A user could have two standards:

  1. A standard by which we think someone else's answer is good enough to up-vote.
  2. A standard by which we think our own answers are good enough to post.

Question: Is it wrong to have a less stringent standard for up-voting than we have for posting answers?

When going over my own answers, I don't think they all would pass my own standard for up-voting. In some cases, I posted answers which I would consider fairly simple to beginner-level homework problems. In some cases, much better answers were posted after I'd posted an initial answer. In some cases, I posted supplemental answers to accompany more comprehensive answers.

Note: I am absolutely not suggesting we delete any existing answers. I would be very disappointed if this question resulted in the loss of current answers on Astronomy SE.


3 Answers 3


tl;dr: Basically don't worry, just go ahead and contribute!

Is it wrong for someone to post an answer that does not meet their own up-vote standard?

Question: Is it wrong to have a less stringent standard for up-voting than we have for posting answers?


Is X wrong...

No. We have best practices and various community votings, and we have a code of conduct and moderation, but "wrong" doesn't seem to be in the Stack Exchange universe, nor does any similar absolutism.

"does not meet own up-vote standard" & "less stringent standard"

Hmm... apart from gamification issues, one reason we can't vote on our own posts is that we simply may not be as objective judging what we just wrote. It's the same reason we folks generally can't proofread their own writing and ask a friend or colleague to do it, and the reason Hollywood makes such heavy use of test screening.

I think the only possible strategy is to do what we do every day, throw ourselves at the mercy of the court.

In fact I think the question is based on a flawed premise that one can apply the same standard to their own posts and to those written by others.

Having written about five thousand SE posts I can say for myself that the ones that are best received are almost never the ones I worked the hardest on in terms of time, effort, thinking, trips to the library, etc.

I never second-guess myself. I just do what I can based on a given day's "procrastination budget" and how deeply I want to overspend from that budget.

"up-vote standard" & "standard for up-voting"

Do most people really have a concrete, objective standard when they vote? For those that feel they do, is it even a good standard? There are punitive1 voters and preemptive2 voters, reflexive3 voters, stingy and generous voters, those that are a little more generous with voting for new users' first questions and those that have no problem piling insta-down votes onto new users' first questions without giving them a chance to learn about how to ask a good question.

I think "voting standards" are an illusion, people vote instinctively and sometimes reflexively. It's like breathing in that (u)nder normal conditions the (voting) depth and rate is automatically, and unconsciously, controlled...

"fairly simple" and "supplemental" answers

Stack Exchange works really well in my opinion. It has built-in search and it shows up in external search engine searches, the community voting system offers readers a quick view of what others found useful in terms of answers and they can quickly scroll through all of them to see what they like the best. We are pretty good at reminding answer authors to include supporting sources for their facts not because we necessarily don't believe them, but because (in part) it provides even more information to future readers.

Basically don't worry, just go ahead and contribute!

Throw in your two cents and don't worry about anything. The Stack Exchange monster (all of us + the site) will eat everything and decide later what gets digested and what gets spit out.

1What I call punitive voting happens (not so much here) for a variety of reasons. People are... people.

2My definition of preemptive voting applies mostly to new users (either to SE in general, or to a new site different than what they are used to, e.g. going from Cooking SE to Politics SE) who are not yet familiar with how to write well-received posts and all the guidelines. Remember, we don't require folks to read the instructions before posting! In my opinion enlightened folks just leave a noob question alone in terms of up/down voting and instead leave a helpful comment, then come back in 24 or 48 hours (not everyone is a hardcore SE addict) and see if they've made some progress before voting up or down. A quick down vote on such questions followed by ignoring it in my opinion is preemptive in that the post is simply not ready for voting.

3My definition of reflexive voting is broad. I do it; sometimes I will only skim a long answer by a user who I already know writes excellent posts before upvoting. It's bad I know, but I do it. But I am more concerned about reflexive down voting for reasons like "The OP seems to be asking X" where X might be a leading question, homework question without suitable explanation, argumentative question, or other. In my experience in most cases these feelings are due to a combination of post author inexperience with SE or with English or simply a misperception, but sometimes people leave that "You seem to be..." negative comment and a down vote, and the post continues to get down voted and that "seem to be" comment gets up voted, and I am pretty sure some folks see that comment before they really even read the post and just reflexively "pile on" the down voting.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Well said--the same principle that makes us unable to fairly judge our own answers positively, makes us unable to fairly judge them negatively. We might not think an answer we wrote would be worthy of an upvote, but it might be extremely helpful to someone else. As long as we feel we're working within the site guidelines for answer-writing, we should go ahead and post what we can. If it becomes clear the community disagrees that we met those standards, we can edit or remove our answers. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 14:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I once posted an answer where I accidentally arrived at the correct answer with errors in my math and I could not figure out how to correct the math so I had to remove my example solution. Two people still found the answer helpful enough to upvote. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 15:06

There can be only one person to judge wether you have different standarts for upvoting an answer and writing one yourself. However these scales could be skewed and might be considered differently by different people. Given that self-perception easily differs from the perception others have of a person, having subjectively different standards can be quite acceptable.

Using absolutes for both is also not necessary. One could, for instance, take the quality of question into account for when to answer and upvote (my own willingness to be exhaustive definitely is influenced by my perception of the question).

Taken these two main arguments, it is imho quite desirable to contribute. That may be an initial or partial answer (which can sometimes trigger longer or more exhaustive ones), it can be supplements, and of course the complete answers. Each is helpful, and people will judge and tell by votes wether they agree.


When going over my own answers, I don't think they all would pass my own standard for up-voting.

The expression "imposter syndrome" leaps to mind. Something like that anyway.

Only you know if you feel that kind of insecurity about other types of work you do, but it's might be an idea to consider if you are over-critical of your own work. Just a suggestion.

I don't think you could have that reputation score without other people considering your answers useful.

Is it wrong to have a less stringent standard for up-voting than we have for posting answers?

An upvote is a statement that you consider an answer (or question) useful to the community or answering the OP's question (which can be different things).

Nothing more or less. Anything more is overthinking. There's no written in stone definition for these things.

What standard you hold your own answers to is irrelevant to whether you consider someone else's answer useful in those contexts.


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