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I’m having a hard time understanding the logic behind the voting on questions in the Sandbox.

The only guidance I’ve found for voting on proposed questions is in ArtOfCode’s seminal post here where they recommend using upvotes to denote that a post is ready for the main site.

Is this still what upvotes mean in the Sandbox? And if so, what do downvotes mean?

It seems absurd to use downvotes to denote “not ready for the main site” - that’s a given, based on the fact that it’s being posted in the Sandbox. Perhaps downvotes could be used to cancel out upvotes? But there’d be no reason to have a Sandbox post with a negative score...

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There is no formal definition of how to use it, but the current usage seems to be to use Upvotes to indicate that you think a post is ready for main and to use Downvotes to indicate that you think a post is just not a good fit for the site and is basically unsalvagable. Personally I tend to not use downvotes, but that's how I feel they are being used. Most of the time you won't see any voting on posts in the Sandbox though. Voting in either direction is relatively rare overall and you shouldn't think too much about the vote count for drafts in the Sandbox.

Personally I recommend to use votes in the following way:

  • use upvotes if you think a question is ready for Main in its current form
  • use downvotes if you feel that a question is completely unsalvageable, even after multiple edit cycles by the OP - this should be used very rarely and be explained to the OP

It's a Sandbox intended to be used for drafts that you know will be difficult on Main or for people having difficulty phrasing their questions in such a way that they will work on Main - it's normal that drafts there don't look good on the first few revisions, so please be patient. We don't want to discourage people who want to spend some time on working out the details of a question.

But if you feel that a post is ready or that a type of question will never work voting accordingly can be helpful - ideally you would comment so that the OP knows that they are probably ready or that they should try to rethink the whole premise of their draft. While we don't want to discourage people using the Sandbox we also don't want to waste their time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do we want to make a formal definition of what upvotes and downvotes mean? It could be nice to have an official thing to refer people towards but I have no idea where we’d put that. Maybe in the text of the sandbox question itself? $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Jul 6 '18 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Dubukay We could add a small line to the Sandbox "question" where all the other guidelines are mentioned if nobody has anything different to say on the matter. But overall I wouldn't sweat it. Votes on Meta don't affect your rep, drafts should be deleted anyway and the biggest problem is: how do you address it? Voting is completely anonymous. That means that you can't be sure who downvoted and tell people to vote differently. As the effect of a "wrong" vote is negligible I would say that adding a sentence to the Sandbox guidelines is fine, but other than that we should ignore this issue. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 6 '18 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Dubukay I added a bit to the guidelines. I think 4 Upvotes on this answer and 2 upvotes on the comment are enough for such a small change to the Sandbox post and it can easily be reversed if someone mentions some reasons for not doing this. Thanks for bringing the topic up! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 7 '18 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ Looks great! Thanks for doing that $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Jul 7 '18 at 22:40
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Voting in the sandbox should be discouraged

I must respectfully disagree with Secespitus. The whole point of the Sandbox is for questions to change. In the perspective of an individual voter, they may change for the positive or for the negative. This means votes easily fall out of date.

Worse, there's no automatic way to tell a voter that a proposed question has been edited. So, unless you (the voter) plan on monitoring that question 24/7 to be sure your vote is still valid, the act of voting can be very misleading.

To that end, I believe that voting for proposed questions in the Sandbox is utterly meaningless and should be discouraged. Their potential to give the OP the false belief that a question is ready (or, worse, the false belief that they've been judged unworthy...) is far greater than whatever value they may have.

The better solution is to use comments.

  • If you want to downvote, don't, post a comment explaining why the proposed question isn't ready for prime-time.

  • If you want to upvote, don't, post a comment explaining your belief that the question is ready.

The beauty of the comments are:

  1. The commentor can be informed of changes that may affect the ideas expressed in their comment.

  2. The dates of the comments can be used by others to judge the relevance of the comment.

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