I am afraid of posting answers to questions that have already been answered by moderators and/or 10k+ users. I've posted about ten or 12 such answers between SO and MSO. Whenever I have different opinions than the diamond/10k+ users, I receive an ocean of downvotes, even though I explain the reasoning behind my answers.

  • Is it okay to write answers that compete with moderators' or 10k+ users' answers?
  • If so, how should I behave when I do so?
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We are all just users on Stack Overflow, the correctness of an answer is determined by the quality and accuracy of the answer itself and not by who posted it, the amount of rep they have, or whether they have a mod diamond next to their name. –  Kev Mar 7 '12 at 16:22
It is not a competition - if you believe you can write a better answer, do so. –  Oded Mar 7 '12 at 16:23
Don't be afraid, be awesome. –  Toon Krijthe Mar 7 '12 at 16:36
Moderators are just glorified janitors :) –  bkaid Mar 7 '12 at 16:54
If you dare not compete, how will you ever become a 10k+er yourself? Go for it. –  Daniel Fischer Mar 7 '12 at 16:54
Looking at your SO account, I don't see any answers that have less than 0. Where is this ocean of which you speak. Picking a random 0 answer, I came across this one, which has no down votes, but deserves a few. –  squint Mar 7 '12 at 16:59
Could you point out a few of the answers you think fall into this bucket? I took a quick look at your answers and none stood out (no negative vote answers). If you are receiving bad down votes I'd like to correct it and if they are legitimate I'd like to offer feedback on them. –  JaredPar Mar 7 '12 at 17:14
I have deleted most of that answers to avoid more downvotes. –  Somnath Muluk Mar 7 '12 at 17:28
On meta downvotes just mean disagreement, and not that your answer was bad. Mods are not included from this. For example Jeff has answers which were voted down to -50, since people disagreed. In your example question, people thought SO is a better place for the question, since VS is software used by programmers. –  CodesInChaos Mar 7 '12 at 17:36
Many times moderators or 10k+ users' don't feel any special standing(some times it should.) But how can we change mindset of viewers of that question? Should there some obligations during writing competing answer? –  Somnath Muluk Mar 7 '12 at 17:54
Famous users like JonSkeet might get a few extra upvotes, but competing answers don't receive downvotes for that. An answer on meta gets downvoted if people disagree with it, and on SO it gets downvoted if it is bad, wrong or in the few subjective questions people disagree with it. –  CodesInChaos Mar 7 '12 at 17:59
@SomnathMuluk This is a straw man argument. Bad answers get downvoted, regardless of who else posted an answer. I don't doubt that high rep user and moderators are given a little more consideration, but that doesn't mean you will get a downvotalanche for also posting a good answer. –  JNK Mar 7 '12 at 18:00
Absolutely not. In fact, I'm going to put on my Hugo Boss uniform and come pay you a visit for even thinking it was okay. –  Won't Mar 7 '12 at 18:16
In all seriousness, no. Unless you're answering a question tagged with [c++] or [php], in which case users with 2k+ rep will come after you with pitchforks and torches. –  Won't Mar 7 '12 at 18:17
FWIW, I was also intimidated by answers of high rep users at the beginning. You think they must have all figured out. But we are all just human and can only know so much. For a long time I used this user script to hide the reputation of each user to not influence my judgment of the answer or question. Maybe that's something for you as well. –  Felix Mar 11 '12 at 23:53
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5 Answers

up vote 37 down vote accepted

Moderators/10K users have no special standing when writing answers. Consider us ordinary users for this purpose. Behave the same way you would with any other user.

If you are having trouble getting a good response from your posts, consider reading the sites' FAQ pages, and watching other users who seem to do well with their questions and answers.

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This, coming from a moderator, why should we trust you? –  Nick Craver Mar 7 '12 at 16:29
@Nick - and whats that funny little shape after your user name? ;) –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:31
@Lix There are moderators, and super moderators. ;) –  kiamlaluno Mar 11 '12 at 22:10
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Ocean of downvotes

I'll bet a hefty sum that those downvotes were cast because the answer itself was poor, not because you were competing against a mod or 10K user.

It might be true that higher rep users sometimes get quicker upvotes than competing answers from lower rep users (whether this is true has been debated many times), but I find it inconceivable that people would downvote a decent answer simply because the writer had a low rep.

Overall I think the community does an outstanding job of voting on posts based on the content, independent of who wrote it.

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Though I think the only exception to your last statement would be Jon Skeet. He always has great answers to add to any question yet some people would even admit to upvoting him just because he is who he is even if they know nothing on the topic. –  Jeff Mercado Mar 7 '12 at 16:26
@JeffMercado: are you insinuating that Jon Skeet has become a Bike Shed? –  user7116 Mar 7 '12 at 16:27
@Jeff - probably. Jon Skeet is quite likely the exception that proves the rule. –  Adam Rackis Mar 7 '12 at 16:28
@sixlettervariables: No of course not. I have nothing but respect for the man. It's just that every once in a while on one of his posts, someone will add in a comment stating something like: "+1 just because you're Jon Skeet." –  Jeff Mercado Mar 7 '12 at 16:29
@JeffMercado: oh I agree, sometimes rep begets rep. (my original comment was tongue-in-cheek) –  user7116 Mar 7 '12 at 16:32
@AdamRackis: Exceptions don't prove rules. –  Keith Thompson Mar 7 '12 at 18:53
@Keith - I've seen this complaint before. I think that phrase has a colloquial meaning that a trend shouldn't be thrown out the window if one particular, odd exception exists. The community does vote on posts based on content, but The Skeet often gets +1s just for being The Skeet. The general trend is still true though; content tends to overwhelmingly be voted on based on its quality, and not authorship. –  Adam Rackis Mar 7 '12 at 18:56
@AdamRackis: The colloquial meaning seems to be that finding an exception to a rule strengthens the rule, which is exactly the opposite of the truth. The idea that an exception doesn't weaken a rule very much is a different idea (and not always valid either). –  Keith Thompson Mar 7 '12 at 19:05
@Keith - for me, the phrase only holds true if the exception is odd and unique. The exception has to stand out, and be truly different from normal usage, which Jon Skeet is. So if content on SO is voted by merit instead of authorship, except for Jon Skeet, I don't think that exception weakens the argument one bit; for all normal usage, content is voted appropriately. The Skeet is just an exceptional exception. –  Adam Rackis Mar 7 '12 at 19:09
@AdamRackis: This is way off-topic, but the exception does weaken the argument. Read the Wikipedia article; the saying is simply misunderstood. Jon Skeet is merely an exception, which makes the rule less true than it would be if there were no exceptions. –  Keith Thompson Mar 7 '12 at 19:15
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I've posted about ten or 12 such answers between SO and MSO. Whenever I have different opinions than the diamond/10k+ users, I receive an ocean of downvotes, even though I explain the reasoning behind my answers.

I checked your profile, and the "ocean of downvotes" you speak of only seems present on Meta Stack Overflow. I didn't notice any similar activity on your regular SO profile.

Votes on Meta don't mean the same thing as votes on regular sites. On Meta, a downvote means "I don't agree." However well you explain your reasoning, if people don't agree with your position, it will be downvoted.

Don't take it personally.

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This. This is the answer. –  Cody Gray Mar 7 '12 at 21:43
@CodyGray No, this is a comment. 42 is the answer. –  todofixthis Mar 11 '12 at 22:33
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To answer your first bullet: Yes, you should.

Just because you have a diamond or 10k+ reputation on Stack Overflow, that does not mean their answer is correct, complete, or useful in any manner to the question asker.

To answer your second bullet: The correct etiquette is to simply answer the question how you see fit.

To answer your implied question, "why do I get downvoted on Meta," it'd be similar to asking why some people like contemporary art and other people do not. I wouldn't worry about it.

To answer your other implied question, "why do I get downvoted on Stack Overflow," it is likely because you have content problems. The more you answer and work to improve your answers, the less downvotes you will receive in the long run.

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+1 for the contemporary art quip. Sometimes I think figuring out contemporary art is easier than figuring out meta... –  Adam Rackis Mar 7 '12 at 16:29
-1 Because Robert Harvey♦ already answered. –  Bill the Lizard Mar 7 '12 at 16:33
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I disagree with the the moderator's answer! ;)

You would have to have a pretty good reason to argue with them. That little diamond (in the eyes of most users) is more like a halo hovering above their heads. Anything they say is usually taken as the ultimate answer. (the fact that it usually is is besides the point ;)

  1. Yes you should - just because someone else (mod or +10K user) has answered it does not mean that your answer is less valid.
  2. Formatting! Blow them out of the water with all the formatting tricks you can think of to make your post SHINE! Beyond that your answer should technically be correct, on-topic and should assist the OP in someway with their issue.

You should behave in the same way as you would when posing any answer on any post where other content is already there - be polite - try not to refer to other answers or comments (as they could be deleted). Your post should be able to stand on its own.

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Wait. Are you talking about Meta or SO proper? That said, is the OP taking about Meta or SO proper? –  Pëkka Mar 7 '12 at 16:24
@Pekka - if Lix is talking about MSO, I'd say there might be some legitimacy to the answer. Mods' opinions are probably given more respect than others on MSO. My answer presumed we were talking about SO –  Adam Rackis Mar 7 '12 at 16:25
The original question did mention both SO and MSO. I'd upvote this for Meta and downvote it for the main site, so... +0. –  Pops Mar 7 '12 at 16:29
@Pekka - I don't see a reason that my answer (or the OP's question) should be limited to SO or MSO. I think the items I have touched in my post are relevant to both sites. –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:29
@pop - could you clarify why it is not relevant to SO? –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:32
@Lix You would have to have a pretty good reason to argue with them definitely applies to Meta (as mods often know for a fact what us ordinary users can only speculate about). On SO proper, challenging a mod or 10k+'s answer is nothing special, it doesn't require any more care than challenging any other answer IMO... Yes, I triple-check too when contradicting a master in their own tag. But that is more... optional to avoid embarrassing oneself. :) –  Pëkka Mar 7 '12 at 16:34
What Pekka said. In short, diamonds are ex officio subject matter experts on meta sites, but not main sites. –  Pops Mar 7 '12 at 16:37
@pekka - Sure, It also depends on the context. If a mod gives his opinion in an answer on MSO - another user could very easily have a different opinion and that opinion could very very well be valid. Take the deletion issue - mods wanted to delete content but you disagreed (outright deletion) giving your own opinion. –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:38
@pop - what I take from your comments is that one should NEVER argue with a mod on MSO because they know best... Well... this could be true 99.9999% of the time - but we are all human! :) –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:40
@Lix on Meta, the rule is much more straightforward. On Meta, I am always right. By default. –  Pëkka Mar 7 '12 at 16:44
@pekka - are you sure about that? ;) –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:45
Halos?? Oh, please. –  Robert Harvey Mar 7 '12 at 16:54
@Rob - Trigger happy, tag flinging, rainbow vomiting cyber monkey-lizards...with guns ;) –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 16:57
Then you're taking the wrong message from my comment. It's not worth arguing over mod responses to "how does X work" or "why was Y deleted" on meta sites, but presenting a differing viewpoint in "should we implement policy Z?" is fine. –  Pops Mar 7 '12 at 16:59
@pop - Ok, we are on the same page then. Obviously arguing over the inner workings of the sites would be futile... However users disagreeing with the deletion issue (for example [once again]) is as you said..."fine" ;) –  Lix Mar 7 '12 at 17:01
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