Prompted by this question, I considered that there is an abysmal lack of vote-casting in Chinese.SE

By looking at the voters stats, it looks like there's basically two active voters on Chinese.SE. Two. The third ranked this quarter has cast around 8 times less votes. It's basically one order of magnitude less.


  • I don't know if the votes listed there are only up and down votes, or include also close votes and delete votes, anyway close/del votes are a definite minority.
  • the current quarter comprises July, August and September, so it's significative enough. But other aggregators (week, month) are still significative.
  • The two top voters are people who edit and dig old posts a lot (one of them is a moderator), so they naturally vote more. However I don't think this can explain the gap between the second and the third rank.

We can even go further and look at badge stats:

The civic duty badge has been awarded 47 times, of which only 8 were awarded in the last two years. 47 over 18.000 registered users, and 4000 visits per day (stats at StackExchange All Sites)

The electorate badge (Vote on 600 questions and 25% or more of total votes are on questions) has been awarded 9 times, 4 times in 2014, then once in 2017, 2018, 2019, and twice this year.

Why is voting important?

  1. it makes good content float to the top and bad content float to the bottom
  2. it helps the question asker understand which answers are relevant and helpful to their problem. Yes, the learning process is different for everyone, so an answer that is considered good (well-written, with references and sources, etc.) may simply not work for the asker. That's okay, that's what "accepting" is for. Accepting means: "this answer solved my problem". Voting means: "this answer is generally good or bad".
  3. it helps answerers understand if their posts are useful and accurate or not
  4. if only few people vote, it will look like they represent everybody else. If I downvote a question because I dislike it and nobody else upvotes it, it will look like the question is just bad (score = -1) even though it just didn't meet my taste.
  5. voting gives reputation, and reputation is how the site is self-moderated.

A moderator candidate earlier this year stated the following about voting:

Most importantly, I'd like to emphasise that not voting after seeing content should have semantic value - questions which are not voted on should be viewed as a worthy addition to our site because they have not been asked before, but which have not shown any research effort. Answers which are not voted on should be viewed as true in their content, but which again have not shown any research effort or references.

The concept above essentially means that no votes mark mediocre content. Not good enough for an upvote, and yet not bad enough for a downvote. I general I agree. It's a good explanation. However I don't see that much mediocre content on this site to fully explain this lack of voting. I do see a lot of passable content, that can use an upvote, and I do see some bad content that deserves downvotes. Do you see that much mediocre content?

Another possible explanation is the gamification of the reputation system. Maybe some users don't vote because they feel they are "competing" against other answerers. As a matter of fact, the sportsmanship badge has been awarded only one (1) time, in 2014.

What are your thoughts?

  • 1
  • Voting feels a bit off in Chinese SE. I feel like quality posts in Japanese SE are more likely to reach HNQ, even though their voting activity seems basically like Chinese SE. Anyway, our sister language sites don't show much difference in activity: French, German, English...
    – dROOOze
    Sep 2 '20 at 13:55
  • @dROOOze "Voting feels a bit off in Chinese SE" that's a kinda surprising statement. Care to elaborate? Also those other sites still have a higher average than us. Excluding the outliers, the top 10 average on Chinese is 80.2 vs German 130 and English LL 259.1. Only French is worse than us with 63.1 while being a bigger site
    – blackgreen
    Sep 2 '20 at 14:08
  • At Chinese SE at least, I have a gut feeling that goes something like this: Users initially would like to help each other through commenting, hopefully try making things clear, but it seems like we have more comment replies than post-fixing after comments are made, so more often than not comments devolve into non-constructive debates which don't go anywhere. Our most active answerers then stop supporting each other, because SE's format discourages that kind of debate, and they end up living in different worlds (not voting for/against each other at all) for fear of debate.
    – dROOOze
    Sep 2 '20 at 14:19
  • This is not evidence-based, so I can't pull any statistics. It might be my own imagination.
    – dROOOze
    Sep 2 '20 at 14:23
  • @dROOOze I don't know, what you say makes sense, but voting is anonymous so it should be the perfect way to express quick feedback without falling into lengthy debates.
    – blackgreen
    Sep 2 '20 at 14:25
  • It seems recently that a lot of downvotes are coming through, especially on questions asked by new users. I think we should be rewarding them for asking in the first place - not punishing them. If a comment can be left that is helpful to improve the quality of the content that would be much more favorable than hitting them with downvotes on their first interactions on the site.
    – Mou某 Mod
    Sep 12 '20 at 10:42
  • @Mo. Please can you share these stats? I don't have access to the 5k analytics. Anyway, I disagree that we should reward them for asking in the first place. This site is not in beta anymore. We should reward them for going through the FAQs and asking good answerable questions, just as many other new users bother to do.
    – blackgreen
    Sep 12 '20 at 11:22
  • Let me have a look what I can share. Most of the analytics cannot be made public. I still think in the interest of being more welcoming to new users and letting people feel more included - which are the goals of SE - that we should be nicer to newcomers. I wouldn't return to most SE sites after using them, myself, as a new user.
    – Mou某 Mod
    Sep 12 '20 at 12:44
  • @Mo. it's maybe a good idea to open a new meta thread to discuss your point. you do have one, and it deserves more visibility and participation (also bc I'm not the only one casting votes...)
    – blackgreen
    Sep 12 '20 at 13:01
  • I might just take you up on that when I get a moment.
    – Mou某 Mod
    Sep 12 '20 at 13:09

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