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For example, do you more or less likely to upvote the currently high score answer? Do you ever upvote a question or answer because you think "it does not deserve negative score." although you don't particularly like it either.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, current score conveys information which may influence my impression of the post. I am strongly opposing "compensation votes", though, since I think those are causing more damage than help. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 6 '14 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ This is, to some extent, related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/17036/… $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 6 '14 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ And see also this: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/2234/… $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 6 '14 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ This question is very similar to the current one. $\endgroup$ – user1729 Nov 6 '14 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ I am most influenced if there is a down vote or a vote to close where I think the vote is a bit lazy and the person who has posted is making an effort or has asked a question worth asking. One recent example looked trivial at a casual glance, but wasn't really. It wasn't clear what OPs background was, but it was an intelligent question for a beginner, though trivial for an expert. I like to encourage beginners who are making an effort. $\endgroup$ – Mark Bennet Nov 6 '14 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ For the most part I ignore the current score completely. There are two exceptions. If a question has a negative score solely (so far as I can see) because it’s ‘too easy’, even though it’s not totally without context, I give a compensatory upvote even if I would not have upvoted the question otherwise. Similarly, if I see that a correct answer has been downvoted, I will upvote even if it doesn’t quite meet my normal standards for an upvote. (In my view downvoting correct answers is simply vandalism unless they’re appallingly badly written or violate a request for hints only.) $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Nov 6 '14 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ While I believe the odds that I vote on a post that I see are mostly independent from its score, the odds that I see a post do depend on its score, and consequently the odds I vote on a post do depend on its score. It is also possible that score affects how much attention I pay to a posting, which would have some influence on my voting. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Nov 7 '14 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ No to both questions. in math.se , I consider user's stats before up/downvoting and mostly upvote answers to my questions if they are unvoted. in other se sites I upvote whatever I find helpful and do not downvote. in stackoverflow I mostly understand why a question is up/downvoted but in math.se voting is less disciplined. $\endgroup$ – user795571 Nov 7 '14 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ What is the accept supposed to mean here? You ask for what people do. I feel it is strange to accept one answer that describes one apporach. If there were a synthetic answer summarizing different approaches then I could see the point. But this accept feels strange. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 7 '14 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ Is this about what people actually should do? Or is this about what people should try to do? The two are completely different questions. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Nov 17 '14 at 18:41
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This really is a psychology question. One has ones ideals and principles and then there is reality.

Ideally, I try to ignore how many votes a question/answer already has. I believe that (ideally) voting should always be based on the content and not other external things. I do not factor in whether or not other people have already "liked" the post, but I just ask myself if I find the post worth my vote.

If the question is interesting and isn't just the statement of a problem, then I will upvote. I might also upvote if I think a question is well worded and shows the context. So, I might see a basic calculus question where the OP is clearly expressing his/her confusion. I never vote based on who is asking/answering. From time to time one might come across a user who in general asks "bad" questions and it is tempting to downvote everything this user posts, but I refrain from this.

I often also upvote questions that I am answering. If I think a question is worth answering, I think it deserves and upvote.

Sometimes I see a "hot question" in the side bar and from there I am directed to the question. I will then sometimes upvote the question and the best answers.

I also often upvote competing answers.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree wholeheartedly with your sentence "If...a question is worth answering (then) it deserves and upvote." $\endgroup$ – user1729 Nov 6 '14 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ "I believe that (ideally) voting should always be based on the content and not other external things." Could you elaborate why you think so? By contrast, I believe that the (final) score of a post should (ideally) depend on the content of the post and not other external things. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 6 '14 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @quid But there's no "final" unless the post is locked. I remember situations (usually on metas, not main sites) where I'd upvote a downvoted post thinking "it's not that bad", and came back later to see it with higher score than I expected; now the score seemed too high! $\endgroup$ – user147263 Nov 6 '14 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Rafflesiaarnoldii while it is true that there is no final score in a strict sense most posts attain some score in a relatively short period of time and then stay pretty stable there. Anyway, we are discussing an idealization. My key point is really to point out the difference and especially a certain incompatibilty between: "I vote on the post based on content only" and "The post is judged on its content only" I find the later more relevant, and indiscrimnately doing the former can be detrimental to the later while not having much value I can see in itself. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 6 '14 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ Whereas Thomas seems to see some intrinsic value in his voting being not influenced by externalities. As said I cannot see this and would thus be interested in learning the reasoning behind it. Especially since things being as they are for most the fact that they look at one post rather than at another is already the first externality. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 6 '14 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: I think I see what you are saying. One might believe that to each post is some ideal score that reflects the value of the post. I don't necessarily see it like this. For me voting is my way to indicate what I think is useful/helpful/interesting for me (or the site in general). So if I see something I like I vote it up independent of the current score of the post. Now, then, I do believe that if everyone did this, the "final" score of the post reflects how much the community values that post. This is, of course, not perfect since now all post get evaluated by all. Does that make sense? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Nov 6 '14 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ I guess I just try to follow math.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/vote-up: "Whenever you encounter a question, answer or comment that you feel is especially useful, vote it up!" $\endgroup$ – Thomas Nov 6 '14 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply. Yes, exactly this: "not perfect since now all post get evaluated by all." (assuming the "now" is a "not") On smaller sites this is actually less of an issue. But, still, your approach is certainly reasonable. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 6 '14 at 23:00
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I mentally assign scores to answers, and my probability of upvoting the answer depends on how much its actual score exceeds the score I have assigned. I am very unlikely to upvote an answer that I feel has more than enough points already, and I am more likely to upvote an answer that I feel is under-appreciated. I'm not sure this practice is defensible, and I don't mean to defend it here, or even to recommend it.

I do not downvote questions just because i think their score is too high; I only downvote answers that contain significant errors.

My voting habits for questions are very different.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think one should avoid to grade posts. It's destructive. If ten persons vote up because the post is useful to them, why should a group of about ten persons exploit their power to correct the score of aesthetic reasons? $\endgroup$ – Lehs Nov 7 '14 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Lehs you misrepresent this post. No where is it suggested that votes should be corrected. It is said no additional upvotes are added if there are already sufficiently many. The formulation "exploit their power" seems completely unjustified. The "power" that is exploited is the power to do nothing whatsoever. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 7 '14 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ "I'm not sure this practice is defensible, and I don't mean to defend it here, or even to recommend it." I am very sure it is defensible. And, effects of not more practicing it, are on occasion bemoaned all over the site. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 7 '14 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: it seems that you are right. But unfortunately, it is possible for a little group of voters to control a sort of grading totally, in spite of if the same number of other users found the same posts useful. $\endgroup$ – Lehs Nov 7 '14 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ I think i am voting similarly, but for both answers and questions. It seems to me that if everybody were voting without taking into account the current score, then the score would grow linearly with the number of views. $\endgroup$ – Alexey Nov 10 '14 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexey I think you have some point, but still this is not quite correct, since views can be contributed by viewers that cannot vote. And, it seems reasonable to speculate that among the earlier viewers there are more potential voters than among late viewers. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 14 '14 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, you are probably right, i was suggesting a rough idea. $\endgroup$ – Alexey Nov 14 '14 at 16:51
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Yes. Three examples:

  • Often, questions are closed for being poorly posed (because, for example, the OP didn't understand the site), but they are improved and re-opened. When this happens, I believe that the barrage of downvotes is unhelpful - they were intended for an old version of the question, not for the new, nicely-worded version. So I upvote. My upvote is not for the brilliant question, but rather for "balance" - ideally the downvoters would remove their downvotes (so no "balance" would be needed), but this rarely, if ever, happens.

  • If a question receives an upvoted answer then the question is removed from the "unanswered" queue. Therefore, if I see an interesting question with a half-hearted/mediocre answer (subjective!) which doesn't actually answer the question (perhaps it addresses a boring special case) and the answer is on +1 then I will downvote. This puts the question back in the "unanswered" queue, where hopefully it will get some more attention.

  • Suppose an excellent post comes late to the party, and although excellent it is never going to catch up with the other two equally excellent answers, each of which are on +8. So I upvote the new answer and do not upvote the other two answers, even though they are deserving of my upvote. Again, this is for the sake of "balance".

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My up/down votes are independent of the current score of the post. The content of the post is what ultimately influences my choice to either vote up or vote down. I'm much more likely to up vote a late post that thoroughly answers the question as opposed to an early post that just barely scratches the surface.

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I vote up if the question or answer gives me something of value. Since I don't know why others did vote up or down that is uninteresting for my voting.

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Some answers are great, and most readers of such an answer would be inclined to vote it up. Moreover, such answers correlate with good questions, which are highly up-voted and so attract more attention. Thus one might expect to see answers with hundreds of up-votes. I suggest that the rarity of such a score is because voters take the existing score distribution into account. Perhaps the thought is "This answer is in the top 2%, but not in the top 0.1% as its present score implies. I don't need to add my increment to its overvaluation". Conversely one might think that a good answer deserves a higher rating than it has presently.

These are merely my own thoughts; I am happy that others think otherwise. For good reason, there is no guide set down on what to consider before voting, not least because any such guide would (in my view) be absurd, unimposable, and much disputed.

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