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 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?
- it makes good content float to the top and bad content float to the bottom
- 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".
- it helps answerers understand if their posts are useful and accurate or not
- 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.
- 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?