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A lot depends on the purpose of the voting, but the general rules that I would follow are: Show the votes before voting: the primary purpose of the voting is the sorting the posts / options you are allowed to vote on more than one post / option there are potentially many posts / options and you don’t need someone to have read them all before they vote ...


Show the result after the vote has been cast. This has to do with conformity (as you briefly mention yourself). Experiments (see f.ex. Asch's experiment) has shown that people in general, are affected by what other people do and say in groups, even if they initially was thinking or knowing differently. Therefor, showing a result before the vote is cast may ...


Go the middle way and give the users the freedom. What you want to avoid is users being subconsciously influenced by the currently leadning answer(s). Consequently, hiding the intermediary results of the poll from the user seems to prevent that. However, you must not force users to vote to access the results, if they are only interested in the results, and ...


From my experience(on a news related website), the user will prefer a link rather than be presented with a poll which they may not want to take part in. Using a link could result in a lower conversion rate, however I would surmise that the quality of data may be higher as the users have consciously decided to take part in the poll.

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