In this question, the OP pointed out that the answer in the question I shared had no votes, so it was "untrustable":

break up or break down?

Should no votes mean the answer isn't trustable?

3 Answers 3


When an answer has net upvotes, some users have expressed the view that it is a good answer. That presumably means that those users consider it trustable. But I have seen blatantly wrong answers upvoted. When many users upvote an answer, it gives some further degree of trust. When good reliable sources are cited, that in my view does more to render an answer trustworthy than any number of upvotes.

But an answer with no votes at all simply means that no user has cared to, or has gotten around to, voting on it one way or another. An answer with similar (or indeed better) content adjacent to one worded more cleverly or more appealingly, may get no votes. A late but improved answer may get no votes if users consider an existing answer good enough. An answer may be on a topic not interesting to many voters. In my view, one should not place a huge amount of trust, or withhold trust, just because of the voted it has or lacks. Following and assessing sources is generally a better way to judge.

  • 4
    I'll just add that when you hover over the upvote arrow, the tooltip says, "this answer is useful"; it does not say, "this answer is trustable". Sep 5, 2022 at 9:23

I think no votes can often mean that an adjacent similar answer got the votes, perhaps because it is fuller (or, sometimes, just wordier). The answer with no votes has got one now!


The number of votes (up or down) that any answer or question gets is inextricably linked to the number of views that the question gets. If hardly anybody looks at a question, it simply cannot get many votes.

Some questions pull in far more views than others. I would suggest this is down to how much interest the question garners. I have noticed that questions about language that has a social or political element pull in huge numbers of views and votes, as do questions where the examples are controversial topics.

We cannot judge the validity of a question by how interesting it is (ie the number of views) then the number of votes cannot really be a worthwhile metric either. I'm not even sure that the ratio of votes tells us anything. Statistically speaking, if an answer has 3 upvotes and 2 downvotes then it is about as trustworthy as an answer that has 30 upvotes and 20 downvotes. But again, I have noted that 'controversial' and socio-political subject matter attracts a lot of contrary voting as well. It may be that some people vote with their hearts rather than their heads if they have some personal connection to the subject matter, in which case it could be that neither the upvotes nor the downvotes could be viewed as more trustworthy than the other.

Ultimately, the OP chooses the answer that is 'correct', or most helpful to them (they may receive multiple correct answers). We can't close an on-topic question on the basis that they selected the wrong answer.

The choice to close a question because it is a duplicate is only possible when the original question has an accepted answer. So long as those voting to close for this reason take the time to ensure they agree with the accepted answer then the OP's objection over a lack of votes is irrelevant because those voting to close are effectively saying this is the answer we would give to your new question anyway.

  • 1
    "Some questions pull in far more views than others." I think you're seeing Hot Network Questions, which get votes from the rest of the network. For recent questions (after 2019?), the timeline shows you if it was on the list. Other questions get a lot of views naturally from search engines, but not votes (since that requires 15 rep).
    – Laurel Mod
    Sep 15, 2022 at 21:14
  • @laurel That's as may be, but what makes them 'hot'? What makes them Google-worthy? I addressed those questions. It isn't difficult to get 15 rep - you get 100 upon joining just for being a member of any other network. So if you're an expert over on the home improvement site that knows all there is to know about MDF, you can weigh in on a question about pronouns. If you're a level 9 Horde Troll over at the role-playing site, you can come here and vote on a question about the proper use of tenses. My point stands that large numbers of votes do not necessarily denote quality.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 16, 2022 at 8:05
  • While it is true that many of the votes, on super-upvoted, i.e. popular answers, come from casual visitors who click the enticing title on the HNQs, I suspect the vast majority of these visitors/voters are native speakers. And if an answer is judged bad or plain wrong, be assured it will be downvoted until it reaches the depths of hell. Many a time the answer on ELL is common sense, and is focused on semantics not explained by grammar. Many–too many–answers are unsupported, but for some reason that is acceptable and common practice here.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 16, 2022 at 8:30
  • 1
    It seems to me the vast majority of answerers on ELL nowadays are from native speakers, I would like to see more contributions from non-native speakers, who are competent in English, as their POV and personal experiences of learning English might better pinpoint where the confusion lies.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 16, 2022 at 8:41

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