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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.

             https://blog.stackexchange.com/images/wordpress/vote-here.jpg


Above posted per chat discussion with site moderator.

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Active voter tips

Voting is easy. Unless you vote a lot.

Practice makes you faster

Active voting is a skill and you get better at it with practice. As you practice, you'll get faster at reading posts and making voting decisions.

Civic duty badge is a convenient checkpoint. Amount of votes required to get this badge is large enough to get used to site user interface and topics, to make you comfortable at fast reading and at making voting decisions.

It takes time

Reading and evaluation of posts to decide on what vote to cast takes time.

If you vote a lot, expect this to take a substantial amount of time. How much? It depends on how good you are at reading and it of course depends on the content you read.

The more you practice, the less it will take on average, but still, it'll take time.

As an example, I typically spend half an hour or even an hour daily. Your mileage may vary.

Look back

Don't limit yourself only to recently posted/updated questions. Don't stay on the first page, read through and study older posts and vote.

At lower traffic sites/tags, voting on older posts might be your only option to be an active voter. Be active, learn and practice as much as you can - even at low traffic site you can have much practice if you don't ignore older posts.

Try to vote on everything

Learn to be attentive to posts even when they don't catch your attention immediately. Practicing this will help you make faster voting decisions.

In any question you look at, try to vote on every answer and of course, on that very question.

  • Sometimes, you might find yourself reluctant to vote on particular post. Don't just skip it - take a break and try to figure why is that - this makes a useful practice in evaluating post contents. Oh, and if after thinking about it, you still feel you don't want to vote - don't vote, it's OK.

Resist pack mentality

You may find that highly voted posts have a certain appeal that kind of makes you compulsory follow the "majority vote". Resist that appeal, because making a habit of blindly following the score may damage your ability to evaluate content.

When you see a highly voted post, don't just click the up or down arrow - don't even limit yourself to quickly skimming it. Stop, take a deep breath, carefully study the post, form your own opinion - and only after that, vote as you find appropriate.

You aren't required to answer immediately

At some questions, you would want to post your own answer. This is great, but as an active voter, you better take into account that this may break the voting flow.

If you find flow breaks to be a problem, make a habit of postponing your answers. Bookmark or favorite the question and return to it after your voting routine is completed. Don't make it a hard rule though. If you strongly feel that you can make a real hit of an answer - just go for it and post immediately.

Edit

Since you already invested some effort into studying the post, make it easier for future readers and voters. Any mistakes you notice, edit and fix these.

Looking at the post "through editing screen" might also help to improve your reading skills and make voting decisions faster.

Serialize on questions, not on not users

If you do a lot of voting, you'll likely follow some systemic, serial approach in walking through the posts.

There are plenty ways to do that - pick any you're comfortable with, newest or votes or active or tags, whatever.

About the only "system" you better avoid is voting by user.

  • This user is so awesome (awful), I'll go through all their posts and up(down) vote - don't do that.

Serial voting is not welcome at Stack Exchange sites, your votes may even get reversed.

Beta voters: enjoy the stats

At beta sites, regularly review site statistics page and learn to feel the impact your voting makes.

You can shell out up to 350 reputation points a day. That's quite a power. Learn to feel the difference your voting makes - day by day, week by week.

  • "Avid users" statistics is where you make direct impact. Be persistent in active voting and you'll notice a difference you make. 200 upvotes to good questions spread reputation sufficient to add 5 avid users; 200 upvotes on good answers are twice as much. You can make an impact that big in just two weeks, think about it.
     
    Besides, there is an indirect impact your voting makes. Upvoting good posts makes their authors feel better and gives them incentive to get back to the site and post again, adding more and more of a good content. Keep your eye on questions per day, answer and visits statistics - your impact there may be not as direct and immediate, but it is there anyway.

It is important for realization of your power to come along with understanding responsibility it carries.

  • Do not upvote with the purpose to make stats look better. At beta (like at any site for that matter), it is important to recognize and downvote low quality content. One may even say, it is more important in beta site environment as the bad content could set a long-standing example there.

Your contribution to Beta is active and fair rating of the content.

  • 2
    I agree with some of this here but it seems very much focused on upvoting only...IMO encouraging users to downvote is the harder part – Rarity Jul 25 '12 at 13:34
  • @Rarity that's a valid concern, I tried to 1) make sure there's nothing sounding like do-upvote-only and 2) express the need for constructive downvoting. I think I did OK at #1 (feel free to point if you see misses there) but my draft attempts at #2 were epic fail. I am considering a dedicated post Active downvoter tips – gnat Jul 25 '12 at 14:10
  • @Rarity I edited some ode to downvoting into the text. Would appreciate if you take a look – gnat Jul 27 '12 at 22:48
  • @Rarity users don't need encouragement to down-vote, especially after the first one. – Retired Codger Apr 6 '16 at 17:54
4

For people struggling to perform their civic duty, here are a few queries that may help:

Open Questions with over 1000 views and Scores Less than 3

Questions that haven't been closed and have over 1000 views are useful (or at least easy to find). There are less than 500 questions with over 1000 views, so we should make sure that they are good representatives of our site. If they are poor quality, we should edit them in to form, or close them. If they are good quality, we should vote them up.

Open Questions with a Score Less than 3 with an Accepted Answer

Questions that have an accepted answer show that the asker found one of the answers useful. If the answer is not of good enough quality to upvote, it should be brought in to line with quality guidelines or downvoted (with better answers upvoted as well). If it is good enough, then it should be upvoted immediately (ditto with the question).

Open Questions Scored Better than 10 with more than 10 answers

Questions with 10 answers probably have some good answers, and some bad answers. You can help this process along to make the good answers more visible, and the bad answers hidden away at the bottom.

  • 1
    If you have other suggestions for good queries to find questions, please edit the post and add them. We need more votes. – jmac Oct 17 '13 at 2:23
  • consider limiting "accepted answers" to only those in open questions. Promoting answers in closed questions may be slippery, as it could motivate people answering instead of closing – gnat Oct 17 '13 at 4:30
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    You could always edit them yourself @gnat! I limited the last search to open questions, but the second cannot be limited to closed questions since it is searching for answers (answers cannot be closed, so adding closed:no will return 0 results, I will point out the bug on meta) – jmac Oct 17 '13 at 4:55
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    I fixed the second one too with an ugly workaround due to the bug with searching – jmac Oct 17 '13 at 6:43

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