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This is not an issue particular to PerlMonks, but to any forum of any Special Interest Group. In my (admittedly limited) experience, the choice of whether to vote for or against a specific thread is almost always subjective.
If I, as an enlightened and unbiased person (yeah, right!), were to choose the criteria for up or down voting a specific person’s opinion/question/rant on a specific issue, how would I go about it? What constitutes an OBJECTIVE criterion? In whose opinion? No matter who you ask, you’d get a different list, with different prioritisations within those lists.
So, in my own enlightened way, I ignore others’ criteria and choose my own, they being:
1.) Does it pertain to the Special Interest shared by the specific forum? (A great discussion of the pros & cons of swing-arm shock absorbing systems for dirt-bikes vs. street bikes would be great at a Hells Angels get together … and absolutely inappropriate here.)
2.) Does it communicate one central point/question clearly, or does it either ramble incoherently over the countryside (like this post), or communicate the one point poorly. Here I am not talking about grammar, spelling, or style, but about CLARITY. The use of language is to take an idea/fact/question from my mind and implant it in your mind. If that is achieved, I care less about how polished that language is.
3.) Does it show that the person posting has done their bit in researching the issue (by Reading The Fabulous Manual, searching previous posts, etc, etc)? Personally I think there is no such thing as a stupid question (Here on PerlMonks, I am “stupid”, elsewhere, in my own bailiwick, I am considered an expert – not in Perl), but there are certainly “stupid” people. They are the ones who are not prepared to think about something first before asking for a free ride from the community.
4.) Does it stick to the subject, or does it get "personal"? Granted there are people who need a sharp answer now and then, but most poor average Joes (or Janes), just need to be gently told what is expected of them to do it right next time.
Those, for what it’s worth, are my criteria. Undoubtedly they are not those shared by a large number of the Monks, but that is my whole point … it is, and will always be, subjective.
The moment we start “voting”, we admit to subjectivity, that is the nature of the human beast.