An odd question, perhaps. But I think it needs to be considered.

Take for example, this question: Merge with security proposal?

As a question alone, in the Meta forums of the IT Security StackExchange, this is a good question. It is specific, on topic, and is something that the community should come to a final decision upon.

However, as an idea, it is obviously regarded as not good. I'll not go into any arguments for or against it here, but as it stands now the vote count nets out to negative three. So, either there's a lot of people disagreeing with my above assessment of the question's quality, or a lot of people are voting against the idea instead of the question.

I think this is something we need to try to standardize, so that we don't have votes competing at cross-purpose.

2 Answers 2


By tradition, voting on questions on Stack Exchange meta sites is an exception: ones does vote for or against the idea. As makerofthings wrote: β€œIt's just a way to show sentiment on good ideas or ones we'd rather not see.”

This is not necessarily a useful traditions, but you can expect people who've been active on other Stack Exchange sites to follow it. On the other hand, you can't expect other people to know about it. So I guess the offshot is that question votes are mostly meaningless on Meta.

As for the main site, I hardly ever downvote questions. If they're not good: improve, or close. If they're ok, do nothing. If they're good, upvote.

  • Interesting - as this is the first StackExchange site I have seen I didn't know that, and couldn't find any faq entry or answer on the main meta to guide in this way.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 22:30
  • 2
    That doesn't seem like a helpful practice. If there is a big important debate going on, and the voting is 50 for and 51 against, I want to know that and see points for and against in the answers, not see it swept under the rug as a "-1" question.
    – nealmcb
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 23:34
  • 1
    @nealmcb: Indeed. I'm just reporting the practice, not condoning it. I don't think the vote argument is important, 50/51 and 51/50 are equivalent, they just show a divided community. But a negatively voted question will be low in search results, which kind of makes sense for a feature request but not for other kinds of meta discussions. (I suspect the practice did start with feature requests, and got carried away.) Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 23:40
  • 1
    So now we have the question of how to answer meta questions, and how to vote on the answers. If an answer doesn't state a position, but does accurately explain current behavior, I want to appreciate that, but not vote up and thus condone the behavior :)
    – nealmcb
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 23:46
  • 1
    As @Gilles says, Meta sites are different. There are several different kinds of posts here, and voting would (should!) behave differently here too. E.g. a feature request should have the question voted on, not the answers - unless the answers clarify the request, propose an alternate solution, or add useful information. A discussion question should be voted on if you think the discussion is an important one (or a trivial one), and the answers voted on to show your opinion. Bug questions could be voted for "me too" or "not me but this is important to fix", and so on...
    – AviD Mod
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 7:39
  • Also dont forget that voting on Meta has no repurcussions, there is no rep from meta votes.
    – AviD Mod
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 7:39
  • For example, I downvoted the question, because I don't think it makes sense to talk about "standardizing voting" (dont take offense, @Iszi :) ). I upvoted this answer, because it points out that it doesnt make sense, on Meta. I did nothing on @Iszi's answer, because it is technically correct, but while it does add some meat to the discussion it doesn't really provide a useful answer here.
    – AviD Mod
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 7:42

As for how to standardize the voting, I suggest we reflect upon the suggestions in the voting privileges pages.


Whenever you encounter a question or answer that you feel is especially useful, vote it up!


  • Is the question well-formed and specific?
  • Is the question on-topic?
  • Is the question objectively answerable?
  • Are there enough details given in the question so that it can be answered?*
  • Does the question pose a special challenge to the community?


Whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect, vote it down!


  • Is the question vague and ambiguous?
  • Is the question off-topic?
  • Is the question subjective and argumentative?
  • Are there not enough details in the question for it to be answerable?*
  • Is the question too simple for the level of expertise expected in this community?

**In some cases good questions may still be lacking in detail, and these can later be expanded upon, but in many cases a lack of detail is also an attribute of a bad question.*

  • Well laid out Iszi. I have added a comment on that question to point here.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 22:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .