I recently read an article on the meta Salesforce StackExchange on “Why aren’t people voting?“. The general feedback from the original poster was:
My general feeling is that people in this community need to vote more freely on questions and answers alike. What do you think?
Please read the entire question for context
I shared my feelings on the issue:
I have always used the voting system as a means of promoting good behavior. If a question is formatted properly, even if it isn’t very difficult/interesting to myself, I give it an upvote. In fact, I tend to vote on questions more frequently than answers.
I always tend to vote heavily on other answers to questions I have also answered myself. I think part of the community will only vote on answers they feel are 100% correct. If a question has 5 answers, you can vote on all 5! Voting doesn’t signify that “this is the correct answer exactly”. It signifies “this adds great content to help resolve this question”. Not everything is black and white.
Anyway, vote more and vote more freely. You don’t lose points by giving other people votes. In fact, the more you vote, the more people will vote for you too (since that person you voted for will frequent the site more often, see everyone in the community voting heavily, and vote heavily themselves)!
There are a few badges that deserve more people in them. As a community, we can and need to make this happen:
- Mortarboard – Earned at least 200 reputation in a single day – Awarded 13 times
- Epic – Earned 200 daily reputation 50 times – Awarded 0 times
- Legendary – Earned 200 daily reputation 150 times – Awarded 0 times
- Guru – Accepted answer and score of 40 or more – Awarded 0 times
We can and must do better! Get out there and vote people!! When you do, you can get these badges!
- Suffrage – Used 30 votes in a day – Awarded 35 times
- Vox Populi – Used the maximum 40 votes in a day – Awarded 29 times
- Civic Duty – Voted 300 or more times – Awarded 28 times
- Electorate – Voted on 600 questions and 25% or more of total votes are on questions – Awarded 8 times
The systems are in place to make voting lucrative. Get involved. Believe me, it helps a ton and you learn so much!
I believe the general problem is that people tend to vote only when they find the information generally important to them. For instance, take a look at Force.com IDE – Still Officially Supported?.
This question was obviously seen as valuable by a large majority of people. However, another question – NO_MASS_MAIL_PERMISSION Error from Unit Test on SingleMailMessage, received practically no attention.
The IDE issue gained 34 votes while the Error issue only got 5 votes, almost 700% more votes for the IDE issue! The issue here is that the votes for the IDE error came from everyone, because every single Force.com Developer could have been affected by that question and answer. The Error issue was only voted on by people who had that issue and the question/answer helped them resolve it. The eye opening fact about it is that the Error issue was seen by well over 2x the amount of people.
Even worse, what about my question about messaging options that I answered myself?
This question has over 2k views, well over 5x more views than the IDE question, yet it received only 2/3 the amount of votes. It provided much more information than the IDE question as well. Oddly enough, 11 people felt it was valid to upvote the answer but wouldn’t upvote the question? It just doesn’t make sense.
At the end of the day, I think there is some confusion about how the votes are supposed to be used. From the five year anniversary article on the StackExchange:
It turns out that people will do anything for fake internet points.
Just kidding. At best, the points, and the gamification, and the focused structure of the site did little more than encourage people to keep doing what they were already doing. People came because they wanted to help other people, because they needed to learn something new, or because they wanted to show off the clever way they’d solved a problem.
The important part, in my mind, is the bolded section. Let me repeat: “At best, the points, and the gamification, and the focused structure of the site did little more than encourage people to keep doing what they were already doing”. The entire purpose of the StackExchange is to share information. Gamification, or the voting system, was put in place specifically to promote people to continue doing what they already wanted to do, which was participate in the community. By not voting, we are essentially pushing people away. It is really disheartening when I see a power user like Daniel Blackhall say they are discouraged to even participate because of the disparity in voting. I feel this specifically falls on the main users of the site. As a group, we can and must do better. We shape how the community reacts. The more votes the power users provide, the more the average user will feel it is proper to vote because the overall amount of votes on the site will sky rocket.
To recap and to finalize, upvote, upvote, and then upvote again! You should vote when:
- The question is properly formatted
- The question was good enough to answer
- The answer added any additional info to the answer, even if it wasn’t the perfect answer in your mind
- The user attempted, in good faith, to contribute to the community
I am calling out all Salesforce StackExchange community members. I am calling upon you, and me, to vote more. If we as a community can commit to even half of the daily vote amount (20 votes a day), we will see massive increases in community participation. The voting is in place for the community. It’s time to give back and get more involved. Let’s do it! Upvote!
Important Note: It is important to remember that this is my personal opinion. As with any opinion, it may or may not reflect the opinion of any organization I am associated with.