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I've noticed in a few of my own and others' questions that the number of favorites exceeds the number of upvotes. I don't have enough rep to actually view upvotes/downvotes, so when I talk about other people's questions, I really mean that the favorites exceed the score, but I expect that at least some of these questions (which seemed like pretty good questions to me) had no downvotes. In any case, for my own questions, I can tell based on reputation gained/lost what the actual votes were on a question, and there are times when the number of favorites exceeds the number of upvotes. This implies that some users favorite a question without upvoting it. My question is, why would one do this? If a question is interesting enough to be worth tracking as a favorite, isn't it interesting enough to be worth an upvote? I'm wondering if anyone who has done this can explain the rationale to me.

Note: In case anyone is checking my question history and noticing that no question actually has more favorites than upvotes, I am asking you to trust me that I have actually observed this phenomenon. At some point, clearly the upvotes caught up, but there was a point in the life of at least some of these questions (unfortunately, I can't recall which ones) when they had more favorites than upvotes.

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  • $\begingroup$ See also this somewhat related discussion. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 14 '16 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ I would contend that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of questions on this site which are extremely interesting and have excellent answers, yet are poorly written (without context, for example). Though I may favourite such questions, I will never upvote them. Depending on the question, I may even vote to close. $\endgroup$ – MathematicsStudent1122 Nov 14 '16 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ The first explanation that comes to mind is that you need at least 15 points to upvote but just one point to star. And then you need at least 50 points to comment, so someone just starting out or whatever might be mute to explain these things. $\endgroup$ – Robert Soupe Nov 22 '16 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the question is bad and we just want to watch the drama? :) $\endgroup$ – darij grinberg Nov 25 '16 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MathematicsStudent1122 I think that's a really sour move. when a post is useful enough for a favourite, you owe an upvote regardless of how it is written. Leave a comment or edit it yourself if it's not 'up to standards' $\endgroup$ – Dis-integrating Dec 30 '16 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ Related: Would you ever favourite a question you down vote? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 20 '17 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I do it because the interface doesn't provide ways to organize saved questions. I favorite something to learn but don't have time to wade through, but up vote after I've finished learning it to mark it as done but leave the favorite so I know I've visited it. Unfortunately since I have little time for so many questions, many go un upvoted. $\endgroup$ – user5389726598465 Apr 28 '18 at 8:25
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An incomplete list of reasons why one might track a question:

  • to delete them later.
  • to check if they get deleted.
  • to check if they stay closed.
  • to see if maybe they get turned from something incomprehensible into something meaningful.
  • to monitor if the fight in the comments is really over or if it might be rekindled.
  • because one finds some answer interesting.
  • because one is interested in further updates.

Yeah, that list willfully is slanted towards the negative, but really while the term "favorite" has as a positive ring to it, it is just a "bookmark" feature. There are plenty of reasons to bookmark something not so good. I for one use it considerably more often for "bad" posts than for "good" ones. (This might not show in my current list of favorites though.)

But since you say the post are not so bad, it might be more pertinent to consider that one might favorite a question thread more for some answer(s) than for the question post itself.

Another reason, especially for questions that are popular, might be that some might feel that an author already got more than their fair share of points out of a question and thus might show restrained with further up-votes.

It should also be noted that one can favorite one's own question. Thus, if we are talking about small difference this could also play a role.

Another thing, and maybe a considerable factor in the situation you describe: having looked through some of my favorites, I realize that there are quite a number of questions that I favorited where I was somewhat on the fence about their merits. I see it, I am not sure what to make of it, I favorite to revisit it later. Given the high turnover of the site, a quick favorting can be quite useful not to lose track of the question over some hours.

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    $\begingroup$ That makes sense to me. Particularly the "see if they get turned from something incomprehensible..." one, in my case. My questions sometimes tend to be long, and have a couple of typos, etc. when I first write them, as well as not necessarily being stated as clearly as I would like. I tend to do a couple edits in the hour or two after posting. While I don't think any of my questions are ever truly "incomprehensible", I could certainly imagine a reader seeing the seed of a good question in one, but feeling it needs to be clarified or fleshed out. $\endgroup$ – Gabriel Burns Nov 14 '16 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Yes; think about it I think this 'waiting for development' should be a main factor. I added a paragraph in parallel to your comment. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 14 '16 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ Do you know whether unregistered users can favourite questions? They can't upvote. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Nov 14 '16 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer I do not know this. Interesting possibility. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 14 '16 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the penultimate reason in the list. I've favorited a few questions only because an answer is interesting and/or has an interesting link in it. $\endgroup$ – tilper Nov 14 '16 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer, maybe I'm misunderstanding you but I don't see how an unregistered user can favorite a question. How could such an action be reflected in the StackExchange database if there's no corresponding account? In any case, I logged out and verified that upon trying to favorite a question I get asked to register or log in to do so. $\endgroup$ – tilper Nov 14 '16 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ @tilper there is something called unregistered user accounts. For example, you can post an answer just giving a display name and an email address yet not signing up. This answer is then linked to an unregistered user account. This account can also be used for more than one action; authentication is cookie based. But some restrictions apply, including no voting (even if the point limit is attained). $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 14 '16 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, news to me, thanks. $\endgroup$ – tilper Nov 14 '16 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ I would also add to the list of 'bookmarking' uses: questions which are lengthy and appear interesting at first glance but which I don't have time to evaluate at the moment. $\endgroup$ – Mathily Nov 14 '16 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Mathily actually I would guess that in the case of my questions, that is the #$1$ reason. I tend to post long, densely-worded questions. $\endgroup$ – Gabriel Burns Nov 14 '16 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ I favourite questions that I want to know the answer to, but which show no hint of the asker's own thoughts, and thus do not deserve an upvote. $\endgroup$ – Arthur Nov 23 '16 at 21:02
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You upvote a question because you find it useful. You star a question because you want to revisit it at some point, either after some activity there, or perhaps after lack of activity. quid already gave a nice list of reasons why you might want to revisit a question even if it is not too useful.

Another reason I often use myself is that I know that I could answer the question, but don't feel like writing that answer just now. So I star the question, and if I have some time later on and the question hasn't been answered by someone else, then I might actually answer the question. Often the reason I don't feel like answering straight away is because I don't consider the question all too useful, so again I'd likely star a question without upvoting it.

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