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Recently, we had a discussion on this question, so I've decided to put up this post so all users can see it clearly when they visit meta site.

In past few months, there are a devastatingly few number of users that cast up votes, and many of users aren't coming back to site, and existing users don't have so much reputation, because no one is voting up great questions / answers.

So... let me start like this..

THIS IS REALLY DEVASTATING

We all need to vote up users and try to answer their questions, so we can get more users answering / asking questions. Main reason I'm writing this post is because this is great site, but we need new regular users that are going to vote and ask questions. I think it all came down to 20-30 active users, and rest of users aren't so active.

I'm relatively new to site. I've decided to use it because it helped me a lot, and I'm doing my best to answer the questions. My main concern is also that my answers also don't get any vote up.

So... I'll let it all out. I think that main concern that we need to focus on is motivation.

WE NEED TO MOTIVATE OTHERS TO VOTE. And we all can do that if we vote other users up.

That's from my perspective. Even one vote up motivates you to go further.

If you are answering (in my case now for example) 6 questions in row without any vote up, it's really demotivating. But it's me. I'll answer again and again. But there are users that'll answer 10 questions for example and get only one vote up, and they are simply going to stop answering.

I think that I explained what I mean. :) It's all in VOTE UP!

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    Related discussion from 2010 ;-) Getting users to vote – unor Feb 9 '16 at 18:23
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    (Copied from your last answer) I completely agree. Every good question and answer deserves a vote, and I encourage other users to do so. On a smaller site like this one, it's especially important for the reasons Josip mentions above. Although competition might be a factor, it really shouldn't - if everyone votes, then everyone's rep will go up together. As a mod, I try to support new users (if their posts are good), but also try to be careful so as not to sway voting towards any one user too. The community really should decide on what's the best answer, and hope they will as they see them... – dan Feb 10 '16 at 5:52
  • It doesn't cost anything to vote and is super easy to do, so pay it forward and karma might reward you :-) Adding to this... Reviews and editing also really helps to get votes: if you can help clarify the question or answer, it's likely to be better received, more helpful to others, and adds activity to them as well. As you review and edit, voting will then become clearer to you too. You can review posts (and follow along with review histories) here. – dan Feb 10 '16 at 6:02
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    BTW- It may be against the rules to do so, but I encourage many up-votes on this question. Write to me and I will send you a dollar. (Just kidding on the dollar thing.) – closetnoc Feb 10 '16 at 17:12
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    After following the dynamics and reading many questions and answers, I feel that this place is not attracting quality questions nor contributors any longer and has become the niche of a few guys who try to distinguish themselves and promote their own profiles. "Quality Competition" gets systematically downvoted. Writing a very long answer without doing your research is not a substitute for quality. – user57132 Feb 15 '16 at 15:17
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    @PixelPusher Your concerns here seem worthy of a separate discussion, which might lead to some improvements. I'd suggest posting this as a question so that it gets more attention, like Josip did. – dan Feb 16 '16 at 1:39
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What is an upvote?

An upvote is an indication that you found a question or answer useful.

How can I upvote?

The controls for voting are to the left of questions and answers.

The upvote is the up arrow. When you press it the circle around it turns from gray to blue.

Who can vote?

Any user that has 15 reputation is eligible to vote.

What happens when I upvote?

The score of the question or answer goes up by one. Answers are usually sorted by score, so voting may change the order of the answers. The person that wrote the question or answers gains reputation. 5 points for a question upvote, 10 points for an answer upvote.

How much can I vote?

You can vote 40 times each day. If you vote 40 times in one day you get the Vox Populi badge. You will also get the Suffrage badge along the way for voting 30 times in a day.

How much should I vote?

I agree with Josip Ivic that there is not enough voting on Pro Webmasters. I personally try to make sure I cast twice as many votes as I receive on my questions and answers. Using all 40 of your votes every day would be awesome, but you don't need to feel obligated to do so.

Are my votes visible to other users?

Your individual votes are private. Only you can see your voting history. Even moderators cannot see which posts you voted on or which way your votes went. Moderators can see which users received how many of your votes so they can detect voting fraud.

A count of the number of times you have voted appears on your user profile on the "activity" tab:

At the bottom of the activity page you can see a general breakdown of the votes: "all time 3,667 up 286 down / by type 1,476 question 2,477 answer / month 3." Vote counts over various time periods are also visible in the top voters tab in the list of users on the site.

Are the guidelines for when I should vote?

You are free to come up with your own criteria for voting, but here are my general guidelines for how I vote:

  • "Useful" means that a question is relevant to the site and deserves an answer. I don't interpret "useful" as "useful to me" but as "potentially useful to somebody."
  • "Useful" means that an answer addresses the question, and adds something that other answers don't. Again, it doesn't have to be something that I would personally use. You might also choose to upvote an answer with which you agree or for which you want to show support.
  • I downvote answers that are wrong, too short to be useful, or only contain a link. I always leave a comment when I downvote. Answers that are worse than that (spammy) should be flagged for deletion. I downvote very sparingly (60 upvotes for every downvote) because downvotes send a much more negative message than a gentle comment. Down votes tend to drive new users away.
  • When I encounter a new user I always give new users the benefit of the doubt and will try to upvote even if it's a bit borderline. That helps new users reach the 15 reputation threshold where they can vote on the answers to their own question.
  • If I edit a question or answer, I generally upvote it. If it was worth my time to edit, it deserves a vote.
  • If I write an answer, I upvote the question. If it was worth my time to answer, it deserves a vote.
  • When I write an answer, I upvote other answers that are also useful. I recognize that having multiple perspectives is often very helpful and I want to encourage that. If you do so enough you can get the "Sportsmanship" badge. Having multiple upvoted answers appears to also be one of the main criteria for Hot Network Questions. Getting a question from our site into that list gets lots of attention from people using other StackExchange sites. Questions that make that list tend to get lots up upvotes on the question and its answers.
  • If I use the review queue for "first posts", I take one of three action on each:
    • close
    • comment and maybe a downvote (if it needs improvement)
    • upvote (everything else, along with an edit if it needs it)
  • I often go through the "unanswered" questions and upvote the questions and answers that have no votes at all. (Provided they meet my criteria for an upvote.) This gets them off the unanswered list.
  • Great addition Stephen! – Josip Ivic Feb 9 '16 at 13:34
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    "An upvote is an indication that you found a question or answer useful." - Or that you agree (with an answer) and are showing support for that answer. This also falls under the "potentially useful to somebody" category. I have seen a number of "I agree" comments without an upvote. – MrWhite Feb 9 '16 at 19:49
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    "Who can vote?" - I would add that users with <15 rep can't even upvote answers to their own questions. For this reason I always give new users the benefit of the doubt and will try to upvote even if it's a bit borderline. – MrWhite Feb 9 '16 at 19:55
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    "Are my votes visible to other users?" - You can see a bit more information than stated above. At the bottom of the activity page you can see a general breakdown of the votes: "all time 3,667 up 286 down / by type 1,476 question 2,477 answer / month 3" – MrWhite Feb 9 '16 at 19:59
  • @w3dk I've edited my answer to incorporate all three of your excellent points. As usual, you fact check my answers better than anybody else here. :-) – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 9 '16 at 20:07
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    I agree with the above (it echos much of what we previously discussed). Myself, I tend to use downvotes very sparingly, since a comment usually suffices, and too many downvotes tends to make a smaller site like this appear uninviting. On a larger site like Stack Overflow where there's more voting going on, they have less of an impact and can be helpful. If the post could be deleterious, then I'll make an exception. But to each his own... – dan Feb 10 '16 at 6:09
  • @dan I have added to my point on downvotes. I agree with everything you say. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 10 '16 at 18:24
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One of the things I have noticed is that there are different seasons this site goes through from time to time. When I got here it was extremely busy, however, there were some users that were not very encouraging, in fact, they were quite discouraging but just a few. Up-votes and down-votes were both quite prevalent at that time.

There have been various seasons since then different to the one we have now.

Currently, we do have a lot of non-regular users passing through and trying the site out. It appears to me that a fair portion of these users are not invested as you suggest. This is a season where people are trying out the site, but the number that will stick appears to me to be smaller than normal and that is just the way it is right now which is okay. It is these users that can come back from time to time. As things change, we will see more users jump in and answer questions. It is just a season that will change.

You are absolutely right about up-voting.

When I got to this site, I was strongly encouraged by the longer term users and moderators. It is something I especially appreciate because of the occasional attacks that would come along back then. Today, we have a much friendlier crowd and we can forget that we must steer this ship toward the horizon we wish. I still like to be encouraging and I advise users to do the same.

For a season, up-votes were quite common and down-votes far less. Today, it remains much the same with less voting overall. A few users are issuing down-votes kind of regularly which has been in line with how the site is supposed to work. I was try to discourage non-constructive down-votes. These are down-votes without a comment or guidance to making the question or answer better. I still try and add some guidance and encourage people to do the same. As part of this, when an answer is technically good but there may be an element missing, I like to simply add a comment.

I encourage people to add guidance to the questions and answers to help make them better.

I like to encourage specific users with up-votes and guidance. While encouragement should be as even-handed as possible, there are some users that stand out. @JosipIvic is one of them. No question.

I often add comments even when the answer is complete. The reason for this is that we are all people and should be encouraged, engaged, and simply cheered. We are being reminded of that here.

What to look for.

There will be for a while a wave of users that are looking only to get their questions answered. That has been and will always be the way. However, users that answer questions are interested in this site for whatever reason that motivates them. This where the bulk of the encouragement will benefit this site.

One bit of advice I can give right now.

While I can be a bit famous for longer answers which has sparked a bit of controversy, shorter answers are great too. @JohnConde is famous for extremely succinct answers. In fact, he cracks me up! He comes in with a perspective that is unique and I as well as others appreciate. We seem to be a polar ends of the spectrum and this is okay. However, for most of the answers I advise a bit more or less depending upon your personality. Here is a short list of what I mean.

Up-votes are a two way street.

Answers can encourage up-votes as much as users participating.

Answers that are answered in a link. It is good to link to other pages. I encourage it. However, if the answer itself does not provide a solution and the link is broken as they can often become, then the answer is of no value later. It is best to always put something into the answer. It shows effort and care which encourages up-votes.

Answers that do not contain the reason why. It is good to provide a solution. However, if the OP does not know the Why?, then the answer is missing an extremely valuable component. The OP can be knowledgeable and not require the why, however, others along the way may not be as knowledgeable. For this reason, it is good to explain why the OP has a problem and how the answer addresses this. Explanations of the why go a long way to encouraging up-votes.

Answers short on detail. Some answers are particularly short on detail. Again, the OP may not need the detail, but others will. Detailed answers go a long way to encouraging up-votes.

Answers that are dated. We have all seen them. These are answers that are based on older advice that is either simply dated or completely wrong as a result. It is important that answers steer the OP in the right direction. It is okay and advisable to explain how the OP is misguided if they are. It is also of more value and appreciated when the answer explains how things have changed. This is appreciated by many and will encourage up-votes.

Answers that are simply parroted echos. Sometimes it makes sense to repeat what others have said. That is a given. However, as I often say, there are a ton of sites with parroted answers that are just plain wrong or misleading. I advise resisting parrot answers and putting some real-world thought and experience into the answer. It sometimes is advisable to say why the traditional answer is parroted, wrong, or misleading. Again, the detail will encourage up-votes.

Answers that seem to be missing research. Yes. Short answers are great! However, answers that do not show a clear amount of research behind them can really discourage up-votes. It is possible to have a technically complete and correct answer. Then another answer that provides the research behind the answer comes along the way. The answer with the research, even when not as technically complete or clear, can receive more up-votes simply as appreciation for the effort.

Answers that do not seem to have much effort in them. This is a bit of a catch-all for some of my list, however, effort can be read. I encourage more than the minimum effort be put into answers. It does not have to be a lot. It just has to signal that you give a rat's patootie. (Which we all do. Right??)

Answers without personality. We all have one. Share it. Put your personality in your answers. Humor works too! I have gotten up-votes for weirdness and silliness as much as anything else. Dive in and put yourself into the answer.

This is just a short list. I am sure there are other ways that an answer can encourage up-votes. Feel free to comment on ways you think answers can be improved.

I have to admit being distracted and time has become precious lately. I have not had much time to give. This is temporary of course. We all get that way. Perhaps, in my case and others I assume too, when we are short on time, the best thing we can do is encouragement. Up-votes, reviews of question and answers to provide guidance, and just plain 'ole encouragement. +1 comments are not exactly appropriate, however, I do like to take the time and discover what it is about a user, question, or answer I like and just say so in a comment. More verbose attaboy's are good. Perhaps when we are short on time, we can focus more on just doing the WWJD thing. (Not to introduce religion into the mix. Pick your own motivation. However, if you can turn water into wine then I am sure you will get a lot of up-votes if you share. Mom always says it is good to share!)

Remember that seasons come and go. It is just a matter of time when this site changes again. There are forces external to this site that influences things. However, we must remember and remind ourselves of how we have influence here too and can solidly steer the direction of this site. For a while, there were trolls, now there are not. That was the user base saying that trolling is not acceptable. In the same way, we can say what we want this site to be. We can steer this ship toward warn horizons with lush islands, grass skirts, and friendly natives.

I firmly believe if you are a webmaster, this is the place to be. It is by far the friendliest group of people out there affirming what I have always said. Webmasters are amongst the best people in the world. Not sure why. I will just accept it and encourage it. Grog anyone?

  • Yes, please put personality and detail into your answers, but not quite as much as @closetnoc does. ;-) – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 10 '16 at 18:28
  • @StephenOstermiller Is that like plugging your microwave into the 220volt outlet?? – closetnoc Feb 10 '16 at 18:30
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    Whenever I read one of your answers I can't help but picture you as a grandfather with a grandson on your knee telling him stories of the good old days when you fixed the server by hitting it with a hammer and got good search engine rankings through sheer grit. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 10 '16 at 18:32
  • And just to be clear, I value all your contributions to this site and I think very highly of you. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 10 '16 at 18:34
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    @StephenOstermiller I have fixed servers with a slam to the hard-drive. No kidding. Of course it was a very temporary fix. And do not tell me that John Wayne cannot get good search performance just with a sneer and a hand on the 6 gun! (A lousy True Grit reference.) – closetnoc Feb 10 '16 at 18:36
  • @StephenOstermiller Thanks!! That means a lot! I try. I of course fail sometimes. And that is okay too. We cannot always hit home runs. I may have the shape of Babe Ruth, but that does not mean I have the swing. I do have the appetite though! That's a start!! – closetnoc Feb 10 '16 at 18:38
  • @StephenOstermiller I must repeat how much I like all of the mods here! There are some classic users too!! Too many to mention. For the record, this site enjoys outstanding people including you. Cheers!! – closetnoc Feb 10 '16 at 18:41
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    Friendly is one of the things I've been trying to help steer the community towards, which you've been doing a great job of. I had my fair share of "challenges" when I started here, and I'm trying to reduce that for others as much as possible so that our user-base will continue to grow. As a smaller site in comparison to say SO (where things can get a little rough at times), I think being known as a welcoming, friendly group is something we should strive for. I do what I can to keep the helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable here...and show any unfriendly, rude gunslingers the saloon door ;-) – dan Feb 11 '16 at 2:18
  • @dan I have to admit that I thought of this too late... but... I could have written "Fill your answers you son of a *****!" Okay. That might have been too much. I know what you mean about SO. I tried answering a few questions on some of the other sites... Yikes! I left and never went back. I occasionally read some of the questions linked on the right, but stay away from answering any. I think I will just stay here and be happy. ;-) – closetnoc Feb 11 '16 at 3:18
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    @dan BTW- I felt your kindness quite a lot. I Thank You! As well, the other mods and users have been terrific too! I cannot list it all. Support is the name of the game. It separates the men from the boys. – closetnoc Feb 11 '16 at 3:21
  • @closetnoc, nice addition also. We need to create bigger base of users that are posting answers. I don't like downvotes, and I rarely cast them because I always try to edit the question that it doesn't get any downvote. I think that is a good way for everyone. – Josip Ivic Feb 11 '16 at 8:47
  • @JosipIvic Short of an extreme scenario, I do not down-vote without giving a comment and a very good opportunity to update the answer. That seems not only fair, but the kindest way i can think of to help steer someone into the future let alone as a user of this site. That is one of the things I try and keep in mind. I am shaping future IT professionals just the way I was shaped when I started. – closetnoc Feb 11 '16 at 15:43
  • ah... the glory days :))))) – Josip Ivic Feb 11 '16 at 15:44
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    @JosipIvic In those days (for me), a network was a series of drummers on mountain tops beating out Morse code and writing to memory was chiseling a rock. – closetnoc Feb 11 '16 at 15:51
  • pft, you got an easy way. In my days there were flash entusiasts. – Josip Ivic Feb 11 '16 at 15:53
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So... in past month I think that things changed a little bit.

Here is the link.

So, there's little bit more fluctuation of new questions / answers, few new users are also answering, but still, we don't vote enough. Any other suggestions about that?

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