This still poses a bit of a problem for me so far and I have experimented a bit (apologies to those I downvoted in those experiments).

On Stack Overflow it's pretty clear what warrants an up- or downvote. If the answer is correct then it gets an upvote, if it's incorrect it gets a downvote.

Now I have observed, at least in me, that I hesitate giving any votes to answers on this site. Speaking with another user he told me similarly. He basically avoids voting on other answers unless it doesn't impact his position in the »vote ranking« for that question (so to speak). I tend to not upvote Golfscript solutions unless they are really very clever (personal thing) and other answers also rarely and if so, then mostly based on how nice it is.

Downvotes are another matter as well. I may have made some enemies by downvoting answers on Shortest floor function that I perceived as incorrect (for not handling negative numbers correctly) – I made a mistake in one instance.

Generally, how should votes be given on this site? Are downvotes acceptable for answers that are wrong according to the task specification (such as this one)? Is everyone encouraged to upvote the current shortest answer?

I guess it's a bit of a problem in how these sites are designed, since essentially votes can only ever be a popularity contest but what good is in using humans to impose an algorithm here (namely, bubbling the shortest answer to the top)? Should upvotes be only a general measure of »I like this solution because it looks nice or uses tricks I never would have thought of« and objective criteria are tallied separately?


2 Answers 2


It's supposed to be about fun, isn't it? Don't stress too much about points - many of us were doing these on SO as CW questions for ages afterall.

Downvotes are only -2 anyway, so don't hurt too much. If you leave a comment saying the answer is wrong so you downvoted it - it gives the answerer a change to fix it and let you know that it works now.

If you don't leave a comment, there's no way you'll ever know the answer is fixed unless you keep going back to check on it.

Puzzle answers often go up as partially complete or slightly incorrect. I think you should give people a chance to fix them, and it adds to the long term value of the site

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, and if it's fixed, you can undo the downvote or even upvote it. \$\endgroup\$
    – user344
    Feb 5, 2011 at 9:32

I think upvotes should be used for: »I like this solution because it looks nice or uses tricks I never would have thought of«. There is an objective measure of shortest solution - the character count. So there is no need to withhold votes for a longer solution to protect your position - the shortest is the shortest regardless of vote total.

If we only vote for the shortest solutions, then there won't be that many points in circulation, and it will take forever for anyone except the very best golfers to get to moderator level. People who participate heavily but are still improving their game won't get many points. But earning privileges here should be about solid participation, not purely about mad golf skills.


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