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Policy for voting

Based on the voting patterns I've seen so far, I think we need to discuss how to properly vote on Parenting.SE. I'd like to propose a focus on the post's objective quality rather than the individual reader's subjective (dis)agreement.

The voting arrows have hover texts: this post is useful, this post is not useful. That is generally a good guideline, but what does "useful" mean? On most SE sites, the questions and answers deal with relatively exact sciences where one approach is objectively better than another, for instance with math or computer programming. It's easy to understand that plainly wrong answers need to be downvoted.

But parenting is not an exact science so most answers are not "plainly wrong". Instead, they just don't fit on the asker's child, or in the voter's culture -- but those aren't good reasons to downvote! On parenting, I feel that downvotes should only be given to answers that are objectively, provably wrong or harmful (e.g. not answering the question, or an answer that suggests something that contains dangerous chemicals).

For this site to work, we need to support authors who write high-quality contributions regardless of whether or not I personally agree with the world-view at hand. There are topics about religion, or about weapons, just to name a few that are clearly controversial to many readers. It can be hard to support that, but you don't have to. Just do this: don't downvote out of disagreement.

You can upvote based on quality, and also based on agreement. This will ensure that high-quality answers, and answers that have community support, bubble to the top.

Do you agree? Can we use the above as a discussion basis until we can link to it as a community-supported policy?


I think I get what you are going for, but I think we need a better metric than "Downvote if something is wrong, but not if you disagree". Would we disagree if we believed an answer to be right?

The guidance we came up with in "How much should my parenting philosophy factor in when voting on answers?" is a lot clearer. Basically, what we determined is that your choice of one of the three options (up/no/down-vote) should be based on the quality of the answer in its own context. (And if you aren't sure, or can't be objective due to disagreeing with the underlying philosophy, don't vote at all.)

Examples of this guidance in practice:

I upvoted this answer regarding limits on children's forays into romantic relationships, even though I strongly disagree with the methods laid out therein. Why? The author provided a context for the answer ("...my answer is based on a personal belief in abstinence before marriage..."). This is a belief I do not share, so the advice would work out very badly in my family, but it is very applicable to its context -- it's an answer for those who believe in abstinence from sexual activity before marriage. That context makes it a good answer.

I downvoted an answer to this question (I'm not linking to it directly as the author has since deleted the answer) because, while it is in line with my worldview (start kids as young as is practical for the art/dojo, prefer smaller classes, etc.) it included an admonition to avoid dojos that group children of different ages together.

I downvoted because that advice would produce the opposite of the OP's objective (instilling confidence in his child, presumably through the experience of accomplishing goals and improving skill through study and practice). Children in classes segmented by age and not by skill level stagnate; the continual trickle of new students causes the class to spend almost all its time on introductory lessons. If it were in the context of someone who viewed martial arts classes as a social affair rather than a skill-building exercise, I would have responded differently.


"Downvote if something is wrong, not because you disagree" reads as vague and self contradicting. I get what you mean, but only because we've conversed on the subject before.

"Voting should be based on the quality of the answer in the context provided, and no one should vote (up or down) on an answer that conflicts too much with their worldview for them to assess it objectively." is much clearer guidance, and has the added bonus of keeping the focus where it belongs: not on the general subject, but on answering the question that was asked.

  • The meta question you linked to is much better! I must have missed that one? Both the question and both answers concisely describe the problem and an agreeable solution. Can we elevate that to being policy? Then we could close this one as a (lesser) duplicate. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 15 '11 at 5:06
  • @torbengb I'm all for it, though I'd prefer we merge rather than mark as duplicate, since this answer summarizes what happened in the other issue and related discussion in chat, so I think it's a fast track to getting what the policy is/would be. – HedgeMage May 15 '11 at 6:56

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