This is meant as just a gentle nudge to remind people who are pre-disposed to vote but who, maybe, have let it slip a bit to get back in the habit.

A little background for others: this site is, generally, viewed as one of the friendliest on the SE network (I'm speaking relatively, I know that there are times when some haven't felt that it is but compared to the others then it is). One aspect of this is, I think, that we try to be welcoming - we recognise that there is a significant initial barrier to switching to TeX (or one of its friends) and that new users can flounder quite a bit. While we encourage people to ask well-formed questions (with MWEs) and help them to do so, at the same time we can acknowledge that asking for help is a Good Thing and worth encouraging.

One way that we can say, "Hey, well done for trying TeX!" is to vote up their question. It's amazing how positive such a little thing can be. Even for a user such as myself, getting a vote on a question is nice. It says that someone else recognises that I've struggled with something and have done the right thing in asking for help.

Of late, though, I get the sense that this sort of voting isn't happening so much. As evidence, I see questions which have several answers but that have no votes. This just feels wrong to me. I would urge people to consider at the least the following two principles:

  1. If a question is worth answering, it is worth voting for.
  2. If an answer is worth voting for, so is the question.

Of course, there are exceptions. But they should be exceptions.

I know that there will be people that disagree with me. That's fine. Ignore me. But I suspect that there will be people who do agree with me, but who - like me - have forgotten how much those first votes can mean on a question and have forgotten the importance of voting.

(And to those who do disagree with me - just please don't downvote a question if you just think it's gotten a few too many votes.)

  • 4
    Besides being encouraging and welcoming a more prosaic/practical reason for upvoting a newcomer's question can be providing sufficient reputation for the newcomer to be able to take advantage of essential/basic functionality like commenting. If, e.g., I answer a newcomer's question and hereby link to another question/answer, the newcomer can read that other question/answer, but s/he cannot use the commenting-function for asking short questions for clarification regarding the code presented there. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


I also like it that TeX.SE is welcoming, and I would like it to stay that way. In my view the way of implementing friendliness is as follows:

  • don't downvote
  • post personalized, constructive, actionable comments
  • if a previously unclear question is improved (with an MWE, description of how the result should look, etc.) then upvote

But upvoting a question that is not very clear or specific goes a bit too far in my opinion (I know you asked people that disagree to ignore the request, sorry!). I sometimes answer them but many times I regret it because the answer turned out to be not applicable to the asker's situation - however more importantly it gives the wrong signal, i.e., it may seem that a post does not need to show effort or be clear in order to get upvoted. I want new users to think "if I post an MWE then I get upvotes and a useful answer", and upvoting just to reward asking for help does not accomplish that.

I do see the risk that people may not stick around without some initial upvotes - but many new users do stay, or at least interact positively on their first question by means of comments, edits, accepting an answer, so the overall balance of using votes as quality metric vs. being welcoming is still ok I think.

  • 4
    I totally agree!
    – CarLaTeX
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 15:30
  • 5
    +1 Your third point is especially important, and I'm glad you added a list with etc. because providing a MWE isn't the only way to improve a question (although sometimes they're crucial). If a questioner responds to comments and improves the question it's definitely worth upvoting.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 22:36

Your gentle nudge has made me think. It has never occurred to me to upvote a question, although on the very rare occasion I have downvoted one or voted for closure. I will in future consider whether or not to vote positively on a question.

However my viewpoint is more from an answerer's side. I don't know what reputation an OP requires to acknowledge an answer but there are many, many unacknowledged answers and it can get disheartening to spend effort with no response. There was recently a question that got three workable answers; none were acknowledged. Then a week or so later the OP basically asked the same question again, asking why his code didn't work, ignoring all the answers to his original question. I admit that this is an unusual occurrence.

I think that I have tended to judge a question on the number of answers. If there are none then there is probably some problem with the question.

I feel that if OPs acknowledge, in some way, answers then there might be more folk willing to spend the effort to help OPs. If you get some recognition for an answer then you might well be more likely to upvote the question.

--- GOM

PS. I have just upvoted your post.

  • 1
    "what reputation an OP requires to acknowledge an answer" users can upvote if they have 15 rep, but they can always accept an answer, no reputation threshold for that Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 18:40
  • 1
    Thanks for responding and for thinking about it. I know I sometimes get frustrated by questioners who don't engage with the answers, but it's important to remember that the SO system can take a bit of getting used to, and if someone feels welcomed then they might stick around long enough to learn. We were all new once! Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 19:57
  • @AndrewStacey A "new user" who found TeX.SE via googling for information doesn't necessarily want to "get used to the SO system" or "stick around long enough to learn." They want to get an answer and get back to work. IMO some of the long-term users and contributors to the site (and SE in general) can lose sight of that use case.
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 13:16
  • @alephzero Shouldn't politeness come into this? Someone asks for help, gets it, and then no acknowledgements or thanks. Some questioners do this regularly. I imagine that potential answerers might well think "I just want to get back to ..." Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 17:40

You must log in to answer this question.

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