I have a fetish. One that I am extremely careful about any place serious. I like helping people. I like helping new people. And I like voting for people so they don't have to scrape and agonize to get to the relatively tiny rep I have after months. But this is SE. And this is WB. And while new people are less likely to pump out awesome answers like you might expect from a high-rep user, it is off-putting to get unhelpful comments, unexplained down-votes, and the like. So I like the idea of voting for new posts by new users, answers by people under 1k, and the like. But is that at all ethical?


2 Answers 2



Because it doesn't help them. Praising crap will only get you more crap. If you want to help them, post a helpful comment. An anonymous upvote is as not helpful to your cause as an anonymous downvote.

  • $\begingroup$ Noting that this is a temptation, not something I do. $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2016 at 17:40
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ This answer is about the action. I don't believe any thought or temptation can be unethical, only actions. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 22, 2016 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ Trying to preserve my real-life rep. $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2016 at 17:42

Upvotes are a form of positive reinforcement. If you do something that's good, we will give you upvotes and you will learn that's the right thing to do. If we give you upvotes for bad things, then you may think that bad things are the right thing to do, and continue to do them. Eventually, you may be around long enough to start encouraging new users to do the bad things you've done, since you think they're good things, but since you've already learned to give upvotes for bad actions you'll allow the next generation to get away with even worse actions. If this continues for too long, we'll have a site where the majority of users think that the bad things they're doing are actually good things.

I am of the opinion that this has already happened. However, I do realize that my interpretation of what is 'good' may be flawed. Hopefully I have made my point clear, though, that by reinforcing positively regardless of quality, you lose all control over the future of the site.


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