Why in Bioconductor community people rarely upvote questions?
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Last seen 10 months ago

Dear all,

I have been a member of the Bioconductor community for a while, and I find it extremely helpful. However, I find the lack of question upvoting quite discouraging. People rarely upvote any question, but only answers. I think a more rewarding system would help our community to grow. Please discuss if you agree.

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bioconductor • 1.2k views
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I'm new to bioconductor and new to R studio. I made a post and indeed, I voted for the answers that helped me a lot. On the other hand, I did not know that one could vote for the questions. I think it's a very good idea because questions are certainly interesting (I'm not talking about mine!!!). Very good day from France.

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Last seen 1 day ago
European Union

I think there are several causes:

  • Contrary to Stack Overflow (SO) it is not clear what does an up vote mean :

In the summary all the votes in a single question are added (those in comments and answers).
For example: this question at this moment have 4 up votes and a comment with one up vote, so in the home page I see this:

screenshot of this question showing 5 votes in the thread

This happens also in biostars.org which uses a similar engine (and like there all comments and answers are counted as replies to the original question).

  • There is no clear sense of what to do with the votes:

    In SO, votes allow to have less ads, more tools to help the community, or you can see who has more votes in specific tags.
    This helps to value and use them for one or other purpose.
    Here none of this applies and is only given as appreciation (although some moderators are chosen from the regular and longer contributors)

  • In the home page it is rare to see lots of votes:

Votes accumulate with time, in the screenshot it seems that it is sorted by Rank or latest.
If they are sorted by votes you can see some threads with more than 50 votes.

  • Purpose

The purpose of this site is to help with Bioconductor pacakges, not to provide a comprehensive set of questions and answers.
Sometimes questions are very specific to a user to be useful for other readers (maybe except how to solve an error) so very few people have incentives to up vote.

  • Traction/tradition

The initial messages of the forum are old messages of a mailing list where voting was not possible.
Changing a fragmented culture with weak links across the network is hard.

This question is a good one but it is not about a package, I think it would be better in the bioc-devel mailing list or slack (or social media). Should I vote or not?

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Last seen 2 hours ago
WEHI, Melbourne, Australia

I think it is a good idea to start a discussion with correct information. Looking back through Bioconductor Support records, it is not at all obvious that the premise of your question is correct. I see no evidence that the voting is rate is much higher for answers than for questions. The large image that you included in your question provides no information because it does not distinguish votes for questions from votes for answers.

Bioconductor doesn't have a strong voting culture, presumably because it is a forum mostly to help with package syntax rather than to have discussions and opinions. The average number of votes received by each Bioconductor support post is much less than 1, and that is true across questions, answers and comments.

Looking at your own posts, it appears that all but one of your questions have been upvoted, and I see only one case where the answer has more votes than your question. Meanwhile, you have only ever once accepted an answer as correct, even though you say that you have found the answers extremely helpful.

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These are very good points, Gordon. It was NOT my intention to go personal, but I appreciate your comment entirely! And indeed, talking about me I need to correct my culture about accepting answers!

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I looked at the responses to your own posts because you said that you felt discouraged, which I took to be a personal comment. I'm still not quite understanding the source of the discouragement.

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BTW I fail to see how the lack of upvotes to a question would be discouraging as long as you get a good answer. OTOH I can see how failing to acknowledge that an answer was helpful (either by accepting and/or upvoting it) can be discouraging for those who give a lot of their time to help others.


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