18
\$\begingroup\$

I've been wondering about this, as I have since I first arrived here all those centuries ago.

Voting habits on RPG.SE are very different than on other StackExchange sites. Very rarely do we see downvotes, and when we do, they are taken very seriously - to a degree I am still having trouble adapting to (though is very much appreciated).

Why is this? What parts of the culture of RPGs and/or this StackExchange's development and/or the scope of the site play into this?

I'm curious why this happens.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect it's related to another comparatively unusual behavior: citizens participating (voting, commenting, editing) in questions and answers unrelated to our particular comfort zones (games we play). \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Oct 19 '13 at 7:25
25
\$\begingroup\$

Partly because we often deal in qualitative advice (rather than hard data answers) and those are rarely obviously wrong. More often, a so-so bit of advice is merely less helpful rather than incorrect, so it gets ignored rather than downvoted. The quality advice (or at least, the stuff the voters agree with) floats to the top fairly quickly.

Partly because we're a fairly small, insular Stack with a pretty tight-knit community. Due to the nature of the questions, answers tend to come from established users (or users who are about to become established, simply by sticking around) rather than from Random Q. Internetperson, and that tight-knit community may, perhaps, mean we're less willing to punish mere low quality submitted by familiar names. (I'm not actually sure that's true, but it's a hypothesis I'd investigate if I were doing a rigorous study.)

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I definitely agree with the first paragraph. I'm not sure about the seconds. You can find smaller and more insular SE sites. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Oct 19 '13 at 12:32
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ As a single point of data, I'll volunteer that I'm more inclined to downvote citizens I recognize. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Oct 19 '13 at 13:52
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW has a point; we're so small that we may go easier on new faces to avoid scaring them off. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Oct 19 '13 at 14:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That's a good point, yeah. My suspicion is that our size and sense of community changes our voting patterns; I may be totally off on exactly how they're changed. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '13 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this answer, but I still find it odd; the behavior you take as an assumption, that not entirely correct answers should not be downvoted, is not an assumption on other sites. I do generally agree with you, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Aza Oct 19 '13 at 17:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Emrakul It's more that qualitative advice (as opposed to quantitative advice) is never "correct", it's just various degrees of quality. A low-quality advice answer isn't wrong, it's just "not awesome," while a high-quality answer is some degree of "more awesome." \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '13 at 17:15
  • 14
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I only downvote demonstrably wrong answers. Otherwise, upvotes determine which subjective approach is better. Voting up one/downvoting all others seems bitchy and pointless. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 19 '13 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not really sure our size is the sole or definitive cause of our voting habits--other similarly smallish SEs don't seem to have the same habits, so there's something else going on here. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Oct 21 '13 at 7:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW Well, there are two things in that sentence other than size: insular and tight-knit. Also, it's entirely subjective opinion and not data-derived in the least. ;) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 21 '13 at 9:18
5
\$\begingroup\$

It may have somthing to do with RPGs being a social activity where we put ourself more "at risk". I think people involve themselves more in RPGs they're playing than in books they're reading or applications they're programming... I know when I GM something, I can feel very annoyed, even sad, if something goes wrong or players don't enjoy themselves.

Similarly, answering to a question here is "that's what I do", and being downvoted may be read like "what you do is wrong", and it requires some self-confidence and introspection to realize that it's not, and maybe the answer just doesn't fit the question.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

Personally I was surprised (not in a good way) to see that my reputation went down when I downvoted the first time. That looks like "negative experience points". Translation: Most RPGers would assume downvoting is an action to be avoided. "In order to downvote anything, I have to hate it so much I'm willing to damage myself? Not likely!"

For my money, there's your answer.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ As if! (Kidding :P) This is an interesting explanation, and I'm actually curious if it has merit. It raises a very interesting question: do downvotes truly carry more psychological weight because we feel we're harming ourselves? I've certainly felt that way before; whether others do... \$\endgroup\$ – Aza Mar 7 '14 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am frankly surprised that no one else has said it. \$\endgroup\$ – As If Mar 7 '14 at 8:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @AsIf The rep cost for downvoting is a universal feature in all SE sites, so I don't see how it can be used to explain different downvoting habits here vs. other SE sites. \$\endgroup\$ – lisardggY Mar 7 '14 at 8:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The only claim I can somehow see as being relevant is that roleplayers are conditioned to hoard their XP, and anything that costs them XP is instinctively shunned. I wouldn't, however, necessarily stand behind such a claim. \$\endgroup\$ – lisardggY Mar 7 '14 at 8:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That is my assertion. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – As If Mar 7 '14 at 9:22
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ -1 People of every variety like to hoard their points; that's what makes the gamification work on every site. Since all those points are earned, nobody particularly likes losing a little chunk. That's why the -1 cost to downvote something exists to begin with: so that people carefully consider what they really want to downvote, and don't go too downvote-happy. It works. This is not an RPG.SE-specific phenomenon. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 7 '14 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Speaking for myself but extrapolating across the whole community: I have encountered a number of very poor answers since I posted the above, but I have absolutely no intention to harm my own score just to punish someone else. Upvotes are all that's necessary for the best answer to be discovered. Therefore the only thing that would convince me to downvote someone's answer would be a bad reason, i.e., a personal vendetta or an insult. I find it very hard to believe I'm alone in this. \$\endgroup\$ – As If Mar 23 '14 at 6:33

You must log in to answer this question.

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