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I've been noticing a trend here where it seems that people just aren't voting.

It's the 11th of October, and a grand total of three people have managed to vote more than 10 times during that span. Even when looking at the entire year so far, only something 150 people have managed to vote more than 10 times.

Only three people have managed to get the Suffrage badge this year. In the four+ years of this site, only 41 people have managed to get Civic Duty.

I've seen far too many questions that are egregiously off-topic with dozens of views and yet not a single down-vote (much less a vote to close).

Voting is important as a signal for good vs. not-so-good content. (It also helps automated cleanup systems work.)

It only takes 15 reputation in order to up-vote.

I don't want to sound self-serving, but I've got a ton of answers out there recently that haven't gotten a single vote. A year or so ago that wouldn't be true. I've also seen a lot of good content where there's a single vote (mine). In those cases where there might be more than one, I have pretty good odds of being able to guess where the other vote (or two) would have come from.

So why aren't people voting? Are we getting more drive-by posters than we used to? Are people who used to vote just mostly disengaged from the site now?

A better question is probably: How can we get people who have the ability to vote more?

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    +1; It is indeed not as rewarding as it used to be. – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Oct 11 '14 at 16:54
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    I will elaborate more tonight, but I definitely agree with what you are saying here. I think there's a need to rally people in a number of areas, but voting is a good start. I do agree with a great deal of what phwd says as well. – jonsca Oct 11 '14 at 21:10
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    Since I wrote this we've managed to double the number of people who have over 10 votes this month. I suppose that's progress. – ale Oct 13 '14 at 2:03
  • Only the usual people have entered the list of votes thus far. You've made me more active then I already am...... – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Oct 14 '14 at 6:43
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    I'll just drop in here, coming from the parent meta chat, and leave the link to the codereview solution to a similar problem: low answer rate and even lower voting. I am not saying that's a guaranteed solution, but I think you could get some ideas from there. – Vogel612 Oct 16 '14 at 17:15
  • @vogel: Some of those SEDE queries look useful. Thanks. – ale Oct 16 '14 at 17:32
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    I hear you, more than 70% of my questions didn't receive a single vote (out of the ~120 I asked). Btw for me off-topic questions shouldn't downvoted but closed, unless they are of poor quality as well. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 20 '14 at 21:47
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    @Franck: Of course they should be closed. But they should be downvoted as well, otherwise we leave the impression for future readers that such questions are okay. (The cleanup procedure for closed questions also won't auto-delete closed questions with a positive score.) – ale Oct 20 '14 at 21:49
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    Further, it can sometimes take some time for a question to gather the 5 votes needed to close. Most people can't see that there are close votes on the question, so without downvotes it looks like there is nothing wrong with the question. (This is all tangential to the main topic here, however.) – ale Oct 21 '14 at 15:49
  • Related question: Is there a lack of voting on Web Apps? – ale Oct 22 '14 at 2:50
  • Related, from Meta Stack Exchange: Why aren't people voting for questions? and Why aren't people voting as much as they used to? – ale Oct 23 '14 at 23:35
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    SuperUser is giving some competition: i.stack.imgur.com/pGVoB.png – Franck Dernoncourt Nov 7 '14 at 17:30
  • Is there any new information/idea about this? I see this is an old problem, but from my point of view it still exist, and the votes are pretty low – arieljannai Jul 2 '18 at 21:21
  • It still exists. It's a perennial issue. – ale Jul 3 '18 at 12:42
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I think that the (lack of) voting, close voting, editing, and tending the queues are all definitely due to a lack of active users, as both Al and phwd have pointed out. The fact that we have closed questions based on the votes 5 regular users only a handful of times has been more bothersome to me than the voting for a while, to be honest.

As phwd pointed out, we're getting less through traffic than normal because of various Google Panda changes that have happened sporadically, but compounding this problem is that the quality of what questions we do bring in has dropped dramatically as well.

We're down, but we're not out. Not yet.

We have our strengths, and we need to play to them. For example, we have an excellent repository of information in How do I recover my Google account (or Gmail) password or username? that gets a lot of hits, and we close a lot of duplicates to that question, which, at first blush, seems like a bad thing. With each of those duplicates, though, we get more and more search terms out there that attract traffic to the site. I think we need more "canonical" questions like this, in particular for Twitter and Facebook. We have a lot of "near duplicates" on those that aren't really being closed either, largely because of the nuances between the questions that could be covered by a canonical post. Google Spreadsheets has been one of the few boons for us over my tenure here, and we have a (very) small group of dedicated users that attend to these questions, but some of those questions could probably be adopted into more canonical ones as well.

A lot of that seems "pie in the sky" considering that our active users are way down, but I think the notion of "If you [re]build it, they will come" (pardon my triteness) holds here. Instead of "If you see something, say something", I think we need to adopt an approach of "If you see something, fix something", whether that's a question title that needs to be shored up or an answer that's right on the money (or at least a giant step in the right direction), but may be a bit broken in the grammar and style department. Speaking of style, I'll restrict my sloganeering to this one paragraph.

To be completely fair, there is a "posse" of dedicated users that are doing most if not all of these things already (and thank you all, you know who you are), but if a group of less active users put forth one change (edit, etc.), we'll be able to start to fix things that are hampering us from surviving and thriving.

I realize that my approach to answering this has taken me a bit off of the original theme of how to draw more voters, but I think that some of the above-mentioned changes will result in a higher quality (and hopefully quantity) of traffic, and will bring more worthy questions that will receive better answers, etc.

This is my sense of things, but it's not designed to be any sort of edict. (Please) comment, react, tell me I'm wrong. Any and all suggestions are welcome, whether you've been on the site for one day or 4 years.

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    +1; I have a dream.... We'll just have to hang in there. – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Oct 12 '14 at 18:22
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Google changed up the algorithm so drive-bys are actually lower than before (last time I checked a 40-50% decrease)
Also page view count has been decreasing in the past year.
So yes disengagement is there, the incentive for voting is lacking in and has contributing factors directly or indirectly from

  • question quality
  • answer quality
  • promotion
  • community involvement (it's probably the same 5 or so users active in this site)
  • SE Inc. company involvement (this site has been scheduled for a CSS design lift since last year)

To put it bluntly, the site is dying (may even be a ghost town) and not enough of everyone care to change it back around.

  • Wow phwd, that's sad to read. Is it too late altogether? – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Oct 11 '14 at 20:09
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    I would say that choice lies with SE Inc. They will say that choice lies with us and the community. – phwd Oct 11 '14 at 20:18
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    "this site has been scheduled for a CSS design lift since last year" -- it has? It's entirely possible that I've missed something, but this is the first time I'm hearing of this and I used to be the keeper of the "Sites that need design". – Adam Lear Oct 16 '14 at 17:55
  • It was either missed or before your tenure – phwd Oct 16 '14 at 18:03
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    @pnuts Thanks. Yeah, I wasn't aware that was on Jin's list back then. TIL. – Adam Lear Oct 29 '14 at 15:50

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