My StackExchange background is mainly Maths.SE, and something I have noticed that appears to be different here on Music.SE is that there seem to be quite a few questions which have very few (or none) upvotes, but which have answers which have attracted upvotes.

From my perspective it appears that we are saying that we find some of the questions here sufficiently interesting to spend time answering them, but not sufficiently interesting as to be worth a single upvote.

This is an example, but there are quite a few others.

Are we being mean, and are we discouraging questioners?

  • In general, we don't have a lot of people voting on the site. We've only had 33 people vote over 10 times this month. I wouldn't necessarily call it "mean", but it is something worth examining more in depth as a community. I'll see if I can gather some data the next few days and post an actual answer.
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 25 '16 at 4:31
  • Thanks, @Dom, I would be interested in that. I just have a feeling that new visitors posting questions see people getting credit for answering their question(s), but nobody seems to think their question is worth a single upvote. I reckon this could discourage them from becoming more regular contributors.
    – Old John
    Dec 25 '16 at 11:41
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    I've sorta noticed this too. Sometimes I catch myself reading a question, enjoying it, and then skimping on a vote. I don't think it's being mean necessarily, but maybe people aren't as considerate or aware. I feel that voting is what makes the world of SE go 'round, so I appreciate this question. +1, for what it's worth... Dec 26 '16 at 18:09
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    Honestly, I started doing this sometimes because people never up-voted my questions - which starts to make you cold hearted at up-voting others. I've never had a harder time gaining rep than trying to on stackoverflow... The more mature sites appear to be much more difficult to gain rep in which is really lame, because now all the easy questions are asked an answered. Dec 27 '16 at 17:14
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    I just featured our vote early, vote often meta post in response to what I'm digging up. I'll post a full answer later on tonight, but the short version is our question/answer vote ratio is similar to other sites, but our overall votes are pretty low
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 27 '16 at 22:42
  • Thanks @Dom, I read that meta post a few days ago, and agree with the sentiments. I find it interesting that on MathOverflow (which I found a fiendishly difficult site to gain reputation) it is very hard to find questions with 0 upvotes but having answers with several upvotes, whereas on Music.SEit seems to be much more common. For example I find it bewildering that this question has never been deemed worthy of a vote: music.stackexchange.com/q/51127/2535. (Now that I have found it, I will upvote it, of course!)
    – Old John
    Dec 27 '16 at 23:01
  • I started on Math.SE also, and I agree with the comparison. At the same time, there are so many "cultural" differences between Math.SE and Music.SE that it's not really necessarily fair to compare them directly. For what are probably obvious reasons, it is much less common to ask questions lightly on Math.SE (or Physics or Chemistry, etc.), while at the same time I find SF&F, Movies and TV, and similar stacks to be less "serious". Dec 27 '16 at 23:15
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    @KolobCanyon I think if one's focus is to gain rep, then many Stacks may feel cold. If one's focus is to gain and share knowledge, without regard to rep, then the more mature sites tend to be much more edifying and delightful. Dec 27 '16 at 23:17
  • I am curious: some of the comments that were posted here earlier seem to have vanished. For example there was a comment by Matthew Read and a response to that - have they been deleted???
    – Old John
    Dec 27 '16 at 23:24
  • Yup, I deleted them since I managed to forget your opening phrase by the time I got to the end. @Dom Would be very interested in seeing your analysis. I just took a quick look at Data.SE and it appears that our per-user vote average is about 25% less than Mathematics (so I can see where you are coming from Old John). As another example, it is however over 50% higher than Math Overflow.
    – user28
    Dec 27 '16 at 23:33
  • @ToddWilcox I agree. I use to it for knowledge, but the rep is cool too. Maybe I could use it to get a job or something Dec 27 '16 at 23:36
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    @MatthewRead I have to say that I take a rather dim view of my comments on this being arbitrarily deleted without my consent. If I cannot rely on what I post here being safe from arbitrary deletion, then perhaps I should delete the question?
    – Old John
    Dec 27 '16 at 23:38
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    Your comment only pointed out what was already in your question. We always remove outdated comments and those that have been addressed (I myself have dozens on this site that have been deleted by others), I don't think it's arbitrary or harmful. As for this question, it's a discussion worth having. You could request to have it dissociated from your account, if you desire, but I don't think "If you read what I wrote or look at my profile, you will see that I am coming from Maths.stackexchange." is worth all of this.
    – user28
    Dec 28 '16 at 0:07
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    Please keep the comments to the topic. In the meta comments can have a little more of a discussion aspect then on the main site, but they are still temporary and can be removed at any time.
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 28 '16 at 5:56
  • This also seems to be a 'nature of the beast' kind of thing. For example, I can easily answer a question that I asked years ago, to myself, in my musical journey. My answer will prob be a good one, based on years of experience, and would get upvoted by others with the same experiences, subsequently. If, however, the other voters and I discovered the answer to this question on our own (many of us are self-taught) then we might not consider the QUESTION a very good one... Music is a bit different, and more personal, than math with the inclusions of creative inspiration and technical prowess... Dec 31 '16 at 15:27


Our question/answer ratio is comparable to other SEs. There are a lot of variables to what gets votes and what doesn't get votes, but we could definitely improve in our voting in general.

Let me start out by saying that voting is a very important part of any SE. Looking at the overall community voting patterns yields results we can utilize and learn from especially when seeing where our strengths and weaknesses are on a site. We also should separate "being mean" from "not having enough voting". Voting should not have much to to with being mean or being nice, the content should be the sole indicator on weather or not content is voted on. There will be zero vote questions and answers sometimes due to the quality of the content, but if we're missing voting on content that is a big problem we need to address.

Comparing one site to another is always tricky for many reasons including different activity levels, different user bases, different objectives, ect.. For this reason looking at just raw numbers isn't very useful, but looking at ratios for gives a much better results. Math and Music are very different in many of these fields so looking at more than just two will also help identify if there is a serious problem on the site. The next few graphs will compare three SEs, Math, Music, and Worldbuilding. Worldbuilding was chosen because it has a similar QA distribution slope to us along with having a comparable size.

Question/Answer Ratio

The first thing to look at in general is the question/answer vote ratio as it will give an good indicator of how our site compares to other regardless of the amount of votes cast. These graphs specifically show the question/answer ratio the past 52 weeks with the query that produced them being shown above.

Music SE QA Vote Ratio

Music SE QA Vote Ratio

Math SE QA Vote Ratio

Math SE QA Vote Ratio

Worldbuilding SE QA Vote Ratio

Worldbuilding SE QA Vote Ratio

While we do have a lower ratio in general compared to Math SE (besides for the 2 week spike), we have a higher ratio compared to Worldbuilding SE. Other SEs fall into similar ranges. This at least shows that compared to other SE's we split our votes between questions and answers similarly. This does not say conclusively though if we consistently vote on new content which

Questions and Answers Per Week

To gauge how well the ratio fits with the number of questions and answers per week, the number of questions and answers per week needed to be examined. This query looks at the raw number of questions and answers per week. I would have preferred a ratio like above, but I'd just rather get the results out.

Music SE QA Vote Ratio

enter image description here (TODO post graphs here and others)

Voting Data

Looking at the raw voting data, one thing jumps out as a specifically is how the votes cast per week stack up to the actual number of questions and answers asked. While Music SE has about 2-3 ratio of question votes to questions per week, Worldbuilding has a 6-8 ratio. Math is comparable to Music in this aspect, but the sheer size and traffic of Math is much greater which shouldn't necessarily be the case in this situation. Another query better outlines the issue of voting on this site. The results are suppose to show the top 200 voters in a year, but in our site we only have 153 above the threshold of 0.05 votes per day which is not a good stat. Those numbers translate to 1 vote every 20 day. Our highest is just under 5 votes per day and it drops off rather fast. The other sites have much higher votes per day which I think shows off the real issue which is we need people to vote.

(TODO post graphs here)


While this post is not complete yet and several more things should be looked into like new user question and answer posts per week and how many votes per week older questions and answers get, a basic pattern is starting to emerge which is we as a community should be voting more.

  • If someone could find a better solution to posting graphs from Data.SE I'm all for it. If someone also wants to add queries that would be nice too.
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 28 '16 at 5:48
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    It might help to explain what these metrics even mean. For example, for the Q/A ratio... lower is better? Why? Quantity of answers (or questions) doesn't necessarily have anything to do with quality. Dec 31 '16 at 3:33
  • Can we compare voting activity to question viewing activity? If few people are even reading questions then we wouldn't expect questions to get many votes just because of inactivity, not because of voting apathy. Also, to me not all questions are either good enough to get an upvote nor bad enough to get a downvote. Maybe I'm misusing the voting system in that regard, but if I never abstained I'd be casting a lot more down votes, not up votes, and that feels "meaner". Dec 31 '16 at 3:40
  • @ToddWilcox There's a lot of data out there and I still need to clean up this post quite a bit. There's no query we can do for quality, but we can say at what rate we're voting on questions vs answers, if it's normal, and if there are other outliers. The graphs are more meant to show that for the amount of questions and answers we have, we're in the ballpark of other SEs. The last two are more to show that while users do vote, it's not at as good of a rate as other SEs which could be contributed to a lot of things, but should be a reminder to vote on content that deserves it (either way)
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 31 '16 at 4:50

I somewhat disagree with the idea that only good questions lead to good answers. Bad questions can also have interesting answers that lead to the body of knowledge on this site expanding.

I do think that we on this site is somewhat snobbish in how we upvote. Many of the highly rated questions are aimed at advanced issues.

These seem to be the question our experienced users find best but we should remind ourselves that just because the question is easy to answer or straightforward does not mean it is bad or not worthy of upvotes.

After all, our site is not just aimed at answering advanced questions

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    Some people feel that an upvote is a signal of "We want more of such content here". If someone likes to see expert questions (which seems to be the philosophy behind SE sites) they would upvote more expert questions more. I wouldn't call it "snobbishness", just preference for more expert content.
    – DVK
    Dec 30 '16 at 21:38
  • I would bet our highest rated questions appeared on the hot questions list with an interesting title and therefore garnered up votes from casual Music.SE members. That's definitely true for my highest voted Music answer. It's a decent answer, but not my best by far. The question just got a huge number of eyeballs and therefore my answer got a lot of eyeballs and therefore a higher number of total votes than better answers that were hardly seen. Dec 31 '16 at 3:36
  • @ToddWilcox yep the votes HNQ questions greatly outweigth typical questions. I'd be interesting in seeing actual data from that but that data isn't available (for whatever reason).
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 31 '16 at 4:52

Get out there and vote!

I've sorta noticed this too. Sometimes I catch myself reading a question, enjoying it, and then skimping on a vote. The thing that's important to remember is that, like a democracy, SE runs on votes. That's what the whole system is based on. I second the notion: We need to vote more.

Sometimes, I think the reason for neglecting to vote can be narrowed down to just not being aware enough, or even considerate is a word. When I browse questions from now on, I will make it a habit to consider above all,

"Does this question get an up vote, or a down vote?"

I hesitate to say that these are the only two options, since I'm sure there's always cases where questions are best just left be, but I think it almost makes sense that voting of some kind ought to be preferred to just ignoring it. This site being community run, our job is to be vetting all of the questions that we read, and vetting them in your own mind just isn't enough.

  • Personally I upvote questions that deserve it (IMHO), downvote ones that deserve it, and abstain on questions that deserve neither. Probably 30% of questions (and answers) that I read get no vote from me because of their mediocrity. I read about 80% to 90% of questions (some things I know nothing about, like flugelhorn or British musicianship testing/rating stuff), and obviously abstain from voting on anything I haven't read or don't understand. Perhaps I am not voting as intended or desired. At least I'm voting in a way I feel has integrity. Jan 5 '17 at 8:19

Here's one of my own questions that just might be the proof-in-the-pudding for your theory, Old John. What acoustic instruments have the widest inherent range of timbre??

The community really seems to hate my question but, somehow they love all of the answers to it... lol

Also, it is pertinent to mention Crocker's Rules here; and, the fact that there is little to no consideration in this regard within our music community (and, most others, I'm sure...) Probably for the same reasons I was mentioning in the comment section above.

Crocker's Rules:

Declaring yourself to be operating by "Crocker's Rules" means that other people are allowed to optimize their messages for information, not for being nice to you. Crocker's Rules means that you have accepted full responsibility for the operation of your own mind - if you're offended, it's your fault. Anyone is allowed to call you a moron and claim to be doing you a favor. (Which, in point of fact, they would be. One of the big problems with this culture is that everyone's afraid to tell you you're wrong, or they think they have to dance around it.) Two people using Crocker's Rules should be able to communicate all relevant information in the minimum amount of time, without paraphrasing or social formatting. Obviously, don't declare yourself to be operating by Crocker's Rules unless you have that kind of mental discipline.

Note that Crocker's Rules does not mean you can insult people; it means that other people don't have to worry about whether they are insulting you. Crocker's Rules are a discipline, not a privilege. Furthermore, taking advantage of Crocker's Rules does not imply reciprocity. How could it? Crocker's Rules are something you do for yourself, to maximize information received - not something you grit your teeth over and do as a favor.

"Crocker's Rules" are named after Lee Daniel Crocker.

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