Hey folks. This is my first post in the forum so I hope my late start doesn’t give me a false start… This is a proposal which extends this existing discussion about voting but I have so much to say that I decided to make it stand alone.
So, this is relevant only with the assumption that quality voting is going to be a thing in the new site. Which I do believe is the common consensus.
Let me address up/downvoting on “that other site”; I fully support its existence yet I find it too restrictive for its own good. You can either vote up, vote down or not vote at all. We’re all still human and as humans we have needs to express ourselves in a manner that has the appropriate amount of tact and nuance. You might argue “You can comment!”… but we also know that this can be like tip-toeing through a minefield. Especially if downvotes have already landed.
Downvotes are an issue, they have a bit of a false reputation problem (that’s kind of punny, isn’t it). I personally think people hammer too much on downvotes when they are talking about something being bad. Just look at the daily meta posts which take the form of “Why was this downvoted!?”. No no I then think. Why was it not upvoted?
A lack of upvotes to me weighs in just as much as the existence of downvotes. People are not moved to upvote it, why not? And that is where my story begins, because how exactly do you demonstrate factually that besides people downvoting there are also people which are actively choosing to not vote? They could have been potential upvoters that make sunshine and unicorns appear, but they were held back by something. We can do that by giving them the option to record their decision.
For this I draw inspiration from a Dutch technology website that I frequent called tweakers.net. This is not based on the Q&A section of the site, but just posts on news items. On that site, reply post quality voting is done with a range of options. Now this range of options works because on that site post scores are not summed, they are averaged and can range from -2 to +3. The voting range goes as follows.
- -2 = offensive / needs to be removed sooner rather than later. An option only available to people with elevated site privileges, if it is applied the post becomes invisible by default.
- -1 = unwanted
- +0 = off-topic or chatty, but otherwise not harmful
- +1 = on-topic / good
- +2 = expert information
- +3 = spotlight
I took a little poetic liberty there with the translations.
I am not suggesting that we adopt this range as-is because that doesn’t really work for a Q&A site, at least not in a way that I can think of. You’d also have to switch to the averaged post score system I think and that will have ripple effects on other important site features. However I am really fond of having the ability to explicitly do what I will refer to as a no-vote, with which you can basically say that it’s not good enough to upvote, not bad enough to downvote but there is a good possibility the scale tips towards upvote territory if just a little more effort is invested.
That’s what I really miss on SO, tangible evidence that people chose to not vote, likely because they thought “meh”. I think “meh” a lot when perusing questions and answers. I would be more inclined to post a comment with some tips if the no-vote is a thing. I’d even be okay with the vote not being anonymous as then people can really see where my comment is coming from.
So a post score breakdown would be like this, translated into neutral wording:
- x people voted that this content is of good quality
- x people voted that this content is incomplete or not entirely correct
- x people voted that this content is not of good quality or largely incorrect
Something like that, the exact wording should be decided with scrutiny. But I hope you can agree that having that extra layer in the voting breakdown can really make a difference in how you read it as a whole, especially when you’re the author of the content. It adds a lot to the neutrality of the voting process.
I also don’t like the harsh time limit on SE where you cannot change your vote anymore, until the content is edited. I am in favour of there being a grace period to prevent fraudulent behaviour long after the fact, but I’d like to see that time limit set to at least 24 hours especially if the no-vote option is considered to be a good idea. The site needs to take into account that people go to the toilet, go out for a smoke, take a shower and/or go to bed and change their mind in any of those places.