I would expect that there are some people who might give the topic a "thumbs down" for one of two reasons:
They disagree with what I said, but don't have the guts to offer an counterargument.
They don't like me!
Or alternatively, they're simply not interested in the topic, and to avoid having to wade through a million threads to get to the ones they like, vote down the ones they're not interested in so they will collapse out of view.
Which is also a perfectly legitimate use of the thumbs, the way I understand it.
It's not just about spam and offensive stuff, it's not just an equivalent of the "Report" button. (If it's something you used to click "Report"on, you should now vote it down and
still report it.)
I may be wrong, but I see the use of the thumbs up and down system as two separate, legit things:
- Weeding out the truly obnoxious or offensive. If enough people vote it down, they will collapse out of view by default. Plus, the mods will be able to easily find them, as they will be at the bottom of the listing by vote.
- Sorting topics by those considered most interesting or relevant, so that new visitors to the site find the most instructive/interesting/etc threads on top.
E.g., Craven has (I read somewhere) been voting the word games down, and judging on the minus-something ratings many of them have, he's not been the only one. The logic, I suppose, being that the standard listings of the old A2K were quite dominated by these word games, when, in the view of those voting them down, they are of only limited, niche interest.
And of course, if you dont like the consequent effect of "popular" topics rising to the top and "inpopular" ones (that many have marked as not of interest to them) sinking to the bottom, you can just adjust your preferences so that you can just see threads according to which have the newest posts, etc.
That's the way I understand it, anyway...