I believe this has been discussed in one form or another before, starting with the famous Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote post. Several SE sites promote voting occasionally too via a pop-up message:

Don't forget to vote – Ubuntu

I'm not going to point fingers and give any examples as voting is a private matter and everyone decides for themselves how they use this privilege. I do realize that voting is optional: you can vote or not; give up-votes or down-votes only; never vote on certain topics, but that's not what I'm after here.

I often see a good enough question (GEQ) with 0 votes and an answer already upvoted 5 or so times even though the answer has obviously been added later on the time scale. By GEQs I mean the question that is not an off-topic according to the site rules and/or the user demonstrated some effort in formatting, practical work or literature research. Somewhat trivial, boring and overloaded with math questions can also be GEQs.

This means that not only other users decided to take no notice of the question, but also the respondent doesn't think the question he or she answered is good enough for the site. To my logic, why answer the question that doesn't even deserve your vote at all? If the question is not GEQ, but you desperately want to answer it, improve it first, discuss the nuances in the comments, and once it's clear, answer and upvote it to demonstrate both the question and your answer belong here! A simple rule I'm trying to stick with: if I answer the question, I upvote it.

What's even worse is when the user answers the question and also votes to close it as off-topic or by giving the reason "Unclear what you are asking" (which in this situation doesn't make sense to me at all). To me, this is a nearly hypocritical behavior: there is no chance for others to add further answers unless they go through reopening procedure, which is rather tedious, and it automatically devalues the answer itself because if the question is considered bad/off-topic, then the answer is most likely also doesn't belong to this site.

I'm no psychologist, but I suspect that the rep points as they are displayed now – some numbers in the green square – do resemble currency, and money makes people happy. Also, upvotes demonstrate that someone noticed the problem, acknowledged it's significance and already showing minor support. With this in mind, upvoting GEQs by new users (and answering them, of course) we are making them a bit happier and increase the chance of them revisiting the site and bringing some more questions (hopefully, also GEQs) or even starting to contribute.

Could we please press F to pay respects show users asking GEQs some endorsement by not forgetting to upvote not only the answers, but their questions too?

P. S. One last thing: sometimes the the question is poorly formatted, or written using confusing terminology because the user doesn't know how to describe the problem. I encountered a few cases when the question's score changed from something like -2 to +3 after the edit simply because at first it was hard to understand what the question was about either to poor typography on the screenshot or cumbersome writing, but at its core those were great questions. If you see the room for improvement, please do try to edit the question, it might be well worth it.


3 Answers 3


I think asking a good question is a lot harder than giving a good answer. On the other hand I think judging whether a question is useful and well researched is a lot easier than doing the same for an answer. Often it is possible to recognise a good question, without studying in the same field. The same cannot necessarily be said for answers.

As such I am a lot more likely to vote on a question than on an answer.

I have always been one to advocate 'vote early, vote often', as voting is the key principle helping us curating the library of content that is constantly being created. If you have read the question, you have already done almost all the (hard) work necessary to decide whether it would be useful in the future and/or deserving of an answer.

(This is based on a now self-deleted answer to the question arguing somewhat the opposite, but I forgot to hit the post button.)


Without reactants, there are no products.

I agree with @Martin - マーチン♦'s answer and would like to add my perspective.

Be nice and be welcoming are important, but an occasional up vote on a reasonable question can't hurt either, and it can encourage new users to ask again.

If a question leads to several good answers, is it not a priori a good question in some way? If it was asked awkwardly, perhaps a helpful comment is a better corrective measure than a drive-by down vote?

There's also a proposal to encourage questions that don't result in answers right away: A badge for good perplexing questions.


While I may be countering the official site guidelines for up/downvoting in what I write below, the fact that up/downvoting is so obviously subjective justifies this answer.

While the rate at which I dish out votes fluctuates according to mood (:-)) I try to err on the side of voting up, because this site requires positive energy. I am much more likely to upvote answers than questions, too, simply because it is easier to ask than answer, and because the questions often reveal a lack of effort even when the answers are good. When voting I follow criteria which reflect how I might grade someone's performance on an essay question:

  • first and foremost, accuracy: this means you answered the question asked, correctly. This will get my vote. Obvious.
  • difficulty - the question or answer is not trivial. Even if you are not a chemist, if an answer is forthcoming based on a cursory search, no vote for you! If you post a correct answer but it is obvious, based on a cursory search, I lean against voting up.
  • effort: this may or may not parallel difficulty. Hey, if you bothered to spend a substantial amount of time putting together a decent question or answer (that is not obviously wrong), that counts in your favor. Some questions are a pain to answer, even if the questions appear simple. Similarly, some questions take guts and effort to ask, even if they appear simple. Effort includes crossing your t's and dot your i's etc, which reduces the effort of reading the question or answer. Sloppy posts discourage upvotes.
  • creativity - something I really couldn't have dreamed up or brings a smile deserves an upvote, even if it might not be 100% accurate, and as long as it's not misleading - this can be subjective. It depends on what I know or don't. Unlike the wikipedia, I tolerate answers that don't contain references or might be slightly opinion based, as long as they are not logically flawed, and particuarly if they encourage further inquiry.

Again, I don't upvote questions as often, because I tend to judge questions and answers on similar criteria (accuracy, difficulty, effort, creativity), not on the quality of the accompanying answers. If I feel that the question could have been answered by looking at a duplicate, I will not vote up, even if some answers may follow and be excellent and get upvoted. On the other hand, I hold back from voting down unless I feel a question is of low quality and should be removed, particularly a duplicate that does not lead to good answers.

I think the point of voting is to encourage others. Votes and the comments section are the only feedback you get to confirm that you did a good job (unless you are very confident that you did). Downvoting on the other hand is often an arguably avoidable punishment - it takes work to get an upvote, and it is a simple matter to write a comment that might clear possible mistakes or errors. I downvote if the poster obviously doesn't care, as is typical for low quality questions.


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