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Sometimes I feel really bad for someone who has just 10 or 20 rep and gets downvoted once or twice. In most cases, the downvoter doesn't leave feedback.

I know that downvoting has it's time and place, and that negative feedback is vital to keep users in line. However, I do feel like newer users should be given some kind of incentive to keep posting answers.

So here's my question(s):

Suppose if a newer user posts a response or question that may or may not be wrong, and shows lack of research and lack of depth. (I'm setting up the situation such that if someone with higher rep posted it, they would certainly not be upvoted)

  1. Should you upvote this question to encourage the user to keep posting answers, and let them learn the "right" way to post a question/answer later?

  2. Should you downvote this user so that they learn the "right" way right from the start?

  3. Do the answers to 1. and/or 2. change if this user has been neg-rep'ed? (i.e. +1 to offset -1)

  4. If those who neg-rep do not explain why, should you explain this to the newer user? Or is it not your place to do so?

Basically, do new users get points just for trying?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Typically, what I do when I see a new user with a negatively voted question that has no comments, is to explain why (I think) they have been downvoted (it's only my guess as to what the downvoters were thinking, but it's usually not hard to figure out). I don't necessarily downvote myself (unless it's a truly terrible question), but offer suggestions to make it better. If the user takes the opportunity to improve the question, I think an upvote is definitely warranted to encourage the effort. It could make the difference between them never coming back to SE and them becoming interested in being an active member of the community.

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So you're saying downvote, explain, and watch for edits? – Ryan Amos Feb 17 '12 at 4:15
Definitely explain and watch for edits. Downvoting is optional/discretionary. A lot of times I don't because honestly, a negatively scored question is a negatively scored question, and a user with 1 rep can't go any lower. It's better to encourage good behavior than discourage someone from participating at all. – yoozer8 Feb 17 '12 at 4:17
Explain to the user how to fix the problem, watch for edits, upvote if the edit fixes the problem. – Ryan Amos Feb 17 '12 at 4:19
Correct. The downvote isn't really necessary. The further negative the question goes, the more discouraged the ueser will be. It's really up to you though. Your votes are there to be used at your discretion. However, it's what you've got left in this second comment that is the important part. – yoozer8 Feb 17 '12 at 19:14
Thanks! I'm still trying to work out the proper way to do voting, seeing as I couldn't even see the split until recently. – Ryan Amos Feb 17 '12 at 19:21

Any of the options you have listed are "appropriate". It's entirely up to you, what you want to do.

I can imagine doing any of them, in various situations. without a specific situation, I couldn't help you choose between them.

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This (…), among many, many, other posts, is what inspired me to ask this. The user is wrong, but he's trying. He just joined SO, so why not give him +1? EDIT: this more:… – Ryan Amos Feb 17 '12 at 4:11
For the first link, I don't think it's good to up vote a wrong answer, ever. This user now thinks it's OK to just post what ever crap he wants, even if he "doesn't know" much about the technology in question. IMO, you've done that user a disservice. – Andrew Barber Feb 17 '12 at 4:16
Alright, so only upvote on correct/right direction. – Ryan Amos Feb 17 '12 at 4:16
As for the other; you stirred the pot on that one. – Andrew Barber Feb 17 '12 at 4:19
How do you mean? (I'm not disputing you) I intentionally didn't respond to his "thanks" in order to stop that there. – Ryan Amos Feb 17 '12 at 4:20

It really shouldn't matter whether the user is new or not. A useless question or answer should be voted down because it has actual negative value to anyone looking for information. Just take a look at all of the good 0 or 1 score questions out there, and think about whether or not you want a constant flow of I want to ______. Where should I start? questions pushing them down the list.

If you want to explain the problem to someone, that's great, but protecting or even encouraging no-effort questions and answers with your votes is not helping anyone.

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Upvote for bad content - definitely NO

Downvote - mostly NO, only if it contain collateral damage (make thing worse, generate disaster...)

Comment - mostly YES

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