20

I just had a look around while waiting for some attention on my own question. As a heavy user on other SE sites I have this observation to make about the state of questions here: Nobody seems to be voting! You guys have a front page full of questions and more than half of them have 0 (zero) votes. Some of them even have hundreds of views and an answer or two, so I know people are around.

Voting, especially on questions, serves many purposes, all of them good for your community. No votes says that nobody cares one way or the other. Even downvotes help people understand the difference between a good question and a bad one. People who really want answers will look around for what gets votes and emulate that. Voting tells people there are other people interested in the topic or appreciate that you went to the effort to write a good question. It also tells potential answeres that people care and might be back to vote on their answers.

Voting is not a zero sum game. Its an economy that you can breathe life into just by clicking. If you read a question and consider it worth of being on the site: upvote. If not, downvote. If anybody should go to the trouble of answering it, upvote. If it's a waste of other people's time, downvote.

If you want to see this community prosper, the worst thing you can do is refrain entirely.

P.S. If you look at the front page today and don't see this affect, it might because I just sorted through the most recent hundred posts or so and used up my 40 vote quota to highlight the most useful, interesting or correct posts I saw. This doesn't excuse you from going out and doing the same. After you read a post, pick an arrow.

  • @Clive: I know. But where else am I going to rant? In comments on ever 0 vote post in sight? It took 13 views before 1 person even upvoted this. It took 30 views for my question on the main site to get its first upvote. Ironically two people STARRED it without upvoting. I'm not in this for the rep, but as a moderator on other sites I see how flowing rep is what provides a mechanism for keeping post quality up. If bad questions and good alike get no votes, all questions will start being bad. – Caleb Sep 1 '12 at 13:47
  • Sorry I removed that comment, I incorporated it into an answer instead. – Clive Sep 1 '12 at 13:52
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    @Caleb, there are probably five or six people who read Meta DA regularly. People vote on meta less than they do on the regular site, too. – mpdonadio Sep 1 '12 at 14:47
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    @Caleb The number of votes on questions/answers seems to have taken a dramatic upturn in the last week...kudos to you sir :) – Clive Sep 7 '12 at 15:50
13

Just to play devil's advocate here...

I spend a fair bit of time on other SE sites as well, so I'm used to the sort of standard of question that would normally attract a good amount of upvotes.

The problem is that the vast majority of questions asked on this site simply aren't well researched, well thought out, useful questions, and they just don't deserve an upvote.

I think encouraging people to vote anyway, or to lower the standards of voting on this site in relation to the rest of the SE network could be a dangerous precedent to set. It could feasibly skew the perception of question/answer quality on the site.

I whole-heartedly agree that encouraging more users to max out (or at least come close to) their daily vote limit every now and again is very important; but I don't know how you would do that.

Meta questions like yours are great and are welcomed with open arms, but the irony is that the people who see this post will most likely be those that use their votes liberally enough already.

I think the other side of the problem is that we get a lot of users that come along maybe once or twice every couple of months to ask/answer questions, and they're just not interested in getting into the spirit of the site. The relatively few of us that exercise quality control with editing, commenting, generally trying to improve posts do so willingly; but I for one am starting to feel like a bit of a nuisance in that respect.

I put myself in the position of new users coming to the site, and seeing everything vetted/edited/closed/answered by a small collection of users (mostly with high-ish rep). I can't help feeling that if it was me, I'd find it slightly intimidating to get involved. Since there's no real social aspect to SE sites (except chat, but barely anyone uses it), how will they know how to get involved? Again if it was me, I'd just leave it.

Wish I knew how to solve the problem.

Just my two cents.

  • 4
    I believe you're right about the low average post quality here. I maxed out 40 votes today as a test but had to dig a lot farther than I would have had to on most sites. A large portion of questions were poorly researched, gimethecodz, or had other issues. However this works both ways. If quality is such an issue and there is a flood of poorly thought out questions, they should be downvoted. I'm not advocating blind upvoting everything in sight. I'm saying that votes don't effectively vet the good from the bad if there isn't enough flow for there to be a differential. – Caleb Sep 1 '12 at 13:55
  • A bunch of zero vote questions filling the home page sets the stage for that being a norm. New users that come along willingly comply and throw up their own quickie question that they haven't red the docs on first. One doesn't want to pile on downvotes to every half-hearted question but if there are not upvotes flowing to anything that does show effort and might be useful, nobody will spot the difference. – Caleb Sep 1 '12 at 13:58
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    Everything you've said is absolutely spot on, I couldn't agree more. I just wish I knew what the answer was :) One of the mods has proposed some ideas in relation to the site's birthday celebration, but again I doubt very many people have actually seen that post. There seems to be a pretty pathetic total of 4 users who have participated in the discussion unfortunately, and 2 of those are already mods :/ Do you know of any tactics to get people more interested from your involvement in so many other SE sites? – Clive Sep 1 '12 at 14:17
  • @Caleb, many people don't have enough rep to burn for downvoting. Personally, I almost never down vote questions (unless on meta where a downvote means disagreement). I will also only really downvote answers when they are seriously wrong. – mpdonadio Sep 1 '12 at 14:48
  • @MPD: My point exactly. If rep was flowing a little freer people would have a few points to spare to downvote when necessary. Your reasons for not downvoting are fair enough but would be significantly less of an issue if there were more total votes being placed. – Caleb Sep 1 '12 at 14:53
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    @MPD Down-votes on questions are free. – kiamlaluno Sep 3 '12 at 2:48
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    @Caleb What do you propose doing for questions that have been up-voted the same number of times they have been down-voted? The score of that questions would still be 0, and your reputation doesn't allow you to see the number of votes. – kiamlaluno Sep 8 '12 at 3:14
  • @kiam “View Vote totals” without 1000 rep :) – Clive Sep 8 '12 at 3:26
  • @kiamlaluno I'm not sure why that matters. Votes should be cast with at least some independent thinking involved, not just as away to dog pile or show sympathy. Marginal stuff that collects votes both directions deserves to read zero. Only if such things were epidemic would it concern me. – Caleb Sep 8 '12 at 6:27
  • @Caleb The point is that you are talking of 0-score questions as "questions that have never been voted," while questions without votes are just a part of the 0-score questions. The fact votes are not casted for sympathy is exactly the reason you can have questions without votes. – kiamlaluno Sep 8 '12 at 14:10
  • @kiamlaluno: I realize they look the same, but I'm pretty sure the whole front page wasn't made up of +1/-1, +2/-2, etc questions. I'm pretty sure everybody was just being apathetic and not voting one way or the other. Feel free to prove me wrong, but in order for all your zero vote questions to be the result of equal votes, there has to be a lot of downvoting going on and I don't see the telltale signs of that. – Caleb Sep 8 '12 at 14:17
  • @Caleb Since you cannot see the number of votes, you cannot be sure. Also, the front page should not be used as evidence for anything because it just shows a very limited part of the full question list. It is enough the Community user bumps up-voted question without an accepted answer, and you would see less 0-scored questions; that would happen even if somebody edits a question, or one of its answers. – kiamlaluno Sep 8 '12 at 14:33
6

Well, things have been a little slow around here the last week or two. This is probably due to it being the end of summer (ie, vacations) and the fact that DrupalCon Munich ended a few days ago.

I vote a lot (I am probably close to 2x rep given out via voting to rep received), but I only read questions that either interest me or that I think I can give a decent answer to. Despite what my rep may be, I also have limited time on the site.

I will typically vote more on answers than questions; there are a lot of questions that get asked that don't show much research effort on the posters part. If I think the question is decent or it looks like the poster has put effort into solving the problem themselves, I will upvote.

Answers, though, are trickier. The main problem is that we shouldn't be upvoting answers unless we know (or are reasonably sure) they are correct. I spend nearly all of my day job working with Drupal, but there are lots of questions here I don't know the answer to off the top of my head.

In general, though, I mostly agree with you that there isn't enough voting around here.

  • I will +1 this when I get my next vote allowance for the pure irony of answering my question without upvoting it :) I realize there are lots of reasons to not vote, but the benefits they provide (sorting good from bad answers, encouraging quality content etc) are more pronounced and errors mitigated when more people are voting. Even if they make a few mistakes and upvote something that wasn't the right answer, this will be taken care of in an economy where votes are flowing. Where there is no flow, even the smallest issues throw it all out of whack. – Caleb Sep 1 '12 at 13:11
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    To be honest, given that voting on meta for questions like this usually means agree/disagree instead of good/bad, I wasn't sure if I agreed 100% with your assessment that seems to imply that we should be upvoting things that may not be upvote worthy. – mpdonadio Sep 1 '12 at 15:49
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Objection: But somebody else already gave that post one upvote. Isn't that enough?

Answer: No. You can start passing over things when you are coming close to your maximum 40 votes per day, then start using your votes more selectively to highlight the best content you see and demote the worst.

4

I wish I could comment on some of these answers, but I'm new and ironically that means I can't provide a point of view in direct response to seasoned drupal.se users.

I've just started using this site and I probably represent what has been referred to as a low-quality post. :) I don't doubt that my contribution could improve as I get more seasoned with Drupal. But there's your problem: Drupal is fraught with chicken <-> egg scenarios for newbies. It makes getting a firm grounding in best practices an exceptionally difficult task compared to less malleable development frameworks.

Basically, you're going to get really RTFM/open-ended questions because Drupal is prone to confusing starting conditions. If you set your standard for post quality too high, then someone like me never gets a chance to grow into a role within the drupal.se community. It will simply remain a case where experts will look at me like I'm an idiot and I will wonder why no one pays me attention.

TL;DR:

  • I'm not excusing poor posts, but try to give the benefit of the doubt for what seems like a poor question to you.
  • it takes a while for the penny to drop on "the Drupal way" and until then even a seasoned developer will remain mystified by conventions that you take for granted.
  • if you don't throw new users a bone and upvotes rudimentary questions, then the community model will remain extremely stratified (experts and newbs) and you'll lose potential contributors like me.
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    The thing is that there are a lot of newbie questions that show very little effort on the asker's part and look like DA was the first place the person looked. I have no problem upvoting a newbie question if the problem isn't in the first few Google results (using the terminology from the question) or if the question shows some effort to solve already (eg, "I read this, but I don't understand..." or "I tried doing this, but can't seem to figure out what is wrong.") – mpdonadio Sep 13 '12 at 17:33
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    Fair enough, but again, I'd give the benefit of the doubt. I've worked on a lot of projects and wrapping my mind around Drupal often leaves me unsure about the documentation or even the intended goal of the developers. It's the downside of the "there's a module for that" mentality. I can try for example to understand Panels, but I really need to figure out Views and Page Manager at the same time to get the full picture. The documentation isn't great at this high-level stuff. Hence, I'll probably ask a high-level question here, because few bootstrapping guides are available outside of books. – Warpstone Sep 13 '12 at 19:14
0

There are two considerations to make, before to answer:

  • The front page shows just a minimal part of the questions actually asked, and the list of questions shown in the front page can rapidly change because somebody asked a question in the past 10 minutes, or because the Community user pumped an old answer without accepted or up-voted answers. if the question has been asked 10 minutes before you watch the front page, and that is the moment the activity on the site is lower, I would not expect the question to get much up-votes.
  • With your actual reputation, you only see the score of a question, not the number of up-votes/down-votes. When you see a question with a score equal to zero, it simply means the number of up-votes is equal to the number of down-votes. That happens when the question has been voted, and when it has not been voted. The score cannot be used as evidence that nobody voted a question.

To check the number of questions with votes, I created a query that counts the number of questions, the number of up-votes/down-votes, and the number of questions without any up-vote/down-vote. The result I get is the following one:

  • Questions: 14471
  • Questions without votes: 6316
  • Votes: 16893

Keep in mind that data used from the Data Explorer are old; as far as I can see, the Data Explorer contains data that have been updated about three months ago.

In average, all the questions get at least a vote, and 2422 questions got 2 votes. While less than half of all the questions has not been voted, that is not exactly what I would call "nobody is voting questions."

The fact there are questions without votes could mean those questions didn't deserve any up-vote, but also didn't deserve any down-vote because they were not egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended posts. It could be the questions are too specific to interest other users, without for that being too localized.

The privilege page says:

The up vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

Instead of voting down:

  • If the post is spammy or offensive, flag it.
  • If the question is duplicate or off-topic, flag it for moderator attention.
  • If something is wrong, please leave a comment or edit the post to correct it.

The alternatives given to the users are not just up-voting, or down-voting; they could do something else that doesn't require voting at all. The fact there are questions without votes doesn't mean anything wrong.

IMO, it is more important to vote on answers, as answers (in most of the cases) require more effort than to write a question.

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    Thanks for the query, that's quite useful. However I would say they go to show that I was onto something, and yes actually that is what I would call "nobody is voting on questions". 43% of questions have no votes! Compare with 9% on programmers or 13% for Physics. This site has an average of 1.2 votes-per-question; Programmers 8.4, English 4.6 and Physics 3.75. All I'm trying to say is that we are behind the curve -- a very slow economy. I realize not all questions deserve votes, but the more total votes that flow the more power you have to show people what makes good vs. bad questions. – Caleb Sep 13 '12 at 19:55
  • The number of questions without votes is just a measure of how the votes are distributed. If more than 50% of the questions had no vote, and the rest of the questions had 10 votes, I would not say "nobody is voting on questions." Then, questions don't necessarily need a vote; if a question is not too bad to be down-voted, but it is not so good to be up-voted, I would probably not vote it. – kiamlaluno Sep 17 '12 at 17:30

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