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Vote early, vote often

+ 19 like - 0 dislike
66 views

I would like to echo a post that Scott Morrison posted on Tex.SE. A link to the post here, and below is the text of the post:

"I'm a moderator from MathOverflow, and this "question" is actually unsolicited advice, based on our experience from the initial launch of MathOverflow.

We should encourage everyone to vote positively as often as possible!

Every Stack Exchange site will eventually end up with a different "base level" of voting --- that is, the expected number of upvotes for a question of a given level of excellence. (This effect occurs because people see a good question, but already with a certain number of votes, and think "oh, I would have upvoted this, but it already has enough".)

It's easy for us to affect this "base level" by encouraging high levels of upvoting now. We're setting the standards, and this really will have an effect.

(On MathOverflow, we were very active about this early on, specifically encouraging all the initial round of users to vote early and often. You can compare statistics, and see that the average vote total for a MathOverflow question is much higher than on any of the other SE 1.0 sites.)

In case it's not obvious: the rationale for wanting this base level to be high is that it provides better positive feedback to good contributors."


Note that the number of high reputation users will be one of the measures that SE will consider in deciding to move the site from beta to a full site, a higher average vote will make it easier. Also it encourages people to post and answer questions because they see the positive feedback for their effort. So when you see a good question or answer upvote it.


Based on our experience on cstheory, I would also add the following recommendation:

when voting, don't consider the total number of votes a post already has, try to vote independently from other users' votes and the total number of votes, if you think a question/answer is good/interesting/useful/helpful and is the kind of question that you want to see on the site upvote it.

The reason for this is that I have seen users trying to fix the total number of votes and therefore don't upvote posts even when they like it because they think it does not deserve that many votes, which keeps the average number of votes quite low.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Sep 15, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Kaveh (0 points) [ no revision ]
Most voted comments show all comments
@David, as another point, I think having a higher average is even more important on smaller sites. There are more than 2,000,000 questions on SO, which allows people to earn reputation. A research level site like this has a much smaller audience, it makes it much more difficult to get users with high reputation. Eventually the site needs such users to help with moderating the site, e.g. closing off-topic questions, editing tag-wikis, editing and improving posts, approving other users edits, ...

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Kaveh: yeah, I suppose it is in my nature as a theorist to think too far ahead of the experiments ;-)

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@David, as to getting a badge for 10 votes, that is the lowest of three badge levels: 10, 25, 100 (nice, good, and great, respectively). So, I don't think 10 votes is exceptional, just above average, maybe 1 $\sigma$. :)

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
+1 because how could I not?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@David, that is a good point, but I think it is too early to make that judgment. Remember, there was a high percentage of researcher who committed to the proposal up and I am sure they are trying to ask good questions, so comparing it with say Math.SE is not good idea. Maybe after 100 questions we can check the distribution. Theoretically it is possible (though unlikely) that we will have all very good questions, so even if distribution is flat we should also check the quality of questions before judging that there is a problem.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Most recent comments show all comments
I'd like to upvote a second time just for *try to vote independently from other users' votes and the total number of votes*

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Not excessive, but unusual. Anyway, let me put it a different way: it seems ridiculous that the average vote is 10 because my experience suggests that for every great question, there will be dozens of mediocre ones. And if even the mediocre questions are getting voted up to ~10, the vote totals become relatively meaningless. Basically I'd expect roughly a power law distribution as an indicator that the system is working.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

1 Answer

+ 7 like - 0 dislike

Do not forget also in the public beta that we should continue upvoting good answers and good questions. People who contribute deserve reputation, TP.SE will not work properly if there are not enough people with high rep. Remember: "try to vote independently from other users' votes and the total number of votes."

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Oct 5, 2011 by András Bátkai (275 points) [ no revision ]

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