I've gone from the 200 range in upvotes to the 800 range. Much of this increase is due to the fact that I've started voting lots and lots of answers up from 0 to 1. My hope is that we can shift the "default" score of an answer on Paleohacks in this way. Whenever someone takes the time to answer a question (and actually gives something that actually is an answer to that question) I think that this should be recognized in some way. So the upvote is like a nice little reward for the effort and kindness given in trying to help out the question-asker and in contributing to the discussion. Now you might think that if we "reset" the default from zero to one, then getting a one will feel just like getting a zero used to feel. But I don't think so. Because whenever you get that one upvote you know that there was a living, breathing human being on the other end of the internet who read what you wrote and appreciated it. And I would say that this response applies even more to new users on the site: they may not know that even if their answer is hanging out at a zero they've still written something that the community values -- it definitely took me a while to understand that silence on the internet can be compatible with approval.

I never downvote and here's why. First, and most important, I just think it makes people feel bad, and you can just as easily accomplish a correction of misinformation or an expression of disapproval by leaving a comment. Why start conflict if you don't have to? (I guess it's obvious that I'm the sort of person who tries to smooth over differences. Although only on the internet as it turns out -- I compensate in real life by picking fights with people on the street, usually two or three times a week. OK, bad joke.) Second, and less important, I think downvoting ends up raising the reputation score of the person you downvote. This might be counterintuitive but I think it makes sense. If you downvote something from 0 to -1 then there will almost always be a sympathy upvote -- so you've just given that person 8 more reputation points (since 10 - 2 = 8). And even if you downvote something from 1 to 0 or from 2 to 1 it is also usually the case that this invokes a countervote in the upwards direction. The reason for this is that we all have kind of a sense for what a "1" answer looks like and what a "2" answer looks like. (So people don't necessarily always upvote something that they like -- because if they think it's good at 2 then there's no need to vote it up to 3; it's kind of like someone has already voted it up for you.) So if you vote something down from 2 to 1, someone else might come along and vote it back up to 2 -- but maybe if that someone else had come by and the answer was at 2 then he or she would have just left it at 2 (since it "felt like" a "2" answer). So if that was the case, then again, you've just indirectly given 8 points to the person you've downvoted. But this is just about reputation scores, so who cares, right? Indeed, who cares; that's why I said that this second reason for not downvoting is much less important than the first reason. But I do think it's worth noting that, thanks to this "ratchet effect," being controversial -- to put it in as general a way as possible -- is an effective way to get a higher reputation score.

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15120 · June 13, 2011 at 1:21 AM

i have so far 751 up-votes and 17 down votes. i give someone an upvote is their questions makes me think of something i had not thought of before, if i find myself nodding along while i read it or if i wish i had though to ask it myself. if its well thought out,researched, hyperlinked, and also succinct then ill upvote it. if it makes me laugh out loud (and that was the intention of it), then ill upvote it.

if its a question ive seen ten thousand times (is dairy paleo?) i dont even bother to open the thread, let alone vote for it.

i down vote when i think a question should be closed for being very off topic, shameless self promotion, or just plain nasty. i downvote comments that i think are unnecessarily rude or smug. if someone made no effort to read the FAQ or hang around for a while to see how the joint works before posting, i might downvote.

i do NOT downvote someone just because i disagree with them. i do NOT downvote people if i just dont like them.

ive been involved in a few online forums in my life, and this has been by far the most intelligent, welcoming, and helpful. i value the people here in their diversity of knowledge and experience. in general, i think that everyone here has just the best of intentions, and that this community does an excellent job of policing itself.

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5245 · June 12, 2011 at 7:56 PM

I'm very generous with my upvotes. It's my downvotes that I'm stingy with.

I regard Paleohacks not only as a source of valuable information, but also a place where like-minded people congregate and interact. Upvotes, to me, are like social validation. Call me naive, but I like to think that people feel pleased when their answer gets an upvote, and I like to make people happy. :)

Of course, their answer has to be quality, and not just a load of rubbish, but I find that the majority of PHers are very intelligent and typically provide upvote-worthy answers. Conversely, if somebody comes off as a dithering prat or is suggesting something dangerous or stupid, they deserve my downvote. Considering my upvote-to-downvote ratio, I like to imagine I'm overall very content with the answers I find on PH and reward them thusly. :D

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18619 · June 12, 2011 at 7:07 PM

I vote for questions that I think have merit and haven't been asked 8494390213421304 times.

I vote for answers that I think are well thought out or put together or very insightful, even if they don't agree with my views.

I have run out of votes on more than one occasion, but not often.

Just because you have the votes doesn't mean they should all be used every day. I am not stingy, but I do put thought into it.

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6140 · June 12, 2011 at 7:13 PM

I tend to vote a lot and run out on more than one occasion

To me up-voting is what makes this site more fun and I want people to have the fun of seeing agreement in the form of upvotes as often as I reasonably can offer it, not to do so seems to me to not be using the fun parts of this site and potentially to make it less fun and useful for others.

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19355 · November 10, 2011 at 1:42 AM

I think this question is definitely "Paleo" because it ties into a central theme of evolutionary psychology, reciprocal altruism.

In a society of hairless apes (therefore one that lacks fur and ectoparasites that can be plucked from said fur), we require a way to bond with other individuals in our group so as to give and receive favors beneficial for our survival.

Even though we PaleoHackers interact via the magic of the internet (I think gnomes are involved), we are still monkeys typing away at our keyboards and are in need of the same social stroking.

If someone comments, gives positive feedback, etc. and doesn't upvote, it seems unfair because it is triggering our innate impulse to judge the fairness of a given situation. We have given them something of value and that value wasn't reciprocated. The community suffers if there is a "cheater" who takes value and does not give in return.

This question is itself an attempt at correcting a perceived imbalance in fairness. It will reinforce the desire for reciprocal altruism and will serve as a message to cheaters that it is not acceptable behavior within the community.

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5619 · November 09, 2011 at 10:23 PM

I'm a very generous upvoter. Like I said in the comments, good info, jokes and insight get upvoted by me.

Ed, I agree. I'm always pretty good about voting up people who answer my questions with good info, and love to have discussions in the comment section. Sometimes I lose track of the questions though, and lose the thread of the comments.

EDIT: Apparently people are not so stingy with their downvotes. Gosh, I love humans.

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11363 · June 14, 2011 at 10:31 PM

A lot of ground has been covered by previous answers, so I'll just add this: in my opinion, a Hacker who poses a question should be generous with upvotes to answers of their own question. If someone bothers to read your question and offer you an answer, they're doing you a favor, and you should vote accordingly. I try to upvote reasonable answers to my questions.

A second point, while I'm on the subject of asking questions: it's good etiquette to offer a comment now and then on your own thread to show that you're actually reading the answers to the question that you asked.

Question management is a sometimes neglected skill here. If you ask a question, you own the thread.

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3621 · June 13, 2011 at 3:02 PM

I wonder this too! Why be stingy about voting? It doesn't cost anything, jeez.

I use the guidelines that pop up when you hover over the arrows:

  • this question is useful and clear

-or-

  • this answer is helpful
  • this answer is not helpful

Sometimes i replace the word helpful with the word thoughtful, e.g. in the case of personal stories etc. Usually, if someone has taken the time to carefully write their thoughts and experiences, it can be considered a helpful or thoughtful answer, so I upvote.

But sometimes I forget!

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77348 · June 13, 2011 at 12:54 AM

It would be nice if the FAQ covered a bit more about how to use the site. (in the more computer technical sense) It seems like it's mostly about how to treat people on the site and how to ask a question. As well as the consequences for doing it right (badges, votes) or doing it wrong (delete your account)

I definitely didn't know how to use the site at first. I lurked for weeks so voting was not on my mind and when I finally registered I still never thought about it. It was only after finally asking a question and getting votes that I realized it could be important to vote. I now upvote each answer that I think gives the person questioning good information or inspiration. I also upvote comments if they are insightful or truly humorous.

See I still don't know the site cos I don't know what the daily limit is:)

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20762 · June 12, 2011 at 6:45 PM

I reserve my upvotes for something truly insightful or for an answer that is explained better than I could do it.

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37013 · November 09, 2011 at 10:36 PM

I think there's something going on today. I hadn't done anything since early evening yesterday, but when I tried to comment/vote this morning. It kept telling me I was over the limit. First it'll say I can comment in 12 seconds, then it says 3 minutes, etc.

Very frustrating! I feel like I've tried to do less but it's stopping me cold. Here's what my recent report said: 1 Questions 6 Answer responses 8 Answers 3 Comment responses 14 Comments 0 Edits to your posts 110 Reputation earned 0 Badges achieved

That doesn't seem like so many comments and I don't think my edits are showing up because I do that all the time.

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18236 · June 13, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Try keeping up with Travis McBride. Good luck.

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77348 · June 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Monitoring this thread, I realized another important way that I use upvotes: to mark/track which answers I've read. This is especially useful in a thread like this, where there is no wrong answer. Even the answers from the newer members who aren't familiar with the issue are useful, particularly with the educational comments below them.

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15831 · June 12, 2011 at 6:46 PM

I've never upvoted. Maybe I should. Does it have an effect?

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15261 · June 13, 2011 at 4:42 PM

After hanging around here for only a couple of months, I see that about 80% of the questions are basically repeats -- if not the exact same question, then pretty close. The forum would be a lot better (though with less traffic) if people searched before asking, but I guess that is not human nature.

I am probably too stingy with the up votes, but I do try to only give them out for something that is new and different rather than the same old ideas.

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2733 · June 12, 2011 at 8:42 PM

I didn't know I had upvotes???

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4348 · January 20, 2014 at 3:12 AM

When i post a question, i upvote the answers that address my question (obvious one there i hope).

But, i will also make sure that everyone that takes the time to answer has at least one vote.

So if no one else upvotes them, i will upvote them even if the answer did not really address my question ie. they get a vote because they have made an effort to respond*

*caveat: tho (of course) i will not upvote spam, trolls, etc

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