In the early days of this site a small community of users was upvoting good questions to levels that seem unreachable now. A lot of new questions are more focused on individual research now, but why do they gain not a single upvote at all?

Upvoting (and downvoting), collecting points and badges are central parts of the Stack Exchange network. We should use them for community building and to encourage individual users.

  • A downvote on this meta question is my sort of humor.
    – lejonet
    Commented Sep 5, 2020 at 9:47
  • 1
    To be honest, if we are looking for community building, up votes and down votes are not that common across sites, so I'm not wholly convinced of their use in that respect. More useful would be responses from the Original Posters - I'm not sure if SE is particularly guilty here but it certainly happens elsewhere that a careful answer appears to be ignored. NB this is only indirectly relevant to the original question here, I know!
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:15
  • 1
    @AdrianB38 I agree that voting isn't a useful way to build community -- and I don't think it's intended to be; it's intended to be a measure of quality or usefulness or expertise. But if it's going to fulfil its intended purpose, it can't also be part of the welcome mat -- welcoming comments and helpful answers are much better ways of making people want to return.
    – user6485
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:58

3 Answers 3


I too would like to see much more voting on both questions and answers to encourage new and old users alike to ask and answer more questions.

I am happy to see some downvoting but, as a site still labeled as a Beta, I think we will build our community quicker if upvotes greatly outnumber them.

If anyone is wondering how many questions with no votes we have they can be found using https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/search?tab=newest&q=is%3aquestion%20votes%3a0 but please only upvote them if you think that they are useful i.e. as per the tooltip.

I thank all those who have been voting this year: https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/users?tab=Voters&filter=year

  • I don't follow the Meta closely, but I thought we'd been told not to worry about Beta status?
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 9:41
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    @AdrianB38, I'm certainly not worrying about Beta status. It's a label, that's all. If we ever graduate, we'll lose the label, get to elect our moderators and nothing else will change. Site designs for graduated sites are a mirage at present, which is the only other 'reward' for graduating.
    – user6485
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 9:50
  • @AdrianB38 You're probably thinking of this Meta G&FH SE Q&A: genealogy.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3436/… As much as we have been reassured that the Beta label is meaningless nowadays, I personally think the fact that it still has not been removed is unwise to ignore.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 9:58

In the early days we had a number of highly motivated people wanting to make the site a success, and well aware of the way SE works. Good questions and answers were crafted, and people voted enthusiastically (possibly over-enthusiastically) so questions racked up exaggerated totals that weren't entirely representative of their quality. There was plenty of opportunity to ask a question which hadn't been asked before, and people worked at making questions and answers relevant to more than just the OP -- there were (of course) questions about individual ancestors, but answers most often focused on the techniques that anyone in a similar situation could apply.

These days, there are fewer highly-active users. The 'old hands' don't have so many questions to ask, and we get a lot of 'drive-by' posters -- one question and gone -- who don't for the most part understand or want to understand SE.

A lot of questions are duplicates, or near-duplicates, and I for one find it hard to see any value in upvoting the umpteenth iteration of 'I share this much DNA with somebody. Could they be my X?'. I'm not downvoting them, although perhaps I should because they most show very little research effort. I'm also not convinced questions about 'what might this place be called today' or 'can you read this word for me' deserve upvotes either. I will however upvote a good answer to one of those uninspiring question if it provides good information that's widely useful or demonstrates that the person answering is an expert in their field.

Out of interest, I scanned the most recent 30 questions. 4 were closed as duplicates or off-topic. 9 (30%) got more than 2 upvotes. Two got a negative score. And the rest all have 1 or 2 votes -- there isn't a single question with no-upvotes. So somebody is sprinkling fairy-dust fairly evenly over everything. I also note that the highest voted questions were the more interesting ones/better presented as well, which is reassuring -- most people seem to be voting for quality, not simply giving out cookies for just turning up.

So, I have to say I'm not too worried about our voting practices; they're reflective of the quality of the questions we're getting. What we should be focussed on is attracting better questions, so that drive-by posters see good quality content and come back for more. Better questions => more upvotes.

  • „there isn‘t a single question with no up-votes“ - guess why ;-)
    – lejonet
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:19
  • If it's the reason I think it is, that's misusing the voting system properly: "giving out cookies for just turning up" @lejonet
    – user6485
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:41
  • 2
    No it is not. I vote up everything I read that is a valid question and shows some basic research, no matter how specific (and thus of limited broader interest). I don’t upvote duplicates, junk and „questions“ asking to do us research.
    – lejonet
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:46
  • @lejonet I wasn't suggesting it was you upvoting without justification, only that somebody was. genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/15997/… doesn't meet your test but somebody upvoted it.
    – user6485
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:54

I don't actually like questions that ask us to do research on individuals. To use the frequent analogy, I won't give you a fish, but I'm happy to teach you how to fish. Or, looking at the on-topic guide for look-ups:

Lookup requests are never useful to anyone except the requester,

Research into individuals isn't quite the same thing, but its applicability to other people is similar. Anyone following my answers on other sites will realize that I often make an exception for research into individuals in the UK military - that's because knowledge of military research is thin and I hope that others will learn from my answers.

All of the above, means, as I say, that I don't like simple "Please research my relative" questions. On the other hand, I see no reason why I should actually condemn someone for asking such a question when the dividing line between questions with wide usefulness and none can be narrow. So I'm reluctant to down vote questions without a solid reason.

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