The behavior of the user community remains the same, however, and few contributors will make a "me too" post or other indication of support for an idea, user, or contribution unless they have at least some little tidbit to add to the discussion. This leads to what is sometimes called the "usenet silent nod," where well-written and informative posts often have no replies while sloppy and content-free posts generate discussion. To writers' frustration, it is impossible to tell whether a post generated no commentary because it was perceived to be irrelevant, or whether it generated no commentary because it was sufficiently well written that nothing more need be said. In the latter case, the writer can become an UnsungHero.
A resultant phenomenon is that it is not possible to discern consensus in the broader community by reviewing contributions. In many cases, a silent majority exists that supports one side of the discussion but declines to participate, believing that more active combatents have already made the salient points.
Score-based moderation systems overcome this to some degree, as does voting. (VotingIsGood)
The world would be a better place if there were a way to overcome this bias, and get contributors to be more willing to show support for someone who is doing the Right Thing.
The answer is to never make a decision that requires people to stand up and be counted. Don't put people in situations where they feel insecure about their opinions because they do not have the community support for merely being there. Let them stand tall when they speak, and love them even if their arguments have flaws. Then you can aim for the better answer without it getting in between friends. Never wear the argument on your skin because then you are as vulnerable as the argument has holes. DefendAgainstPassion.
I think this has implications for facilitative users who try to help iron out disputes and technical problems. Generally a thankless job, and such users need broad support to succeed in their mission. At least, everywhere else except here, MeatBallIsNotTypical?. Besides, we have BarnStar''s. There are also implications for users who go to some effort to edit, refactor, anthologize, post primary sources, and write FAQs.
See also RatingAsContent