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Very few questions asked on this board ever receive a vote. In fact, there are questions here which have been viewed multiple thousands of times (which is an indication that the visitors of this site desire an answer to the question asked) that no one has voted either up or down. If the purpose of this site is to provide Objectivist answers to people who visit here seeking answers - and make them discoverable/identifiable (at least in one way via votes cast) - shouldn't the questions people most seek answers on be valued by Objectivists as helpful to achieving the goal of educating those who seek the perspective that only Objectivists can share?

asked Apr 16 '15 at 11:10

MarcMercier's gravatar image

MarcMercier ♦

edited Apr 16 '15 at 16:26

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Unfortunately, those of us who'd prefer more voting seem to have been outvoted by those who'd prefer that votes be used sparingly.

(May 05 '15 at 16:58) anthony anthony's gravatar image

I vote for questions that make me say, "hey, that's a good question!" The types of questions that often cause this response are those that (1) raise an issue that is new to me (i.e., one I had not previously considered or had previously not realized the importance of), (2) present a new angle on an issue, or (3) cause me to reconsider my position on an issue. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, but its what I came up with after a little bit of introspecting to figure out why I vote for some questions and not others.

(May 08 '15 at 10:09) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image

However, not very many questions get my vote. This is because a lot of the questions asked here fall into one of the following categories: (1) questions that are seeking basic information about objectivism, (2) questions that are seeking to debate with objectivists on some position that the questioner believes (rightly or wrongly) objectivists hold, and (3) questions asking what objectivists think about current events, (4) questions asking what objectivists think about other philosophies' doctrines. These types of questions rarely make me say "hey, that's a good question."

(May 08 '15 at 10:15) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image

Its not that there is anything necessarily wrong with such questions, its just that they don't get me salivating in the same way that a question that probes into the difficult subtleties of Objectivism might.

(May 08 '15 at 10:20) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image

For voting on answers, my criteria are different. I +vote an answer when the answer provides a valuable insight, and I do not disagree with the important points raised by the answer. I cannot +vote an answer if I disagree with any of its main points (even if it provides a valuable insight on some other point). However, if my disagreement is only on details, minor points, or issues where reasonable disagreement is possible, I do not let such disagreements affect my voting. I -vote an answer only if it is flat-out wrong on an important point, and would lead uninformed people astray.

(May 08 '15 at 10:29) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image
showing 2 of 5 show all

To my knowledge, there is no mechanism nor understanding on this website that a vote up or down on a question, answer, or comment necessarily means that the voter finds the posting helpful to him in learning more about Objectivism. There are no restrictions on who can register on this website to be able to post questions or comments or to cast "up/down" votes, other than not being flagrantly abusive of others or of the forum in general (possibly resulting in suspension of his registration, which happens exceedingly rarely). We really have no idea why a particular voter might find an item worthy of the voter's up or down vote, unless the registrant also chooses to post a comment and disclose why he voted as he did. We usually have no idea how much reasoned deliberation may or may not have preceded a given vote (unless it is revealed in the comments).

Just this week, I discovered that there is at least a way to identify which individual registrants have voted a particular question or answer up or down: click on the user name of interest, i.e., the author of the question or answer (or any other registered user), then click on his "karma history" tab. That brings up a list of the most recent votes and other events that have contributed to the user's current "karma" rating. (This, of course, is a completely non-religious, non-mystical, fully secularized, mockingly humorous usage of "karma," to stimulate website participation.)

I've long felt that there is usually far more value in the postings themselves than in the raw numbers of registrants who choose to express an "up" or "down" reaction for who-knows-what reason. I see "up/down" votes as usually indistinguishable from spur-of-the-moment emotional reactions (aka "knee-jerk reactions"), with no way to know, from the votes alone, whether there is more than that behind any particular vote. (For more on the Objectivist view of emotions and why they cannot serve as tools of cognition, refer to the topic of "Emotions" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

I'm happy to see, though, that the voting process on this website has almost never been used for simple "cheering" or "booing," like fans at a sports competition (who usually have no other way to express their reactions to what they see happening down on the field, except verbally to others nearby). Philosophical discussion should not be a "sparring contest" or "game."

answered Apr 17 '15 at 00:37

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Apr 29 '15 at 00:44

I certainly have found the discussions here valuable (can't speak for anyone else, obviously). I rarely use the "vote" option, because votes should mean something--used too often, it loses value. I've voted for one that I found particularly valuable in aiding understanding. The number of times a question has been looked at is more useful a metric for value, though, because if I have to look at a question twice it means I had to think about it--and if I had to look three times, I had to think even harder. Which is what sites like this should do, after all.

(May 05 '15 at 15:33) James James's gravatar image

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Asked: Apr 16 '15 at 11:10

Seen: 1,656 times

Last updated: May 08 '15 at 10:30