I have a question about voting in meta on Questions

I read several comments now stating something like:

Note that on meta, votes are typically interpreted differently, since they do not come with a reputation benefit/penalty. Down votes frequently indicate general disagreement.

On the other hand, there is a question on engagement on meta

Now if a question is a good question, but I disagree with it, I would think it is best to up vote the question and then post or up vote an answer stating the disagreement.

I would think on should only down vote on bad questions (rants, duplicates one liners etc.)

Reason is that sorting and engagement trough "hot meta questions" only works on up voted questions. So engagement with questions voted below zero will atomically be reduced.

How is voting supposed to work, on meta? When should you up- or down vote a question?

  • 3
    I don't think there are any strict rules on voting on meta. I think on feature-request posts downvotes and upvotes indicate disagreement/agreement and on other meta questions more along the lines of quality and agreement. It's weird and mixed like that.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 8:48
  • 1
    As I mentioned on the comment you quoted, phrasing your question neutrally helps a lot; by advocating a particular position, regardless of whether you use the feature-request tag, many people will downvote if they disagree (for what its worth, I didn't upvote or downvote your other question; I didn't upvote, because I feel we've had a lot of discussion on the topic, and I disagreed with your proposal, but I didn't downvote because its a perfectly valid topic).
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 18:49
  • @Beofett: Thank you for the comment. This was not specifically about my question. I have seen several comments along that line on other questions also. Just wanted to understand if there is a different idea behind voting here or just .. strange customs.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 19:32
  • I'd say "strange customs" is accurate :) But its worth noting that I've witnessed these voting patterns on many other SE platforms. Its very common on Scifi.se where I have spent the majority of my meta participation, for example.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 19:35

3 Answers 3


There is actually an official explanation of the odd voting patterns in Meta; I just dug it up when answering a comment on another question, and thought I'd post it here for the sake of completeness.

From "What's Meta?" on the Help Pages for Stack Overflow (bolding and links in original; this specifically addresses Meta.SE, but the rules generally apply to all "child" Meta sites across the SE network):

Voting is different on meta.

Like normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta allows members to vote on questions and answers. For most posts, votes reflect the perceived usefulness: well-written, well-reasoned, well-researched posts tend to get more attention and more upvotes. Highly-voted and frequently-linked posts may become part of the community-curated FAQ or codified as part of the site’s Help pages.

Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta invites the community to discuss, debate and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software itself works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself.

So, yes, in general questions (and also and questions) should only be downvoted if they match the "hover" text for the down-arrow:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

Only questions tagged should be voted up and down based on agreement/disagreement with the premise of the question.


Now if a question is a good question, but I disagree with it, I would think it is best to up vote the question and then post or up vote an answer stating the disagreement.

Yes, that is the idea.

With one exception: there are some questions tagged as .
For those, you upvote the question if you want to see that feature implemented, and you downvote it if you think the feature is a bad idea.


For posts on meta tagged , voting is to be used to indicate (dis)agreement to the proposed change.

For the rest of the questions on meta, voting should be because the post is useful or unuseful (like the tooltip suggests when you hover over the voting buttons).

One of the first things I was taught about using meta was that it's important to keep your question and your opinion on the matter you're questioning apart from each other. For me, only then can I properly make the distinction between voting solely on the question or voting for my opinion on the matter discussed.

As Magisch Already commented, for those posts where a solution or opinion on the matter is already included, voting gets jumbled. Some of it will be because people agree or disagree with your point of view. Some of it will be because people think the question is something that has been discussed over and over ( and lacks some research effort). Some votes may be because there is an excellent question that does show research effort...

Basically, votes can be expected to be all over the place if the question isn't written in a neutral and fair tone.

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