15

So, over the past 6 months, our daily questions have remained fairly stable, and our overall traffic is up, but the number of votes cast has been slowly declining. This graph illustrates the problem:

Votes per post

I think this is an important problem to solve, because lack of up-votes (and accepted answers) means people are less likely to contribute answers (for whatever value reputation points have, they are the only "thanks" we can provide here, and without even a thank-you, solving other people's problems isn't much fun). Every user has a daily limit of 40 votes, but at the moment we are barely reaching that as an entire site.

So - what are your thoughts? How can we encourage an up-vote culture? Ideally everyone would up-vote every question and answer they think is well-written and helpful, even if it didn't specifically apply to them. At the very least, up-voting posts you find helpful would be a great start.

  • 1
    I liked the graph! :( – auntialias Aug 6 '13 at 23:15
  • I added a graph that combines up- and down-votes and divides by the number of posts created in the same month to normalize them a bit. – Shog9 Aug 7 '13 at 1:03
  • @Shog9 Nice. I hadn't seen that graph, but it's even better. Can we access that or is it in some sort of super-moderator tools? :) – Adrian Macneil Aug 7 '13 at 1:19
  • I made it up just for this post, @Adrian. Merry Christmas! – Shog9 Aug 7 '13 at 1:20
  • Hah, nice job. Thanks for the input! – Adrian Macneil Aug 7 '13 at 1:22
  • Can you, please, add the number of new users? – Robson Sobral Aug 8 '13 at 0:01
  • Are 'don't forget to vote' call-outs possible on the right column of the layout? – Romans-8---31-39 Aug 8 '13 at 20:21
  • Well, this post is now a "community bulletin". But we don't have much more control over what appears in the right sidebar. – Adrian Macneil Aug 8 '13 at 20:22
  • I'm curious...has this metric improved at all? – Alex Kendrick Nov 21 '13 at 20:26
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    Yeah.. I can't regenerate the above graph since it was made especially by the SE team, but looking at our data it does look like voting has improved slightly (back around february/march levels). – Adrian Macneil Nov 22 '13 at 22:37
11

It's probably a matter of educating folks who are using the site. They may not know the option exists or understand what it does. Since there aren't tools for us to push messages to users, we're limited to promoting the option on Twitter and Google+ it seems.

  • 1
    Twitter comments have been good for me; they are the main nudge to get me to visit and/or participate when I'm not already here looking for answers. – auntialias Aug 6 '13 at 23:20
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    I know that it took me a while to understand how the Stack Exchange vote and approval system worked. For example I didn't know about flagging the "Accepted" answer, until someone here told me (I know I should have really read the guidelines, but let's be honest, who does that ;) ). – Adam Christianson Aug 7 '13 at 17:41
  • 3
    You can also use comments if you are so inclined. You could also make this question featured to raise awareness on the Community Bulletin on the main site. – Jon Ericson Aug 7 '13 at 23:30
  • @Adam, What DOES flagging an accepted answer do? – auntialias Aug 9 '13 at 15:46
  • Well, I re-looked at what’s part of flagging -- expressionengine.stackexchange.com/help/search?q=Flag -- either calls for moderator to take action, or marking something as spam. Which is why I haven't been clicking the flag link, because I haven't encountered posts/comments needing that kind of attention. – auntialias Aug 9 '13 at 15:56
  • Flagging something is for getting the moderator's attention. I believe @AdamChristianson means just Accepting the correct answer to your question... – Anna_MediaGirl Aug 9 '13 at 17:19
7

This post, for one, is helpful. I went and used all my allotment of upvotes today. I earned two badges in the process: Suffrage (0 votes), Vox Populi (all 40 votes cast)

It took a while, but it did clue me in on some helpful things.

Semi Stale 0 Questions. Look at some semi-stale questions (over a week old, or on page 2 of the questions list) for some 0-voted questions. Read. If it was asked well, if the person provided details, upvote. Note: I didn't upvote popular questions.

View Tags for my currently-working-on areas. Search for tags for areas I'm working on right now. Review all 0-vote questions. Upvote.

Answers to the above: Reading answers to the above. I upvoted answers, [edit] even if they were not marked correct as long as they were good, specific and thoughtful contributions. [EDIT Note: I was asked about this in the comments. Sometimes there's more than 1 way to solve an issue, or the issue is still in process, but good dialog is happening. That's the kinda answer that gets my vote.]


I just happened to notice, on the Badges Earned page of the site, that Badges I just earned today are at the bottom of count of total Badges Earned.

I certainly became a bit more aware of good Q and good A in the course of my under-an-hour-long foray earning my badges. I predict that may change my behavior the next time I return to look for answers to some Q I have. As in browse, click, read. yep, good question, upvote. Good answer, upvote. Repeat.

So maybe what we need to do is some variation of this:

  • Earn your Suffrage Badge!
  • Earn your Vox Populi Badge!
  • Help the EESE site get over 100 Suffrage Badges by August 31!
  • Help the EESE site get over 100 Vox Populi Badges by August 31!

Emphasize the group total, and as people help the site get that many badges, you'll have sent that many more people through the process of thinking about quality Qs and As as they upvote.

Heh. And being a member of the most exclusive club of Earned Badges gives one certain bragging rights. Gauntlet Thrown.

  • Please don't up-vote answers if they're actually incorrect - it's dispiriting to folks working on correct answers, and misleading to future readers! Once you gain the ability to down-vote, you'll be able to vote on incorrect answers in a helpful fashion... – Shog9 Aug 7 '13 at 1:02
  • I see what you're saying, Shog9, and perhaps I should clarify. If I know an answer is incorrect, I will not vote it up. If I am not sure of the answer, but judge the effort to be helpful, or see that the answerer is working with questioner to arrive at a solution, I will vote up. (Too, there are are multiple solutions to a question, sometimes.) – auntialias Aug 7 '13 at 1:04
  • Cool. Great work then, and congrats on the badges! – Shog9 Aug 7 '13 at 1:04
5

I could be better at voting for correct answers. My (bad) tendency is to see if the answer has been provided, then, if so, move on without voting, even if that answer has never been selected or upvoted. I get frustrated at new users who don't mark the correct answer, but I should do my part too.

So, those of us who know the site should vote for answers provided AND encourage via comments the new users to mark an answer as correct. Everyone needs to chime in, not just a few moderators.

4

One aspect that I think is worth pointing out is it would be nice if the Stack Exchange platform provided more "guides" (i.e. helpful prompts/popups) to help new users learn how to use the site. An example of this would be a dismissible alert showing a new user how to accept an answer, when they first return to a question they have asked previously. Just linking to the FAQ is not enough, as has been mentioned previously, most people don't take the time to read through this.

I think these probably have less value (though would still be useful) on sites like Stack Overflow, where there are already many users who know the system and who help newer users (and this is probably why it hasn't been implemented yet). But on entirely new sites like ours, the majority of users don't know how to use the system effectively, so there is an absence of peer-encouragement. In this case, the platform itself could step up and encourage the right behavior.

Anyway, I know changes to the SE platform are more of a wish list, and we should probably find solutions to our voting problem which don't require changing the platform. But I just figured it was worth putting out there.

3

It would probably only result in short-term gains, but maybe we can get a post up on EE Insider about the importance of upvotes, since a good portion of the community follows it.

Another suggestion might be for answer-ers (or moderators) to add a "Be sure to upvote if you found this answer helpful" at the end of their posts, possibly with a link to the SE explanation of how upvoting works. Kind of clunky, but hey.

Another thing I don't think many people know to do is to upvote questions and answers that aren't their own - ones they find as a result of Google searching a problem, for example. So if you search for a problem, find an answer on StackEx, you should upvote the question and the answer.

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