Lack of voting has already been identified as an issue that prevents the site from graduating. I'm shamelessly stealing this post from Meta Biblical Hermeneutics, hoping it will inspire all of us to be a bit more active with our votes. Enjoy! And vote!


I cannot state this strongly enough. Voting is absolutely critical to the formation of a healthy SE site. And this is never more true than in Private and early Public beta.

Vote on Questions

Voting allows the community to determine what topics are allowed and what are not. Voting shows what constitutes a well-formed question and what is unacceptable for this community.

If you need help formulating better questions, the blog post Asking Better Questions might help you out. (Admittedly, it's geared towards the Stackoverflow crowd, but the philosophies there will help). Also, How to Ask is an excellent resource.

Finally, I want to reiterate that Voting on questions is free! It doesn't cost you any reputation to to vote a question down. (Compared to answers)

Vote on Answers

Voting on answers allows a dramatic increase in reputation. Like questions, it shows that you believe and support the answer provided. Also, vote answers up that you think are well worded and support the answer given.

If you think an answer is useful, vote it up. If you think an answer is not useful, vote it down. Either way, vote!

If you need help on writing answers, the meta post How do I write a good answer to a question? will help you out.

Final thoughts

If people do not vote, there won't be enough reputation on this site for it to be promoted. Reputation is very important to a StackExchange site as it creates the groups of people capable of maintaining the site.

To show how critical it is, Jeff Atwood posted a blog article regarding this topic: Vote Early, Vote Often.

Encourage others to vote!

Quoting Robert Cartaino from chat:

Vote, vote, vote. Encourage others to vote, vote, vote. On good content, leave signposts ("If you like this, please vote it up. It's important for the community!")-- in both meta and the main site. Maybe a few meta posts informing the users of the important of that type of participation. You are empowered a lot more than you know.

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This is absolutely critical! I was considering opening my own Meta post about this. Our site is getting lots of visits and a fair amount of questions, but we need to vote more! Anyone who has written a detailed review and received no more than one or two votes with no comments knows how frustrating the lack of votes is. –  codesparkle Oct 11 '12 at 12:27
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Go and read every question and answer in the tags you are active in, and vote on them if you feel they are worthy of your (up/down)vote. There are probably quite a few posts you've missed even if you are very active on the tag, vote, vote, vote! When you are done, start reading Meta questions from the very first one, and vote, vote, vote! Don't sacrifice quality just for the sake of more voting, just find all the posts you might have missed, and vote, vote, vote! Oh, did I mention that you should vote, vote, vote? ;P –  Yannis Oct 11 '12 at 14:36
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2 Answers 2

Our faq doesn't contain any encouragement to get users to vote (except for a tiny note about downvoting misinformation).

Isn't it about time to include a plea for votes?

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That's true, this post, or something very similar to it, would make an excellent addition to the FAQ +1 –  mseancole Oct 11 '12 at 20:08
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I have to admit to being a bit stingy with my votes. I vote like I would for SO. I agree that voting is important, but at the same time I feel upvoting everything on topic might send the wrong message.

  • Does it have good content?
  • Can it be reused by others?
  • Does it show some sort of effort?
  • Are there already 50 other questions on this same topic?
  • And, personally, is it interesting, thought provoking, or new to me?

These are all, I feel, important questions that determine whether a question is upvote material. Encouraging the right content and discouraging the wrong is good, but rewarding people for poorly constructed, on-topic, questions does not seem right. Downvoting follows the same logic outlined in the article, with maybe a couple of tweaks.

  • Was the question on topic?
  • Is the OP actually looking for help?
    • Surprisingly I've only had this issue with one question so far. The OP wanted to argue with all the answers and demanded one specific answer.
  • After requesting code to be added instead of linked, the question remains devoid of it.
    • Usually I follow this up with a close flag.

And of course, voting on answers is universal.

  • Was the answer helpful?
  • Was there an explanation?

But this is just what I think.

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We don't upvote a question for being on-topic, and similarly we shouldn't downvote it simply because it's off topic. Votes (up/down) are feedback on the quality of a question, not its topicality. If it's off topic, vote to close, if it's on topic, well... don't vote to close ;) I'm in no way saying we should go for quantity (of votes) instead of quality, but we severely lack in voting activity compared to younger sites. –  Yannis Oct 11 '12 at 14:06
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@YannisRizos: Directly from your post: "Voting allows the community to determine what topics are allowed and what are not." Unless I am misinterpreting that. Besides, this is a phenomenon I have directly observed. There are a bunch of questions, at least in PHP, that I have seen upvoted purely because they were on topic. In fact, EVERY question that is on topic seems to have at least one upvote, and every question off topic seems to have at least one down before it is closed. Or maybe I'm just seeing things. –  mseancole Oct 11 '12 at 14:20
    
Admittedly, I feel bad about downvoting off topic questions, so it has to really be off topic, or violating some other rule for me to downvote it. Usually I just inform the OP that his question is off topic and that I'm voting to close it. Sometimes I also leave advice on how to change the question to be more on topic, such as adding code or changing wording. If they then change it, I do my best to then answer it. –  mseancole Oct 11 '12 at 14:26
    
Hm, that sentence applies more to the very early days of Beta, Code Review is way past that point. That said, it's the very next sentence we should focus on: "Voting shows what constitutes a well-formed question and what is unacceptable for this community.". –  Yannis Oct 11 '12 at 14:28
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Anyway, what I want to encourage is this: Go and read every question and answer in the tags you are active in, and vote on them if you feel they are worthy of your (up/down)vote. There are probably quite a few posts you've missed even if you are very active on the tag, vote, vote, vote! When you are done, start reading Meta questions from the very first one, and vote, vote, vote! –  Yannis Oct 11 '12 at 14:35
    
@YannisRizos: Still a bit misleading "unacceptable for this community". But I agree with your sentiments and will try to be a bit more active in the other tags. Its still a good point and you've already got my upvote :) –  mseancole Oct 11 '12 at 14:41
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Well, to give you an example of what "unacceptable for this community" means, on Programmers (a graduate and fairly mature site), we had a policy of accepting some book requests. The matter was discussed on Meta early on, consensus was reached, etc. But then it appeared that most book questions we were getting were crap, and people downvoted them to oblivion. Right now, after noticing that for quite some time, we are discussing about changing the policy... –  Yannis Oct 11 '12 at 14:45
    
If the policy changes (probably to become a lot stricter), it would be an example where people decided that we just don't like books questions, and told us about it with their downvotes. The same can happen here, if some questions are technically on topic (requests for review of working code) but, for example, the code is trivial, we can show that the questions are unacceptable with our downvotes. –  Yannis Oct 11 '12 at 14:47
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