in reply to When to --
I was just wondering how other monks choose whether to ++ or -- a post.
I imagine some people won't want to answer this, but as I've publicly discussed my voting strategy before, I'll do so again.
In technical threads, especially replies to SoPW queries, I tend to use my votes in an attempt to order the replies by reputation. In my user settings I've set the "Best First" option for note ordering, which causes the replies to be displayed in order by reputation. Therefore, my goal is simply to get the reply which I think is best to the top of the display. I do this by upvoting it first. If there are still nodes with a higher rep than it, I'll downvote them next.
That's the idea, anyway. In reality, I often find two, three, or more nodes that I think are really pretty good at answering the question in which case I don't downvote any of them on principle. Also, I don't use this method on threads in which I wouldn't be comfortable answering myself. In other words, if I'm not real familiar with the subject matter I won't try to rank the replies. I will, in that case, upvote nodes which explain something to me.
In threads which are opinion oriented, such as often come up in meditations and discussions, I usually just upvote nodes I agree with rather than downvote nodes I disagree with. There are exceptions, but that's the general rule I follow. An exception is that I will sometimes downvote a suggestion offered in Perl Monks Discussion if I really think it is a bad idea.
There are some other factors. I upvote questions which I think are really good or which I might have asked myself had I discovered the need to. I upvote poetry, obfuscations snippets, and CUFPs that I like, but I very rarely downvote nodes in those categories. I downvote obvious trolls, requests for homework, and very poorly asked questions. I also sometimes downvote answers that consist of nothing more than "perldoc perlfoo" (unless the question specifically requested documentation) and I almost always downvote ones that consist of nothing more than "well golly-gee-whiz, I have an article on that too" with a link pointing off-site.
I've recently noticed some of my posts, which I thought to be pretty good (as did some other monks because, because the post ended up with a decent rep) getting --.
Don't sweat it. It happens to us all¹. A single anonymous vote without context means absolutely nothing²
1. In fact, as I was writing this, it seems that someone came along and downvoted no less than 10 nodes of mine. In order to try to maximize the effect of their votes on my XP, they viewed all my write-ups, ordered by reputation (probably lowest first) and then downvoted my worst rep nodes. End result: I lost 2 XP... and I've gained it back already. Lesson: If several downvotes from a determined personality voter don't do any harm, a few random ones certainly won't. The system is actually much more robust than it appears.
2. Some extrapolate that to mean that node rep itself means nothing. I disagree strongly with them. Node reputation has context and is an aggregate. What and how much it means are entirely dependent on context, though, and are open to interpretation (or perhaps "wild speculation").
-sauoq "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";