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General discussion on making votes public

+4
−0

Make vote secrecy a per-community choice, because some communities might prefer voting transparency over voting privacy.

Side-question. Why voting is secret in other Q&A platforms?


Origins in the Community Server (direct link to conversation), raw transcript follows (but expect format inconsistencies):

Transcript

Mithical
Votes are anonymous. Scrounging vote stats on profile pages to see who's cast votes on a small site to try to figure out who's downvoted something is highly discouraged, and calling people out for it is definitely over the line.

DonielF
Why are vote stats displayed on profiles?

Mithical
uploads a pic of Shrek captioned "good question"

gs
let's read the git log about it
I traced it back to the earliest user profile pages written back 5 years ago
I couldn't identify a reason, I'd guess "just because it was easily and readily available" the first living version already had that https://github.com/codidact/qpixel/commit/90a8cb1683cc90ad8bd928742c3a32d5ee761d64

cellio
When Art wrote QPixel originally he was probably thinking more along the lines of an SE clone as opposed to a new thing. Originally Codidact was going to start fresh with all new code, building from the start what we wanted to have, but that turned out to have issues. So we decided to start with QPixel and evolve it into what we want. This is one of those underlying assumptions, inherited from SE, that I'm guessing no one thought about. I think it makes sense to show voting history only to the user, not publicly.

gs
what if we went all the way around. Instead of making everything vote-secret, make everything vote-public
excuse me I ignore if there's already a meta post about it

DonielF

what if we went all the way around. Instead of making everything vote-secret, make everything vote-public

@gs NONONONONONONO

gs
why not? I mean

DonielF
Already with reactions and “me too”‘s we’ve had people say they’re only interested in voting and the like only because of anonymity involved; they don’t want it to be personal.

gs
if voting is even moar secret than in SE, there'll always be people thinking staff cheats scores

DonielF
As if scores do anything?
Also, everything is open source
There’s no way for staff to cheat votes

ShowMeBillyJo
Well, direct database manipulation - the data isn't open source

gs

Already with reactions and “me too”‘s we’ve had people say they’re only interested in voting and the like only because of anonymity involved; they don’t want it to be personal.

aha so r you basically saying it's a community choice?
and I mean a per community choice

ShowMeBillyJo
I think it'd be an interesting thought exercise to explore fully open votes, even if it doesn't get implemented

DonielF

aha so r you basically saying it’s a community choice?

@gs I’m not necessarily saying that, but I’d be comfortable with such a policy.
Look, if y’all really think this is something that should be explored, Meta awaits

gs
I'm lazy to write the post but give me a link I can upvote

Mithical
There are also some ancient forum discussions about this.

[...]

Mithical

There are also some ancient forum discussions about this

https://forum.codidact.org/t/proposal-votes-scores-and-answer-order/385/19

Relevant forum discussion: https://forum.codidact.org/t/proposal-votes-scores-and-answer-order/385/19

Why should this post be closed?

11 comments

Can you upload a screenshot of the relevant conversation or transcribe it? I don't want to register for Discord. ‭Zerotime‭ 14 days ago

I couldn't get to the linked post on Discord. I thought I had an account there, but after making me go thru captchas, it would then tell me it didn't like my email address. When I tried to create a new account, it wouldn't proceed until I gave it my birth date. What the …!? I don't see a legitimate reason for it needing to know that. No thanks. ‭Olin Lathrop‭ 14 days ago

@Olin Lathrop It's for the same reason other sites require it, as a platform they are required to restrict usage of it for those underage. ‭Moshi‭ 14 days ago

@Moshi: Then they could just ask if I'm over 18, or whatever the relevant age threshold is. ‭Olin Lathrop‭ 14 days ago

Discord has always been a nasty piece of spyware. Never understood why it got so popular. And no, I won't use it either, it tracks pretty much everything possible to track. ‭Lundin‭ 14 days ago

Show 6 more comments

3 answers

+5
−3

Let's weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Discourages downvoting without reason As stated in Olin's answer, people will be less likely to go on a downvoting spree if their name is attached to those downvotes.
  • Uh... we can lynch active downvoters?

Cons

  • False accusations of revenge voting. (whether knowingly or not) That is, stuff like "I know @downvoter doesn't like me, that must be why they downvoted." and "I downvoted @downvoter's post a few days ago, they must be downvoting me because of that"
  • Actual revenge voting. I really fail to see how letting people know who downvoted them is supposed to discourage downvoting in revenge. At least with private votes, they won't know who to target.
  • Discourages downvoting. Most people already don't like giving negative feedback; signing downvotes will only make it harder.
  • It still doesn't do anything about downvoting without explanation. The main issue with downvotes is that they aren't very constructive. They say "this post isn't good" without explaining why the post isn't good. Showing who downvoted doesn't do anything about this issue, and in fact people might rely on their name instead of an explanation a la "Let my reputation tell people this post is bad instead of explaining why it's bad."
  • "Heaviness" of certain users' votes. Expanding on the previous point, if the well-known user A downvotes a post, then the community might be biased to downvote because "A thinks it's bad so it probably is."1 The same goes with upvotes; users might be biased to upvote if user A upvotes.

I really did try to think of pros, but... I really can't see any benefit to displaying who voted. It just causes needless drama and reduces the objectivity of upvoting and downvoting.

  1. This is also why I don't like the other idea of having two types of downvotes, it does nothing that a well-reasoned comment doesn't do.

2 comments

Another potential con would be increased complexity in the UI and UX. People understand something that signals "this is good" or "this is bad", for some values of "good" and "bad" -- things like "upvotes", "likes", "thumbs up", or a variety of other ways to express the same thing. How many will understand the distinction, and the difference in implications, between "I'll stake my name on this being good" and "I want to be anonymous about this being good" (and correspondingly for "bad")? ‭Canina‭ 13 days ago

"At least with private votes, they won't know who to target." You optimist, you. I've had revenge downvoting on SE when I left a comment pointing out deficiencies in an answer on multiple occasions, including IIRC some where it wasn't me who downvoted the answer. This is why you see quite a lot of comments on SE saying "I'm not the downvoter, but ..." rather than directly pointing out the deficiencies. ‭Peter Taylor‭ 10 days ago

+3
−3

I know this is not a popular stance, but I agree with you.

I have seen first hand the problems caused by anonymous voting on SE, especially anonymous downvotes. Whenever there is a way to do any harm without being identified, vandals will do so, or it will be done for personal reasons and not the intended ones. This is true in the wider world, not just on line.

We have kicked around the idea of having two types of votes, signed and unsigned. The signed votes would carry more weight. Unsigned downvotes would only be displayed in a tally, but would be unable to cause harm to the author (reducing rep or any similar metric) or the post (change the score and sort order).

The main argument I've heard for anonymous votes is that people will feel more free to express their opinion. There is certainly some truth to that, but it is limited. If someone is not willing to stand behind their decision, then the value of that decision is diminished. Put another way, the few votes we might lose wouldn't have had much value anyway.

On the other side, anonymous downvotes invite vandals and retribution voters. I have seen this first hand many times on SE. Some people apparently haven't experienced this at all, but that doesn't make it less real.

Some argue that public downvotes will lead to escalating retribution votes. That is unproven since these same people refuse to even try it. I believe exactly the opposite will happen. People feel free to cast retribution downvotes because they are anonymous. If all votes, or at least all downvotes, were public, retribution voters could be seen, and they would then look stupid or petty.

2 comments

Thanks for taking the time to post unpopular answer ‭.                                                .‭ 14 days ago

I agree with you, Olin. ‭ShowMeBillyJo‭ 14 days ago

+1
−3

Countering some Moshi's claims.

False accusations of revenge voting. (whether knowingly or not) That is, stuff like "I know @downvoter doesn't like me, that must be why they downvoted." and "I downvoted @downvoter's post a few days ago, they must be downvoting me because of that"

When downvotes are public, make required posting a reason for downvote. Then once you have the feature, allow commented downvotes on sites where downvotes are private.

Actual revenge voting. I really fail to see how letting people know who downvoted them is supposed to discourage downvoting in revenge. At least with private votes, they won't know who to target.

Knowing who hates others is a good first step towards their reconciliation.

Discourages downvoting. Most people already don't like giving negative feedback; signing downvotes will only make it harder.

You justify a site design choice on the timidity needs of a minority group. Instead, let that minority downvote privately, but why force their needs on other people?

It still doesn't do anything about downvoting without explanation. The main issue with downvotes is that they aren't very constructive. They say "this post isn't good" without explaining why the post isn't good. Showing who downvoted doesn't do anything about this issue, and in fact people might rely on their name instead of an explanation a la "Let my reputation tell people this post is bad instead of explaining why it's bad."

I see it as a way to facilitate communication...

"Heaviness" of certain users' votes. Expanding on the previous point, if the well-known user A downvotes a post, then the community might be biased to downvote because "A thinks it's bad so it probably is."1 The same goes with upvotes; users might be biased to upvote if user A upvotes.

Sites metas can easily fight this by insisting on not falling in authority fallacy.

4 comments

"Instead, let that minority downvote privately, but why force their needs on other people?" I was under the impression that we were discussing the all or nothing choice. If that wasn't the case, then I'm find with the compromise of letting people chose to sign their votes. ‭Moshi‭ 13 days ago

"Knowing who hates others is a good first step towards their reconciliation." I don't really see your point with that. Downvotes are not equal to hating the poster; this attitude is exactly why I argued against signing votes since it would cause needless drama. ‭Moshi‭ 13 days ago

"Sites metas can easily fight this by insisting on not falling in authority fallacy." Insisting in what way exactly? The help page (that no one reads)? A meta post (that'll get buried)? ‭Moshi‭ 13 days ago

This answer seems to be heavily premised on the idea that "reconciliation" is a net win for the participants. This would probably be true if reconciliation didn't take time and effort, but it does. Speaking for myself, even if reconciliation with someone accusing me of revenge voting was guaranteed to produce an outcome favorable to me, it wouldn't be worth the effort. A few hours of frustratingly defending myself is not worth having some rando slightly less miffed at me. ‭Derek Elkins‭ 13 days ago

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