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I think it would be useful, especially for newbies, to get a help text (above the question?) with helpful hints why your question might have been down-voted. These could be general tips like being specific, providing details about the context (e.g. Ubuntu, PHP 5.3.9), writing what you've tried so far etc.

Also it could detect things like "You seem to have neglected to provide code".


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That said - what purpose does Chewbacca's belt serve? I have to know now. Goodbye, productive working day! – Pëkka May 31 '12 at 12:13

Two issues:

  1. What would it say other than "read the FAQ"?

  2. How could it really be specific to the question enough to be useful? There are a million reasons a question can be downvoted. We'd have to be mind-readers to truly know why someone downvoted. (And if they really want you to know why, they'd leave a comment, if they feel like it.)

Also, the tooltip text on the voting arrows does provide a basic explanation, for the record; hover your mouse over the up and down vote arrows.

In my experience, types of users who tend to post questions that get downvoted aren't the ones willing to read much of anything at all.

I'd also argue that the burden of "why" always falls on the asker. If your question is downvoted, ask yourself how you can make it better. Prove that downvoter wrong by showing them how awesome and thorough and complete you can make your question!

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I think this would be a nice addition to the FAQ, because not everyone starts by reading the manual. And why would the questioner hover the voting arrows? In it's most basic form, while still being helpful, it could be a banner "You're question has been down-voted. To learn how to improve it, read the FAQ". It's scary enough as a newbie, and down-votes pushes them further away (imo). I kind message might mitigate that. :) – Znarkus May 31 '12 at 10:18
Also, the voting-arrow tooltips on meta doesn't reflect the meta FAQ. – Znarkus May 31 '12 at 10:22
@Znarkus The mistake there is assuming that someone who wrote a crap question even cares that it was down voted. That's the thing, they don't care, which means they aren't going to read. Have you gone incognito lately and gone through the steps of asking a question? There's a ton of nudging and help in place to make sure people have a good experience. I don't think that adding more text is going to help. – Tim Post May 31 '12 at 10:33
+1 for "The burden of 'why' always falls on the asker" – Pëkka May 31 '12 at 12:13

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