I've been wondering if it is appropriate for me to upvote questions and answers. I know that native speakers upvote good questions and answers. But being a non-native, I've been feeling a bit hesitant to upvote questions and answers, especially answers (I've been upvoting questions here and there). I want to upvote questions when they are those that I'm also curious about, and I want to upvote comments or answers when I learned something new from them. What do you think?

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    You can use your votes however you like Miki, as long as they're not targeted towards a specific user. But please, please refrain from voting when you don't know whether the answer is correct or not. ELL gets a lot of upvotes on wrong answers. – M.A.R. Aug 24 '16 at 6:47
  • @DEAD That's what I was concerned about the most. It's like, I may think that I learned something, but in reality, the answer could be wrong, you know? In the end, I'm a foreigner, so how would I know which answer is the most reliable? That's my No. 1 concern. – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 6:52
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    You're not going to be questioned about how you voted. The reason serial voting is caught and act upon is artificially skewing the post score. It's just a piece of advice that you not vote for something whose quality you can't judge. I'd upvote an answer with a score of 9 much easier than one with a score of 0. – M.A.R. Aug 24 '16 at 6:57
  • I have the urge to upvote those answers that make me think to myself "wow, that makes complete sense!" but my judgment could be wrong. – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 6:58
  • @DEAD That's true. I will wait for a while before upvoting and see other people' reactions. That's probably way better than just my own judgment. – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 7:03
  • You can also drop in English Language Learners Chat every once in a while. We usually discuss posts there. Furthermore, if a post is old enough, the comments below the answer usually contain very useful info on how the answer should really be judged, although they don't send the signal of quality as strong as score. Honestly, the fact that you asked this very question proves that you'd use your votes way better than me. :) – M.A.R. Aug 24 '16 at 7:09
  • Thank you everyone for the kind and useful advice :) – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 7:13
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    You might want to consider this: Not so fast! (When should I accept my answer?): meta.ell.stackexchange.com/questions/1307/… – Alan Carmack Aug 24 '16 at 13:55
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    As far as I know, ELL doesn't care whether answers are upvoted because they are correct. Else, why allow learners to vote on them? The only criterion is whether an answer is useful. Therefore ELL's definition of "the best answer(s)" is not answers that are correct but most useful. – Alan Carmack Aug 24 '16 at 14:09
  • @AlanCarmack Else, why allow learners to vote on them? - That is so true! Thank you for giving me the link. Yes. I'll make sure that I'm going to give it a day or two to accept/upvote answers. I'm glad to have found a site where I can learn so much from. Thank you! – Mikiko Aug 25 '16 at 1:09
  • I appreciate all of you for giving me these great tips! – Mikiko Aug 25 '16 at 1:12
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    @Miki A very important point: you are not a foreigner! The English language is not a nation; it belongs to everyone who speaks it, whatever nation they call home. The last thing we ever want a questioner to feel is that they are "foreigners." (Other notes: 1.) Everyone on the planet is a "foreigner" somewhere, so the term itself is suspect. 2.) "foreigner" in English is not a derogatory term, as 外人 often is in Japanese.) – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 26 '16 at 22:32
  • @P.E.Dant You're right. That was a very stupid thing to say! Alien, on the other hand, is, isn't it? When I first heard the wording alien registration, I was like ”Wait, what? I'm not E.T.!!” Anyway, thank you. :) – Mikiko Aug 27 '16 at 1:41
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    @Miki Please! You have not written anything "stupid!" I am trying to explain that in learning English, either we are all "foreigners" or none of us are. Alien is not the right word here, either. We call everyone English language learners, and in a very real sense, every single participant here is a learner, whether they are asking questions or answering them. I learn new things every day: sometimes from an answer, and sometimes from a question. Also, no one here can be a "foreigner" or "alien" because the site has no nationality. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 27 '16 at 2:14
  • @P.E.Dant Thank you! I'm gonna keep learning with everyone on this site as part of the learners!💪 – Mikiko Aug 27 '16 at 2:48

Upvoting is not a crime! However, if you do so for one particular contributor, ELL may consider that as serial upvoting.

So, avoid doing these things while upvoting -

Don't do it too frequently - say in one day, you upvoted several dozens of them
Don't do it for one particular user - say you upvoted only my questions/answers

The best thing is - be neutral. If you like questions/answers, upvote them by all means but it should come as a natural gesture.

Upvoting comments in any frequency is not an issue at all. But still, stay neutral.

  • Thank you, @Maulik V. I will be careful with the number of upvotes I cast per day. I don't think I've ever played favorites with anyone so I shouldn't have any problem with being neutral. But if it looks to you that I have been, please tell me. – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 5:13
  • So you think it's okay for me to upvote answers based solely on if 'I' feel that 'I' gained something from them? – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 5:36
  • No, no - there has been no such notification to me. You can certainly carry on. But, again, be neutral... Keep going! :) All the best! – Maulik V Aug 24 '16 at 6:28
  • Gotcha. Thank you! :) – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 6:39
  • Nice answer Maulik! One small issue though. We don't call it spam. We call it serial upvoting. Also there is nothing wrong with upvoting a lot of posts in one day. – M.A.R. Aug 24 '16 at 6:42
  • @DEAD edited! :) thanks however, serial upvoting could be considered as spamming! Spam is an umbrella term which includes many 'acts' – Maulik V Aug 24 '16 at 10:48
  • Not on SE, Maulik. Spam here only means promotion of service without disclosed affiliation. – M.A.R. Aug 24 '16 at 10:55

Here's how I would handle your situation: If the answer was recently posted, wait a day or two. See how others in the community respond. If no one seems to be commenting with negative feedback, then go ahead and upvote the answer.

You could also use the "favorite" button on the question to help you remember which answers you want to go back and check again later.

By the way, I think your caution is commendable. It doesn't happen too often, but, on occasion, I have seen a few bad answers get upvotes. I think that undermines the credibility of this site, so thank you for wanting to vote judiciously.

  • Thank you for taking your time to answer my question. Yes, after all the advice, I decided to take more time before upvoting. When I first started using this site, this never even crossed my mind because I was thinking, ”Yea, my English isn't that bad for a Japanese.” But the more I use this site, the more I realized how ignorant I was! A bit embarrassing, but that's when I started to wonder about upvoting... Anyway, thank you! – Mikiko Aug 25 '16 at 1:00

As long as you're reasonably careful to make sure you're not getting taken in by an answer that sounds plausible but is actually totally wrong, this should be fine. That's how votes are supposed to work! And the occasional error can be taken care of by other people voting and commenting.

  • Thank you, @NathanTuggy! I will try to take in all advice I got from you guys here! – Mikiko Aug 24 '16 at 7:13

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