Lately I've noticed - we have a steadily growing population of users, but voting trends appear down. How can help educate users of their right - and inherent duty - to vote? How can we help promote the idea of voting in general?
A couple of observations about voting on this site from my experience.
I find that (at least personally) when there is a question about an application or OS function which I've rarely or never used it is quite difficult to know if the answer is correct. In such situations I usually don't cast any votes even when the answer is clearly well written because I don't have time to check the validity of the information.
Also, generally speaking, I don't think that voting rates are really that bad on this site, especially when compared to the Stack Overflow original trilogy.
As an ~11k contributor to SO, I have found the low voting rates on AU to be a tad discouraging. I've been around long enough to not wrap my ego around a reputation number, but either I'm far, far worse at answering questions here (unlikely) or it isn't as much of a community norm as on SO. I expect that norm probably took some time to establish on SO, also.
Indeed there are times when I've sat down to an AU session and simply upvoted decent questions and answers. Often I'll add a comment as to why I felt the post warranted an upvote.
Sure, reputation points here seem much harder won than at SO but I don't think that necessarily good. Like every contributor, it is nice to know that my efforts were useful, and my raw score isn't particularly important to me. However, I do miss the editing privileges that I have on SO and feel that my desire to improve the quality of material on AU is correspondingly hampered.
As a noob to Linux, this site and community computing in general, I came here looking for answers. I didn't realize/understand that there was this whole process of acknowledgement of people's participation in the site until I was able to answer a simple question myself. All of a sudden I had a number next to my name and a badge.
It wasn't until this point that I began to understand the nature of this site. I still am guilty of not taking the time to vote up those questions I think are helpful to Ubuntu users at large.
It might be helpful to have the idea of voting (more than just the link) right on the top of each page when going to read a question. Also, without throwing too much info at the newcomer to the homepage it might be good to enhance the idea of voting. When looking for an answer I am more likely to follow THAT link than I am to think about participating in the life of the site by voting for something. Especially if I haven't registered yet.
I don't see the necessity of persuading or inducing users to vote more. While votes are obviously necessary, I suspect that a mechanism that increased the quantity of votes might have an adverse effect on the quality of votes. Do we want users voting just to vote? Some users are more qualified than others to evaluate the usefulness of a question or answer.