This community deals with questions that are subject to "eilu va'eilu divrei Elokim Chaim -- these and those are the words of the 'Living' G-d / G-d of Life." Such questions have a range of valid answers which may even contradict each other.

Many answers provided do offer surveys of those valid answers. But not all. More often someone is unaware of the full range of answers or only presents the position which they identify with.

This means that it is quite possible to encounter an answer with which you firmly disagree but should recognize as a valid and meaningful answer.

For example, let's say someone posts an answer to some issue about Zionism based on the Satmar Rav's VaYo'el Moshe, and anti-Zionist text. It is erudite, explains itself clearly, etc... One of the community members is a staunch Zionist, a follower of Rav AY Kook, and stumbles upon this answer.

Should this answer be voted up, or down?

What is the expectation, and what is the ideal?

Should answers float to the top because more of the community is Modern Orthodox than Chassidish or that the answer was reviewed by more Yeshivish readers than Sepharadi ones?

Is the goal of the community to present the current state of the Jewish Community or the abstract theory?

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    It should be voted up if it is helpful, and down if it isn't. Not downvoting on dogmatic grounds levels the playing field, but isn't theoretically necessary. If an answer, is thought to be spreading fake false information, or is not helpful, it can theoretically be downvoted, even if this opens the door to abuse of the system. There is no way to stop opinionated folks from dramatically downvoting every post they disprove of, regardless of the evidence it marshals, anyway.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 14:02
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  • Very interesting question. Thank you
    – kouty
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 14:10

3 Answers 3


Thank you for bringing this important concern to meta.

I agree with this answer and want to add: I have seen dogma-driven, as opposed to quality-driven, voting severely damage another site. There are actually two ways this problem manifests; you've identified one of them:

  • Downvoting a valid answer (sourced, sound argument, etc but just reaches a different conclusion, as oft happens in our area) purely because the voter disagrees with the conclusion.

  • Upvoting a poor answer (just states an opinion without support, misunderstands/misuses sources, etc) purely because the voter agrees with the conclusion.

Voting on Stack Exchange should not be a demographic-popularity contest. We should upvote answers that are useful, downvote answers that are inaccurate or not helpful, and not vote on answers where we're not sure.

Eilu v'eilu. Fairly often I find that I've upvoted answers on the same question that disagree with each other. If it was good enough for Chazal (who recorded opposing interpretations), it should be good enough for us.

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    Monica, do you think it's coincidental that the votes on answers to judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56994/1570 correlate with how far left the answer is. My post was reason-based rather than source based, so okay. But the answer to the right of mine got down into negative numbers, even though no one raised a fundamental problem worth putting into the comments. And the left-ward answer, the most posts. Is it really about quality, or an indication of who would bother checking that question? Commented May 26, 2017 at 0:35
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    @MichaBerger usually left-leaning answers do not do well here at all. For example, answers -- and even questions! -- that involve Conservative sources (let alone ones farther left than that) usually get downvoted into oblivion, from what I've seen. On the question you linked, I suspect there are two key factors: (1) the top-voted answer has a two-year head start, and (2) it brings what look like credible sources so people might've voted on that basis even if they disagree with the conclusion. The comments raising further issues are new & might not have been seen, and votes might be locked in. Commented May 26, 2017 at 2:22
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    @MichaBerger Sorry I'm not following. Which answer there is to the right of yours? I would think both answers are to the left of yours since they argue for various degrees of biblical criticism being not heresy
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 14:05
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    @DoubleAA: I am not sure I should answer, since it would make this discussion about the case that got me wondering, and distracting from the topic at hand. Whether my wonder was aptly kindled is not really the point here. Commented May 26, 2017 at 19:04

Elsewhere I wrote:

If an answer does not bring a source but relies on logic or assumptions, then anyone can and should downvote if they, through their own logic or assumptions, think the answer is inaccurate, not useful etc. It is one anonymous internet user versus another, and at least one of them may be a dog.

If the answer does bring a valid source, then I believe the answer should not be downvoted if one personally disagrees with the ruling/explanation given therein (for example, if the post is more machmir/meikil than you think should be the halacha, or if you find an explanation of certain verses in Tanach to be untenable). This is to ensure that all voices get heard, and one ideological group of users does not downvote out a different ideological group. Plus, if we are all here to learn about a topic, then every valid opinion is useful and is part of the Torah tradition. The answer may, of course, still be downvoted if it misrepresents the source, doesn't answer the question etc. (There is no official policy about this AFAIK.)

As for what you should do, ideally the Zionist (in your example) would upvote the other well written answer and then post a "better" answer describing his "better" position and why it is "better" so that it would gather even more upvotes. Practically that's not always going to happen. I can't in good faith insist on upvoting the other answer if you really feel it is too one-sided or too much of a minority opinion, so if you want to just not vote that ought to be acceptable. But don't downvote (if it's properly sourced) and remember to have a healthy amount of humility in supporting other legitimate views (as you'd want others to have in supporting yours).

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    Of course, there's no way to enforce any of this...
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 14:06
  • Inevitably, "group think" influences a vote in both directions. Someone's knowledge and strong beliefs tend to bias him to thinking that this is no other method / solution on a topic. Thus, it' snot always an opinion causing a downvote - it may be because they think the opposing view is just false. OTOH, someone can make a convincing case about a falsehood and make you believe that it's true, causing people to upvote. No way to control ho people think, here, and I don't think people should try to "please" others as much as some do myself included. FWIW, I upvoted this answer b/c I agree :-)
    – DanF
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 14:10

I think that downvote for answers is essentially for errors. Upvote for truth + quality or originality. The content and the form, in the form essentially. brevity and clarty. The ideologic downvote or upvote are not fair. But it is quasi impossible to avoid this in Judaism. If ideology is involved in halacha, e.g. there are groups that want to "modify" halacha, the wrong/true topic is mixed. Personally when I see answers regarding a topic to which I fundamentally object, I cannot upvote but I do not downvote. I see this as a part of a sub-webside inside mi Yodeya. That will be a big pity if a group of individuals embedded in a same ideology control mi yodeya.

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