I have been meaning to ask this question ever since the private beta started, but now a good example came up.

In this question I have posted an answer myself and Bernhard has posted an answer recommending a different vector drawing program. I think the answer is well written so normally that would mean I would upvote it. However, I disagree with the recommendation, I think the program he suggest is not as good as my own recommendation, by which logic I could choose to downvote it.

What should I do? Vote on answer quality (up), vote on agreement with the recommendation (down) or should I refrain from voting in this case?

4 Answers 4


I would not upvote: the hover text says This answer is useful. If you disagree with the choice of software, don't upvote it, because it might cause people to think that the software is better ( or in this case better suited ) than it actually is.

Downvoting is, in my opinion, something else. I don't really know what the 'correct' thing to do is, but I personally only downvote when I find an answer poorly researched, or poorly structured.

I would say that the function of this site is to find the best software, and even the best written answers don't necessarily give you good programs.

PS: NEVER, under any circumstances, upvote an answer with too much of the answerer's own personal views, e.g. that contains things like "in my opinion" :D

  • I like the way you approach up and downvoting as two different actions instead of two actions at different ends of the same scale. -- P.S. Your P.S. strongly conflicts with this meta post on including personal experience
    – Michiel
    Feb 5, 2014 at 20:00
  • Damn -- I didn't literally add 'I think' to my main text. EDIT: there we go :)
    – MadTux
    Feb 5, 2014 at 20:01
  • hehe ;) nice one
    – Michiel
    Feb 6, 2014 at 6:04

"Beauty lays in the eye of the beholder". Which choice is better is something mostly personal/subjective, especially with software recommendations: while one thing might be better fitted for you and your purposes, it might not fit at all for someone else. This could be due to features offered (comparing to tasks the user has to do), personal favors as to the GUI, general handling... Everybody does things at least slightly different.

IMHO, if an answer sounds good, an upvote is a good thing. Which does not mean you have to upvote everything "good"; I'd upvote things if they are good in my opinion. It's not a question of "good versus better", I'd also upvote multiple answers of the same questions if I feel them all good.

But I'd never downvote an answer just because I feel another answer is "better". That's not the purpose of a downvote. Hovering your mouse over the downvote button, the title says: This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful. So that's the reason for a downvote, not personal preferences (which are subjective).

  • 1
    Good discussion, I think you nicely worded what my gut feeling is. Good call on the multiple answer upvoting, I indeed also do that.
    – Michiel
    Feb 6, 2014 at 6:09

There are three main criteria for judging an answer on any Stack Exchange site:

  1. Are the factual statements in the answer correct?
  2. Does the answer in fact answer the question?
  3. Is the answer comprehensible and well-written?

A good answer satisfies all of these criteria. If the answer to any of these questions is “absolutely not”, a downvote is warranted. An egregious failure of #2 or #3 can make the answer “not even wrong” and be grounds for deletion.

Applying this analysis on this site:

  1. Does the recommended application have the characteristics described in the answer?
  2. Do the characteristics described in the answer make it a good fit for the purpose and requirements expressed in the question?
  3. Does the answer express the characteristics clearly?

You're asking about an answer that satisfies #1 and #3 but not #2. This is a grounds for downvoting, preferably with a comment indicating in what way you think the recommendation is a bad fit.


Voting is expressing your opinion.

There are no rules for voting. Do as you like, except for voting abuse.

Imagine an election. Actaully you are asking: For whom should I vote? But this is entirely your decsion.

  • I don't think this is entirely the same as "For whom should I vote?" It is more "based on what should I vote?". You could argue that this is an entirely personal decision, but if we want the best answers to get to the top of the list than it helps to have a single criterium for voting, instead of 2 that can easily conflict.
    – Michiel
    Feb 5, 2014 at 19:30
  • Comparing with an election bears another truth: it's "for whom should I vote", not "against whom should I act". Which at the same time poses the problem: in an election, you do not downvote ;)
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:22

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