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Voting is important, right? And yet less than 400 people have earned the civic duty badge. Out of how many thousand? Uncool!

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    b-b-ut you do not have it ! – HackToHell Sep 17 '12 at 8:45
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    There are nagging popups trying to get people to vote, but I doubt they really achieve much. Also I don't think badges are too rewarding either. Good question, hard problem to solve. – slhck Sep 17 '12 at 9:07
  • @HackToHell visited 26 days, 16 consecutive – Isaac Rabinovitch Sep 17 '12 at 10:28
  • Suffrage is at 469 and then there is Vox Populi at 148. – Carl B Sep 18 '12 at 4:27
  • @CarlB: Those two are rather irrelevant in my opinion. I have Civic Duty on SU and even Electorate on MSO, but I failed to achieve Vox Populi on either. – Dennis Sep 18 '12 at 15:41
  • @Dennis: It was just a note of active voters for those badges. 30 in one day for the Suffrage and 40 in one day for Vox Populi. So 148 of the xx# of active members who can/could vote utilized the max day vote. – Carl B Sep 19 '12 at 13:56
  • Civic duty is now at 183. i got my silver – Carl B Sep 20 '12 at 0:48
  • @Isaac You have been a member for 2 1/2 years and cast 100 votes (IMHO that is low even when being inactive). So what is your reasoning Isaac? (HackToHell, thanks for pointing this out) – Lorenz Lo Sauer Sep 26 '12 at 7:58
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If you don't want your government to be run by people you hate, go vote.

If you don't want that only 1% of all members get to decide who looks credible and who doesn't, go vote.

But it's not that simple with Stack Exchange, is it? We need voting to make people see what is quality content and what isn't. So if people don't vote, contributions become less useful because they aren't peer-reviewed.

But I refuse to handle this as a problem because there is no real solution to it and it isn't really a problem either.

We still get a good amount of voting, even though I see much higher voting participation on beta sites. And I think therein also lies the answer to the problem. Beta sites have a strong community. They want to built up their site and they're gonna put in as much work as is needed. And voting is part of that work.

95% of all visitors to Super User come from a search engine. So there's a high plausibility that they've never been to the site and that they don't care about it. They're happy to, maybe, find their answer and then they're off. So we're only really talking about 5% of all visitors that make up the active community.

Inside that 5% are people that seem to come to Super User to earn reputation, but aren't as interested in reading material from other people. It's more like a sport to them and they aren't really into spectating. And that's great, we get a lot of good contributions from professional athletes :)

Also in the 5% are the moderators and the SU-junkies that live on the site and have nothing better to do all day than click on those voting buttons anyway, we can ignore them.

So then we end up with about 3% of all visitors, who are potential voters, but don't vote or don't vote as much as they could.

I really don't see how one could improve that situation, other than trying to pull more people from the 3% into the SU-junkie sector where they will have no chance but to browse the site all day and night to search for content they haven't seen yet.

So, yeah, go out there and comment on peoples stuff, vote on it, answer it, write some great questions that people love to write an extensive answer on, get them addicted.

  • OK, non-voting is less of a problem if you ignore people who ask questions but don't write answers. But is that really 95%? Do you have hard numbers or is that just a guess? – Isaac Rabinovitch Sep 17 '12 at 12:48
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    @IsaacRabinovitch: About 95% of all traffic comes from search engines. To my understanding, that's true for all SE sites. There are moderator-only statistics that indicate this, so, yes, those are hard numbers. My main point is that the group of people who could vote, but doesn't, is possibly much smaller than one would assume (given the scale of the site). We need more people who actively participate regularly, period. But, as I said, there's room for improvement, but I don't see an actual problem. – Der Hochstapler Sep 17 '12 at 13:18
  • OK, look at it this way: 1680 users have reputation of 1000 or better. We can safely consider these people serious users, committed to participation, especially in the form of answering questions. And yet only 381 (23%) have voted 300 times. So 77% of high-rep users mostly don't bother to vote. – Isaac Rabinovitch Sep 22 '12 at 2:10
  • @IsaacRabinovitch Some people don't vote because they just don't know if an answer is right or wrong. Some people don't vote because they aren't reading other peoples answers. Some people don't vote because they don't read questions other than their own. Some don't vote because it will decrease the value of their own achievements. Some people simply don't vote because they want to do other "tasks". Voting is not just voting. You also have to read the content and be able to judge it. The motives for people to use Super User are very different. If you want to change them, you can only lead by example. – Der Hochstapler Sep 22 '12 at 14:10
  • @OliverSalzburg - "Some don't vote because it will decrease the value of their own achievements." Can you elaborate on this one? – Carl B Sep 23 '12 at 15:21
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    @CarlB: There are situations where you can use voting (or the absence of it) strategically to affect your own reputation gain. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I'm really happy for you. – Der Hochstapler Sep 23 '12 at 20:19
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A small observation on votes. It would seem that some highly voted questions and answers like What are the windows a and b drives used for that was migrated Jan 10, 2011 had high voted, high up count on comments and answers. Alot of old questions have high votes. Maybe these days those folks that have been around for a while might have been heavy voters back then and not so much now. Some points made to a question I posted Question and suggestion on votes and Rep about voteing brought great comentary and insite from slhck: (the links that he had attached did not copy over into this quote)

Why aren't posts getting votes?

While the views are from different IPs, most of them aren't even by registered users or users with the privilege to vote. If—quoting Jeff Atwood—90% of all visitors can't vote on the stuff they see, then this would explain the lack of votes quite easily. And I agree: It's sad to see good questions stick around with 0 votes.

Also note that even though new users can participate, you need at least 15 reputation to vote up posts (and consequently 125 for voting down). This is primarily to allow users to get to know the system's currency first before spamming everyone with their votes, bringing down the value of votes and reputation to zero.

Why don't we have to have a lot of votes?

We use voting as a primary means of selecting between good and bad posts, and if a question turns out to be neither (i.e. not particularly interesting or well-asked), then it might just get no votes at all. And if it only manages to get a few views, then I don't see why the poster should gain reputation for that — there's not much of an achievement there. Maybe the question just had a bad title that prevented people from viewing it at all? Or maybe it really was not useful and much too localized.

While this sounds a bit harsh, think about the fact that there are pop ups and reminders everywhere which ask users to vote more on questions if they haven't done so in a while. Voting on questions is even more encouraged by the fact that downvotes don't cost you 1 rep as the voter. And you can vote for 10 more questions than answers per day. So, if a new user happens to ask a good question, they'll get votes quite easily.

Popular ≠ Good

Another aspect you should take into account is the fact that there's an inequality between easy and popular questions and those that are not as easy to find for others but still excellent questions.

Bike shed questions would get an additional boost of reputation for views just because of their popularity, without the need to be a particularly good question in the first place ("Good" in the sense of the criteria we ask, not in the sense of "Good question! I always asked this myself but never bothered to do principal research").

While we try to shut these questions down pretty early, that's still something you might want to think about when suggesting such a feature. How would popularity play a role in this?

That all being said, I think your suggestion has merit, but you will have to take all these factors into account. Also, why not actively encourage voting more on the voter's side and let reputation gain for others be a result of this, rather than having the system automatically award reputation without even knowing what for, exactly?

Is there an assumed guide line that (at least) questions must be of a certain calibur, quality or some other noteable something or other to earn a vote (again, focus to question, not answer)?

I can understand reservations on voting up answers if there is an unfimiliarity or it's not a great answer and that is understandable.

  • All (or most) of these votes were cast after migration: superuser.com/posts/231273/timeline I don't remember the "nobody votes" issue being recent either. Do you have data to back that up? – Daniel Beck Sep 18 '12 at 5:18
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    Analyzing questions by year posted shows a steady decline in post scores. However, this doesn't take into account questions gathering votes over a long time (a Q posted this year had less exposure to voters than one posted in 2009), auto-deleting unanswered 0-score or less questions after a year, as well as the fact that the tech landscape doesn't change fast enough to give users the opportunity to ask good questions of general interest for new tech. IMO old Qs simply had it much easier to be good questions without being duplicates. – Daniel Beck Sep 18 '12 at 5:43
  • In fact, when viewing answer score distributions, the situation is almost constant over the years. Note that the data is from late June 2012, so none of those 2012 answers are older than 6 months and haven't yet had time to gather votes over time (I think this should account for the 0 score spike). And let's face it, early answers to popular, early questions gained upvotes easier, similar to the questions themselves. – Daniel Beck Sep 18 '12 at 5:45
  • The answer score distribution is for just SU? Or all of stack Exchange? – Carl B Sep 18 '12 at 13:09
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    These numbers are SU only. I skipped 2008 as not enough of that is useful. Much migrated from SO. – Daniel Beck Sep 18 '12 at 13:33

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