I like browsing multiple sites on Stack Exchange, and also upvoting content I find great. While this is pretty harmless on worldbuilding (I can like a particular way of managing elves and dwarves without anyone being hurt in the process) I feel the matter is a bit different here on security.se as answers and advices actually have a real effect on the way data is treated in applications.

Since I don't really know what is secure or not in advanced topics, even though I can feel one answer is better than the others, my vote would still be an uneducated one based mostly on feelings and reputation of answerer.

I know I can, but considering on stackoverflow, sometimes very bad but popular answers have huge amount of upvotes and propagate bad advices, this could have dramatic effect here on security.

Should I just never vote on any answers, and vote on questions I find interesting?

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    I promise, no elves have been harmed in the asking of this question. – Félix Gagnon-Grenier Oct 20 '16 at 16:07

If a post helps you understand security better, or know how to protect yourself better, then why not give it an upvote?

If it's way out of your understanding, abstaining is a safe bet.

But to be honest, we have a large knowledgeable community here, so if you upvote something that is wrong, it will get downvoted, so don't worry.

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Thats a good question, and I have struggled with it myself. How you vote is up to you and I do not want to tell you how and when to vote, but these are my informal guidelines for upvoting answer to questions where I do not have the knowledge to to assess if the answer is correct or not:

  • If there seems to be some controversy (in comments, other contradictory answers, a couple of downvotes if you have rep to see them) I usually abstain from voting.
  • If the question or answer is so freash that above mentioned controversy would not have happened yet, I usually abstain from voting.
  • If the question is semi subjective and I could imagine there being multiple other perspectvies, I usually abstrain from voting.

This lets me upvote the vast majority of good answers on questions I do no have any knowledge about, while I hope to avoid giving credit where it is not due. Off course these are not super strict rules, and I do break them when I really like an answer. I agree with Rory's general spirit - don't sweat it, we will be fine.

I should mention that another possible heuristic is the amount of rep that the person answering the question has, but I try to avoid using that since it feels unfair.

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The primary reason for voting isn't to reward the person answering; nor to confirm that high-reputation users necessarily write better answers.

The primary reason for voting is to identify a high-quality answer. Your signal (upvote or downvote) is seen by the OP, and seen by future visitors to the site: who may not know about the subject, and/or who want to sort the answers by vote-count so they read high-quality (upvoted) answer first.

For these reasons I wouldn't upvote an answer unless I knew (unless I was able to confirm) it's true.

You might also upvote answer which you personally find useful.

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