From all my experience on this site, I've concluded that the act of voting is something of emotional value. Some say it is simply an indicator of quality , but I feel the most relevant/ effecting aspect of a person using this site is the psychological response to seeing a +10 or -2. Before I continue, I would like to digress on this "indicator of quality idea". It sounds great when you first hear it, but if you carefully think about it for some time, you realize it is actually non sense, because, firstly how can quality be objectively defined? secondly, let's suppose there was, then since anyone can vote, isn't the ultimate outcome of a vote is like that of a popularity contest?
I feel as a community, many peoples in discourse of issues here try to remove that vote has any emotional aspect and that it is just an indicator of quality. Let's suppose for argument that this "voting finds quality" thing actually makes sense, even then, I believe it is impossible to remove the emotional aspect of voting just like that. Most people here (incl me) are not a stoic like Marcus Aurelius or something, and, I believe we could be sent to sadness or to cloud nine based on how many votes a post we wrote gets.
And, on a bigger scale, I think it maybe easier for one to qualitatively quantify the emotional aspect than that of the quality of a question. I think this because we feel the emotional aspect first hand. The quality aspect is too abstract to even understand, at least for me.
Given all these considerations and acknowledging that people may have emotional response to feedback given, it seems to me that one should be more cautious of upvoting and downvoting.
I think it would be best for everyone if this site could evolve into say a psychological safe space for asking and answering about mathematics rather than a sort of evolution of the fittest where only those with thickest skin can live and prosper in the system. Should a person's psychological weakness really be what prevents them from finding joy out of this site? (Rhetorical question)/ Do I need to be a "tough guy/ girl" to be able to discuss math on a public forum?
The idea (most relevant part of the post)
Let me try give the argument as succinctly as I can. It consist of two different conclusion 3. and 4.:
It can be accepted that we need some sort of quality control.
I believe that the default site feature of SE such as voting, close voting, deletion etc has led this site to be of much higher general "quality" than other q&a site offering similar avenues for discussing mathematics.
From 1. and 2., we can conclude that the SE system and the natural behavior it induce is most likely beneficial for the site on a gross scale. Hold this thought now.
We want this site to be rich in great mathematical content.
Most of us may also agree that quality outputted by a single individual on this site is related to a whole lot of micro phenomena including their own human condition (emotional state etc).
One may also accept that if an individual poster takes better small scale decision such as formatting their post, researching etc then their post will be better.
Injection of my personal belief: I believe some macro/ micro behaviors/ responses of the community is not conducive to 7., 6. ,5. and hence 4.
Clarifying terms in the argument and further considerations
I hold a belief that people carefully observing and thinking about things which happen on the site would know exactly what I mean by certain words, but to make sure we are all on same page, I will say everything explicitly.
Now, what are these micro behaviors I mention? For instance downvoting, leaving rude comments, not adjusting the talk to OP's level etc, may lead to detoriation of 5. and hence make it unlikely for 6, ultimately leading to less chance that 4. is achieved.
Let's be real here, it is absolutely unclear to me that downvoting will have any significant chance in a 6. in a way that it induces 4. or is the best way to do so. Before I get arguments that this is wrong because of 3., let me add that we only that 3. is true on a gross scale. We don't know if the individual action of such voting behavior is what generated the higher success of the site for 4..
I further think, the likeliness for someone to output something logically or mathematically great is positively related (on average) to how they feel emotionally in the long term. It maybe that in particular instance a single person posts a great question in a negative emotional state, and in another case, a bad on in a positive one, but, on an average, I think a happier person and people would provide more value in the long term.
Ultimately, the main conclusion that I make for myself from the reason given above is that inducing positive behavior and hence positive change for the site is nuanced, and can't be captured by the plain "vote up what u feel is right, vote down what u feel is wrong" attitude apply by each person individually. It is more complicated than it is, and should be really thought about more before applying.
I believe practicing a higher element of mindfulness with how we interact with others and what effect our words may have on them would lead to a higher chance of 4. happening.
Should we treat people with extra care?
Actually yeah. Are we here to make a site which will bring out the greatest aspect of the human mind like thinking etc? Or again put a person on defensive by triggering their flight or fight response?
I mean if your goal is to discuss in mathematics in an environment which may seem like a mental jungle where many lions and snakes are running about, then yeah, pretty much everything I said is irrelevant for you, but, if you say 4. is the goal, then I think it is not difficult easy to conclude that keeping it as a jungle is not the best way.
Does there exist an element of dishonesty in practicing the ideas I said above?
I believe there is really not. The view point I take is that, while all these facilities are provided by SE, the actual practice of it in current ways would be not what best causes 4.. I don't think it is far fetched to say that many people were satisfied SE's default policy from the start, otherwise we wouldn't have EOQS or have to edit the rules any more on top of the default ones.
Even if it is dishonesty, I consider it to be dishonesty from the standpoint of honesty. There is no particular value to be gained in 4. from honest.
Being principled is the way of life for some , but I personally feel we should re think in each scenario how much value the application of principle would be useful before actually applying the principle.
Rethink voting and the micro behaviors we have to each other as we use the site!
Please add in the answers particular suggestion that you wish the community would adopt;.