To me voting is a part of moderation, in that it separates good answers/question from not so good ones. Also it increases the helpfulness of this site: Without advocating a consensus-theory of truth, voting helps people finding the right answer, or at least the most helpful. And last but not least: The whole idea how participation on SE is motivated is by building up reputation. It motivates people giving good, well researched answers.

This month a total number of 9 (in words "nine") users casted votes. A total number of 155 votes have been cast. Which explains (on a mathematical level) why the average question/answer has round about 1.5 votes*. In helping users deciding which question/answer is a good one, this is borderline useless. Also it doesn't help motivating crafting good answers... much.


If there are so little votes distributed among the answers to a question, a single vote can do a lot of distortion: When I upvote an answer that is pretty good but not as good as the best answer, my vote will bring it vastly closer (in relative terms) to the best answer and maybe it doesn't deserve to be rated that good. So I caught myself checking if the vote-distribution on an question feels "appropriate" to me and adjust it carefully if necessary. This is something like a voting-dead-lock: One vote is worth so much, that almost no question/answer deserves it. So you don't vote. And the worth of a vote goes up and up...

I am aware that in philosophy a certain "everyone is wrong but me"-attitude is prevalent. And for a perfectly good reason: If I thought I was wrong, I'd change my opinion. So if someone says something, I don't believe, it must be wrong, so how can I upvote it, when I think it's wrong? But can't it be helpful anyway? Can't it be a good answer/question? And, yeah, granted: This answer totally ignores the refutation made by Platinga in 1987, and is so based on a substance-dualism... So it's not perfect! But is it helpful or not?

So my question is: Shouldn't we simply vote more? And if so: Is there something that can be done to encourage voting?

*I haven't really checked that number, it's more of an "educated feeling".

  • possible duplicate meta.philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/5/…
    – Einer
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 12:59
  • 4
    I guess I tire of the site and worry that if I downvoted everything that deserves it, ratings would drop. Downvoting with explanations is a thankless job and doing so without feels weird except for the most ludicrous answers.
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 14:57
  • 3
    I upvoted this question, does that count?! But yes, I agree, we need more votes! I think this is also a result of the fact that philosophy questions and answers are not as clear cut as math or programming ones. But it is a problem on all the sites; most people just don't take the time to vote. A little awareness I think is good from time to time, but I think that's basically the best we can do.
    – stoicfury
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 18:12
  • 1
    @virmaior I agree. I tried to adapt by explaining why in my opinion it is a bad answer without voting down. It just makes things worse! So maybe the approach how Russia ended the cold war is best: Unilaterally starting to vote like a berserk (analogous to: unilaterally deciding to quit the arms-race [ - maybe not my best metaphor!]) If other people try to counter my berserk voting, they start voting [I really rode this metaphor until it was dead, didn't I? Hopefully the point was clear...]
    – Einer
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 18:54
  • @stoicfury When I read meta correctly there was some debate if this site should be exclusively about academic questions. I don't think, that is an option if we want to have questions or answers at all. I'm honestly unsure (I mean that!) what to do about that, but I guess voting could help with that. Now I'm honestly unsure (I mean that too) how to get people to vote - so I raised this question...
    – Einer
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 19:02
  • 1
    Voting apathy is a problem in the real world not just on this site. Yes, it would be nice if more votes could be cast - an incentive would be nice but what: perhaps voting reputation as a sign of being a good site-citizen? It may also be that people visting aren't generally that impressed wth either the questions or the answers. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 4:29
  • It doesn't "take time to vote": if the score isn't below zero and I have read down a screen-worth, I push the button labelled "this post is useful" before scrolling down to keep reading. In the past, when I left a couple sites, I had voted so much that it caused huge upheavals in the rankings and privilges of many users. Sorry! Maybe revisit that policy?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 0:20

1 Answer 1


I really like to vote, especially after I thoroughly read an question or answer. Of course, this means that I will only vote when I have enough time to read thoroughly, and that I can only vote on answers for which I have at least some form of opinion, even if I lack real expertise. This naturally limits the amount of votes that I will give, and I think this is perfectly fine. And if people don't like to read other peoples answers thoroughly, I even believe it is a good thing if they refrain from voting.

But I have to be honest that I rarely downvote, even so some answers would really deserve a downvote. The problem is that the meaning of a downvote is fundamentally different from the meaning of an upvote. I once wrote an answer which received an upvote for every downvote, and a downvote for every upvote. In this case, this meant something like: "This answer is not really wrong, it is somehow related to the question, but it is not a really an answer". It may be sad that the meaning of a downvote is ambiguous, but I believe there is no way to change this.

  • 3
    +1 because I took the time to read your thoughtful answer which echoes my sentiments! Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 2:00
  • We even get to vote twice, if you include the comments!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 0:24

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