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Note: This post is (nearly) identical to this one on Latin.SE.

I would like to echo a post that Scott Morrison made on Meta.Tex.SE:

I'm a moderator from MathOverflow, and this "question" is actually unsolicited advice, based on our experience from the initial launch of MathOverflow.

We should encourage everyone to vote positively as often as possible!

Every Stack Exchange site will eventually end up with a different "base level" of voting --- that is, the expected number of upvotes for a question of a given level of excellence. (This effect occurs because people see a good question, but already with a certain number of votes, and think "oh, I would have upvoted this, but it already has enough".)

It's easy for us to affect this "base level" by encouraging high levels of upvoting now. We're setting the standards, and this really will have an effect.

(On MathOverflow, we were very active about this early on, specifically encouraging all the initial round of users to vote early and often. You can compare statistics, and see that the average vote total for a MathOverflow question is much higher than on any of the other SE 1.0 sites.)

In case it's not obvious: the rationale for wanting this base level to be high is that it provides better positive feedback to good contributors."

Especially in the beginning, let us vote early, and vote often. More voting always helps. Downvotes, too, are good – we want to weed out the wheat from the chaff here, and get rid of poor questions and answers.

  • This is good advice, because I have the impression that votes are not based on quality alone, but also on factors such as interest or direct usefulness to the users who look at the contributions. – IkWeetHetOokNiet Sep 30 '16 at 18:23
  • This post is currently a "featured post" because the "leagues" show that voting activity in November is much lower than in previous months. – IkWeetHetOokNiet Nov 28 '16 at 17:38
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I'd also like to add a few more key points here.

Voting is basically how we as a community decide what's good, bad, or borderline within our community. Especially with a site like this, voting becomes essential. To quote Robert Cartaino:

I am pleasantly surprised just how "on topic" this site has been able to remain. My concern was that this site could potentially become a "miscellaneous language" site for questions that do not yet have a specific-language site of their own.

This just shows one of the many positive effects of voting within a community. With voting and of course, agreeing on various consensus in various meta questions, this site is now much more cleaner and now able to more accurately identify what content should be kept and what should not. This really one of the many duties us users (well, most of us) have: to maintain and moderate the site. Moderators can do a lot more moderating but as a community, voting has a huge impact.

With that said, I'm not saying to go to every post and cast a vote. Only cast the votes when necessary but try to cast one if you can. You don't need to be like me, already with 300+ votes after the first four months. But try to cast whenever you can! Only upvote when a post adds value. Only downvote when a post removes or has no value. Abstain from voting when you are stuck.

For those who don't vote much, try voting at least once a day. There should be plentiful of posts to upvote or downvote (well, hopefully not downvote). The much better posts would have a much higher score, which stands out to the community as an excellent post and a marker of what high quality looks like. Same for downvotes: if a post has a very low score, it is an indicator of what low quality posts look like.

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Over at Unix Stack Exchange, there is a meta post from 2011 (when that site was still in beta) about Beta progress, importance of reputation, and voting.

Below is part of what Michael Mrozek's answer says about the importance of voting:

People gain reputation through high quality posts, but they only do so if the posts are voted on. From what I've heard talking to mods on other sites, the sites that have gone on to launch averaged about 200 upvotes/day during the beta period. Last month we were averaging just over 100/day, and so far this month (through 10 Nov when I pulled the data) we've averaged about 55/day, despite having about the same question volume and an increased number of visits (the last four days have had more visits than any days since just after public beta started).

Note: We had between 4.8 and 7.2 votes per day between early January and early July (according to our site statistics; I have not checked the entire beta period since activity significantly decreased after November 2016).

Michael Mrozek continues:

Votes do more than just affect reputation, they're used in lots of places. Off the top of my head, for questions:

  • They affect the hot, week, and month tabs on the homepage
  • They affect the hot and votes tabs on the questions page
  • They affect the votes tab for an individual tag
  • Highly upvoted questions are featured in house ads on other SE sites
  • Posts with -2 or less score are hidden from the homepage
  • The top (and bottom) 15 show up in the 10k tools

For answers:

  • They affect the ordering of answers on a question (by default it's accepted answer followed by descending answer score)
  • They affect the unanswered page -- questions are considered "answered" when they have at least one upvoted answer

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