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Some stack exchange sites get lots of both upvotes and downvotes for question and answers. Others get much fewer votes. Do we want to be a high-voting site?

Here is one perspective from Scott Morrison over on meta.Tex.SE

  • Every Stack Exchange site will eventually end up with a different "base level" of voting --- that is, the expected number of upvotes for a question of a given level of excellence. (This effect occurs because people see a good question, but already with a certain number of votes, and think "oh, I would have upvoted this, but it already has enough".)

    It's easy for us to affect this "base level" by encouraging high levels of upvoting now. We're setting the standards, and this really will have an effect.

    (On MathOverflow, we were very active about this early on, specifically encouraging all the initial round of users to vote early and often. You can compare statistics, and see that the average vote total for a MathOverflow question is much higher than on any of the other SE 1.0 sites.)

    In case it's not obvious: the rationale for wanting this base level to be high is that it provides better positive feedback to good contributors

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    I'm not sure how are you going to influence that anyway. 90% of the users likely don't read meta, so even if you post appeals to vote more or vote less, they're unlikely to have much effect. – Igor Skochinsky Mar 20 '13 at 23:09
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    The users participating in the private beta set the stage for later users. If we set the standard of voting high, later when the public beta opens, the new users will see a pattern of high votes and naturally follow suit, without reading meta. Hence this plea is to the private beta users, which hopefully read meta at a higher rate than your typical users. – WilliamKF Mar 20 '13 at 23:16
  • "which hopefully read meta at a higher rate than your typical users". I like your optimism :) – Igor Skochinsky Mar 21 '13 at 1:04
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    I think it's reasonable to assume that private beta users are more likely to read and participate in Meta. The very fact that they are involved in a private beta suggests that they have both an understanding of and an interest in the internal workings of SE, or at least a better understanding and more interest than the average user who has never been a part of a private beta. (IMO.) – Ken Bellows Mar 22 '13 at 14:22
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During the beta period, it is important to generate reputation in the system so that users can start performing tasks other than simply asking and answering. As an example, at the moment we have just 3 users who have the privilege of reviewing Tag Wiki edits, the result being that such edits need approval from someone from SE to go through.

So, yes, I think that we should be a high voting site during the beta period at least so that we can have some users who have the higher reputation privileges and access to the necessary moderation tools.

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I don't think anything you do during the private beta will have an influence on how much people vote. Tags, scope, quality standards, yes, but not voting.

There is always a lot more voting during the private beta and the very early public beta than later. That's because early on, most everyone around is highly motivated and reads a lot of posts.

I don't know about SE 1.0 culture, but as it happens voting came up yesterday on another SE 2.0 site: Why the low voting rates? [on Computer Science] By and large, there's more voting on “soft” topics, and more voting about science than about technical topics. There are a few exceptions, in particular CSTheory (which is for research-level questions about theoretical computer science) has the second-highest average number of votes per post on the Stack Exchange (Trilogy & SE 2.0) network. I guess CSTheory and MO are very similar cases — an audience of extreme specialists — which are not typical.

It's always a good thing to encourage people to votes. Hey, people, vote! (Both up and down as appropriate.) But the private beta won't set any kind of “base level”. Many posts from the early beta always end up with far more votes than later posts of similar quality.

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