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I only posted two questions on meta, both fact based and both about the way MO is supposed to work. Today, I realized that I have received three down-votes. I have a feeling about down-votes (and up-votes) on MO, but, absolutely no idea about the meaning of these on meta. So my question is: how should one interpret a down-vote on meta, in particular, when the question is as I described above?

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    $\begingroup$ Roughly speaking, agree=up; disagree=down. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 27 '13 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ @quid How could one agree or disagree with a question? I understand how it works with an answer but not with a question! $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 27 '13 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I agree this is not so clear, this is why I said 'roughly speaking' See mathoverflow.net/help/whats-meta the section on voting for the official documentation. What people do in practise is a bit hard to know, and the discussion you started might shed some light on it, which is good. For the questions you asked maybe like-dislike or important-lessimportant are better pairs than agree-disagree. Or, perhaps one could say the vote means "I (dis)agree this is an important point to discus/a good subject for discussion." $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 27 '13 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Thanks, the new comment is more informative. Let's see what other people say. By the way, is it your individual "practice" to write "practise" instead? Warn you, it is the second time you did that :) $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 27 '13 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info. I will try to practise to write practice at least when it is the noun (but perhaps to do so always is simpler, and it seems correct at least at some places). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 27 '13 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe one could interpret a downvote on meta as an emphatic "no" answer. For instance, if somebody asks "Why won't you undelete my question about cauliflower farming?" (which is more of a request than a question, really), then a downvote would be an emphatic "no". But I share your confusion in general- I'm not convinced that downvotes on meta questions make sense. Upvotes, on the other hand, mean, "Yeah, I want to hear an answer to that too!" $\endgroup$ – Daniel Moskovich Jul 28 '13 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ A down vote can mean many things: 1. disagreement with content (what is proposed in a question), 2. disagreement with discussion (e.g. the importance or suitability of a discussion), 3. disagreement with some behavior of the author of a question (e.g. an author trying to get extra attention by editing a meta question too many times might get some down votes). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jul 28 '13 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ Whenever it is not clear for you why a question is down voted, you can comment and ask. Others usually suggest possible reasons for the down vote. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jul 28 '13 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh I have recieved one downvote for this question as well! Could you guess which one of your criteria was involved, (1), (2) or (3)? To be honest, I don't see how (1) and (2) might work for a question. Agian, I believe they make sense for an answer. $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 28 '13 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ My guess, based on nothing, is that this question was downvoted precisely so that you would ask why it was downvoted! So it would be an option (4)- So that the OP, who asked about reasons for downvoted, would ask why the question was downvoted. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Moskovich Jul 28 '13 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ I down-voted because I agree with the idea of down-voting more freely on meta. $\endgroup$ – Yoav Kallus Jul 28 '13 at 18:51
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When points are not involved, such as on community wiki questions and on meta, votes are mostly used for sorting: upvote what you think is valuable or important, downvote what you think is of negative value or distractive. This way, topics that the community finds most important or otherwise valuable rise to the top of this list.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about, say one downvote, for a question and ten upvotes for one of its answers? Following your argument, it would be a valuabe feature to have such a list for the answers as well. $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 28 '13 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ Answers are sorted per question. A global list of answers makes little or no sense. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jul 28 '13 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ That's very true. But that wishful thinking is a result of following your argument. After all, an answer has a "topic", and when it is upvoted a lot, that means the community has found it important. $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 29 '13 at 6:37
  • $\begingroup$ @AmirAsghari what point are you trying to make with this? $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jul 29 '13 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, I found your answer convincing. Now, I am playing devil advocate to sharpen the borderlines (at least for myself). $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 29 '13 at 6:47
  • $\begingroup$ @AmirAsghari do you want me to request a list of highly voted answers for you? $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jul 29 '13 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ Not now. Perhaps one day I raise the possibility and usefulness of such a list as a meta question. Considering that sometimes an answer to a question (on MO and elsewhere) is much more valuable than the question itself, having such a list could have many advantages. $\endgroup$ – Amir Asghari Jul 29 '13 at 8:05

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