From the Help pages:

What is voting up?

Voting up is how the community indicates which questions and answers are most useful and appropriate.

When should I vote up?

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

Instead, it often happens that upvotes are used in the same way as a "like" on a social network.

Which are, in your opinion, the main reasons for such behavior?

In my own answers to this question, there are the ones I think are the most common, but, of course, you can add any other suggestions.

You can upvote for more than one answer to this post.

Please read all the answers before voting, don't stop at the first ones!

Edit: to clarify, for "wrong" I intend "not in line with what written on the Help pages".

The poll results will be used by Herr Professor Paulinho van Duck in his third article on the TUGBoat (the second is already in press). He reserves the right not to include an answer in his research because of moral scruples.

  • 3
    Just to clarify: if I upvote an answer below, this means that I find that it describes a wrong reason to upvote, right? – user121799 Mar 28 '18 at 18:35
  • @marmot Yes, the ones listed are "wrong" reason to upvote (if they are the only reason for upvoting) – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 18:37
  • Interesting. So the fact that the answer "The post has some duck-related content." has a rather low score means that it is not wrong to upvote a post because it has a duck-related content. Yay! – user121799 Mar 28 '18 at 18:41
  • 3
    I don't know the reason, but often I see questions which get upvoted really fast, but just aren't good questions, imho. Most of the time, they ask something general and without any example or just with snippets, but get an upvote nonetheless. – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:47
  • @CarLaTeX most of the time, duck related content answers do indeed answer the question fine, or answer a question which is about something duck related, so fit it perfectly. I think this is a bad reason to upvote an answer, but I don't think it is likely to be the sole reason for upvoting, hence I did not upvote the answer in this poll. – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:48
  • @CarLaTeX but in that answer I completely disagree with you. You listed tikz and not graphicx for graphics. The former might be great for creation of graphics, but for including graphicx is all you need and more. And I'd use KOMA which effectively replaces geometry (if you don't have to obey narrow minded page layout), fancyhdr, and caption :) Maybe I should add an answer there :) – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:55
  • @CarLaTeX I guess that is because I started with KOMA-classes. I think fancyhdr is difficult. And KOMA has an excellent documentation (if you're German, don't know how good scrguien is translated). – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:59
  • @CarLaTeX I would if I knew the reason behind the upvoting. But unfortunately I only see the symptom not the disease causing it, so no answer here :( – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 19:07
  • @Skillmon I think Memoir is better for non-German speakers who speak English. However, I always use fancyhdr etc., even though I like Memoir in theory. (I have also used a class which was parasitic on amsbook, but that was a long time ago.) – cfr Mar 30 '18 at 3:00
  • 1
    'Wrong' in what sense? Does 'wrong' just mean 'at odds with the purposes of SE's designers'? I guess I'm not sure what else it might mean here, but some of the 'wrong' reasons below don't fit that. At least, plausibly they don't. For example, voting on trust may well help good answers float to the top, which is the purpose of voting, as I understand it i.e. it is a signalling device for later users looking for answers to the question. Especially given limited time etc., voting on trust might be an effective way of supporting this purpose. – cfr Mar 30 '18 at 3:17
  • @cfr If the voted-on-trust answer is better, yes. If it is not, no. – CarLaTeX Mar 30 '18 at 7:44
  • @CarLaTeX That can't be right, surely. It can't be that if I vote-on-trust and get lucky, it was an OK reason, whereas if I vote-on-trust and get unlucky, it was a wrong reason. To be honest, I'm not sure what 'wrong' means here. I would think 'at odds with the intended purpose of voting i.e. SE's designers' purposes', but some of the discussion suggests people think 'wrong' means 'unfair' or 'unjust'. That is a very different sense of 'wrong' and different reasons will be wrong or not depending on your definition of 'wrong'. – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 2:08
  • @CarLaTeX To put this another way: I doubt that percusse thinks it wrong to upvote read answers, but I suspect that you do. percusse's answer here says that percusse's non-wrongful reason for upvoting is a 'wrong' reason in your/SE's sense. But there are more than 2 senses of 'wrong' being used. In terms of SE's purposes, voting is essentially signalling. Over the long haul, they likely want votes to give users 'appropriate' privileges (by SE's lights), but that's OK as long as things even up just enough overall. Now very tempted to adopt a disjunct of the reasons here as my voting policy. – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 2:14
  • I'm trying to be mindful of this, but I constantly catch myself doing it the like-way - especially on comments. And on comments it sucks, because I often immediately cancel the upvote, and then realise that I should have upvoted it, but I can't do it again :( – Andreas Storvik Strauman Apr 3 '18 at 16:48
  • @AndreasStorvikStrauman I think you're not the only one :):):) – CarLaTeX Apr 3 '18 at 16:50

18 Answers 18


The post is by one of the top-users, I upvoted on trust.

Of course, I'm not saying that upvoting a post by a top user is wrong, if they are top users, it's very likely their posts are excellent!

I'm saying it is wrong if I upvoted only because the post is by a top user, without even reading it and without reading the other alternative answers.

  • 1
    Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – user31729 Mar 28 '18 at 12:54
  • 5
    You know that you cannot trust the votes to this answer, as they may be motivated by trust? – samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz Mar 28 '18 at 17:03
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    @samcarter I'm not a top user, I'm TeX.SE addicted beginner! – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 17:06
  • 4
    @CarLaTeX you're among the top 100 of all time on TeX.SE and 25th this quarter. I think you're a top user. – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:22
  • 1
    @Skillmon I don't know anything about TeX/LaTeX/LaTeX3 programming. When egreg uses all those _ I don't understand what he does :) – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 18:31
  • 1
    @CarLaTeX those are actually very easy. Just read the first few pages of interface3 and then you get it. This actually enables you to program stuff in TeX more similar to multi-purpose scripting languages. – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:33
  • @CarLaTeX see for example my question here. Doing this in expl3 is pretty easy (because of the l3regex module), and egreg did write an l3 answer, but that was not my intend, as I could have done that on my own, but without using those modules was the thing I was trying to do, so I accepted wippet's brilliant answer. – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:38

The answer is the first of the list, it solves my problem, I have no time/will to read the others, even if they could be better.

  • 1
    I don't think this is a bad reason to upvote. From users' perspective, it helps to bring a working solution to their attention. That's the point of upvoting - it is not about being fair to those who write answers. It is about signalling usefulness to other users. If several solutions will do the job, upvoting any of them makes sense. – cfr Mar 30 '18 at 3:02
  • @cfr But maybe other solutions are better for the user (more correct, more simple). – CarLaTeX Mar 30 '18 at 4:58
  • 2
    But that isn't the issue. The question is: does this answer deserve an upvote? If it solves the user's problem, why doesn't it deserve that much? When accepting, people are supposed to select the answer which helps them most, but that's not the criterion for upvoting, is it? Even in theory? – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 1:48
  • @cfr Yes, if the answer correctly solves the issue, it worth upvoting, otherwise no. – CarLaTeX Mar 31 '18 at 5:15
  • Then this is not a 'wrong' reason at all, as far as I can tell. Not even in terms of Help-pages-wrongness. – cfr Apr 1 '18 at 3:42

The post has some duck-related content.

Of course, I'm not against the duck-related content, but it should not be the only reason to upvote.


The post contains a stunning image (made in tikz, pstricks, picture mode, you name it) or a beautiful typographical object (a drop cap, a decoration, and so on).

Of course, I'm not against voting posts with beautiful images, but it should not be the only reason to upvote.


The post is funny.

Of course, I'm not against funny posts, but fun should not be the only reason to upvote unless there is the tag.

  • 1
    This might be a reason to upvote comments ("google crazy latex stuff..." comment and similar). But I don't think this a top reason for answers. There are few that I'm aware of, and those I know also provide useful information. – Skillmon Mar 28 '18 at 18:25
  • @Skillmon Indeed, this is the less upvoted reason here :) – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 18:32
  • 2
    Is this a wrong reason for upvoting? ;-) – egreg Mar 30 '18 at 14:18
  • @egreg Of course no, in my opinion! But I'm trying to be as impartial as possible :) – CarLaTeX Mar 30 '18 at 14:27
  • @egreg That's why we need a definition of 'wrong'. – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 2:02

The question already has many votes (list by votes) and the user is trying to “earn” a badge related to voting. The user upvotes the question and the top answer.

  • 1
    Do you mean "the user upvotes only to get some voting-related badge"? It could be a reason, I didn't think of that, good suggestion! – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 8:11
  • 1
    @CarLaTeX Yes, that is what I mean. I know it is (sort of) stupid. But, speaking from experience, when I was very new to Stackexchange, collecting badges was very motivating, and I assume that is why this element of gamification (badges) exists. Also, I got to read many very good Q&As, and didn’t stop after 40 votes. – Philipp Mar 28 '18 at 8:13
  • Yes, it is a valid "wrong" reason, very good! – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 8:14

The post is in the top charts.

There are two types of "top charts", the one everyone can see:

enter image description here

and the one only users with reputation 10k or more can access:

enter image description here

I have a feeling that once some post is in the charts, the votes become more extreme. At the time of writing, the question Are there any research papers about TeX? and its answers dominates the positive votes, and my impression is that once a post makes it to the top charts, it gets additional attention and, as a consequence, more votes. This goes in both directions, posts with negative votes become also more negative very quickly once they made it to these charts. I stress that I have no real data on this, these are just my impressions. I am also not saying that this necessarily a bad thing. And whether or not this is a problem, depends on two things: (1) How seriously one takes the reputation score and (2) whether or not the positive effect that some (seemingly) important questions get more attention (and hence possibly an even better answer) outweighs the negative effect that the attention for other posts decreases.

  • 3
    How many 10k+ users are there and how many know about the hidden charts? I've never seen this before, had no idea it was anywhere and still wouldn't know where to find it. So I really don't know that can be a main reason, especially given the numbers of sufficiently high rep users to start with. For the other, I guess there's an ambiguity: I understood @CarLaTeX to be talking about intra-Q&A comparisons, whereas this addresses inter-Q&A comparisons. I'm not sure how many people vote up an answer only because the question makes it into the charts. – cfr Mar 30 '18 at 3:10
  • @cfr Well, I was looking at these charts for a short time and got the impression that things that are in the charts acquire rapidly more votes. It could well be that these are such great posts that they get upvoted anyway. And yes, my post here is simply to say that people should not upvote only because they are in the charts. And it is true that only a rather small fraction of users have access to these tools, but it is probably also fair to say that a rather large fraction of the votes get cast by these very users. Again, I have no real data, just impressions. – user121799 Mar 30 '18 at 3:19
  • And you're sure that this effect is not dominated by the public charts? As I say, I've never heard of these 'hidden' charts before. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I'd suspect not. Don't know about the hidden ones, but the public charts can only really explain inter-question differences - not intra-question ones. – cfr Mar 30 '18 at 3:26
  • @cfr No, I'm not at all sure. I already stressed twice that this is only my impression. On the other hand, the screenshot I posted (which is really just what the tool spat out at the time of writing) may be taken as some evidence that there could be something to the story. – user121799 Mar 30 '18 at 4:09
  • 2
    @cfr I made no difference between intra- or inter-comparisons. I only asked for reasons for upvoting which are "wrong". Even if a most upvoted answer it's likely to be excellent if you upvoted it only because it is on the list, without reading it, this could be a "wrong" reason to upvote. – CarLaTeX Mar 30 '18 at 5:08
  • I am sure that the public charts make a difference, but those list questions rather than answers. Of course, the answers garner upvotes, too, but not differentially. I can't imagine the private charts playing a significant factor, but what do I know? Maybe there really are people who inspect these charts regularly. Why, I don't know, but people certainly do odd things. @CarLaTeX And do you really think answers are getting upvotes only because they make the charts? Why think that's a significant cause of upvoting? – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 1:53
  • @cfr Well, I guess only users with access to the site analytics will have a chance to shed more light on the question of whether or not the appearance in certain charts and upvoting are correlated. ;-) Of course, one may have to disable the tools mentioned in my post for a while (or let them show placebo data) in order to say more. – user121799 Mar 31 '18 at 2:17
  • @marmot :-) You'd also need to discriminate the effects of the hidden and public charts, I guess. I assume these are sometimes in sync to some degree. However, there are probably more interesting things to do - even in the restricted domain of SE site analytics ;). – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 3:01
  • @cfr I don't think it's a significant reason for upvoting, but it's possible that some people upvote the posts only because they are on the list, maybe only reading the title and without reading the content. – CarLaTeX Mar 31 '18 at 5:19
  • @CarLaTeX In the case of the public lists, they also have to scroll down. If they aren't interested at all, that's a lot of trouble to go to. – cfr Apr 1 '18 at 3:43

The user hasn't enough understanding about TeX & Friends and pushes the vote (up) button although the question or answer is not really good.

Edit: As CarLaTeX stated: This happens also for the 'Accept' button.

  • 2
    +1, this also happens for the "accept" button :) – CarLaTeX Mar 28 '18 at 20:04

I upvoted to mark it as "read".

  • 1
    Thank you for your idea! – CarLaTeX Mar 29 '18 at 21:37
  • 1
    @CarLaTeX I'm serious :) This is what I do – percusse Mar 29 '18 at 21:38
  • 2
    Yes, of course, it's a valid "wrong" reason to upvote! – CarLaTeX Mar 29 '18 at 21:40
  • 2
    @CarLaTeX Where 'wrong' means what exactly? Not in line with the intentions of The Powers That Be? – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 2:01

The question has no upvoted answers, so I choose one at random and upvote it in order to remove the question from the unanswered queue.

Such questions are automatically bumped up by the system from time to time in the hope the answers get a review and, perhaps, an upvote. On the other hand a careful review might reveal that none of the given answer is really good; in this case either don't upvote or, preferably, write a better answer.

  • Such a answer will however not really get much upvotes -- it is bumped usually only once and if only one 'mercy' voter is there, it will get, well, only one vote – user31729 Mar 30 '18 at 14:25
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer And there's also the case where there is a good answer that, without this mercy vote, wouldn't be upvoted... – CarLaTeX Mar 30 '18 at 14:30
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer That's precisely why “mercy vote” is wrong. – egreg Mar 30 '18 at 14:31
  • @egreg: 'mercy voting' is not what I do, however... – user31729 Mar 30 '18 at 14:32
  • @ChristianHupfer The question is about reasons for upvotes, though. As such, I don't see that the likely number of upvotes for any given answer is relevant. This could still be a significant cause of 'wrong' upvotes, if enough different answers garner a single mercy vote each. (I'm not saying whether this is plausible or not: just that it is possible.) – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 1:59

the question or answer concerns or references a package that i wrote or for which i have responsibility.


Two identical (or almost identical) in code answers, and the vote goes to the newer!

Of course the newer could have a better description of the problem or explanation or whatever... And possibly could be a question that the explanation matters than a simple correction of a mistake in the code... But I am not talking about that.

  • You are welcome, but the truth is that this answer could be consider as off-topic (A careful read of the question: Nobody has a reason to upvote the newer answer). So, my answer is included (in the sense of "reason for upvoting") in your "top-users, I upvoted on trust." or "first that solves the problem". But I made it more specific and feel that I have the "right" because I have seen for example mistake from "top-user" to post a copy of my code (by mistake) 2 hours after my answer... Two or 3 hours later He: 4-5 votes Me 0. Codes identical. After uploading his own answer got mine(vote)2. – koleygr Mar 29 '18 at 19:25
  • I (and other 4 people) think it's on-topic. At most, it could be a duplicate of "I upvoted on trust". If you like, you could delete it and transform it into a comment to the duplicate answer. It could also remain as is, act as you prefer! – CarLaTeX Mar 29 '18 at 19:37
  • 1
    @CarLaTeX 'Newer' \neq 'on trust'. – cfr Mar 30 '18 at 3:06
  • I guess that some part of this explained by the fact that for some reason the oldest answer is the lowest. This only makes sense as long as additional answers are only posted if there as a reason to believe they are better. Otherwise, unless one carefully checks the time when the answers got posted, one just see that "Oh, here is an answer that solves the problem" and upvote the first. And even if one checks the time, it happens that some users radically rewrite their answer without saying this. BTW, I agree with @cfr's comment. – user121799 Mar 30 '18 at 4:35
  • @cfr I was referring to what koleygr's said in his comment, his answer could be a duplicate of "I upvoted on trust" (if the other answer is by a top-user) or "I upvoted the first" (if the other answer is not by a top-user). – CarLaTeX Mar 30 '18 at 5:35
  • @CarLaTeX I know. I just don't think it is a plausible duplicate. Those are different reasons even when the newer answer is by a top-user or a newer answer is the first. The fact that the same answer gets the upvote doesn't show that the upvoter upvoted it for the same reason. I thought your question was about reasons; if so, I don't see how different reasons can be duplicates. – cfr Mar 31 '18 at 1:57
  • @cfr That's why I said I consider this answer on-topic. – CarLaTeX Mar 31 '18 at 5:20
  • @CarLaTeX A duplicate of an on-topic answer would be on-topic, too. – cfr Apr 1 '18 at 3:44

Two identical (or almost identical) in code answers, and the vote goes to the first to be posted!

Of course the older could have a better description of the problem or explanation or whatever... but often if an answer to a simple question is posted quickly it is devoid of explanation, or is less useful than the newer answer that took longer to type up.

Often such answers will be posted between 1 second and 30 minutes apart, and in that time a non-zero number of upvotes may already have gone to the first answer, thus creating this effect.

This answer is self-demonstrating... ish. Original and antonym here. I have mostly noticed this effect on Stack Overflow, but have also seen it here occasionally.

  • @CarLaTeX Newest and first are antonyms (unless time travel is involved). One reason people upvote the older is that they consider it to be more "deserving", from what I can tell (that's mostly a guess though, hence not putting it in the answer). – wizzwizz4 Mar 31 '18 at 15:39

The OP is rude (in comments or the question itself) and I upvote the answer of the 'opponent' to show my support.


The OP has obviously little LaTeX-related experience (newbie, only a few or no previous questions) but includes a fairly minimal but complete code example.

I would upvote it almost despite the content of the question.

  • 4
    I do that, too. – CarLaTeX Apr 3 '18 at 15:43
  • 2
    After upvoting this answer :-) on second thought I'm not sure as why this should be a wrong reason. If the question is well asked and has a complete MWE, why shouldn't I upvote it? If we start not upvoting beginners' questions, we may as well close the site: I guess roughly 90% of the questions could be answered by "Study the TeXBook/LaTeX Companion/package manual". – campa Apr 17 '18 at 9:28
  • @campa That's very true :) – Dr. Manuel Kuehner Apr 17 '18 at 11:09

The answer is the first reaction after a "long" time: I am happy that someone is listening to my problems and upvote (not accept) whether the answer solved my problem or not.

  • 2
    In fact, I would upvote almost every answer to my question just because I want to show that I appreciate the time. – Dr. Manuel Kuehner Apr 3 '18 at 12:08
  • 2
    I think this is a good behavior, anyway :):):) – CarLaTeX Apr 3 '18 at 15:42

Structure and Formatting

The question/answer is well structured (using heading etc.) and usefully formatted -- you see that the person put effort into the Q/A.

Additional Visual or Graphical Effort

In addition, I find it appealing if there is a visual/graphical component such as the output of the code or even an animated GIF!

enter image description here

  • I use the formatting options in this case just for fun. – Dr. Manuel Kuehner Apr 3 '18 at 12:02
  • 1
    Is a well-written answer really a wrong reason to upvote? – Johannes_B Apr 16 '18 at 4:17
  • @Johannes_B Maybe I misunderstood the question here :) – Dr. Manuel Kuehner Apr 16 '18 at 5:05
  • 1
    I didn't really read what you wrote, but I saw a graph, so I thought it must be a good answer and upvoted it. – Michael Fraiman Jun 8 '18 at 17:26
  • 1
    @MichaelFraiman :) very appreciated – Dr. Manuel Kuehner Jun 8 '18 at 19:43

The OP flags his/her own question when he/she find it off-topic or figure out that the question is a duplicate.

Every when I go to the close vote review and see a close vote made by the OP, I automatically vote to close and upvote the OP's question without reading.

Well, at least the OP is showing some research efforts, and my upvote is for that.

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