"Oh! this answer has highest votes it must be good bling upvote!!".

The kind of votes that keep getting added to the most catchy answer because it has high votes already.

A kind of peer pressure that puts you on the spot to vote for a popular answer so you'd fit in the popular/hip thinking.

It's a mystery to see if most voters make it down to the bottom of the page to see new answers .

  • Question : Is this phenomenon a norm these days?.
  • Question : I am i correct in observing this phenomenon to be true?


Edit: Conversely,for example when a person with very high rep or seniority ( mention of their years of experience and such) posts an answer to the question.In some cases even though it may not be right or relevant their answers still get up votes.

  • For reasons of respect to seniority.Simply for the trouble they have taken to post an answer
  • Like you don't say no to your boss or your superior. say yes on the terms, OK it may not apply to this but it maybe useful in some other cases.
  • Up votes for reasons of not appearing to be bad or stupid to ignore or be contrary the words of a senior person( rep count/experience/age) lest their post gets flamed or discourage others in not answering the question.

That is why you would notice rep builds up easier after a certain level at a slight extent maybe due to the above factors ,Besides The obvious volume and/or good quality answers

P.S : I am not trying to flame or offend any one with high rep

( as natural consequence of providing great answers over a period of time) or seniority.Neither do i dismiss the factors of tenure,diplomacy,strategic up/down voting, Rep W***ing.

Edit2: I am not claiming that this happens every time or for every up voted question or answer.

  • 12
    Should I upvote this question?
    – Emond
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 4:30
  • 5
    I'm sometimes guilty of the opposite; I'll see an already-popular answer and just leave it even though I completely agree with it. It's probably because I feel that if my favorite answer is already way in the lead it'll stay at the top of the page, but I think there's also a rebellious little 15-year-old running around in my head telling me to go against the grain... Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 21:45
  • 2
    Heck, I'll do the opposite... if I think an answer is good... but not nearly worth the votes it got (and generally another answer is 'better' IMO) I'll downvote the higher voted question and upvote the lower voted question. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 18:13

11 Answers 11


That's The Herd Instinct. I talk about this phenomenom in another (controversed) meta post.

Voting for already highly voted answers feel "safe". Therefore, consciously or unconsciously you do it. On rare occasion, you do the inverse, by rebellion ;)

Kate mention the impact of ordering which is real and IMHO is an unfair advantage for those who answer the question first.

I've observed that phenomenum many time. It is unlikely that better answers that come later get more vote than the inferior (and first) one.

That's why timezone also affect how much reputation you can get from your answers.

  • 1
    +1 for timezones. Herd instinct sounds cooler . Awesome link
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 14:01

Because of the sort order, you can have a situation like this: read question. Formulate sorta-kinda answer, or immediately spot problem. Read first answer. Yes, that's right, upvote. Read second answer. Also right, upvote. Read third answer. Oh. Well I am kind of bored of this now so I think I will wander away.

This is why votes with the same score are shown in random order. It should even out over time, even it it's not even on one question.

  • 2
    +1 on sort order.Most people might not have the patience to stick around to see the answers at the bottom even though they may be really good. they would just up vote some popular answers( which may or may not really answer the question) and move on.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 4:30
  • +1, but consider this: there is a badge for leaving 300 votes, so unthought herd voting is an achievement on stack exchange.
    – user4051
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 12:03
  • 1
    +1 Discussion lists are so '90s (threaded style or otherwise). I thought with the popularization of tag cloads, we would start to see some discussion graphs emerge; not just categorical arrangement of topics, but also internal to the replies and comments of the topic.
    – JustinC
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 14:11

I think you're worrying about a problem that doesn't exist. There's no peer pressure to vote for the highest voted answer. There's nobody holding a gun to a voter's head saying "vote highest or else".

You will see the highest voted answer get more votes because often it is the best answer. Either it goes into more details or provides a more sensible view than the others.

Crowd-pleasing non-answers are a different issue. Those posts aren't answers and they get votes on popularity. Those should be downvoted and/or flagged for removal, depending on the question. Some of the worse questions we get attract "cheap" answers -- a link to a popular comic or a joke. Those will always gather a lot of votes, but don't mistake them for being useful.

  • 8
    +1 because this answer has the highest votes, it must be good!
    – DavRob60
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 17:17
  • o_O ? then -1 :| This was the first answer... by a user with 15k reputation. This influences a lot on the up votes received.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 3:09
  • 3
    @Aditya Did you downvote just because you just looked at my reputation? If so, you're part of the problem you describe.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 3:30
  • @Anna No. I disagree with your answer(IMHO Peer Pressure exists) but i had up voted it initially to get some traction for this topic.Seeing i cant take my up vote back i simply down voted it.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 4:01
  • @Aditya Fair enough. :) Although downvoting to cancel an upvote you can't take away (or vice versa) doesn't work. Once a vote is locked in, it's locked in and can't be changed unless the post is edited.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 4:19
  • 1
    Not that rep matters much on meta anyway... But, no. Peer pressure does not exist, because no one knows what your votes were for unless you say so. AdityaGameProgrammer, if you feel pressure, it's your own pressure, not from peers. ... I agree with Anna that we should do something about the joke/snarky/comic style answers.
    – Macneil
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 21:53
  • @AdityaGameProgrammer - How do you know there is peer pressure? Can you show some actual, real examples of this elusive phenomenon you describe?
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 3:19

I'd be surprised if it was, its anonymous voting right?

I have the problem of forgetting to vote for good questions, only good answers.

  • 2
    +1 - It is anonymous voting. Even moderators can't see your votes. That's what makes this peer pressure thing so ridiculous.
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 3:21
  • with all the begging /ranting /whining /crying by people asking to explain the down votes? I am surprised if it still is.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 5:34
  • 1
    @Aditya, can you point to some examples of said begging etc.? I am curious because I haven't seen such comments so far. I mean, I have seen (and written myself) comments plainly asking the downvoter to give an explanation. And I don't consider this begging or ranting - do you? For myself, I simply would like to know if there is any flaw in my answer, or any counterargument I can learn from. Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 13:26
  • Well, I think that's different story. If you downvote someone, why wouldn't you say why? I can understand when people complain about drive by downvoters. Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 19:18
  • Its like saying upvotes can remain anonymous where as down votes should be explained.No one asks if you upvote.I dont ever see any one asking to explain an upvote.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 9:13
  • My guess is b/c by upvoting, you're agreeing the answer is good. I don't see the need to then say why its a good answer. But if you think the answer is not good, that seems more valuable to explain why. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 18:54
  • @Andy Upvoters agree the answer is it at least on the right track or aimed in the right vicinity (accurate), even if not precisely correct. Sometimes answers get upvoted and comments explain/expand on why the upvote (enforcing and adding to the answer's precision). Good enough answers are often upvoted, while downvoted answers leave the OP/answerer wondering whether they are on the wrong area code, the wrong local exchange, or transposed a digit somewhere along the way of phoning in the call. Explaining both up and down voting can be valuable.
    – JustinC
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 14:04

Yes. I think this phenomenon is true, here and on other forums. It is probably the norm as well. This is the unintended consequence of SO/SE trying to be helpful to random people on the net. In promoting the highest rated answers to the top of the heap, they also implicitly encourage voting for the earliest answers.

A corollary to that is that if you want to rep-whore (not saying it's right), you'd best stick to unanswered questions and get a quick answer in before anyone else.

  • 1
    +1 for being the last answer on the page.
    – Canuteson
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 6:53
  • I've had plenty of my answers upvoted to the highest even though I wasn't first. The questions get pushed to the top in the "active" tab whenever a new response is posted.
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 3:20
  • 1
    I think you are talking about a different - albeit somewhat related - phenomenon, called "Fastest Gun in the West". Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 13:30

I don't think this phenomenon exists. This is simply because I can't think of a reason why someone would vote for an answer that isn't right, or why someone would vote for an answer that they haven't read, when voting is anonymous. You can't feel in with the in crowd, because no one else knows you've voted.

On the other hand, and this is something I have been guilty of, people probably do up vote answers from members who are somewhat famous (Jon Skeet, Pierre303, Anna Lear, etc.), regardless of if the answer is the best. This is because the vote is like showing support for them, rather than their answer.

The voter might not even read the answer if the person is famous enough (although this seems somewhat unlikely).

  • The bottom line is it's not a perfect system, but in general I've found that the highest voted questions are the ones that make the most sense.
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 3:23
  • +1 for the point of vote is like showing support.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 5:32
  • @Anna: thanks for the corrections! Sorry for getting your name wrong.
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 8:26
  • @jmort253: I agree. I think the SE system works well.
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 8:27

I really believe we're looking at the problem the wrong way. Answers that are upvoted because they're short, popular answers are generally the result of poorly-written questions that don't meet the guidelines for good, subjective questions. See Real Questions Have Answers for more details.

Most of these not-so-good questions are either closed, deleted, or converted to community wiki, so the upvotes don't matter for reputation.

Instead of trying to change the system, we need all of the 3000+ users to contribute to voting on questions that should be closed. If the questions can be improved, leave a comment encouraging the OP to improve the question, or try editing it yourself.

If you're a user that doesn't have the ability to close vote, you can still help by suggesting an edit, submitting a helpful comment, or flagging the post for moderator attention.

The more people we have in the community contributing to the moderation of this site, the less we'll see issues with the system itself and the more positive our experience here will be.

  • -1 for mis interpreting the intent of the question as if it was making claims that this was the all encompassing phenomenon in upvotes or downvotes.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 5:30
  • @AdityaGameProgrammer - I'm not sure I understand what you are saying.
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 5:33

I'll admit that I was a little influenced by the amount of votes with accepting an answer for my first question but I moved on from being impressed by votes and badges etc...there's some great people on here but it's also relative to how much time you want to spend here.

  • yeah, it is very subtle and kind of implicit.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 15:10

I think more serious is the issue of peer pressure affecting what people feel they should write.

I often find myself defending Microsoft because the criticisms that people have against it are often so downright superstitious and insulting to the overall intelligence of the software community (can you believe people thought SQL Server was responsible for 300,000 cases of SQL injection attacks?), but it's hard to write an answer that might paint me an apologist -- especially with my real name.

And here's the really stupid case-in-point disclaimer that I feel pressured to write: I'm nonetheless just as frustrated at Microsoft overall as anyone else.


Here's a solution:

For a period of n-days (or hours), don't show any votes on answers and don't show the authors of the answers either, and randomize the order that the answers are displayed (except perhaps negative answers). That should give "late" good answers a better chance to rise to the top and avoid favoritism.

I'm not saying this is necessarily better but I'd be an interesting experiment.

  • 1
    That would be a good solution. Just like every well maintained elections.
    – user2567
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 5:56
  • I believe IMDB does this. Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 2:20

Probably someone has said this already, but I don't think being at the top is the reason people vote for it as a good answer. I think being a good answer is the reason it's near the top. Voting is anonymous, and people often do not vote for a top answer if they disagree. Which does not, of course, mean that they vote for lower answers and pull them up.

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