Note: This post is identical to this one on Vi & Vim stack exchange

I would like to echo a post that Scott Morrison made on Meta.Tex.SE:

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."

Especially in the beginning, let us vote early, and vote often.

  • 3
    Note: This also applies to meta voting, too.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:10
  • Borrowed from Mythology.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:11
  • 7
    At the vi site, pretty much everything was upvoted in the first month orso. Even some unsightly questions, and very dubious answers... Things have settled down by now, but please, remember that downvoting is just as (if not more) important than upvoting!
    – user38
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:36
  • 2
    @Carpetsmoker I agree downvoting is also hugely important - maybe you should make that an answer? Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 1:47

2 Answers 2


It should be made clear that this advice applies mainly to questions, which is implied but not explicit (emphasis mine):

...the expected number of upvotes for a question of a given level of excellence...

...the average vote total for a MathOverflow question is much higher...

Aggressive/premature voting on answers has the potential to hurt a site, if it leads to objectively incorrect answers being voted up by well-meaning users who either lack the expertise or just don't take the time to verify that an answer is correct before voting.

Good reasons to upvote an answer:

  • You had that problem, followed the guidance in that answer, and found it helpful.
  • You are expert enough to recognize that the guidance is correct without following it.
  • The answer is cited fully enough, and its sources authoritative enough, to recognize that it is correct even without being an expert.

Bad reasons to upvote an answer:

  • It's outside of your training and experience, but it sounds plausible and is well formatted.
  • It's written by someone with a lot of reputation points and/or a diamond by their name (on this site or any other).
  • A bunch of other users upvoted it already.

I think we need many more down votes now. There are lots of unresearched questions which are being voted into the skies. Yes FAQs are allowed here, but they don't necessarily deserve your up votes.

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