This is copied from Scott Morrison's post on meta.latexSE:

I'm a moderator from MathOverflow, and this "question" is actually unsolicited advice, based on our experience from the initial launch of MathOverflow.

We should encourage everyone to vote positively as often as possible! Every Stack Exchange site will eventually end up with a different "base level" of voting --- that is, the expected number of upvotes for a question of a given level of excellence. (This effect occurs because people see a good question, but already with a certain number of votes, and think "oh, I would have upvoted this, but it already has enough".)

It's easy for us to affect this "base level" by encouraging high levels of upvoting now. We're setting the standards, and this really will have an effect.

(On MathOverflow, we were very active about this early on, specifically encouraging all the initial round of users to vote early and often. You can compare statistics, and see that the average vote total for a MathOverflow question is much higher than on any of the other SE 1.0 sites.)

In case it's not obvious: the rationale for wanting this base level to be high is that it provides better positive feedback to good contributors.


3 Answers 3


Good post. I strongly urge everyone to follow the advice. I see in other sections thousands look at posts but no-one votes. I do, however, want to stress the role of down-voting though. The help states;

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.

So down-voting is about factually poor posts, not about disliking the post, which seems to be the sense many have (at other sites). So I look forward to constructive and useful answers and comments!


Needed to say that on TeX.SE (it's not latex.SE), we in general set a very friendly air by refusing to downvote early and close early, by approaching new users in a friendly and helpful way, even when their question is far from perfect, by a reasonably high voting etc. This all helps the community to feel like a community, which I think is quite correct.

(Remark: TeX.SE is my "home site".)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In a beta, and particularly a private beta, early closing of off-topic questions is crucial to help define the scope of the site. $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers Only if they're clearly off-topic. It would be prefer to discuss their off-topic status first in comments, because solely closing them isn't really useful in defining the topic. $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 9:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're free to use your close votes how you choose. I've found closing questions as off-topic to be a superb way to help define the topic, as it automatically includes a mechanism for community polling, via close and re-open votes. $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 10:17

Another-solution could be, instead of 1 vote, a 5-star or 10-star rating would be better-effective.

It seems, these communities assume a good post (question/answer) will collect more votes and a bad post will collect less votes. But that is not so simple.

Maybe, a post which attracted +10 votes, each of 10 voter was originally intended to give +1 votes (in a -10 to +10 scale). Whereas a question that attracted only 2 votes, each voter probably would give it +10 (out of -10 to +10), so would actually score 20.

If any "groupthink" appears to mind of a voter, then it's not science.

Also, a ratio of (votes/number of visit) should be counted.

an option for view older question randomly. That will help the visitors to discover low-scored good posts. Yes a good question could remain low-voted, because the perception of "good" or "helpful" varies person to person i.e. subjective.


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