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Let me preface this with a run-down of the reputation system:

Users on the site can cast up- and downvotes and accept answers on their questions, each giving or taking reputation to or from other users and themselves. An upvote on an answer gives the answerer +10 reputation, an upvote on a question gives the asker +5 reputation, while downvotes always yield -2 reputation for the poster and, on answers, -1 reputation to the downvoter. Accepting an answer also gives the asker +2 reputation and the answerer +15 reputation. On top of that, there are bounties, which transfer reputation directly from one user to another, with no net gain or loss (that is, if the bounty is successfully awarded; otherwise, the bounty is lost at least partially).

Reputation, then, is used to unlock privileges. Some if not most of these privileges are vital to "community moderation", that is the community (a set of at least 2 users, usually 3 to 5 even) can actually use this privileges to moderate the site on their own, without the need for designated moderators. They can approve and reject edit suggestions, vote to close, reopen, even delete posts, and act on certain flag types at certain reputation thresholds - this helps keep the site clean and organized. A full overview of privileges and how they work in detail can be found in the /help-center in the /help-center/privileges section. This system allows the site to be run by community consensus instead of a restriction to a small amount of moderators. Moderators, on the other hand, can do all of this and more without the need for reputation or other users to make the same decision. While this is sometimes necessary, it should not be the main route for site moderation.

While low-reputation users can cast flags and bring posts to the attention of those that can act on them, it's down to those users with higher reputation to make the decisions.

This brings me right to the problem:

Low Voter Count

As I detailed above, reputation is crucial for any Stack Exchange site, including Ask Ubuntu. A healthy site generates a reasonable amount of reputation for its users, giving users the privileges they need in order to participate directly in community moderation. Ask Ubuntu, however, currently has a very low votecount, which results in a low amount of generated reputation in relation to the amount of users and posts the site has. Not only is this psychologically a burden for any expert (there is little material gain from helping people here), but it also actively hurts site moderation.

Users that wish to help with site moderation are forever stuck with low reputation, while those that do have the reputation are facing a near-unsurmountable mass of actions to be taken. Reviewing and the actions associated with it are limited per day - and depend on the high-reputation users' willingness to act in the first place, while the mass of low-reputation users can flag far more posts than can be handled effectively.

This is an issue that no amount of moderators can fix. If people don't vote enough, help gets no return and the site easily becomes cluttered - these factors drive experts away and leave even more unanswered questions. This is also an issue that no single user can fix. While everyone is encouraged to cast their up- and downvotes until they hit the vote cap, there is little motivation to do so when the effects thereof are so miniscule.

With that said, this is essentially a plea for more voting activity: Everyone should vote more frequently.

  • 4
    Too true. I myself have a couple of answer for which users has commented (in the answer or in a comment linking to it) that it solved the problem, and still have 0 votes. I do not know what we can do for this --- is a matter of user education (and respect), and I fear that the average here of these two things is not exactly high. Sigh. – Rmano Feb 13 '14 at 3:06
  • 2
    @Rmano Wrt to issues of respect, on Ask Ubuntu I often notice downvotes with no associated comments or explanations. Sigh. – landroni Feb 13 '14 at 17:05
  • I'm actually not voting much on questions I mainly stay in the review queue and the chat. Not because I don't like voting, I just want to vote at good answers and they aren't that easy to find now days... – Alvar Feb 13 '14 at 21:25
  • 1
    That's actually true. The (not easy but) most common questions have already answered here and the answerer(s) have gained a massive amount of reputation because of them. (still gaining even today). I don't know how the problem you mentioned can be solved, but it's difficult for a new user to gain lot of rep, because of the preceding reason. – NickTux Feb 13 '14 at 21:42
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    Something I've thought... Wouldn't it at least make sense to have "accept answer" automatically upvote as well? (This could be retractable of course). I'd have thought that if an asker wants to accept it, an upvote would make sense. Wouldn't do much but it'd be a step towards. Beyond that, though, there's not really much more that can be done beyond informing people that upvotes help their recipients - especially in a community where so many questions are asked by beginner users who can't upvote anyway. – Jez W Feb 14 '14 at 14:13
  • At GIS.SE I have 13 answers and 300 points. Here I have over 80 answers but only 1100 points (of which a good part is from tidying up activities). There is definitely something different about AskUbuntu, perhaps a larger number of newbies, or folk that do not speak English that well. – Luís de Sousa Feb 15 '14 at 19:16
  • @FEichinger: Meta on meta, this post currently has ~190 views and <40 votes on Q+A. I don't know how to interpret your imgur link, but how does 0.2 votes/view compare with your ideal? – jtd Feb 19 '14 at 21:57
  • @jtd The graphs do not take views into account. That is just votes per post. – user98085 Feb 19 '14 at 23:11

10 Answers 10

11

Here are the principles I use for myself:

  1. Be generous in your votes. If you doubt about an upvote, give it an upvote. This is a matter of attitude. Of love for others and their work. Also you will be rewarded for votes at some point.
  2. In case of a downvote, make sure you stipulate why you downvote (unless it is very obvious).
  3. Try to vote on every page you open (but note this is not only up- or downvoting).
  4. Only abstain from voting when you are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the subject or when you vote to close.
  5. Do not automatically upvote answers of high rep users and answers with lots of votes. Check out whether there is not another answer worthy of a vote.
  6. Upvote everything you edit. If you edited and you did a good job, it should be worthy of an upvote (unless it should be closed).
  7. Where needed leave a comment to the author to say what s/he could add or change in order to earn your upvote (for instance, 'This would be clearer with an example', or 'Could you mention your source').

More general ideas

I think we need to vote a lot more in general

The only reason I see to not vote on an answer or question is when I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to know whether it is a good post or when I don't really want to take the time to really read the post.

Voting really should be discussed as a general thing

It is not just upvoting or downvoting, it also includes voting to close. Often the choice is between an upvote, downvote, closevote or abstaining from voting. If I say 'try to vote on every page', this includes close voting where necessary.

Voting is not a way of expressing agreement or disagreement

It does work like that in Meta (so if in meta you are downvoted, don't worry), but on the main site voting is an evaluation of the quality of a post. A post that suggests the use of wine is not typically something I am going to like, but I might upvote it if it's correct. An upvote is not a facebook 'like'.

Feel free to let me know why you (dis)agree and, :) feel free to upvote. :D

  • 1
    I still upvote some questions that should be closed. Some questions are really well written, although perhaps a duplicate or maybe a Mint question and thus off-topic. These are very good rules in general though! – Seth Feb 19 '14 at 6:08
  • Plus 1 for points 4 and 5. Good points. – sayantankhan Feb 19 '14 at 7:35
2

How about if we give the new users some initiative to vote up an answer. Like giving them 5 reputation points on every answer they vote up. After, say about 100 points gained this way, this stops, but by then the user probably will have enough initiative to vote up a good answer even without an incentive.

  • 4
    Well, 5 may be generous, but 2 or 3 could be useful (up to a predefined cap). – landroni Feb 13 '14 at 17:07
  • And don't let them post if they have not gained the "informed" badge, plus made at least five searches, plus have at least upvoted a couple of questions found and a couple of answers. Ok, partly joking, but only partly. I mean, we have to find a way of forcing intelligent lurking before posting. – Rmano Feb 13 '14 at 17:12
  • @Rmano an interesting idea, but "votes before posting" wouldn't work. If only because you need to already have 15 rep before you can vote. And to the suggestion in the answer... I don't know how valuable this would be. You could end up with rep inflation, a glut of users who may have just been upvoted for upvoting's sake. AU is the only SE site I've been active on, so I don't know, but is there a precedent for this on any other SE sites? – Jez W Feb 14 '14 at 12:24
  • @JezW From what I understand, there are 2 types of people who don't upvote answers: new users who don't understand the the vote system and lazy users for can't be bothered to upvote. My suggestion is aimed towards the second category. As for rep inflation, that's what the upper cap is for. Would a person really just upvote a bunch of answers for 100 (maybe keep it 50) rep points? Most of them won't. And as landroni suggests, maybe keeping the individual incentive lower might be even more beneficial. It'll probably server to deter the rep seeking trolls. – sayantankhan Feb 14 '14 at 14:27
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    @Bolt64 you look like this guy :) what if the users are greedy? what if they stopped up voting once they reached 100 coz there's nothing in it for them? what if they upvoted any answer no matter how useless it is just to get rep? – Lynob Feb 16 '14 at 1:21
  • @Fischer Nice find! :p As for the greedy users, I know that's a problem, and I really can't think of any way around this problem. I can't think of any other way to effectively increase the upvote count for questions though. :( – sayantankhan Feb 16 '14 at 7:19
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    Naaa this will result in badge voting without reading... – don.joey Feb 18 '14 at 21:03
  • This is a terrible idea. People will start upvoting just for the reputation. It's bad enough that people try to make useless edits to get 2 rep, imagine what it will be like if voting gave rep! You'll have lots of people with lots of rep just because they ran around upvoting random things. Not a good idea. – Seth Feb 20 '14 at 1:22
  • Cleaning and voting should be done because it is part of the site, not because it gives them more "internet points". – Seth Feb 20 '14 at 1:35
  • @Seth In principle that is correct. But most people don't just do something that is right just for the sake of doing right. They expect something in return as well. And if getting a few "internet points" gives them a good feeling, soon they'll associate that good feeling with upvoting a good answer. As for "lots of people with lots of rep just because they ran around upvoting random things", that's what the upper limit is for. It's not so large as to cause a massive inflation. – sayantankhan Feb 20 '14 at 5:16
  • Can I down-vote for pinching/sharing my profile pic? :D It was a fairly bad one anyway... The wonders of getting images off of the internet – Wilf Feb 20 '14 at 16:12
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    @Wilf I hope you have nothing to complain about now. :p – sayantankhan Feb 21 '14 at 4:19
0

First It is not only on ask ubuntu but I have reviewed this on (by example) Stack Overflow... Everytime I see a question I can answer I pass some time to answer... To create a good answer. Most of the time I helped the person that has asked the question (I mean at least a little) and I get NOTHING ! Not a point... I didn't say lots of point... 1 point ! I agree with Rmano : "is a matter of user education (and respect)"... If it is like this I don't see any motivation in the future to answer the questions... To pass time for nothing !

  • 6
    I realize you can't vote on posts on Stack Overflow yet, but you haven't cast a single vote here (on Ask Ubuntu). How do you expect people to vote for you when you don't vote at all? – Seth Feb 13 '14 at 5:29
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    What you have just written is true... This morning for the first time I have seen that I was able to vote and before your remark I gave a point to the participants of this question... To be honnest I even didn't know it was possible with only now 81 points... Thank you so much for the reward... – Rudy Vissers Feb 13 '14 at 9:52
  • You are right in quoting Rmano "it is a matter of respect." – don.joey Feb 18 '14 at 21:04
0

I would suggest automatic e-mail notifications to users that:

  1. have less than 100 reputation points;
  2. have a question with answers not accepted for over, say, a week.
  • 1
    Some might consider that emails like those spam. – sayantankhan Feb 21 '14 at 4:18
0

How to Increase Voting Behavior and/or Reduce Moderator Burden

I do not believe that anyone has the power to change others' behaviors by pleading with them or modelling their own virtuous internal processes, therefore I propose a systemic solution to "Low Voter Count" and "Moderators' Burden is Too High" that changes incentive structures on AU.

Problem: Unknown; Symptom: Moderators' Burden is Too High Because Too Many Points Needed to Perform Community Activities

"Users that wish to help with site moderation are forever stuck with low reputation, while those that do have the reputation are facing a near-unsurmountable mass of actions to be taken."

Solutions: Change "Real" Value of Points

  • Reduce the points needed to perform moderation, organizing, and editing duties.
  • Increase the points value of certain activities to accelerate users to moderators more quickly.
  • Generate a dual-currency structure where users who have cast a certain number of votes also gain certain privileges even if they have not otherwise reached the "Reputation Points threshhold"

NB: Splitting up my answers for easier line-item voting rather than omnibus package voting.

0

How to Increase Voting Behavior and/or Reduce Moderator Burden

I do not believe that anyone has the power to change others' behaviors by pleading with them or modelling their own virtuous internal processes, therefore I propose a systemic solution to "Low Voter Count" and "Moderators' Burden is Too High" that changes incentive structures on AU.

Problem: Income Effects Mean Fewer Votes for Many-Vote Answers (or Vice-Versa)

This would require some data analysis, but is it possible that the number of new votes cast diminish the more a question or answer has already received previous votes? Adding a 5th vote makes that question or answer look 25% better, adding a 101st vote makes it look 1% better.

Solution: Make the Points System a Bit More Complex

Adjust the formula for reputation points to create a flat-reputation curve as votes increase.

  • E.g., Reputation points (receive votes) = Current amount * (1+(votes already received/50)
    • 50 could also be substituted by "median votes received" after trimming 0s, etc.

NB: Splitting up my answers for easier line-item voting rather than omnibus package voting.

-1

I mentioned before that we should be able to UpVote a question and the accepted answer when closing another question as a duplicate of it. My request was more or less directly because of this problem you mention.

I used to manually open questions when duplicating and vote it up, but it was an extra effort. Unfortunately most of the time a question is used to dupe another, the user does not upvote (and the person who's question is duped doesn't either).

So you can have a question being used to dupe a bunch of other questions and the accepted answer has 1 (or zero) upvotes. If the system awarded some rep whenever your question/answer was used as a dupe, this would go at least some way to helping this.

-1

How to Increase Voting Behavior and/or Reduce Moderator Burden

I do not believe that anyone has the power to change others' behaviors by pleading with them or modelling their own virtuous internal processes, therefore I propose a systemic solution to "Low Voter Count" and "Moderators' Burden is Too High" that changes incentive structures on AU.

Problem: Askers just want their Answers

Maybe Askers cruise the AU site for an answer and don't want to pay a tax to explicitly inform the AU community that an answer was helpful?

Solution: Encourage Votes

Potentially ask users, "Did you find any of these answers helpful?"

  • Use pop-up or other method to ask and then list the answers they've been viewing with checkboxes to tick.

It's possible users like an answer that has helped them even though it had gaps or was confusing in parts and are conflicted as to whether it merits an upvote or requires an edit or both.

  • Explicitly clarify to novice users what an upvote or downvote conceptually represents and how it is supposed to help the AU community and remind them every 10 pages they visit if voting behavior is low
  • Let users without enough points flag "Almost" answers that need improvement, reward 1/2 point
  • Let users without enough points (even non-logged in) to suggest a flagged edit that receives slightly more scrutiny than edits from users with enough points. If this edit accepted, the user and the Answerer both get 2 points.

NB: Splitting up my answers for easier line-item voting rather than omnibus package voting.

-1

How to Increase Voting Behavior and/or Reduce Moderator Burden

I do not believe that anyone has the power to change others' behaviors by pleading with them or modelling their own virtuous internal processes, therefore I propose a systemic solution to "Low Voter Count" and "Moderators' Burden is Too High" that changes incentive structures on AU.

Problem: Askers just want their Answers 2

Maybe Askers cruise the AU site for an answer and don't want to pay a tax to explicitly inform the AU community that an answer was helpful?

Solution: Use Behavior other than Voting to Award Reputation Points

Potentially use site behavior (aside from explicit voting) that correlates with success to add/subtract reputation points.

  • E.g., User scrolls to answer 2 and spends five minutes there = +1 point

NB: Splitting up my answers for easier line-item voting rather than omnibus package voting.

-2

How to Increase Voting Behavior and/or Reduce Moderator Burden

I do not believe that anyone has the power to change others' behaviors by pleading with them or modelling their own virtuous internal processes, therefore I propose a systemic solution to "Low Voter Count" and "Moderators' Burden is Too High" that changes incentive structures on AU.

Problem: Unknown; Symptom: Moderators' Burden is Too High Because Too Many Points Needed to Perform Community Activities 2

"Users that wish to help with site moderation are forever stuck with low reputation, while those that do have the reputation are facing a near-unsurmountable mass of actions to be taken."

Solutions: Award Reputation Points for Voting and Other Community Behaviors

  • Offer points for casting votes
    • Stop penalizing down-votes as if they are different from 'casting a vote'
  • Offer points to novice moderators for doing important stuff like organizing, tagging, editing, finding dupes, formatting pages for uniformity and legibility, linking to other AU pages, suggesting "Users who looked at this page might also like..", etc.

NB: Splitting up my answers for easier line-item voting rather than omnibus package voting.

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