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Asked: Aug 12 '11 at 05:10

Seen: 760 times

Last updated: Aug 12 '11 at 08:56

I have to admit that this "question" started out of my own jealousy and frustration with the same people always seeming to garner the most votes for an answer. But then I really thought about it, and I realized something important: If the first answer to a question is more than adequate, answers the question in a clever way, then the average person possibly never bothers to do anything more than think, "That was good, deserves a vote. Yep, That's a winner!"And he does vote. Now that answer pops to the top, which puts it automatically in a position where it is more likely than other questions to be read and voted for once again and, yes, even again.

Now human nature being what it is, I would guess that many people automatically read the top few answers, vote for one of them, and never make it to the bottom of the list, where Miss Posted-Too-Late posted a great answer, but stands NO chance of garnering more than a single vote simply because of the weighted order of the already-answered questions!

Please think about this seriously. I truly believe that if the questions were not weighted in order from top to bottom, then the voting would be much more fair, and Miss-Posted-Too-Late would stand a fairer chance of getting every single vote she truly deserves.

Now, I realize that Vesuvius and Stingray and other top-vote-getters are very talented and gifted masters of IQ. They often deserve the votes that they get! But on questions where they have not answered, I have noticed a subtle bias in the system: the top answer is always more likely to grab the most votes, even if a better answer is below it. That is NOT fair.

I wonder if the questions were not arranged from most-to-least votes, if the voting would turn out to actually be more honestly fair.

Please consider this seriously. I think I have a good point.

Blessings, Jaianniah

asked Aug 12 '11 at 05:10

Jaianniah's gravatar image

Jaianniah
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edited Aug 12 '11 at 07:04

Simon%20Templeton's gravatar image

Simon Templeton ♦♦
2.2k172242


The software system we use was originally designed for a computer programmer's website called Stack Overflow. It has long been known by the users there that the first answers tend to get the most votes for the reasons you outline

But my perception of why the system has been designed that way is because it encourages quick answers as a result. "Quick" is not always "Best" but there is no surer way to kill a Q&A forum than for questioners not to receive any useful answers at all and then not participate in future. "Quick" is much better than "None".

The questioner always has the choice at any time to choose an answer as the best answer even if it is right at the bottom and that will bring it to the top of the pile instantly.

Yes, human nature tends to accept the first adequate answer as the one to upvote. But at least there's an adequate answer there and there's nothing to stop your answer being the first answer if you are quick enough.

There are many approaches to "gaming the points system" as are often discussed at Meta Stack Overflow and I've noticed that some (a minority, thankfully) play points-grabbing games at IQ. But it's a small price to pay for such a generally high quality of information exchange.

I'm sorry if you feel you are not receiving the points you deserve but you haven't really suggested a viable alternative, only what you don't like about the existing system. There are many gifted minds over at StackOverflow (within those who run it and those who use it) and if there was a clearly better approach that still generated good quick answers they would probably have found it by now.

If you believe you have come up with a better approach that preserves all the valuable features of the existing approach - which has been working quite successfully for a couple of years now - please feel free to share it.

Also, I should add that the primary reasons for the existence of the voting system are not about giving points to people "fairly". It's about ensuring that reasonable answers to questions automatically filter to the top so that other website visitors can find them quickly, and it's about letting trusted members of the community have more power over how the site runs.

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answered Aug 12 '11 at 07:34

Simon%20Templeton's gravatar image

Simon Templeton ♦♦
2.2k172242

Well, you've done a great job of explaining the system to me (and others), and I thank you for the time you took to explain this to me. I still the system DOES have this flaw, for whatever good it serves, and that because "quick is better", those of us who take the time to think about our answers will always be stuck getting less votes. Argh! Thanks again, Jaianniah

(Aug 12 '11 at 08:12) Jaianniah

One of the "tactics" that is often used on Stack Overflow is that someone posts a brief, but adequate, answer first to reserve the top spot and discourage other similar answers. Then they go back and edit the answer to give a more full and detailed response. I'm not saying that I agree with this approach but if you are really concerned about getting more votes, it's a strategy that some people use. Just don't blame me if others start throwing virtual stones at you when they realize what you are doing :-)

(Aug 12 '11 at 08:56) Simon Templeton ♦♦
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