I've seen y'all are wary of suspect upvoting patterns here on SF: Upvoting without discretion

But I've also noticed that even on questions with several comments, upvotes are very rare. Full disclosure, I've observed this on my questions and have not spent any significant amount of time looking for it on others questions.

I've asked 20 questions here on SF, 10 of them have no upvotes at all, three of these have nearly or more than 100 views, several have answers and most have at least comments.

It gives the site a bit of a cold demeanor and frankly is a bit frustrating.

I in no way request or condone compelling people to up vote and I do not necessarily want people to up vote my questions if they don't have another reason to outside my bringing this up.

However, being willing to up vote more freely should help warm this place up a bit and make it more welcoming.

Of course, that may be exactly the vibe all y'all BOFH's are trying to avoid...

  • Heh, an up vote. :) Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 14:50
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    With the exception of Ward everyone could do more voting.
    – user9517
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 15:12
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    I approve of the previous comment. :) Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 18:42
  • I commented on Rob Moir's answer, but I don't praise mediocrity. If I can help with an edit or clarifying question, I will. But sadly most questions aren't good enough for an upvote, nor bad enough for a downvote.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 15:34
  • @Iain ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ
    – Wesley
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 16:02

5 Answers 5


Although I think more voting (up and down) would be a good thing, I don't think it should be done to make SF "warmer" and more welcoming.

I think one reason for low voting is that professional sysadmins usually don't have time and money to do everything, so we prioritize quickly and harshly. When people see a question that's not bad enough to downvote, but not clear or complete enough to answer, they probably move on or maybe leave a comment asking for more information.

This makes the bar for "good" questions quite high: questions have to be on-topic, and they have to be clearly expressed and have something interesting about them to get someone to upvote. Looking at some of your questions, I think there are two main reasons they might not be getting upvotes:

  • More obscure topics (like Notes, also HP-UX or VMS) are going to get less interest. Your question about disconnecting users from files on your NAS box might fall into that category.

  • I'm not sure how to express this, but there's something about your questions that makes them seem unclear to me. There's lots of information in them (in one case I think the question is simply too long), but for me, at least, it's hard to figure out exactly what's being asked, what you've tried, what supporting information you have. I can see most of that information is in the question, but it doesn't jump out at me.


I was just looking at a random sampling of some of your 0 score questions and, honestly, I'd be tempted to downvote a few of them, or even cast close votes.

The hover-text for the upvote arrow says "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear."

We tend to upvote well thought-out and thoroughly detailed questions. It seems that some of your zero score questions are more like one or two liners without a lot of detail. Sure, they can probably be answered, but they're generally not great quality. the definition of "useful and clear" varies from site to site, especially clear. We expect a high level of detail, since our jobs require it.

Also, we have many specializations in our field. A storage specialist that stumbles on an AD question that he thinks he might be able to help with may leave a comment for clarification, but may not feel qualified to judge whether or not it's worthy of an upvote.

That said, we probably could vote a little more overall. The problem is that most of the regulars on meta do already vote quite a bit, so this might be falling on deaf ears.

  • 2
    s/falling on deaf ears/preaching to the choir/
    – Chris S
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 15:11
  • Those two samples are interesting. I could maybe understand your response on the LAC question. Network Management is one aspect of computers I'm very new at, and as a recent hire from tech-support level to Network/System Admin, it's my admitted biggest weakness. But the USMT question has my needs, the reasons I don't prefer USMT, and while probably a little close to a shopping req, avoids that by the previously noted points. Sure it's not super high-level sysadmin stuff (it was from a previous job) but it belongs here and could be informative for people with similar situations to mine. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 15:14
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    The reason that I listed the USMT question is precisely because it is a shopping question, imo.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 15:15

(Bit too much for a comment)

The reason I'm a rare upvoter is that often I don't understand what's being asked - I've only a few year's worth expereince so sometimes I find it difficult to tell the difference between a technically pleasing (i.e. looks right but is operationally frowned upon) and an actual good answer.

I'll always upvote a question or answer that shows a lot of research effort - but if you see a 2-line question with comments underneath such as "post logs" and "what have you tried" (which we do get a fair amount here) then I don't see why anyone should put the effort into voting for a poor question when the effort on the OP's part is minimal.

I don't know if this is the general consensus with the SF community but I guess rep is harder to earn here because it can be a very narrow, specalised field compared to that at SU.

  • That's very true. Apparently the things I ask about such as Lotus Notes (thankfully not anymore after a job change recently) and EMC SAN and Disk backup systems are not very commonly used or known. Or maybe they're scary. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 15:09

SF is different to its sister sites because it is intended for professionals only. It therefore has a different type of user. Not only do we expect a much higher standard of expertise than SU or SO, both of which cater to everyone form the newest newbie to the best of the best, we're also generally not the kind of people to be throwing compliments (read: upvotes) about unless they have been earned. If truth be told, many of us don't even like humans in general, which tends to be reflected in our attitudes to everything, including voting.

In contrast, have a look at the appalling questions and answers, many of them utterly wrong, which get massive numbers of upvotes on the other sites. Posts of a similar level would get closed or downvoted to oblivion on SF. Even what might be considered a decent post on the other sites (adjusting for topic of course) may well get ignored or downvoted on SF just because we don't believe the poster has shown due diligence, something not required elsewhere.

  • And cue exhibit A. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 20:36
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    @music2myear, yes and this is just 10 minutes after I arrived at the office. Just imagine what I'm like at the end of the day, after having dealt with users all day. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 20:43
  • I can only imagine. I've been in IT professionally for 10 years, until recently my jobs have been primarily end-user support with increasing levels of responsibility, but still mostly the front lines, as it were. 4 months ago I was hired as Network and Systems Administrator for a manufacturing firm and I like to think I have the smallest inkling of what you've no doubt done for quite a while. I'm grateful that I really like people, otherwise my job would be much more difficult than it is. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 21:10
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    Downvoted answer because I absolutely abhor this idea that sysadmins "don't even like humans in general". I realize there is a cabal here at SF which feels that way, but I do not think they represent all syadmins, and I hate that the cabal repeats this meme so often. Let's dump the BOFH image once and for all! Please?
    – quux
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 7:59
  • @quux What we really dislike is the behaviour that some of those humans exhibit when dealing with us professionally, just as people who "hate computers" dislike the behaviour that computers exhibit.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 21:59
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    "many of us don't even like humans in general, which tends to be reflected in our attitudes to everything" is an unprofessional attitude IMHO. As much as we may be annoyed by the users, in most cases our work enables them to make money for the companies we work for which is what pays our wages.
    – dunxd
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 12:30
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    @dundx, I live in the real world, not some mythical land where everyone is happy and joyful all the time and easy to get along with. Real people aren't like that and most admins recognise that we don't have to like other people in order to be able to properly and efficiently do our jobs. I'm an admin, not a KFC counter jockey. Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 6:50

I'll be the first to admit that I could and should vote more often.

In fact I go through phases when I try hard to do just that... and often find it extremely difficult to find questions that are worth voting up or down that I haven't already voted on. I am trying harder to vote on things that I think are worthwhile, but it turns out that is harder than I thought it would be.

And good answers are an area where again, I should vote more, but if I've already read the question and nothing happens to draw my attention back to it, I'm likely to miss the answers... so that great answer to an unpopular question is all too easily missed by me, and I suspect I'm not the only one. That's a shame and given that I have other things to do besides spend all day on SF trawling 'old' questions, I really don't know what to do about it.

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    I go through phases where I try to vote more, especially on questions. But honestly, there are many where I just don't think it's good enough to warrant the upvote, especially if I have some knowledge of the problem-space. It may not be bad enough to warrant a down-vote, but I don't praise mediocrity. I try to provide follow-up questions or edit if I think it can help. I do upvote on questions that I can't help with but the question was well-constructed with what appears to be quality supporting information. In those cases, I usually make such a comment.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 15:08
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    Indeed, @gwaldo. We should encourage people to consider voting on questions (whether up or down) as needed. But I totally agree we shouldn't be voting just for the sake of voting or to "make SF warmer and fuzzier".
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 15:10

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