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Quite frankly, I think that this site lacks some upvoting habit.

(For the record, looking for a duplicate on meta, I found this post from january, whose comments suggested starting a thread for this purpose. Better late than never, I guess.)

Additional resources:

Tl;wr: go pick three low-score questions at random, read them and their answers, post comments where improvements are needed, upvote otherwise.

Votes are basically what makes the stackexchange network different from (superior to?) classical forums (where the content is mostly frozen once posted, and hence quickly obsolete) and encyclopedias/manuals (which do not provide answers to questions).

The problem exists for both answers and questions.

For a single answer in a thread, it is a bit ungrateful, but it doesn't directly harm the site, I guess. For multiple answers, voting is civic duty, because 10 unsorted answers may be as useful as none!

And for questions? I understand that people have all different habits, but I have come to understand that the general stackexchange policy when reading a question is:

  • if the question is understandable and reasonably well-asked, upvote;
  • if the question needs some minor improvement, leave a comment, and maybe come back later to upvote;
  • if the question needs some major improvement, leave a comment, downvote, and definitely come back later to reverse the vote and maybe upvote;
  • if the question is not salvageable, leave a comment and flag/vote to close.

Note how the default behavior according to this policy is to upvote. And in particular, a question with lots of views and no comment requesting for improvement should theoretically have a lot of upvotes!

Now, let's look at the facts. In the list of questions, sorted by score, there are 196 pages of questions, and 125 pages of questions with score <= 3. So that would either mean that:

  • 2/3 of the questions on this site are of mediocre quality
  • 2/3 of the questions on this site didn't get many visitors

In both cases, it is quite a negative indicator for the health of the site! I don't know about you, but I don't believe that this much low-quality content would really go unnoticed.

But of course there is the 3rd option: people didn't think of upvoting these questions, without a good reason for not doing so.

Of course I'm not saying that all these questions deserve a score of 10, it would be nearly as useless as the current situation. But I think that there are a lot of good questions, hidden in the mass of low-score questions, which don't stand out because readers were too lazy to routinely upvote them.

And there are some other indicators here: the two questions ranked first in the site evaluation were overwhelmingly judged excellent, yet they both have a score < 10 ? (8 at the time of posting, though they will soon get my upvote)

And why so many answered 0-score questions? Why do you spend time answering a question if you think the question is not worth it?

And why aren't there more upvotes for the featured questions, especially those that you don't know how to answer?

And how can an answer be accepted and not upvoted?

Imo, not upvoting questions has consequences worse than for answers. Stackexchange is nothing but a network converting good questions into excellent answers... if it doesn't have questions, it starves to death. So the site needs people asking questions. The site needs that good questions stand out, so that they attract eyeballs connected to a brain who can write an excellent answer.

At the moment, the questions that stand out as high-score are mostly questions which are at the very end of the "active" sorting. These questions don't have much more votes because they are much better than all the rest, but because people were voting more enthusiastically in the first few days of the beta. These are good questions, but how many equally good questions are lost in the limbo of 2-5 scores?

Good questions can be hard to answer, and as the site ages out, the average question will become harder and harder. If we don't periodically revive them with upvotes, they might as well be deleted as soon as they disappear from the 1st page of the active tab. We are a network of experts finding answers to questions, there should be no reason to ignore difficult questions.

And most importantly, we want to encourage people to write good questions/answers. Negative feedback, explaining what's wrong when needed, is only half of this process. Giving positive feedback (upvotes, bounties...) to questions/answers worthy of it, is equally important: if someone asks a good question, and gets an excellent answer, that's one question for the site. If this someone stays in the community, that's potentially a lot more good questions and answers incoming.

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    True. I try to upvote every question I find to be interesting (to me) and every answer which points the OP to the solution he was looking for. Just a quick way to say thanks to both the OP and the users who helped, I think is a courtesy that should not be underestimated. – Manuel Uberti May 28 '15 at 17:31
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    +100 for a well-worded call to action! I've been under the impression that voting culture/morale has been declining for a while. Glad to hear I'm not alone in that! I'm sure there are other reasons, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that Emacs questions (and answers) posted on SO and SU these days are hardly ever upvoted? We've been seeing a steady influx of new users (which is great) and I assume that at least some of them come from these sites. Maybe they are just used to low vote counts on the type of posts that they care about? In any case, thanks for bringing this up! – itsjeyd May 28 '15 at 22:01
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    Related: Will we be promoted from "public beta" to "full site"? -- Recommended reading (esp. for people coming from larger sites of the SE network): 1. Vote early, vote often 2. When will my site graduate? – itsjeyd May 28 '15 at 22:08
  • @itsjeyd Ah, thanks, that was the link I was looking for. Ironically, back then I commented to temper the "vote a lot" advice... My fears were misguided. – T. Verron May 29 '15 at 12:48
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In terms of average number of votes per post, Emacs ranks #81 out of 142 (i.e. slightly below the median). But among the IT-related sites, Emacs ranks around #13 out of 40. Sites with “fuzzy” topics where an answer looks good or bad tend to vote more than sites with “hard” topics where answers tend to be testable, but only if you're familiar with the specific technical topic.

                    up    down
programmers         7.99  1.00
codegolf            6.11  0.36
tex                 5.60  0.07
vi                  5.11  0.11
mathematica         5.04  0.17
security            4.72  0.45
ux                  4.31  0.20
reverseengineering  4.06  0.32
tridion             4.13  0.07
codereview          3.87  0.23
productivity        3.82  0.16
gamedev             3.37  0.39
emacs               3.58  0.06
webapps             2.90  0.63
softwarerecs        3.07  0.36
networkengineering  3.02  0.35
unix                3.16  0.16
blender             3.18  0.13
electronics         2.70  0.36
windowsphone        2.43  0.35
dba                 2.46  0.20
ubuntu              2.33  0.29
craftcms            2.59  0.03
raspberrypi         2.45  0.14
android             2.14  0.45
dsp                 2.34  0.20
tor                 2.35  0.16
gis                 2.32  0.12
apple               2.19  0.23
sqa                 2.23  0.13
webmasters          2.18  0.16
joomla              2.06  0.17
salesforce          2.10  0.12
civicrm             2.04  0.03
arduino             1.66  0.15
drupal              1.37  0.33
wordpress           1.21  0.28
expressionengine    1.44  0.04
magento             1.09  0.15
sharepoint          1.09  0.06

Thus Emacs.SE isn't a particularly low-voting site for its category. Which isn't to say that voting isn't encouraged! If you see a good question or a good answer, upvote it. (And conversely of course, if you see a bad question or a bad answer, downvote it.)

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    Ok. These cold figures need to be watched though : given that people were voting a lot in the first weeks of the public beta, and now apparently almost not at all, this metric will imo tend to go downwards in the future. Also, maybe more interesting would be the median number of votes, and separated by questions/answers (votes serving different purposes). – T. Verron May 31 '15 at 7:59

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