That's something I have noticed at many questions in this site.

A user with a reputation of 20 has posted a great answer but has not received any up votes.

On the other hand, a user with 5k reputation with a less good answer to the same question has indeed received up votes.

So my question is why does that bias happen and what is your opinion on it? Do you up vote answers from low reputation users? If not, why?

  • 10
    Hello Nick, Can you share some examples (maybe a link or 2) that highlights your point Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Nick This reads a lot better better than 'racism'. On your question, you can refer to the faq about how reputation works and how it induces bias among the users. In a way, that is what it is all about.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 14:24
  • 3
    Without a link or 2 to compare this question cannot on a good will basis be answered. What is a great answer to you? What is a great answer to any of us? You have to ask yourself that. On the end it really does not matter, even a user like me with a bit of reputation can have hundreds of answers with a vote or 2, its life, you move on, I would not call it biased or anything else. Its just life. True reputation does not come from an answer or 2, it takes time to get that engine started. You need to be patient. Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 15:49
  • @Everyone meta.askubuntu.com/a/3189/39869 Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 17:42
  • 1
    Try this userscript or my updated version as a way to block details. My version also blocks vote numbers that could also cause bias. Once again, the latter link is my own work.
    – nanofarad
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 16:49
  • i presume that's Javascript right? :)
    – dlin
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 17:28
  • Where be the examples? :)
    – ish
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 11:22
  • I will post some, I just need to find some..
    – dlin
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 11:58
  • @Nick: that would suggest there aren't many of those... ;)
    – ish
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 14:43
  • @izx That's true! :)
    – dlin
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 16:23
  • Yes, it's javascript. On Firefox, you need the Greasenomkey addon.
    – nanofarad
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 18:53
  • 1
    I guess greasemonkey will parse that Javascript to my browser and will "run" to every page I load so that can modify StackExchange's DOM? :)
    – dlin
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 20:00
  • @Nick Yes. I haven't been notified of your comment so add @ObsessiveFOSS to notify me.
    – nanofarad
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 20:03
  • Not to belabor this.. but I'm really curious to see an example of what Nick is talking about. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 17:06

4 Answers 4


What I think (purely IMO) is that high-rep users (the ones with 10k+ rep) had helped many people before. These people know what kind of answers are considered as "good" and will both get upvotes and help the asker. Because those users post great stuff one-in-a-while, most Askubuntu regulars would think that the user will post great stuff all the time, resulting in upvoting stuff from that user no matter what.

New users doesn't know the rules to this site, so they will have to learn how this site works and it's community. Answers that the new user that is considered "Good" might be a spam for the whole community. Some users will go through a "learning stage" that helps them to learn through the stuff in the community and while they are learning, they might post stuff that are great to themselves but not-so-great to the community, which results in lesser upvotes on the question/answer at the beginning. But as they learn new users can know how to write good post and have many upvotes.

You can look at my rep-count graph if you want. At first it takes a while to learn, but after the rules are learnt upvotes seem like a normal thing.

That's wholly in my own opinion, so correct me if I am wrong or you(the reader) disagree.

  • Nice answer, your graph kind of reminds me of mine stackexchange.com/users/1212223/nick?tab=reputation
    – dlin
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 18:10
  • 4
    Personally, I don't look at all at people's rep. Couldn't care less, because the thing about a technical forum like this is that answers can almost always be verified by practical experimentation. I mark answers correct if they work. I can't even see why I would ever care about anyone's reputation.
    – Questioner
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 13:13
  • My graph is very different. Out of curiosity, does anyone have any insights as to what behavior causes this?
    – nanofarad
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 16:50

Low rep people may post great, and useful answers, however I tend to find that people with higher reputation tend to format their posts better and this makes their posts easier to understand.

It is because they know the site better and how to better convey their solution to the asker.

There is a daily reputation limit on this site for a reason; to stop high rep people getting excessive amounts of rep off a single question.

  • +1 for mentioning the daily rep limit, very good answer to my question.
    – dlin
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 18:11
  • Thanks. We were having a discussion about that in the General Room a couple of days ago, so it was fresh in my memory.
    – njallam
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 18:13

This is a problem on every website that has voting. (HackerNews, Reddit, etc.)

My view is to interpret highly-upvoted material not as "good" per se, but as "representative of the particular site's hive mind".

  • I like your interpretation a lot. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 2:41
  • 2
    Ha, the posts on this question are ordered by rep amount. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 11:27

Well Nick, here's a case of the opposite happening.

Cant see databases of mysql from command prompt in ubuntu 12.04

The question was asked, and I provided an answer. Then a newbie user comes along 5 minutes later, posting basically the same information that was in my answer, and his gets accepted.

Maybe I'm a little biased in this case, and "no" I don't have rep that equals a few thousand points, but I guess sometimes it just goes the other way too.

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