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I was very disappointed to see that we hit a record low in number of votes cast on our site this past week, despite us having a record high in number of total users and number of total questions on which to vote:

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The reluctance that a lot of users here have, for voting, is something that is making the reputation standings extremely unfair towards early-stage users who were here in April-May 2020 when voting was rampant. I think we should keep voting the way we did at the beginning, and to remind ourselves of this Meta post (from a very experienced user):

"I would just like to remark that upvoting, in my opinion, should not be meant as some sort of "reward" to be given to exceptional answers (which is what bounties are for).

Personally, I ask myself a very simple question to decide whether I should upvote a question or answer: do I believe that this question/answer should be on this site? It's not really about the quality of the post, but more about indicating whether I think that this post is a good fit for the site. How good the post actually is will still be reflected in the upvotes, because a more useful post will be found by more people which will therefore hopefully vote it up more.

Consequently, I believe that upvotes should be given generously and without too much overthinking. On a practical level, this also encourages participation to the site, as many people like to see that their post was appreciated by others, and will therefore be more likely to stick around more when this happens."

What can we do (other than featuring on Meta, posts about voting more) to spread the word out to newer users, that voting is an extremely important part of how this site works and grows, and to encourage some of our older users, to get back into the early-stage mindset in which they were voting more often?

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Unfortunately, this is something of a broader problem across many of the SE science sites, so it may not be easy to change behavior if new users either don't know about voting or are used to the voting style on other SE sites.

I don't have the ability to see analytics for other SE, but the User tab on each site shows how many users voted at least 10 times in a day/month/year. We can look at the number of voters this month on similar SE sites to get a sense of how our numbers match up.

Site # of voters who voted at least 10 times
Math 861
Physics 246
MathOverflow 233
Cross Validated 103
Chemistry 45
Biology 27
Computer Science 23
Matter Modeling 21
Quantum Computing 19
Data Science 13
Computational Science 11
Earth Science 10
Operations Research 10
History Science/Math 9
Theoretical Comp Sci 9
Medical Sciences 8
Psych/Neuroscience 8
Artificial Intelligence 7
Bioinformatics 4

We can see that launched/larger sites have done a little better at maintaining a steady core of voters, but maybe not as much as you might expect. On the other hand, our number of voters is generally better than any of the other beta science sites. I haven't had a chance to include this in the table above, but I suspect we have a greater voters/user ratio than almost all these sites, whether beta or launched.

This isn't to say that low voting isn't a problem (I would argue users on all of these sites should probably vote more), but it does suggest we are already doing proportionally better than most of these sites and it may be challenging to make further improvement.

The best I can come with for an answer at this stage, which is more or less just restating the problem, is that we need to:

  1. Recruit more users (some small percentage will continue on as active voters).
  2. Encourage active users to vote more

I'd rather not pile responsibility on the users that are already doing the right thing by voting, but 2 seems like the easier of the options to increase the amount of voting.

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  • $\begingroup$ A great amount of research went into this post! Thanks so much! $\endgroup$ Aug 27 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ I totally agree with your last two sentences. Also regarding the rest of the post: I think we should not compare ourselves to other sites, but instead compare ourselves to our past selves. Other sites should compare themselves to us for inspiration to become better at voting, and we at MMSE should compare ourselves to our past selves for inspiration to become better at voting :) $\endgroup$ Aug 27 at 21:28

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