Note: This post is (nearly) identical to this one on Language Learning.SE.

I would like to echo a post that Scott Morrison made on Meta.Tex.SE:

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."

Especially in the beginning, let us vote early, and vote often. More voting always helps. Downvotes, too, are good – we want to weed out the wheat from the chaff here, and get rid of poor questions and answers.

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    $\begingroup$ The reason that I'm posting this: I noticed there are barely any Nice Question or Nice Answer badges awarded, while on other sites we had several Good Question and Good Answer badges during the private beta. This is a sign that we are not voting enough. $\endgroup$
    – wythagoras
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ Or a sign there is no good enough question or compelling enough answer! I agree with you on more dynamic, but let's vote with our heads too (I mean, we can still type with our fingers). Edit: I did not see @Ben N's post, which argues similarly. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


I'm going to make something of a counterpoint here.

If everybody upvotes all the good content, good stuff will look the same as great stuff. Everybody should put some effort into looking at each post and judging the quality thereof. The community needs at least a few people with higher standards so higher vote counts call out our best content. You're right, though, in that we currently don't have very much voting activity at all.

If an answer or question is good but could be better, a comment would be a great way to provide positive feedback and advise slight adjustment if necessary. That way, we can improve our content even more.

Content that is misleading or actively bad should of course be downvoted. Don't be afraid to downvote. Once the problem is fixed with an edit, you can remove or reverse your downvote.


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