The hover-over message of the upvote button on a question is:

This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear.

For me that is sort of the same as saying this question can be answered.

Based solely on this sentence, I am often surprised to see questions without upvotes but with answers. In and of itself I know that answering a question and thinking it is interesting is not the same thing, but answering it sort of saying this is worth answering and thus it is sufficiently clear to be answered (thus deserving an upvote).

Should we upvote every question we answer? Should this maybe even be automatic? I am not sure, but sometimes I feel it is a bit of an oxymoron to not upvote the question whilst still answering it. Is an upvote on a question actually saying this question should be answered?

  • Case: askubuntu.com/questions/262674/changing-directory-to-downloads This has been answered but does it deserve an upvote?
    – user25656
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 13:26
  • @BrunoPereira I don't think that's what I want to say. I want to say: if a question is worth an answer, is it then also not worth of an upvote?
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 14:51
  • @vasa1 I think it does deserve an upvote (and I voted it). It is both clear and useful for future users with the same problem.
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 14:52
  • 1
    But what about the research effort part?
    – user25656
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 15:44
  • @vasa1 We come to the fuzzy line where you have to decide for yourself whether it is worth a vote or not. I am very lax in my standards for voting, but others aren't. I must say, I don't see why this perfectly valid meta question has so many downvotes...
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 20:55
  • @Seth - I think the downvote isn't "invalid question" it's "does this really need discussion". I provided an example counterpoint in my answer. I think the voting is probably to exacerbate how incorrect the opinion portrayed in the question is according to voters (each answer should be an upvote) Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 0:24
  • 2
    Irony is that this meta question have -1 vote and answers have 5+ upvotes :p
    – Tachyons
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 3:34
  • 2
    @Tachyons :D You read my mind. I should have asked When do you upvote a question? On the other hand, this is meta, the downvotes might suggest disagreement rather than unusefulness or lack of clarity.
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 7:30
  • @Seth You are actually one of the reasons I asked this question. :) I saw how generous on votes you are and I thought that might be a good thing for the community.
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 7:33
  • @all Thanks for the replies! I have a learnt a lot from this thread (even though I am tempted to delete it :)
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 7:34
  • Don't delete it. I'ld love to be the first meta.askubuntu.com/badges/55/reversal Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 0:52
  • @AbrahamVanHelpsing must ... resist ... downvoting :P
    – user98085
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 1:09
  • To be fair, I didn't downvote the question. @FEichinger . If it got to 4-20 I might...but short of that...no. Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 1:10
  • @Private I have noticed you near the top of the voters recently. Keep up the good work! Also: Don't delete this thread. Throughout the SE world you will be downvoted sometimes. I have learned not to take this personally, they aren't downvoting you but your post or idea. After all this is meta ;)
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 2:41

5 Answers 5


Saying "It can or should be answered" is not the same thing as saying "Good question".

How do I optimize my disk performance?


How do I install and use flashcache/bcache to cache HDD to SSD?

I might answer the first, but I would and did upvote the second.

An additional note after some discussion in comments is that some voters in an attempt to "keep it fair" don't vote on anything they answer.


Yes/No/Maybe, its up to you, are all answers to your question.

This is personal and case dependent. In my view everything I edit is perfect (up to my low standards of just good enough most of the time, but does it's job well), so I give it up-votes after editing and move along. If I see something nice I up-vote and move along. Do we really need rules for up-voting or down-voting anything?

You don't need a up-vote rule, do it as your conscience tells you. You don't need a down-vote rule, do as your conscience tells you.

Votes are great but you need to understand that each case will be different and each user will vote according to what they believe a good post is. There are some quality standards that should apply but in the end its up to what you do, no rule can define that.

  • +1 nice your edit + upvote... makes sense!
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 18:03

A question doesn't have to be good, or even particularly clear, to have good answers. However, when a question has good answers, that suggests there may be something good about the question.

Furthermore, if a question is not clear or lacks detail, but you are able to answer it, then often (not always) one or both of the following apply:

  • You requested clarification, or more information, from the OP and it was provided.
  • You were able to edit the question for clarity (or maybe all that was needed was to fix some formatting).

Then the answer is likely good enough to merit an upvote, even if it wasn't when it was first posted.

For these reasons, it makes sense that you would upvote many or most questions that you answer. You should still be willing not to do so, of course. You should even be willing to downvote a question that you answer, but (except on meta, where votes have a broader range of meanings) that's a somewhat unusual situation.

As others have said, being able to answer a question doesn't mean the question deserves an upvote. So the system should definitely not automatically cause you to upvote. Furthermore, often a bad question receives multiple answers because what it is asking is unclear, or because previous answers didn't get it right because there wasn't enough information. So under some circumstances, automatic (or unthinking) upvoting of questions you answer can actually incentivize bad questions.

Finally, the most common reason for me not to upvote a question that I've answered--or not to upvote it immediately--is that I've already used all my votes for the day, and thus cannot do so. A related limitation applies to new users, who cannot cast votes at all, but can post answers. I thought the first question I ever answered deserved an upvote, but I was not able to cast one until I had gained the necessary reputation.


Every vote on posts has to be cast taking into the merit of the particular post. If the post is good, clear and useful, I'd upvote it. If it is useful, I would edit the post to make it good and useful, especially in the case of answers, and then possibly vote on it. If the post is not useful in the first place, I don't generally spend my time on it and move on to the next best thing.

Now, coming to your discussion, whether or not the question is answerable is an entirely different issue. If it is not answerable, I would just vote to close it as not a real question. It if is indeed answerable, I would try to improve it. Only if the post is worthy of an upvote would I spend my vote on it.

Answering a question doesn't and shouldn't warrant an upvote on the question. Please don't take that bit of freedom from me. For that sake, I am answering your question but wouldn't upvote it because, well, it doesn't deserve one.

But, putting in perspective, these are my opinion and I am in no way imposing them on you. If you think answering a question equals an upvote on it, go ahead. Just don't impose your opinion on me.


In the system as it stands, for a question to be upvoted, it should have all these three characteristics:

  1. Shows effort
  2. is useful
  3. is clear

I personally (don't shoot me) like the concise three characteristics of a good question. But showing effort is a relative thing and is judged differently by different voters. I feel the criteria are really usefulness and clarity. If it has either of them, it deserves an upvote.

  • The upvote for clarity is to reward the OP,
  • the upvote for usefulness is to build the community's knowledge base.
  • Could you clarify whether "it should have these three characteristics" is meant to be "it should have all these three characteristics"?
    – user25656
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 13:28
  • @vasa1 That is what I meant, see edit.
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 14:53
  • @vasa1 No, I don't think it's necessary for a question to have all these characteristics to deserve an upvote. There are a look people here who use English as a second language and it's hard for them to always make it clear, though they might have done a lot of research.
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 14:54
  • Yes, I don't think a question should not be voted up if it's clear there's a genuine language problem.
    – user25656
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 17:27
  • Yeah I agree. I feel this is kind of related. +1 to the question too
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 18:42

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