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I'm not saying this happens all the time; I just get influenced by this when an answer to one of my question is well written, but not exactly what I'm looking for. These people obviously took a lot of time to write these, and sometimes they can go up to 7-8 whole paragraphs, and I just feel bad not upvoting it, even if it's not of much use to me.

It's not just the well-written answers either. Somehow I feel it is proper etiquette to upvote all the answers to my question just to show my appreciation for the answerer's time. Is this OK?

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    $\begingroup$ Why not commenting it saying "I don't see the usefulness of your answer at the moment but many thanks for your lot of work on this" (the phrase "at the moment" should not be forgotten, as I found out in some answers for questions of mine which usefulness I could only understood much later...) $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Dec 3 '14 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ @GottfriedHelms I don't see the usefulness of your comment at the moment but many thanks for your work on this. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 3 '14 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: :-) Yes, this is very nice! $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Dec 3 '14 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ Your feeling is correct. Stick with your heart. $\endgroup$ – James S. Cook Dec 6 '14 at 1:55
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    $\begingroup$ @JamesS.Cook: Which feeling? Voting up answers regardless of content? Encouraging unhelpful answers is unhelpful. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 7 '14 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer There are not so many completely unhelpful answers. I'd rather see answers encouraged. Of course, if the answer is wrong then don't upvote, but, if it's just off target an upvote without acceptance isn't so horrible. It's polite. $\endgroup$ – James S. Cook Dec 7 '14 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ Don't vote anything out of sense of duty. Well, may be sparingly. My message is that you should not feel obliged to upvote everything. You can concentrate on upvoting answers that helped you. The good answers get their reward in upvotes from the population at large. Of course, you are free to base your voting decisions on whatever randomly fluctuating criteria you want. There is no universally accepted "code of conduct" or anything like that. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 8 '14 at 18:48
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The tooltip on the upvote arrow says "this answer is useful". Was it useful to you? Then by all means upvote.

Upvoting a poorly written, incorrect, or redundant answer is a disservice for everyone who will waste their time on that answer, expecting to find something of value in it.

That said:

  • Feel free to upvote each and every answer to your questions, no matter the quality.
  • Feel free to downvote each and every answer to your questions, no matter the quality.
  • Feel free to not vote at all.

It's all up to you.

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If an answer is completely useless I would not up-vote. (I might, in fact, consider down-voting.)

I have asked questions on other sites and here as well. I usually up-vote every answer that I get mostly because I want to show some appreciation to the person giving the answer. I justify this (to myself) by saying that most answers I get are useful in some sense. For me, an answer is useful even if it doesn't answer the specific question that I have. The answer might help me see my problem in a new way. The answer might also simply provide some context for the problem that I am facing.

So, as others have pointed out, I would say that it is all about whether or not you find the answer helpful (in some say). If the only helpful answers are those that gives a full answer to your specific question, then I would only up-vote those. If you find answers helpful even though they don't answer all parts of your question, then I would up-vote those as well.

(You see how I didn't actually answer your question. Will you up-vote my answer anyway?)

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These people obviously took a lot of time to write these, and sometimes they can go up to 7-8 whole paragraphs, and I just feel bad not upvoting it, even if it's not of much use to me.

Given that there isn't nothing mathematically wrong in the answers, and it is not entirely unrelated to my question, I usually upvote it, even if it is not useful to me at the moment (like someone said in the comments). Not just for the answerer's effort, but because it might be insightful for someone else reading the post. If someone can gain anything from the answer, for me it is valid..

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