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Are we voting enough?

Asked by Andrew Newell on 1 Apr 2011

After about two months of MATLAB Answers, there are about 270 questions that have one or more votes. That's out of 4100 questions. For comparison, more than 1050 questions have no answers. The same is true of answers - most get no votes. The questions and answers that attract a lot of votes are mostly "meta" questions about MATLAB or MATLAB Answers, or "fun" questions (challenges). Are there really so few good technical questions and answers out there? Can we do anything to encourage more voting?

6 Comments

Andrew Newell on 2 Apr 2011

A lot of the unanswered questions deserve to be unanswered (and often this is clear from comments attached to the questions). Unfortunately, they obscure a few good questions that got no answer. It would be good to have some mechanism for deleting some of them (but that's a different question).

Jan Simon on 31 Jul 2012

bump. Voting is still rare in this forum.

Jan Simon on 2 Apr 2013

And another bump. Sorry for repeating myself, but I see so mane threads, where smarts contributors spend a lot of time and demonstrate interesting techniques - without voting for the good questions.

Please, vote much more to improve the quality of our platform.

Andrew Newell

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7 Answers

Answer by Sean de Wolski on 1 Apr 2011
Accepted answer

I'll vote for a question based on its:

  • clarity
  • example data/results
  • politeness
  • presence of error messages/specific details

It doesn't matter how advanced or not advanced it is. As far as answers, I'll vote for an answer that provides a good reference or working example/explanation, e.g:

4 Comments

Sean de Wolski on 1 Apr 2011

If you don't tell them they're wrong; how will they ever know?

Paulo Silva on 1 Apr 2011

You tell them what's wrong instead of the "-1 Vote" comment! it's easy enough.

Jan Simon on 1 Apr 2011

@Paulo: Users are responsible for their own reactions to comments of others. And as far as I can see nobody was stopped from posting until today.
But without any doubt, a detailed explanation would be more helpful.

Sean de Wolski
Answer by Jan Simon on 1 Apr 2011

No, we do not vote enough, neither questions nor answers.

A reason for this might be, that there is still no common agreement about the meaning of a vote:

Should we vote the question "How can I use EVAL to ..."?

  • Yes: Anybody should have read the answers.
  • No: Nobody should have asked this silly question. Catching further attention to this bad programming practice should be avoided.

Should we vote the corresponding answer "Read the FAQ"?

  • Yes: It is profound.
  • No: It is trivial.

And the answer "don't do this"?

  • No: It is hilarious, if it is not voted.
  • Yes: It is valuable, if it has 12 votes as a strong hint to think twice.

I'll start a new thread about voting policies.

1 Comment

Andrew Newell on 2 Apr 2011

I don't know whether to answer this here or in the thread you started! Easier to answer it here, I guess.

"How can I use EVAL to ... ?" Even a dumb question might be worth voting for if the answers are insightful (and, of course, vote for the answers).

I wouldn't vote for "Read the FAQ", but if there is a link to some earlier post then the latter deserves a vote.

Yes, vote for "don't do this", if it needs saying.

Jan Simon
Answer by Andrew Newell on 2 Apr 2011

I'm surprised that some people think that voting for questions is time consuming. It's just a button click! It is not necessary to read any questions or answers that you weren't going to read anyway, but if you think it's good - why not vote for it? Either most people aren't doing this or very few people are reading any given question.

As for valuing votes - I have often put a lot of effort into answering a question and then got no reaction of any kind. Then I wonder whether my effort has benefited anyone or my time would have been better spent elsewhere.

In some environments, such as iTunes, some people review a product and then others rate the review useful or not. This seems to work well, but there are far more votes than we see in MATLAB Answers. Perhaps the biggest problem with this voting system is that there are not many of us.

2 Comments

Paulo Silva on 2 Apr 2011

1- I'm surprised that some people think that voting for questions is time consuming. It's just a button click!

no it's not!

2- It is not necessary to read any questions or answers

yes it is!

3- very few people are reading any given question.

that's correct, sometimes even the person that puts the question disapears.

4- As for valuing votes - I have often put a lot of effort into answering a question and then got no reaction of any kind. Then I wonder whether my effort has benefited anyone or my time would have been better spent elsewhere.

I feel exactly the same but my effort is rewarded with experience/knowledge

5- Perhaps the biggest problem with this voting system is that there are not many of us.

few people can afford to waste time here, and fewer can spend a day voting just to "improve the quality" of the system.

Jan Simon on 2 Apr 2011

@Andrew: The effort put in an answer will be wasted even if the answer gets 1 vote and is accepted - in the some month it will be impossible to find it in the heap of questions. Only massive voting can lift valuable posts from the noise of useless stuff. Therefore I decided now to vote >20 times a day, because voting is a single mouse click only and I read the posts anyway. I'm sure that I can retrieve the invested time by avoiding such fruitless rhetorical discussions in the comment section. +1

Andrew Newell
Answer by Matt Fig on 1 Apr 2011

I too have been thinking about this lately. Mostly because I noticed some really good answers, some might call them 'classics' for their particular questions, which had no votes and had been bounced up to the top of the list several times that day. I went ahead and voted on them because I do think it shows people how the community feels, especially on certain perennial topics.

I do think votes convey information, and so are important. How important, I am still trying to determine... I do hope more people chime in on this one...

0 Comments

Matt Fig
Answer by Daniel on 15 Nov 2011

I have decided that I haven't been voting enough. Basically I haven't been voting at all. I have now decided that if I read a question and it is about MATLAB and provides enough detail to be answered, then I will vote for it (baring doit4me type questions). If an answer is similar to the one I would have provided, I will vote for the answer. If the answer is very different, but in my eyes not incorrect, I will vote for it.

I am anticipating voting a lot.

2 Comments

Jan Simon on 15 Nov 2011

There are a lot of threads without an accepted answer, although there are sufficient answers. A lot of users do not care about voting and accepting. Therefore I'm voting for applicable and useful answers.
This forum has about 12 contributors who create answers frequently. It is easy to identify them even without votes and reputation points. The most voted questions are meta-questions about this forum itself. Therefore my question remains: Who cares about the votes?

Daniel on 16 Nov 2011

I think currently the votes are useless, since we are not using them. If we voted for questions more frequently, then I could use the votes as a guide for determining which questions I want to read and which I want to skip. If we voted for answers more, then it would provide guidance as to whether or not the community thinks that a question has a good answer. To often the accepted answer doesn't answer the question and isn't a good general answer.

Daniel
Answer by Paulo Silva on 1 Apr 2011

Encourage voting?! really?! I fail to understand why people give such importance to votes, we are here mainly to learn with each others, share the knowledge and ask questions, the votes are merely a tool to classify what people think it's important for them, no big deal.

The thing we should encourage is more participation and reducing those 1050 unanswered questions, maybe turning those questions in simple contests.

5 Comments

Sean de Wolski on 1 Apr 2011

Accepting answers is also totally irrelevant because the people don't actually have a solution when they "accept"; they just accept the first thing to pop up.

Looking at the most recent three answers I've written that have been "accepted," not one of those people had an end solution to their problem. They commented with a "how do I do that" or a new question with the same title. Maybe it says something about the quality of my answer; or maybe it just shows a general misunderstanding of "when to accept an answer" amongst newbies.

Paulo Silva on 1 Apr 2011

Those who accept anything aren't that many, in those cases I delete my accepted answer when there's a better one, did it many times!

Sean de Wolski on 1 Apr 2011

Deleting an answer (unless there's a better one) can is bad (In my opinion). It may be useful to someone in the future. That's something very nice about the newsreader - I've found threads from the mesozoic era that are still quite useful.

Paulo Silva
Answer by Shunchao Wu on 15 Nov 2011

Hey,

I find there's no email reply for "Comment",

and "Comment" can not be modified, not be voted,

nor make the Question latest one in the questions list.

2 Comments

Walter Roberson on 15 Nov 2011

You are correct there is no notification for Comments, and that Comments cannot be modified or edited.

They do, though, move the Question to the top of the normal sorting order.

The (quite new) header "Latest Activity" will not reflect a Comment to an Answer, however.

Shunchao Wu on 15 Nov 2011

Yes, Thanks. A pity that I can not "vote" your words.

Shunchao Wu

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