I just got a reminder (while upvoting an answer) that I hadn't upvoted a question in a while.

As it turned out, I had explicitly chosen to go to that particular question with the intent of upvoting the question (because I was already aware that I hadn't done so in a while and was looking for a question I felt worthy of an upvote). Nevertheless, that shows that the reminder was 'reminding' me appropriately - it had been long enough that I already knew it was true.

To be honest, I don't think I upvote a high enough proportion of questions.

My overall record is fine (about as many questions as answers have been upvoted; I think several answers upvoted for every question would be okay), but I seem to be finding it much harder to upvote questions lately.

When I read an answer, it's easy to find reasons to upvote; some good, helpful points that address the question (or important aspects of it), no major errors, and I am happy to vote up... and when I really don't think I can upvote, I can make suggestions that would make the answer better and perhaps upvote later. Indeed, I sometimes find it hard to wait until I have finished reading a well put answer before I upvote.

When reading questions, however, I don't very often feel like I am reading a good question. I don't so often think a question satisfies "shows research effort, is useful and clear".

Generally it seems like there's some problem that makes me hesitate - the question has pretty much been asked already, or the poster hasn't really thought about what they want to ask - indeed, likely hasn't even googled their question or checked Wikipedia. Maybe it's a question that wouldn't be widely useful, or (oh, so often) the poster hasn't even bothered with basics like layout or spelling. [Not everyone can spell, but computers are pretty good at it; as I type this question, I get a little wiggly red underline under misspelled words, which I assume is my (pretty standard) browser checking what I type -- it doesn't like upvote, googled and wikipedia above; the last I have now capitalized.] It is sometimes worse, like when people can't even bother to spell a word wrong the same way twice in a row.

Perhaps my standards for questions are too high, or perhaps I am missing some other opportunity to upvote questions.

The only thing that occurs to me is to be more diligent about coming back and upvoting questions that the OP is willing to improve. That doesn't seem like it would increase my upvote rate enough.

If one - or quite often, 3 or 4 - of our diligent editors makes a poor question into something approaching a decent question, giving reputation to the original poster for someone else's work (often needing a lot more effort than the original took) seems misplaced.

What are some good reasons to upvote a question? When might I think about upvoting?

  • $\begingroup$ You might be interested in my answer here: If a question is good enough for you to answer should you upvote it? $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2013 at 1:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As for editing (I do a good deal of that), I don't mind: The point is to make the thread more useful for posterity, not so much for the OP. But FWIW, if the OP doesn't care about the site, the extra rep won't mean anything; if they do care, the investment may help nudge them in a better direction. I've seen a couple of times where users said thanks & started doing better copy-editing on their own. Note also, that I don't think the spell check works for people in a non-English environment. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2013 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ @gung Thanks. I actually looked at that question on my way to composing this one, and your answer there has relevance. I believe it's still possible to get your English text spell-checked if you're a German working in Doha, it just may be slightly less convenient than what I mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Sep 30, 2013 at 2:11

1 Answer 1



When you answer a question, or think you could answer it if you had the time, that's strong prima facie evidence the question is good enough to be upvoted. Please do it.

When you do not feel comfortable answering a question but feel that you at least could understand it and the O.P. has taken the care to make it as short, clear, and focused as possible while providing any necessary details, then it deserves your positive vote.

Some questions are badly put but their intent is clear and they are interesting: they may suggest some novel way of looking at a concept, for example. I upvote those.

Factor in possible difficulties with English: when a question comes through sufficiently clearly but the English is stilted, look beyond that and consider upvoting it (and editing it for grammar and usage if you have a few minutes to spare).

Not voting

When a question needs clarification or other improvement, please leave a comment to guide the O.P. and do not vote the question up: save your vote as a reward for the improvement.

Because most of us look primarily at questions we think we can answer or about subjects we may be interested in, the fact that you have looked at it suggests you should either upvote it or write a comment suggesting an improvement.

If, due to lack of knowledge of the situation or terminology, you feel you cannot tell whether the question has been clearly formulated, then don't vote. You probably won't be spending much time with such questions anyway.


Because downvotes can discourage people, especially newcomers, save the (rare) question downvotes for just that: they go to people who have been shown what needs improvement and how to improve it but (after a suitable period of time) have not made the necessary changes. In fact, those are the questions you should vote to close, so save your downvotes for people who violate site norms (become belligerent, attack people, repeat their own questions, and so on).

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I think this is broadly speaking sensible (though much of it I do already). I was a bit concerned about the first item, since I don't see how it follows that an answerable question is necessarily - in any obvious sense - a good question (not being so terrible as to be unanswerable would seem to be too low a hurdle), and the post that @gung points to contains at least some answers that also make a similar point. However, on examining my own record over the last month, I have answered about 24 questions; of the 20 I checked, I had only upvoted about 10, and that is too low ... (ctd) $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Oct 1, 2013 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ (ctd) easily half the remaining ones could be upvoted, so while as a criterion I have reservations about it, this is in fact a useful way for me to find more posts to upvote; I don't upvote enough of the ones I answer. Having checked the numbers, over the last month it turns out that I answer fewer questions than I thought (fewer than one a day on average), and upvote more questions than I thought (more than two a day on average, but not evenly spread). In any case, it's still fewer than I'd like, so this has been a very useful answer. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Oct 1, 2013 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ I've now upvoted many of the half I had answered but not upvoted this month. When I don't see a question as worth an upvote, it looks like I need to give myself some distance from a question - maybe wait a day and check again whether I should upvote. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Oct 1, 2013 at 0:51

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