Please vote more; both up and down.
Why you should all (ok, almost all) vote more:
Admittedly, when it comes to voting, I'm a bit like the porcupine in the Dilbert cartoon at the end of this post...
But Iain's comment the other day was dead on:
what we need is more people who are active in voting ( all aspects thereof ) so that we can effectively police the quality issues we have
(From the discussion about question quality, how we respond to crappy questions, and so on - starts about here in The Comms Room)
Someone who votes every other day, and manages 11 votes each time, will rack up just over 2000 votes in a year. There are only 5 people who've done that much voting so far this year (yay!), and a grand total of 13 who look like they might get there by the end of the year.
The thing I find the most confusing about how other people vote (or don't) is: If you think a question is good enough to deserve an answer and you take the time to provide one, why don't you vote it up? There are tons of questions with good answers by high-rep users with 0 votes. WTF?
Looking at the other situation that was discussed in chat: if you're willing to take the time to comment on a bad question, why not take a second more and vote it down, too?
The official rule, repeatedly discussed and confirmed on Meta.SO is that you don't have to comment when you downvote. It's nice to comment if you can point out what's wrong with a question, but it's optional (no matter how many people post "Why the downvote?" comments on their questions).
There are a couple reasons why you should vote first, before thinking about commenting:
- Questions with no answers and negative scores are automatically deleted. This is probably the most important reason for downvoting: the crap will go away automatically if it's downvoted.
- Although people complain about downvotes without comments, they can't accuse anyone who does it of being mean or snarky, and if they complain on a meta site, they'll get the official answer I mentioned above. They also can't take it as personally because they don't know who did it.
- Another consideration might be that comments can be deleted pretty much on a whim, because by definition comments are not considered valuable content. So if you're going to expend any effort in making the site better, comments are a less permanent way of doing it.
Just as important as downvoting the bad questions is upvoting the good ones. If just a few more people would upvote questions that are clear and on-topic and get a couple good answers, those questions would stand out far more than they do now.
It's not necessary to spend a lot of time thinking about whether a question deserves a vote, you can do it this simply:
- is it on topic?
- is it clear? (do you understand what they're asking?)
- would you be interested in seeing an answer? or do you think any other SysAdmin would be interested?
If you answer yes to all three, vote it up! (And if it's no to 1, vote to close. If it's no to 2 and/or 3, edit or downvote or vote to close.)
What we have now is situations like this. Most people who will read this know that ewwwwwwhite's answers are generally awesome. But fully 1/4 of them only have one vote, and on this particular page, 1/3 of the questions were upvoted by the same person! Maybe not all of these deserve 10 votes, but certainly a few of them deserve more than one. Where are the rest of you?
I picked ewwhite because I know he's got lots of good answers, but I got similar stats (including the same person being responsible for 1/3 of their singleton upvotes) from a few other high-rep users. The point is that there's good content that's crying out for more votes.
This isn't a rant
Obviously, I think about voting a lot. What drew me to SF in the first place was the voting system: the value in SF (and other SE sites) is that it's easy for people to vote good content up and bad content down. And when you get a group of similarly-minded people doing the voting, the really good stuff will quickly stand out, and the crap will sink to the bottom and quietly disappear.
(And in case you've forgotten why this cartoon is here, recall that I started this essat with: "Admittedly, when it comes to voting, I'm a bit like the porcupine in the Dilbert cartoon..." )