Meta-users should already know this: Why is voting important?

…good content rises to the top …incorrect content falls to the bottom

But looking into the questions by vote yields almost ridiculous results. Some posts are there for historical reasons, as I understand. But the top hits are unnavigable wiki-posts containing much outdated information, several pages long. As I understand current regulations for what is or isn't off-topic here most of them violate more or less these rules. (That also implies that this tab features way too much bad examples for new users wanting to orient themselves by past good questions.)

Many of the more recent ones are also of very questionable quality, either in form or in content?

List of all packages of a package manager? Really? No-one answered something like RTFM? If this question does not show very little research effort, then what does?

Meta-users have this problem discussed before: Why does Ask Different have such a low voting percentage? Last post being from 2012 means: this is accepted fact of life here?

In the short time I have been active here I am very much impressed how much the voting behaviour of the users presently active fails.

  • Voting up a question or answer signals to the rest of the community that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful, while voting down a post signals the opposite: that the post contains wrong information, is poorly researched, or fails to communicate information.

Was this ever the case here?

After reading through some meta-posts and reviewing my own activity for quality control I just found the opposite in the wild majority of cases. Someone gave me the feedback:

"Sometimes people really don’t like short answers or people don’t like long answers. I’ll get downvotes lots of times based on length alone."

If that is true as written then that alone should be somehow addressed? Someone able to give that kind of feedback will surely not post "Me too", "There's an app for that", "Gotta link"-answer? And "We expect long answers…" is also in contradiction to this kind of voting behaviour.

And while upvoting good information seems to be at the usual low I can not shed the impression that some users with high enough rep to spend it quite aggressively keep downvoting certain content.

Only based on my own answers I keep wondering why I only received only one helpful downvote. On that, I received the notification for the downvote (prbably cast in ignorance or for arbitrary reasons?), revisited the question, had to grumpily realise I made a mistake/was misreading the question and corrected the answer.

For the entire rest of my contributions to this site I fail to see how they should be in violation of the rules or "contain wrong information, are poorly researched, or fail to communicate information"?

While it may be that my own communication skills are to blame for so many people misreading things I thought I made clear enough, some things are just inexplicable to me. Examples may be found:

  1. How to Restore the Default Permissions in Sierra?
  2. How do I disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) AKA “rootless” on OS X 10.11, El Capitan?

Trying to give context and prior research was criticised as noise in the first case. In the second: Trying to differentiate why I added to an old post and what differentiates this answer from the others (that were not wrong) was cut, but why it was downvoted in the first place when it was technically correct information from the start?

My personal highlight is this locate command with regex equivalent in OSX There are two answers and a lot of opinion. One answer with a 3 vote distance upwards basically just says "no werky". My answer addresses the general audience for such a question in general and in particular the exact situation, goals and level of understanding displayed by the OP's question. Have I posted incorrect information there? Was it not useful, was it rude to anyone, devoid of information? If it were, and if that info were conveyed in comment…

Now I do not care that much for the lost rep incurred to me by that. The posts quoted are only meant as an example, where I am convinced of their fair quality and know their comment and edit history quite well.

There are others like that. Examples after just skimming them quickly again:

Prevent update notifications in OS X 10.10.2 (Legitimate question? No bad comments indicating problems, edited, downvotes stayed.)

How to get a list of available defaults write terminal commands (not too broad imho and similar Q&A abound.)

How can I disable auto-play blocking on a per-site basis? (Illegitmate question? Progress to be observed and finally an least halfway useful answer.)

“Permission error” when creating files on a new hard drive in Mac Pro (Serious problems with the question and the answer remain. Apparently several comments and edits. Comments partly removed, large discrepancy between Q and A despite being of similar quality.)

Is it possible to install Mountain Lion on a Mac mini that is older than 2009? (Ignoring the quality of the final question (now: just like for the package-manager question as used above as an example) Progress towards shape very noticeable, votes remain negative.)

How to reinstall macOS Sierra after formatting by Ubuntu (Strange scenario and description, yet the situation occurs, question heavily punished, yet an answer that is very probably wrong/incorrect in this situation gets upvoted (Recovery partition is likely gone in this scenario?) Scenario especially pressing since El Capitan and Sierra are not so easily available as previous systems.)

What I care about is that this behaviour seems contrafactual to the stated rules and goals here.

The quality-content buoyancy theory of site design seems to be failing for years now. This whole post is less about the editing vs voting trope as it was driven to in the last paragraphs. It is about the dysfunctional voting in general and hereby reduced usability of the site; now.

Does anyone here has any idea on how to fix this frustrating voting behaviour?

  • 3
    "No-one answered something like RTFM?" --- Because that's not how this site works. You have enough rep across the network to know that.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 16:45
  • Yeah, I know that answer would be quite rude and removed. My Q here is, why is that question upvoted so much? Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 16:55
  • 2
    The voting system on Stack-overflow is just ridiculous!
    – Sayan
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 16:57
  • Thx. A downvote after only seven views is actually a pretty good illustration on its own. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:16
  • 1
    Regarding the package manager question: Try googling for it (in any way), it's rather high-ranking in the results. Which attracts a lot of views (and upvotes).
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 18:06
  • @patrix That's true. In one way. Aren't (google-sent) visits one thing, displayed votes from registered users another? Or do search-hit visitors register, try to gain 15rep, just to upvote? (Admitting: I do not know what really happens with anonymous feedback votes.) Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 18:14
  • 2
    You need to be logged in to (up)vote. But there are a lot of folks out there which have an account on at least one SE site, so upvoting is only one or two clicks away for them.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 18:31
  • 2
    As for the downvote you've received for the question here: Maybe it would be easier for people to discuss the topic if you would cite other examples than just your own posts
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 18:33
  • @patrix Ah. +1 OK, that will explain quite a share I haven't thought of. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 18:33
  • Thx again, 2nd DownVoter! 14 Views and very low constructive comments. That's exactly according to theme. (Please, apologies to @patrix and Ian C. and Sayan, obviously not meant by that.) Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 19:21
  • Welcome, 3rd DownVoter! Again, a fitting example: just 17 views and no useful, constructive criticism for the question or praise for patrix' answer (right now at only +1). Is this club of dysfunctional poets now through, I have doubts still? Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 20:20
  • 4
    This sounds like a rant and not a constructive post. You are starting from the premise that voting here is broken and needs to be fixed. But I can't figure out why you think it's a sign of brokenness that your post is attracting downvotes. Perhaps "broken" means your priorities don't line up with those of other users. That happens, and it's okay.
    – Daniel Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 22:02
  • @Daniel Thx for a constructive downvote! I am trying to align subjective priorities as expressed in commentless & never-corrected downvotes that way too often do not conform to the stated goals with those goals and a collective or collaborative effort. My premise is researched, explained and exemplified, I hope. Am I wrong on all of these or just one of "my post"s, or all the others as well? As declared above, I do not care about a downvote, that is not only OK, I welcome it. If it really helps; and an explaining comment really helps with that. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 22:24
  • @patrix Is there any way to ascertain/view why/when/*whether* a particular Q or A got into HNQ? Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 18:53
  • 1
    @langlangc or maybe not: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/271213/…
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


As mentioned already in Why does Ask Different have such a low voting percentage? voting on AD sometimes doesn't work very well. My personal view on this is that there are just too few people caring enough about a specific question in general to vote either up and down. A lot of questions are probably too specific to certain users/use cases to gather more votes over time.

This also means that a post which required editing to get it into a good shape may acquire some down votes during the edit process which will stick to the post even after the editing.

  • Also, if you look at the highest voted answers (apple.stackexchange.com/search?tab=votes&q=is%3aanswer) you'll find some real gems there.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:12
  • Well, a comment can make "the requirement for shape" much more efficient. And agreed on 'some' real gems. Finding gems is one reason for me being here in the first place. My point is that votes seem more often than good not a reliable indicator for that at all. Especially when a post is brought into shape and the votes remain the same. Sometimes I looked into the edit history and got a glimpse of why the downvotes may have been issued as they are when the post wasn't in shape. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:33
  • 1
    @langlangc AFAIK the topic of notifying down voters of edits made to a post has come up before (either here or on Meta.SE) but didn't get a lot of traction.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:48

Just to answer with a bit of encouragement. Votes on meta don't mean you're wrong, just that people don't see a very narrow or very specific path forward.

On the premise of "broken" I'm not sure I get your case - The bar for not useful and down votes seems pretty low and I don't see how you can argue that one or 5 people that down voted for "not useful" means that the system is broken. I haven't reviewed all your linked questions, but the vast majority I was tempted to down vote as not useful myself but they are already in - territory so I refrained from piling on.

Also - all of them are salvageable by a good edit, so I don't want to pile on them further.

If you wanted to try over with a concrete - I'd like to change voting by doing X, Y or Z and then link here for the rationale - that would be more likely to get some direct feedback and if you want to agitate for actual change.

General "voting is broken" threads are epic - most of them fall under "noob don't know how to vote" and "established people don't know how to vote" or the general "people are dumb".

Also - why worry about "Was this ever the case here?"

Everyone's experience here stated at a different time, with different expectations and quite likely different options on the same exact votes and situations.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .