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On September 19th, 2023, SE announced that a few Stack Exchange sites would be participating in an experiment where one-rep users (with registered accounts) could cast both upvotes and downvotes.

While I've read a lot of the [public] rationale for this experiment, I feel this would do more harm here on Ask Ubuntu as I think it will potentially lead to a noticeable increase of sock puppets and serial/targeted voting.

I'm aware they're looking for established sites, and I'd like to preemptively NOT do it.

Can we not join this experiment?

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    This has been pushed vigorously by Stack Exchange, Inc. and almost always vigorously resisted by the Community. My personal preference is not to opt in...
    – andrew.46 Mod
    Sep 22, 2023 at 1:59
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    My personal preference is to not opt in either, as this will lead to a ton of abuse and other problems. I strongly am against the proposal by SE Inc., and since the majority of the Community has been against it network-wide I'm inclined to say we need to resist as well and not opt into this.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Sep 25, 2023 at 18:05
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    I'm just going to add that the proposal on SE Meta has -144 vote count currently, suggesting that the community at large across SE sites is against this proposal. On that basis alone we should not participate, in my opinion.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 17:52

3 Answers 3

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I assumed this was opt in, so the default would be for us to not be in it, but if isn't, I'd agree, we shouldn't be in it.

Ask Ubuntu is a top-5 Stack Exchange site in terms of registered users (№ 3!), traffic, and total questions. We're 6th in questions per day.

  1. Whatever the SE folks say, I don't believe they are ready to handle traffic like ours. Aside from the behemoth that is Stack Overflow itself, we are toe-to-toe with the other top sites. They should really start with some mid-level sites first.

  2. I don't think we're lacking for voting users like some of the smaller sites. On some beta sites, there are regular exhortations to vote because otherwise they struggle to get users enough rep to do moderation tasks. Here we have new users breaking into the top of the reputation leagues every year.

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Just a counterpoint, consider the type of traffic we get. Ask Ubuntu is a technical site, making us somewhat less sticky than the er, deductive science sites. A lot of our traffic follows this pattern:

  • Ubuntu user has a problem
  • They find an answer here
  • They can't do anything so bounce without leaving a trace

If we do our job well, answers help people so effectively that they don't need to register to post "me too", or post a duplicate. These drive-by users cannot vote so it stands to reason that some of the most helpful answers on Ask Ubuntu receive proportionally less credit for their writers.

Reducing the barrier makes it easier for those authors (and those posts) to get recognition, and because this whole thing is a feedback loop that plays into the human ability to derive pleasure from helping others, it may help newer users get that encouragement that can seem so unobtainable to begin with.

That said, I'm not sure this would go far enough to achieve that. If you want to solicit that sort of feedback, you need to go the next step an allow anonymous votes. I don't think that is part of this suggestion.


I'm personally with you. It's less about the feature —which I clearly see some merit in— and more about the competency of the people driving it to stop it being abused. We still see stupid-simple spam. I don't know what they're doing to combat this stuff at a technical level but it's moderately clear that they're happy to sit back and let the community deal with it.

And that's just not good enough for something as opaque as voting. Even moderators would struggle to identify subtle semi-anonymous voting patterns.

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  • What do you mean "allow anonymous votes"? Aren't votes anonymous for the most part (I guess only CMs can see votes of a particular user)? Oct 1, 2023 at 8:56
  • Votes are still tied to an account. I meant "allow votes from people without accounts". That's the only way to accomplish zero-friction voting. I'm not saying that's something we should aim for, just that's how you'd do it. It obviously has deeper ramifications for abuse.
    – Oli Mod
    Oct 2, 2023 at 8:21
  • And —for transparency's sake— votes today are not entirely anonymous. Each vote record is tied to your account and therefore if you have access to that data, you know who has voted for what. Staffers probably have direct access to this but even lowly moderators can see patterns and per-user trends (we can see if you're voting for or against a user to help stop sockpuppets or abusive downvoting). I can't think of a way this sort of tool could be made to work effectively on unauthenticated voting.
    – Oli Mod
    Oct 2, 2023 at 8:26
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At the risk of just so many downvotes, I'd like to share my experience as a new user.

I have posted one question on the forum. Within about 2 hours I got an answer. Unfortunately, it was just a "me-too" from a user with an account newer than mine. So now, on the endless pages of questions with no answers, mine shows as answered. Even though it isn't marked as accepted that will reduce its visibility.

What recourse was available to me? I wasn't empowered to downvote the answer, so I did the one thing I could. I commented that user's answer, sharing information I had that might help, and politely highlighting the effect the non-answer would be likely to have. And on doing so, I exhausted all the options I had. But let's be honest, most new accounts aren't coming back any time soon. Eventually the answer was removed, by its author or moderation I can't say, but I was pages down by them.

I don't blame that user though. Take my answer here, it would more appropriately be shared divided into comments to the more knowledgeable answers that precede it. But to do even that, to comment, requires 50 reputation. That the reality for all of us new users. And none of them are likely to be as willing to grind edits to get there as me.

Maybe downvotes for reputation 1 is a bad idea.. No, it's very obviously a bad idea. But there's a germ of a good idea in there, or that's my thoughts on it anyways. Thank you for your patience in indulging my two cents.

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    "mine shows as answered. Even though it isn't marked as accepted that will reduce its visibility" - I'm fairly certain this is untrue. A question isn't considered answered unless it has an answer that has been upvoted. As far as your question on the main site, I don't see it. It's likely/probable that the "me too" answer was removed by community moderators. Answers from new users are put in the moderation queue and "me too" answers are supposed to be removed.
    – Nmath
    Oct 1, 2023 at 20:00
  • @Nmath Because of the non-accepted answer, someone searching with answers:0 would not see @UNREDACTED's question in their search results. And if they were looking for questions to answer, they might be less likely to click on questions with non-accepted answers anyway. There are, after all, some situations where a correct answer is posted but the user does not accept it - possibly the user hasn't logged into the site for several years, or possibly they posted a question but didn't bother with further interaction, or they didn't like that the answer was "No, that's impossible", or...
    – AJM
    Oct 5, 2023 at 11:22

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