A big shout out to all of us for a successful graduation into private beta. Let's make it a success now, and make sure we graduate into a full-fledged site. So, this is one post which every user of a private beta site should read and act accordingly.

This is a reproduction of a moderator's (Richard) post on meta.hermeneutics.SE; I believe it is very much applicable to this community as well. Richard wrote a post encouraging voting. I think this is a big issue because rep is the basis of our "economy", encourages (good) user activity, sorts out our content and makes the site look active. In particular Question Votes make the site look more active.

I cannot state this strongly enough. Voting is absolutely critical to the formation of a healthy SE site. And this is never more true than in Private and early Public beta.

Vote on Questions

Voting allows the community to determine what topics are allowed and what are not. Voting shows what constitutes a well-formed question and what is unacceptable for this community.

If you need help formulating better questions, the blog post Asking Better Questions might help you out. (Admittedly, it's geared towards the Stackoverflow crowd, but the philosophies there will help). Also, How to Ask directly from StackOverflow is an excellent resource.

Finally, I want to reiterate that Voting on questions is free! It doesn't cost you any reputation to to vote a question down. (Compared to answers:)

Vote on Answers

Voting on answers allows a dramatic increase in reputation. Like questions, it shows that you believe and support the answer provided. Also, vote answers up that you think are well worded and support the answer given.

You don't have to agree with an answer to vote it up!

To show that this is true, they've even created a badge for voting up competing answers (called "Sportsmanship").

If you think an answer is useful, vote it up. If you think an answer is not useful, vote it down. Either way, vote!

If you need help on writing answers, the meta post How do I write a good answer to a question? will help you out.

Final thoughts

If people do not vote, there won't be enough reputation on this site for it to be promoted. Reputation is very important to a StackExchange site as it creates the groups of people capable of maintaining the site.

To show how critical it is, Jeff Atwood posted a blog article regarding this topic: Vote Early, Vote Often

Encourage others to vote!

Quoting RobertCartaino from chat:

Vote, vote, vote. Encourage others to vote, vote, vote. On good content, leave signposts ("If you like this, please vote it up. It's important for the community!")-- in both meta and the main site. Maybe a few meta posts informing the users of the important of that type of participation. You are empowered a lot more than you know.

Don't upvote bad content (edit/suggest how to fix it instead) but make sure you remember to vote, especially for questions; if you learned something from an answer on a question, the question's probably worth an upvote too so others can find the good information.


  • 2
    By the way, I didn't realize first, but this also applies to voting down as well as up.
    – Shelvacu
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 20:12
  • 2
    Yes! Downvoting is very useful for building a good Q&A collection. It gives bad content less visibility, and downvoted questions without answers get deleted automatically after some time. Definitely downvote content that is wrong or not useful.
    – Murch
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 8:55

3 Answers 3


Agreed! It's also worth noting that many sites seem to end up with a sort of "default voting level" which gets set very early on in the beta, later influencing people's conception of whether a question or answer "deserves more votes".

It is unequivocally the case that a higher "default voting level" is better! Lets set our base level nice and high so that there is lots of room for users to see the difference between answers and questions that are poor, decent, good, better, and outstanding! Any question or answer that is on topic and useful should get at least 5-10 votes, ideally even more. Questions and answers that provide more value from there should get even more. Ideally an awesome question or answer should end up with hundreds of votes. Let's set our sights high and do some serious voting!

  • 2
    I'm sorry but I don't agree with you. I think encouraging people to vote for questions or answers they find useful is far better than asking them to "increase the default vote level"... which I'd even argue is more a symptom of the fact that there's < 300 people in this entire gated community. Questions that are on topic and useful are going to get upvoted anyway, whether you ask the even smaller meta community to do it or not. And all this aside - demanding a default number of votes (i.e. 5-10) is setting a default voting level...
    – user161
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 22:25
  • I don't see the two as being in conflict. I just want to encourage people not to stop voting something up that they otherwise would have just because it "seems like it has enough votes". To give you an idea of why we need to care about the "default vote level", we've had about 160 users active so far but the top voted question only has 17 votes and the second most only has 8, the third one 6. Is it really the case that only 6-17 people found those questions useful? Or is it more likely that some of the 160 users haven't yet upvoted all of the ones they found useful? Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 22:53
  • (for reference I've participated in a pretty large number of betas and found the "default vote level" to be positively correlated with the later success of the site). Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 22:55
  • I saw your decorated account after posting my comment and thought "this guy probably has more experience than me..."! :) Certainly - there exists those types of voting dynamics; One example I've seen is on Reddit where if someone has between -10 and 0 votes, and the comment is accurate (just rude or not PC) then you can reverse the downvotes into upvotes simply with a comment like "Not sure why you're being downvoted, this is true!". So I agree that vote dynamics are real - but I think with a community of < 300, there isn't a default voting level but rather a maximum norm voting level.
    – user161
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 0:09
  • Specifically this is what I'm circling around: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture)
    – user161
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 0:10
  • I think that's a good general guideline for mature sites when it comes to content. But we should expect the beta to have much higher levels of participation, and in any case the 99% still do most of the voting on sites like Stack Exchange and Reddit. They just don't bother to ask or answer questions. Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 0:14
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    That's a good point. Hm, I think I'm coming round to your original point. There's a bit more of an expectation on the 300 beta members to contribute in a way that'll future-proof this community on Stack Exchange. We just need to trust that enough people see content like this - and then also act on it!
    – user161
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 3:15
  • 1
    One thing we can do is follow Robert's advice: On good content, leave signposts ("If you like this, please vote it up. It's important for the community!") Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 3:18


  • Use at least 30 votes in a day, show your suffrage.

  • Use the maxium of 40 votes in a day, become a vox populi.


top voters



It's also worth considering when you answer a question, to consider upvoting the question: you answered it and probably thought there must be some value to the question or worth spending a few minutes to answer. This does not mean that all questions you answer need to be upvoted, but unless the question was quite poor, it probably "deserves" your upvote.

And if the question was poor, possibly consider editing the question to improve it; a possible incentive is that an improved question may lead to more views of it and the answer you've written, and more upvotes for your answer...

  • 3
    Exactly. I make sure I upvote a question I answered, cause it's obviously relevant to the site. Also, I upvote on-topic qns from the first posts queue. It helps in encouraging new comers who took time to post an on-topic question :)
    – Dawny33
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 6:44
  • @Dawny33 Thanks for your participation as always; IIRC you've been here since the start :)
    – eth Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 7:02
  • Yep. Fulfilled commitment too! Cheers. So happy for this site's graduation!
    – Dawny33
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 7:03

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