This is something that I've found vaguely weird about this site for some time: the reputations of top users are insanely high here. Today I got curious and went to other big sites on the network, and this site does feel anomalous: the top users on Super User and Server Fault would make 7th and 13th here, despite both sites being rather older and with a higher turnover in terms of questions per day. On sites with a similar age and questions-per-day turnover as Tex.SE such as Physics and Electrical Engineering, the top two rows of users have much less reputation than here. You have to go to Mathematics to find something comparable, among sites with a similar age, but they're churning through something like seven times as many questions as here.

Of course, it's quite possible that in terms of total amounts of reputation things are a bit more in line, but there I don't quite have the statistics chops to make a meaningful comparison. Either way, TeX.SE must either have (a) much more rep (hence also votes) to go around as other comparable sites, or (b) a much more skewed rep distribution curve. This query sort of vaguely supports the latter but then again you'd have to be quite careful with your comparisons.

For now, though, I want to ask this community what you think this says about this site. Does this strike you as a reasonable observation? What would you attribute it to?


There's a strong emphasis in the responses on the total number of votes, and I don't think I quite buy it. It is very easy to query for the total upvotes and downvotes in a site, and the data isn't at all unambiguous. For the comparisons above, it currently looks like this:

        TeX.SE   Super User   Server Fault   Physics        EE    Mathematics
  ↑  1,440,460    1,964,282      1,261,362   575,663   466,268      3,511,289
  ↓     17,360      254,889        168,570    91,254    78,871        380,931

From this, there's a few points worth emphasizing:

  • Compared to sites equivalent in age and current turnover, Physics and Electrical Engineering, TeX.SE does have way more upvotes around.
  • Similarly, the downvote count does seem rather low compared to everyone else.
  • However, SuperUser has a lot less rep on the top pages than TeX.SE... but it still has sizably more upvotes in the database.
  • The site with a comparable leaderboard, Mathematics, has more than twice the total rep.
  • While SU and SF do have more downvotes than TeX.SE, the negative effect of downvotes on rep is 1/5th of an upvote, and the count of (upvotes - 0.2 downvotes) for SU is still higher than the total upvotes of TeX.SE.
  • That means that explanations along the lines of "we don't downvote" that don't address that ratio have rather low explanatory power.

For me, that says that there also needs to be more concentration of rep on the top tiers, which ties in with (and provides evidence for) Should high-rep users hang back a little?.

Also, just to be clear,

  • Yes, rep is just fake internet points and ultimately doesn't matter. However, metrics like these do carry a nontrivial amount of information about each community and they are a reflection of the informal culture in the group.
  • Along similar lines, most of the comments saying 'it doesn't matter' and the like seem to come mostly from people whose experience on the SE network is here or on StackOverflow, and who may not be in a position to see just how crazy-high that rep board looks like. Trust me - it's anomalously high, and very much so. Hence this question.
  • 11
    I've never looked at this, but you may well be right. But the key thing about rep is it's not really important :-)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 20:11
  • 48
    I think maybe the rep of the top user is highly anomalous, but that of the second must be attributable to the natural skill and deserved reputation of the individual involved:-) Commented May 21, 2016 at 20:14
  • 4
    I'm not sure an 'analytical' answer is available, but I guess I'd point to 1) 'No one comes here by accident' (it's hard to mix up TeX with other stuff), 2) 'Voting should be a positive thing' (the 'baseline' of 0 votes means something hasn't attracted upvotes, so voting heavily upward is the best way to show it's useful) 3) You don't have to answer that many questions every day to get rep-capped if you do a good job on them (perhaps 4 or 5).
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 20:18
  • 17
    We do vote a lot, and we don't downvote so much. Driveby downvotes are rarer here than some other places, I think. But as well as that, there are some users who, er, are insanely prolific. They answer. A lot. Their answers are insanely good. I genuinely don't believe their reputation is over-inflated by the culture here. You can't help but notice the ludicrous number of contributions and troves of gold tag badges that go with this rep. They're very very good. We're lucky to have them
    – Au101
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 21:48
  • 13
    Yes, but if you look at the top users of server fault, you have 3503A 162Q; 2765A 0Q; 3066A 15Q. We have 12143A 0Q; 6231A 0Q; 5513A 36Q. And, as I say, the contributions are very very good
    – Au101
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 22:58
  • 1
    @Au101 Yes, that's an interesting data point.
    – E.P.
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 23:04
  • 16
    The number of experts could be smaller here, therefore the total knowledge on TeX (and the associated reputation) is held by a handful of selected, in contrast to the (tens of) thousands of programmers, where competition is skyrocketing. Those, who have many good answers will more-or-less automatically reach the daily 200 reputation cap (if such a thing exists in this site) without doing really anything, by just collecting the upvotes of random visitors every day.
    – Matsmath
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 13:28
  • 1
    Related: Badge hunt and I am a serial upvoter.
    – Matsmath
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 13:38
  • 1
    I think that the users really care about TeX, it is somewhat of an addiction. Maybe being a bit more compelling makes for that statistical difference.
    – A Feldman
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 22:30
  • 4
    @JosephWright Google seems to mix up LaTeX with other things, though ;).
    – cfr
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 1:14
  • 2
    I wonder if the number of duplicates has any influence here? A lot of the questions we get are quite 'focussed' and there's a tendency to answer them even if they could be regarded as falling into a wider general Q/A. (The logic is that a lot of users wouldn't be asking in the first place if the general Q/A was accessible to them.) This might lead to a lower dupe rate so more possibility to answer questions.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 6:04
  • 2
    @Matsmath: If you really think it's that easy to get 200 rep cap every day go ahead ;-)
    – user31729
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 9:17
  • 3
    That's no surprise, SU and SF are amongst the most hostiles Stack Exchange websites, where downvoting is a sport. Commented May 28, 2016 at 15:02
  • 2
    The people who are saying "It doesn't matter" are saying it mainly because it's possible to interpret your question as though it does matter, at least to you, i.e., you have some sort of agenda. This is buttressed by your linking to the Should high-rep users hang back a little? question and the fact that you are a somewhat sporadic user of TeX.SE. That question is now 4.5 years old, and as far as I can tell there's not too much evidence that the problems raised there are real. But then the question is a bit disingenuous. Apologies if not the case.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 23:39
  • 7
    The data you've added are not very meaningful without considering also the total number of users in each site. For instance, SU.SE has around 430k users, while TeX.SE is around 80k. The upvotes of SU.SE, which are of the same order of magnitude of TeX.SE are probably spreaded over a much larger user base. Commented May 31, 2016 at 20:13

14 Answers 14


Several reasons:

  1. We vote a lot, and we vote up.

  2. We have a narrow scope, which means there are people who can answer almost any question.

  3. For some people, TeX and friends is almost a religion which they practise through this website.

  4. Oh and I forgot to say: We vote a lot.

That's it I think.

PS: Did I mention that we vote a lot?

  • 21
    Well said. (+1 obviously) -- Also, our top users include the people who actually created and maintain the LaTeX kernel and the most frequently used packages. I don't know if that's different than on other sites. Commented May 21, 2016 at 21:58
  • 20
    Also we are a positive community and tend to treat answers as complementing rather than competing with each other, so I at least often vote up all the answers, especially if they all show different approaches. Commented May 21, 2016 at 21:59
  • 11
    A corollary to (2) is that many of the users of this site can recognise the quality of an answer on almost any question, and so feel confident that it deserves an upvote.
    – Seamus
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 8:42
  • 2
    @AndrewCashner I think you have it really there with "complementing answers". I had a single simple question on here, but the variety of approaches to solving it were impressive. Compare to my haunt in Spanish.SE where the vast majority of questions have just a single correct answer, and any other answer will either be wrong, or say the exact same thing just with greater or lesser level of detail. Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:15
  • @AndrewCashner Actually, that’s a sign of a malformed, overly-broad question, by SE standards. The entire point of the voting system is to find the best answer and avoid the need to go through all of the answers to find the best one. Voting for all answers is the same as voting for none of them, and does a reader no good when they come here seeking an answer.
    – KRyan
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 17:54
  • 10
    @KRyan I'll take your word for it about SE standards, but I feel confident about the TeX.SE standards, and the upvotes on my comment suggest I'm speaking for more than just myself. There's rarely one right answer with TeX and friends. One reason for that is the element of art and creativity that TeX was designed to encourage--part of why Donald Knuth chose the name: From the TeXBook: English words like `technology' stem from a Greek root beginning with the letters $\tau\epsilon\chi\ldots\,$; and this same Greek word means {\sl art\/} as well as technology. Hence the name \TeX Commented May 27, 2016 at 19:32
  • aaaaand upvote! :p
    – Georges
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 7:30
  1. As Tom and David mentioned in the comments, we just upvote. Even if one feels the urge to downvote a question or an answer, we encourage different approaches, like leaving a comment to help make the content better or point crass errors, or simply do not upvote the content at all (but still pointing what is going on). A question or answer that shows effort always deserves an upvote. And even in the rare cases where a question or an answer gets a downvote, we never ever downvote it below the score of -1. It's quite difficult to recover from mass negative score, so if we act like this, we kill all the chances of the user to coming back to track and fix the content.

  2. We have a voting squad. Good questions and answers deserve attention and appraisal. Sometimes, due to some unexpected traffic on the front page, we lose good threads, so there's a team to point out such questions and answers in order to give them the attention they deserve. We want every user in here to feel welcome.

  3. When upvoting good answers, the threads get off the list of unanswered threads in this site, so upvoting good content also helps the janitorial work. There's even a monthly session to discuss unanswered questions in order to provide answers or upvote content.

  4. I was the top voter of the entire StackExchange universe, so I am partially culprit for serial upvoting lots and lots of questions and answers in here. I had to refrain from voting because I was causing a lot of headaches to my friends's reputations (as the StackExchange serial voting detection algorithm was going bonkers with my voting pattern). I might even consider going back to the game and start giving these StackExchange blokes a good run for their money.

Addendum: I think the most important bit when talking about high users and reputation here at TeX.sx is: we do not care about reputation. Clearly, reputation gives us some sort of helpful tools in order to keep the site clean and under control, but we do not care about numbers. We even make recurring jokes in the chatroom about reputation and how fond we are about palindromic occurrences. Also, my credit card. Reputation does not reflect much in here, we only like to have fun with !!/battle once in a while. The point is: we want to make everybody feel welcome, so we do not "punish" bad content, we encourage learning and improvement over time, through self-discovery and a warm poking from this friendly community.

And cfr is absolutely right: everything is explained by ducks. Quack! :)

  • 1
    Excellent answer. I second this! :)
    – user101590
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 22:07

A more 'technical' type of answer:

One reason is just that the top users are deeply involved in the development of (La)TeX core itself or very prolific in package writing. This naturally enables them to answer 'any' question on TeX related topics and get the upvotes and reputation by a corresponding accept.

Concerning other programming languages etc. I doubt that there are many core developers active on SE.

Edit(1): Although I have a rather high reputation meanwhile by myself I don't regard myself as a top user on TeX.SX of course. I am only a LaTeX user that develops packages (with limited usability ;-)) and use LaTeX to create my worksheets to teach Math and Physics.

Edit(2): cfr is of course right with her statement that a package author can provide a single, very popular package, that enables him/her to answer many related questions and getting a high reputation count. I used the term 'prolific' to include this cases as well - the author contributes by maintenance, documentation of a single package as well, in this case he/she is prolific as well.

Other refer to the 'We vote much' attitude of this SE site, so I don't have to repeat that. But the voting system is a little bit biased, in my point of view.

Edit (3): I just wanted to add that although I have some high reputation by now this was just by kind upvoting of many more kind users and by reading their posts (and answers). I was a skilled LaTeX end user before coming to TeX.SX, but I learned so much here in about 3 years compared to 15 years of LaTeX usage before.

Edit (4): We have some strange downvoters here as well

  • 6
    (+1) And even somebody not involved in the core development might answer a lot of questions if they happen to maintain a popular package. I'm not sure whether this applies or not, but it might also be a potential difference. Though not as important as the Duck Effect, obviously.
    – cfr
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 13:11
  • @cfr: Well, I mentioned 'prolific' in package writing (which does somewhat include maintaining as well)
    – user31729
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 21:38
  • There's Eric Lippet over at SO, but yeah, not that many core devs of other languages.
    – k_g
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 21:57
  • I meant more that if somebody writes or maintains a popular package, being prolific may be unimportant: 1 popular package may attract lots of questions etc.
    – cfr
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 21:58
  • @cfr: Profilic does not necessarily mean a 'bunch' of packages. Maintaining can be prolific too, of course
    – user31729
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 22:14
  • @ChristianHupfer I didn't say anything about 'bunches' of packages. But my point was simply that the number and popularity of questions on a set of one or more packages here need not be proportionate to the amount of work done on that set. So somebody could be a quite non-prolific package author/maintainer but find their specialist knowledge of their particular package(s) applied to a great many questions here.
    – cfr
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 23:14
  • What do you mean by the voting system being biased?
    – Werner Mod
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 23:45
  • 4
    @Werner: Low reputation (new) users are sometimes disregarded concerning votes, in my point of view, although their answer isn't really worse than the posts by high reputation users.
    – user31729
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 23:48
  • 6
    IMO this answer gets as close to the truth as possible. We have quite a few big (La)TeX names on this platform, at least as far as counting occurrences in documentation goes. This draws a lot of attention from the user base and makes this site probably the best source for TeX related help. And to throw in another wild theory: As *TeX is most popular in teaching and academia the overall quality of answers and tolerance for less sophisticated questions is higher than average.
    – Bananguin
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:58
  • @ChristianHupfer Certainly a non-zero issue and one I'm always trying to be mindful of. There is a reason I favour suggesting in comments for the 'potentially-easier' questions (as well as the fact that experience suggests this is often the best way to help the OP, which is of course the key point).
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 16:55
  • 1
    What does the addition of "weird downvoters" mean? Does such a broad statement add anything?
    – Werner Mod
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 21:46

Mae hwyaden TeX SE yn pleidleisio'n aml iawn.

Esbonnir popeth gan hwyaid.

Gerald_G, *Rubber Duck Family* Gerald_G, Rubber Duck Family

TeX SE's duck votes frequently.

Everything is explained by ducks.

  • I've moved all of the comments here to chat: the main thrust was drifting somewhat. Can I also remind everyone that being 'welcoming' includes allowing for a variety of views.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:48
  • absolutely love seeing some Welsh here on the site, diolch yn fawr :)
    – cmhughes
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 9:53
  • @cmhughes: Yay, Chris! :) Commented May 26, 2016 at 22:09

I upvote. A lot. People vote for my answers, so I have to vote.

It's rare I don't upvote a question I answer to: as one of the moderators once told me, “if you deem a question worthy answering, then it's also worth a vote”.

I also vote answers: when they solve a problem in a “good way”, I think they deserve a vote. What a “good way” is probably depends on my approach to TeX/LaTeX; if I see an answer written the way I'd write it, it's obvious upvoting it. I always vote for answerers who show skills I don't have (the TikZ area, in particular).

Am I wrong? I don't think so. Leaving a good answer at zero score just because the OP accepted another one is silly. Even a not so good one, but which could be improved (I also add a comment, of course).

I rarely downvote: some cases do need a downvote, because the answer is blatantly wrong or the question is very ill-posed. But I always leave a comment about the downvote. Most often the downvoted answer gets removed, because the OP realizes his/her error, or fixed.

Is reputation something really important? Not so much, so long as mine is larger than David's. I'm heading to 500K (expected by the end of August 2016) and of course I am grateful to all the people who rewarded my efforts for helping them, but my real aim is just helping people by sharing my skills and trying to teach how to better use TeX.

  • Did you some kind of extrapolation of you reputation towards August? ;-) (+1)
    – user31729
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 18:23
  • @ChristianHupfer At current average rep per day, I need about 83 days.
    – egreg
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 20:38

In addition to some of the observations that we vote a lot, I think there's another reason why that voting occurs: we value substantial answers over short one liners, and we tend to comment on answers to make them better rather than post a competing answer which is minimally similar to an existing one. See also Why do people answer in comments?.

The end result of these two practices is that we have a lot of very high quality answers, and a relatively small number of answers per question. But when there are multiple answers, they are usually distinct in ways that all of the answers get some degree of upvoting.

Oh, and we vote. A lot.


Yes, we do vote a lot, but I think it's much more than that.

This community is very positive. We don't compete against each other (except perhaps playfully when we comment along the lines of "you beat me to the answer by 2 seconds"). We share our ideas freely. We encourage people: in how to get a solution that works for them, in how to write better code, etc. And, I think that makes all the difference.

I can't say how often I am shocked when I go to other sites and I see how nasty, negative, and condescending people can be, and how utterly lacking in sympathy for the individual struggling to learn and understand. After a while, I don't want to participate in those groups. And so I stop voting in those groups too.

There was a period of time when I contributed almost on a daily basis. I always appreciated the feedback I got. I don't think I can remember even once when I got a disparaging remark, though there've been a few times I've revisited old questions or answers of mine and wished I could bury my head in the sand out of shame. Yet the comments are generally very supportive, sometimes even full of praise.

Currently, I've just sort of been hovering in the background. My life has taken a turn so I have less time to participate here. And yet, I do come back---if not daily, at least 4 or 5 times a week to see what's going on. And, I continue to vote.

If you build a community that is positive, encouraging, sympathetic, and truly supportive, people will stick around and keep coming back. The more people there are who stick around, the more people there are to upvote.

  • 2
    Amazing answer! I wish I could upvote twice! :) Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:49

I haven't been here for a long time, but there's something different about this group, and it's way more than voting so many times.

In general, this community is way more friendly than, for example, Stack Overflow (in my opinion). In fact, by just looking at the questions one can learn more, thus, giving the answers and their authors what they deserve: votes.

Also, here the members encourage you not to just ask and use, but to read the documentation. As this site focus on TeX and friends, and, as I realised, some members actually are the creators of a bunch of useful packages, it's common that some questions are solved on their docs. Not directly, but that helps a lot!

I think this group doesn't focus on just reputation, but to create quality questions and answers. I mean, it'll be way more useful to look up and find interesting approaches in almost no time, than to clean up the "garbarge" before finding something actually useful. That's what I can conclude.

And don't think I'm advanced on this, I'm a beginner using LaTeX, and I've learned a lot since I signed up to here! =P

  • 3
    Well written, although I can't compare with SO itself!
    – user31729
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 9:28
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer Yeah. They're different things, but I don't want to compare them in general. I used it to highlight what this community has different from others (for example, SO).
    – user101590
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 1:52
  • 2
    +1 for friendly. Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 15:47

Whenever I google a LaTeX issue, I end up on tex.SE. Now, that may have to do with my filter bubble, but it's also the best resources for LaTeX-related trouble, no questions asked.

So I routinely get here, find good stuff, and then of course upvote it. I can only hope that this happens to many people, i.e. they land here, get help, and already have the account to vote (because you had to ask that one question, anyway).

Compared to other sites, programming questions lend themselves better to google and it's often easy to identify working answers quickly.

Compare that to, say, cs.SE (my main site): questions are inherently hard to google (many contain mathematics) and you have to read, digest, and understand most answers before you figure out whether it helps you towards your ultimate goals. So it is plausible to me that we may get fewer drive-by voters on most questions than you do here; for us, it's probably mostly a few core users and the OPs doing the voting.
(This seems to be a claim that's easy to investigate with the data explorer -- not today.)

  • 1
    That's an interesting point of view!
    – user31729
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 5:01
  • 1
    Interesting point of view indeed! Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:52

I expect to get grilled for this answer, but nevertheless I'd like to present this here. I have not much experience and I can only compare two communities: physics and LaTeX. I believe that I understand physics much better than LaTeX, and, frankly better than those I had the "pleasure" to interact on the physics site. The upshot is that top users on this site know what they are doing, after all they include many of those who actively develop LaTeX. So I think users like egreg, David, cfr, percusse, Christian Feuersänger, Martin Scharrer Torbjørn T. and many others deserve every vote they got. Among the physics site it is hard to find a top physicist. Of course, there are some very good ones, but no leaders of the field (as far as I can see). Hence the quality of the posts is also not as good as it might be, which also gets reflected by the votes.

A more practical reason is that on this site you can very easily check if an answer works. Compile it and it either works or it doesn't. On the physics site, there are several answers that are simply wrong, but it is not as straightforward to disprove an answer.

Again, the upshot is that here some of the top users are leaders of the field, which is not the case at least in some of the other communities. So it is not surprising that they get more votes.

  • 8
    nah, you're not going to get grilled by me. what you say is demonstrably true. some of us can feel a little miffed, though, since by the time we can read a question it has already been answered by someone whose time zone is six hours ahead of ours. so unless we have a whole 'nother approach, it's not worth the effort to answer. we still do care, though, that the information is complete and accurate. hence comments. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 2:01
  • @barbarabeeton Are you aware of any statistics that shows the activity on this site vs. time of the day? My feeling is that this site is most busy during the European prime time, which is of course not so surprising given that Europe-based users make up the biggest chunk of top users. It might also be instructive to have similar statistics for the other sites. And yes, if my suspicion is true, then it really "pays off" to be active during the European prime time.
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:56
  • there's most probably a way to define a search that would yield a profile of activity by time of day, but i'm not at all good at devising such queries. might get some takers if you ask in chat. (still won't work to my benefit. i'm almost always trying to sleep during the early european daylight hours -- i claim to be allergic to mornings, and consider the only decent way to be awake to watch a sunrise is to stay up through the dark hours and then tuck in after the event.) Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 14:02
  • @barbarabeeton No, sleeping (or hibernating) long enough is very important. (My feeling is, though, that the Europeans main activity is in there afternoon/evening hours.)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 14:07
  • 1
    A top user might be active at prime time, but they need a question to answer. So prime time really is the time most questions are asked.
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 15:33
  • @Johannes_B Well, maybe I should said that more explicitly, but prime time is the period in which most questions get asked. (No, it is not the time in which the word "duck" appears most frequently on the chat. ;-)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 15:57
  • @Johannes_B Please see here how pronounced the prime time effect is. Barbara's suspicion is correct.
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 17:54
  • Hahah, what's my nickname doing up there? :) I could only wish to be among those people.
    – percusse
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 20:30
  • @percusse There is a long list of comments like this comment or answer like this answer which strongly suggest that you know what you are doing.... ;-)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 20:36
  • tex.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3842/3235 the last item :)
    – percusse
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:05
  • @percusse When was the last time you had to delete an answer? (Was that before or after electricity has been discovered? ;-)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:14

Had they had been voting as much as we did then it would be an anomaly. We can easily cover their two pages with our very same top rows, compare them too:

SU voters: enter image description here

SF voters:

enter image description here

Again, on behalf of a few other users, I vote for "mark as read" almost always. Because as mentioned, we don't care about the votes except those two misters you know who

enter image description here

  • 3
    Jon Skeet and Darin Dimitrov?
    – egreg
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 20:41
  • 4
    @egreg: No, a certain DPC and EG (some high reputation bloke from Italy, as far I know, he's professor for Algebra ;-))
    – user31729
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 21:53

A few factors I don't think have been mentioned above:

  • There's often more than one right way to do things, or a best way and a most suitable way. This can lead to multiple highly-voted answers for a given question. A simple example: How do I draw...? with a tikz and a pstricks answer. My limited experience of SO is that this is less often the case (though at SU and unix this may happen again).

  • SO is huge. Although it has more questions per day, it doesn't necessarily have more questions for a given user's experience. And questions drop off the bottom of the homepage quite quickly, meaning that votes from the casual user thinking "that's interesting" and upvoting the question, and answer or both are time limited. This also applies to SU.

  • Because SO is busier and broader, I tend to arrive from google, rather than visiting the homepage regularly. So I miss out on interesting questions and the chance to vote. Again, this is true on SU as well.

  • There's no question of comparing with SO, which by its size makes all such efforts invalid. The comparisons were with sites of ~ equivalent age and size within the SE network.
    – E.P.
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 12:17
  • @E.P. you're right, I got sidetracked by a single mention of SO. however after quickly checking, my 2nd and 3rd points at least apply to SU as well.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 12:21

Upvoting is free, upvoting is fun. There are many different reasons to upvote a question or answer.

Oh interesting question, upvote.

Oh, somebody posted an answer to my question, upvote.

Or as a high and welcome, leave a positive vote.

Or you think: Oh, nice answer. Leave an upvote.

Or you think? How fast is this man typing? Does egreg have a chip in his brain directly sending his thoughts to the Your Answer interface? He types an answer faster than i can read the question. Leave an upvote.

Oh somebody posted an alternative solution. Upvote.

I have to wait 8 hours till i can vote again. I used up all my 40 possible votes.

Upvoting is very easy.

On the other hand, we are lazy downvoters. Before a downvote is done, usually two or three comments are left with suggestions for improvement.

For now, though, I want to ask this community what you think this says about this site. Does this strike you as a reasonable observation? What would you attribute it to?

Nobody races other users, nobody wants to reach a certain treshold before XYZ reaches it. So we upvote each other.

I am really not surprised.

  • 4
    You forgot ooh a duck/penguin hybrid, must upvote. :) Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:52

I think it has been said numerous times now, that we like to upvote.

I am not active on the other mentioned SE places, but i would bet they don't have the users that contribute by giving good answers, getting reputation points and give them away later with the help of bounties.
One user gave 60k away just doing this. Those 60k gotta be somewhere, most likely with the most active and busy people, the people with the highest rep.

A more detailed list can be found with the help of the Stack Exchange Data Explorer.

  • 1
    Why a second answer?
    – user31729
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 18:42
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer Different aspect. Bounties.
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 18:54

You must log in to answer this question.

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