It seems to me that P.SE is full of people that cares more for looking smart than for helping others out, at the same time with good questions / answers / votes.

Unfortunately, quality goes hand in hand with restrictions. I say unfortunately because restrictions are unpopular, but very needed some times.

As it is now, except for some guidelines that moderators use at their discretion (rightfully), there is nothing stopping low quality questions / answers / votes.

I suppose the voting system was put in place to help improve quality. What is really difficult for me to understand is

  • How are we supposed to get value from free currency?

We all know that inflation is bad, but the current voting system is based on hyperinflation, because when A upvotes B, A spends nothing and B earns 10 !!

That means that the voting system is more like a LIKE than a BUY system. I like whatever, but I only buy something, for a reason.

  • Maybe voting up / down should cost to A the same amount of reputation B gets / loses.
  • Maybe questions / answers should initially cost authors some reputation. (while allowing them to earn some with votes along time)

In a BUY system like this, votes up/down would be like gifts, and questions/answers like bets.


The whole point is that the voting system should work towards improving the quality of the content rather than rewarding popularity. I want a knowledge base where useful content (questions / answers / votes) is not a needle in a haystack.

I'd want P.SE to be better than other sites of this kind.

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    There's a couple things to keep in mind: 1) we want people who don't have any reputation asking questions. Much of our traffic is to serve the Google crowd, 2) if voting costs reputation, why would anyone do it? – user8 Jun 30 '11 at 20:00
  • @Mark 1) we can have a welcome bonus 2) I would buy good questions / answers, wouldn't you? – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:03
  • @Andrea 1) would defeat the purpose of your system and alienate experienced users -- why are new visitors allowed to do things for "free" that long-time contributors have to pay for? 2) I don't think you appreciate the sheer volume of posts that deserve voting (up or down). Nobody would have any rep left except those who never voted. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 30 '11 at 20:07
  • @Anna 1) well I don't think new comers start by asking 10 questions at once so a bonus worth a couple of questions won't hurt anyone, 2) here you are right: I do not appreciate because I'm already voting when I care, and I'm so critical with me and others that it happens once in a while; I can understand that hype builds on flashy votes, but not quality; of course you are a special user as a moderator – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:24
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    So why would anyone want to upvote when it costs reputation? Why would anyone answer questions if it also costs reputation (and since nobody upvotes anymore, the possibility to gain rep is very small)? It doesn't make any sense. – user281377 Jun 30 '11 at 20:31
  • @Andrea 1) You'd be surprised. :) Especially on larger and busier sites like Stack Overflow, it's not uncommon for a new user to start firing off lots of questions. There are now question asking limits implemented pretty much for that reason. 2) I'm not sure what you're getting at with the moderator remark. I still vote up or down just like everybody else. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 30 '11 at 20:32
  • Another thing to note is that question downvotes recently became free because even at the price of just 1 rep point, most people would not downvote regardless of question quality. Introducing penalties to voters isn't the way to encourage voting. In fact, introducing any penalties at all isn't a way to encourage people to contribute in the first place. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 30 '11 at 20:34
  • @ammoQ I understand that if member's are only interested in reputation, what's better: a reputation that has a real value or one that is free? – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:34
  • @Anna I understand that, but quality has a price, in every aspect of our lives, how could P.SE be different? (about moderators, I thought they have to do it as a duty) – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:41
  • @Anna is there only one engine for all the stack sites? They seem different because I have to open an account on each one. Is it not possible to have a different voting system just on P.SE? – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:47
  • @Andrea Far as I know, it's possible to adjust the amount of rep awarded (and presumably taken away) on a per-site basis, but I don't know if the entire voting system is configurable on a per-site basis. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 30 '11 at 20:49
  • @Andrea Quality has a price, sure, but we're not buying cars here. In this case we wouldn't be paying rep. We'd be paying by losing users and valuable contributions. Put in too many obstacles to participation and people will just go elsewhere because at the end of the day, using Stack Exchange isn't worth jumping through hoops. There are plenty other things out on the internet. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 30 '11 at 20:53
  • Andrea: Upvoting (as well as downvoting) a question/answer buys nothing in your system. – user281377 Jun 30 '11 at 20:59
  • @ammoQ You're right, they are gifts in my system, and usually people gives a lot of gifts, to people they value. – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 21:04
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    Andrea: Let me recapitulate: Asking costs rep. Answering costs rep. Upvotings transfers rep. Downvoting costs rep. Net result: The whole system will run out of rep, unless there is a constant stream of new users get who are granted a welcome bonus. – user281377 Jun 30 '11 at 21:11

I do not think that this will produce the outcome of better questions and answers, only fewer votes.

This is because you only buy things you like or need. The people you perceive as up-voting incorrectly will up-vote less but that won't make them up-vote differently.

As a result Programmers will become a ghost town due to a perceived lack of appreciation.

To further demonstrate my point: look at how people vote now in the up/down metric. Most people cast far far more up votes than down votes, because down voting costs, not because all the content is good quality.

One further thing I'd like to add: your idea is not without precedence. The website witcoin implements this idea with real currency. However this is a forum, rather than a Q&A site, so the dynamic is different. I cannot comment on how successful it is, as I haven't used the site.

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    +1 for "less but not differently". That's an important point. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 30 '11 at 20:02
  • @Matt but that's exactly what will build up quality over time. If I have 5 and voting that answer costs me 20% of my wealth, I'll vote up or down, only if I really care, and if I care it means quality to me. Of course we are not speaking about absolute quality, just own personal quality, the only one that make sense to the voter. But voters are all of us, the community. – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:11
  • @Andrea: But you've not addressed your issue: why people vote. You've only addressed how much they vote. This cannot drive quality. – Matt Ellen Jun 30 '11 at 20:16
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    For the record, only answer down-votes cost reputation now. Question down-votes are free. – user8 Jun 30 '11 at 20:24
  • @Matt that's an interesting question, to know why people vote. The thing is, I think people will ask / answer / vote for whatever reason only for what they care if it costs them something, and our only currency is reputation. – Ando Jun 30 '11 at 20:31
  • @Andrea: I'm not disputing that people will vote for what they care about, but I don't think what they care about is different from what they vote for/against now. – Matt Ellen Jun 30 '11 at 20:37

By making it a zero-sum game, your system provides no way to pump rep into the system. If no one has any rep to spend, then no one has a way to earn rep.

Even if you provided a rep pump, your system removes the ability to grant privileges to the highly-active contributors. The best contributors would never accumulate very much rep, because they would be spending most of their rep voting up good answers and some creating questions and answers. The ideal contributor would be running a very low balance.

Rather than tie it directly to rep, perhaps you could propose a system in which there is still some finite budget for voting. Keeping it distinct from rep allows rep to continue functioning the way it does now, and the "vote budget" could be pumped in daily at a rate that is based on reputation.

Still, even if you proposed something like that, I would think its a very bad idea. Anything that discourages voting will discourage answering, and discouraging answering discourages questioning and after awhile the site is dead.

  • You say "The best contributors would never accumulate very much rep". I don't understand you here. To help us reasoning, we could say that there are three types of contributors: mostly question-ers, mostly answer-ers, mostly vot-ers. Q-ers and A-ers can only run out of currency if they contribute garbage, otherwise they'll be actually earning (lots of) currency. For this reason questions and answers are like bets: they cost you something but they can reward you with much more. V-ers could run out of currency, so with some form of pump they earn currency over time. – Ando Jul 2 '11 at 9:37
  • Mostly V-ers are very important to the community, but for a subtler reason than feeding currency to others. They are people that decided to convert from viewers to members. So they're next step should be to convert to A-ers and Q-ers, such that the community gets fresh content. Mostly V-ers will see that if they provide very good answers or questions they'll get (faster) more currency than (slowly) got with the pump, for satisfying their voting needs. – Ando Jul 2 '11 at 9:57
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    @Andrea Do you have any evidence that people fall into such narrow usage patterns? I think a good contributor is at least both answering and voting. – Jeremy Jul 2 '11 at 12:58

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