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I mostly don't downvote questions by new users, unless they are really rude or really obvious off topic etc. Simply because it isn't always clear to new users what SO is about or how it works. Those questions often do get closed pretty fast either way. And when going on a downvote rampage when a new user asks a question isn't the way to go imo, because this would only drive people away from SO.

I have been thinking about a "treshold" of minimum rep before a user should be knowledged enough on SO to know what and how to ask questions. Currently when users are > 500 rep I'll check their profile to see whether they should know better to ask a good question (I.e. has this user asked more questions, were there any comments on this to miprove the questions, are these comments used to improve the questions, etc). When users are > 1000 rep I expect them to know by then how to site works and may downvote questions as I see fit.

Note: for answers I have a different opinion, because answers are more often used by other users and downvoting is the defacto quality measurement for other people to check the quality of an answer, but that's not what this discussion in about

This is in no way a feature request to prevent downvoting on new users. The downvoting system is in place for a reason and if somebody else wants to downvote the questions like above please do.

My question basically is: from how much rep can we expect a user to have enough understanding of the site to be able to come up with good questions?

I do understand that this might be a subjective question although we also have the privileges system in place which also links rep to trust worthiness on the site, so I thought maybe you have some thoughts about my question.

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I guess your treshold is > 1900 rep ;) –  PeeHaa Jul 3 '12 at 8:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

from how much rep can we expect a user to have enough understanding of the site to be able to come up with good questions?

This doesn't directly flow into "when should we start being able to downvote people's posts"; I'll admit I'm slightly more forgiving of new user's posts, but they still have to be minimally acceptable for the site. Especially on Stack Overflow there's hardly time to baby sit dozens of new users totally misusing the site on a daily basis.

Downvotes aren't personal attacks, they're sorting mechanisms. If you refrain from downvoting or voting to close a new user's post (granted that it is bad, for the sake of discussion), for the most part all you're doing is leaving the post there longer for other people to downvote and vote to close.

If you actually want to help people, leave helpful comments. On a site as big as SO, bad posts are going to get downvotes anyway and I'm not going to shed any tears over that. The difference is whether you help them improve. And even that's not a reasonable requirement, it's just a nice thing to do. It's still a lot of damn work.

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If posts can be fixed I often leave a comment to help the user, mostly not fixing posts myself though or OP would never learn imo. Most of the time I'm not a bad person (contrary to popular belief) ;-) And I would never refrain from cv'ing questions. I do my part of civic duty. Which is really neccesary in some tags ([php] etc). All in all I do agree with your points and it looks like the community also does. –  PeeHaa Jul 3 '12 at 10:48

From how much rep can we expect a user to have enough understanding of the site to be able to come up with good questions?

From a reputation of 1, because nothing precludes a user from doing significant research on the site before posting his/her question, or even before registering. Unfortunately, if you give people more leeway in the beginning, it's hard to know when you would take it away safely.

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