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Apparently, IT Security places limits on the number of votes I can cast in one day. This limits participation on the site. Now that I've reached my vote limit for the day, I find myself quickly losing willingness to read other questions and answers and contribute. If not the vote limit, I would have continued reading and contributing.

One of the reasons I participate on the site is that I know something about the topics, and I feel I can contribute: sometimes by answering a question myself, if it does not already have a good answer, but more frequently by upvoting other good answers that already exist. I feel like I am doing good for someone and doing a public service. Once the site removes my ability to contribute in that way, I find I have little motivation to spend any more time on the site or look at any more questions or answers.

I don't have a schedule that lets me check in to the site every day. Instead, my participation is bursty: when I have a little time, I try to check out a whole bunch of questions/threads on the site. However, the site's low daily vote limit does not seem designed to support that kind of participation.

I'm sure I'll be back at the site again sometime, but I'm just pointing out how the design of the system discourages contribution and causes at least one user to walk away. Seems like a dubious design decision to me, from the perspective of user experience and building community.

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  • The daily vote limit is part of the StackExchange codebase, so it applies to all sites, not just this one. I don't know if it's been brought up on meta.stackoverflow.com, but I would encourage you to bring it up there. – Scott Pack Apr 22 '11 at 2:18
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    @Scott: oh, it's been brought up... – Shog9 Apr 22 '11 at 2:36
  • @Shog9, thanks for the pointer. I read all the justifications in that thread, and for what it's worth, I was not persuaded. (Many of justifications given were already rebutted in the comments.) Anyway, I realize this is entirely up to the StackExchange folks how they want to spend their time and energy. This is their sandbox, we play by their rules, and I'm OK by that. And I see there is a range of opinion on this, and I'm ok with that. But personally, I still feel there is room for improvement in this area, so I think I'll leave this one up here, if that's OK. – D.W. Apr 23 '11 at 5:34
  • By all means, please do. And if you have any fresh ideas for improving the system that might benefit this or other SE sites, don't hesitate to propose them as [feature-request]s on Meta.SO. – Shog9 Apr 23 '11 at 5:37
  • Anyone want to do a query to see how many people are hitting the vote cap each day? – this.josh Jun 29 '11 at 0:46
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This was covered in Podcast #72

The daily reputation cap is partly there to encourage programmers to take a break. The goal isn’t to be on Stack Overflow, but to generally do things that make you a better programmer. While that certainly includes the fractional time slices of questions and answers that programmers so generously contribute, it also means doing your job, and writing code! To the extent that Stack Overflow itself becomes the goal, we are failing you.

The vote limit is along the same lines, though.. so just substitute "reputation cap" for "vote limit" and "Stack Overflow" for "IT Security"..

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5

It's a cliché, but... Scarcity creates value. If everyone had unlimited votes, a vote would be worth less.*

Instead of voting everything you see, stop and think about it a bit. Does it really deserve that precious vote?

Other strategies:

  • Pick the best of two answers, and up-vote that.
  • Pick the worst of two answers, and down-vote that, leaving a comment on both to explain the problem.
  • Bookmark questions to review later on, when you have more votes.
  • Remove votes from an "ok" post you previously voted on, and apply to a "great" / "terrible" post you've just discovered.

*There's a historical reason here as well... When the system was first introduced, there was no voting limit. So someone wrote a script to up-vote everything. An extreme example of how votes can be devalued when made limitless.

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  • @Shog9, thanks for the explanation. I gotta say, I disagree strongly with this reasoning. (1) If one bad user abuses the system by using a script to up-vote everything, the proper response is to ban the user and introduce reasonable limits, not make the system less useful for everyone. A reasonable step would be to allow users to have unlimited votes once their reputation is over some threshold. (2) I already am stopping and thinking about it before voting. I resent the implication that I am voting without thinking or that I am upvoting everything. That is not the case. – D.W. Apr 23 '11 at 5:19
  • (3) I already am following most of the strategies you mention. I upvote selectively. I downvote erroneous answers. But if I upvote the top 2 answers, and try to read more than 15 questions in a day, I'm over the daily limit and the site effectively tells me "sorry, I don't want you to participate any more today, please go away". – D.W. Apr 23 '11 at 5:21
  • (4) Telling me to bookmark pages is completely missing the point. Sorry, I'm not going to do that. If you raise the barrier for participation too high, I'm not going to participate. I do this as a public service. Please read my original post, where I explain this. I am advocating that a service like this should encourage users to participate and share their knowledge, not discourage them from sharing their knowledge. I think I have some useful insights to share about these topics; if the site doesn't want them, I'll go away, but I hope that's not the attitude. – D.W. Apr 23 '11 at 5:22
  • @D.W. The 30-vote limitation is the "reasonable limit" that was introduced. If it makes you feel any better, you're not the first person to bump up against this with frustration... Personally, my favorite suggested alternative is Votes should be provided slowly over time, rather than all at once - if you concur, please vote for it... – Shog9 Apr 23 '11 at 5:32
  • (5) I think your sound bite "scarcity creates value" is not accurate in this context. It's not about what a vote is "worth", it's about how much information can be conveyed from an expert to readers of the site. A channel that can send n bits, with no limit on how many 1 bits you send, can convey exponentially more information than a channel that can transmit n bits, with the limit that at most 30 of those can be 1s (and at least n-30 must be 0s). Shannon rules! – D.W. Apr 23 '11 at 5:36
  • @Shog9, I think you misunderstood the kinds of reasonable limits I was suggesting. I am suggesting that the limit on the number of votes should relaxed or eliminated for users whose reputation exceeds a certain margin. For instance, there could be a privilege "post up to 100 votes" which is granted when a user reaches 1000 reputation, and a privilege "post unlimited votes" when a user reaches a higher reputation. (Numbers are just examples). Sorry if I was inarticulate. – D.W. Apr 23 '11 at 5:39
  • @D.W. That has also been suggested - again, vote for it (and add your reasoning to it, if you can - the rationale presented currently is sadly lacking). – Shog9 Apr 23 '11 at 5:43

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