It seems obvious--the choice to upvote or downvote a question or answer should be based solely on the content. But it's sometimes difficult to ignore what appear to be unfair tallies. I sometimes have an urge to "cancel" what appears to be a mean downvote on a question or an answer that has no real problem but that ordinarily would not attract a vote either way from me. Beyond the obvious voting bias this introduces, it doesn't really cancel, in terms of reputation points, because they are not assigned symmetrically.

So: is it always wrong to take current tally into account when deciding if/how to vote?

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    $\begingroup$ Upvotes give 5x as much reputation as downvotes take away. People that do this ensure that everybody who posts regularly will accrue reputation, no matter how bad the content is, rapidly hitting milestones like the 3k required to review posts. $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 18 '18 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ I discuss not letting current score affect our voting in this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Jan 19 '18 at 16:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ From Mathematica.SE: Should we consider the vote count when voting? $\endgroup$ Jan 27 '18 at 15:12
  1. Users are encouraged to vote. You decide what are quality posts on Phys.SE and what are not.

  2. Voting should always be based on content, never on previous votes. E.g. comfort-voting is strongly discouraged. Downvoting is an important part of weeding out bad content.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What about the reverse? I routinely see answers that have a glaring mistake. If these have already been downvoted to -10 I don't bother downvoting further. But if they're at zero (or positive!) it feels more important to downvote. $\endgroup$ Jan 22 '18 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ No exceptions. Voting should always be based on content, never on previous votes. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic Mod
    Jan 22 '18 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ What's the bet that Qmechanic him/herself takes existing votes into account when voting? $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Jan 25 '18 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ This post is about principles, not about individual users, but FWIW I do try to practice what I preach. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic Mod
    Jan 26 '18 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ Voting should be based on whatever the voter chooses to base it on. There are not rules about who can vote for what, and nor should there be. It would make no sense in the context of an anonymous vote system. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Jan 27 '18 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @immibis Qmechanic is the most consistent user on this site. If I had to bet on anyone practicing what they preach, it would be him/her/it. $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 29 '18 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ True. Read. IF you understand the Q&A then you are entitled to vote. If you don't understand the question why vote on the answers; ask a question in a comment, or just move along. Random or biased voting is ruinous. Some people don't realize (or have the Rep) you can click next to the votes and see the up/down. A -3 may not look good but if it's +100/-103 the writer has earned their paycheck. Voting correctly and posting intelligently is what's needed, seeing that someone's a drive-by or a 'comment spam seed' is annoying. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jun 17 '18 at 0:38

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