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In real life, humans learn not only from good examples but also from bad examples if it is shown that the example is bad. However, the current way StackExchange works discourages any 'wrong answers'. Sometimes, those wrong answers are actually 'common mistakes' that others make and having it somewhere where people ask questions helps others learn more. (I've witnessed this on several occasions).

My suggestion is to have something like a CommonMistakes pin for this sort of answers, which allows others to see such answers, probably via a link or like in some cases on StackExchange, made a bit transparent.

Also since it's a common mistake, I'd say the actual reputation reduction for the user should be invalidated once it's voted so.

EDIT: I only posted this opinion, because I personally have deleted all my negative questions and answers even when they might have been helpful to another (Why leave my own sweat/hard work to hurt me even if I was wrong). So another option is to actually stop encouraging deleting of 'negative answers or questions' by restoring reputation when deleted.

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So what is your proposed criteria for awarding this badge? –  Sam I am Jan 24 '13 at 20:12
    
Ooops, sorry. By badge I didn't mean the original understanding of badge, but pin sort of. It could be near the downvoting icon, once a user downvotes, they have the ability to mark as a common mistake... –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:15
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I dont think that would be worth the added complexity –  Sam I am Jan 24 '13 at 20:16
    
You have a point. It's just a suggestion. I just wanted people to see the point in it. Sometimes, you don't know something you do as well is not encouraged until some user comes along and tells why it is not with a downvote... The next thing is that the asker deletes the question –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:19
    
I mean the answer is deleted. –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:27

4 Answers 4

If there is a common mistake when answering a question you can provide that information in an answer without that answer being wrong (and thus downvote-worthy).

All you need to do is post an answer that is of the form:

The appropriate way to solve this problem is to do [X].

A common mistake is to try to do [Y], and while it may appear to work, it has problems: [1], [2], and [3] which make it an unsutable solution. You should not use [Y] to solve this problem.

Because an answer of this form isn't wrong, it (shouldn't be) downvoted, it will be upvoted, thus being more visible to others. Such answers should also include a correct answer, in addition to stating what not to do. If someone only knows one solution saying it's wrong is unlikely to convince them to not use it; you also need to provide an alternative.

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Not sure if that adds anything to the site.

If an answer has several downvotes. This is often a signal. Your reaction could be, edit if the answer can be salvaged or delete.

Giving an award for a common mistake, (even if it isn't a badge), is like promoting the wrong behaviour. And in the end, the casual visitor has no idea if an answer is good or just an example. So better stick to the vote/accept scheme.

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Please read the edit. It's not an award, just a tag, to help someone who is interested in learning see common mistakes applying to the specific answer where applicable.. –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:23
    
Tag or award does not mind. If it is "something" that can be added to the answer, there will be users that want it. –  Toon Krijthe Jan 24 '13 at 20:24

I am confused by your proposal.

  • What sort of mistakes would you classify as "common"?

  • Why does a user need to know whether or not heir mistake was common?

  • Why are would we all of a sudden stop discouraging people to make common mistakes?

  • and how does having it somewhere where people ask questions helps others learn more?

do you have examples?

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Here Richard downvotes with explanation, the answer in some cases isn't likely to be seen any longer, but it's something commonly used... I'm just saying there should be a way to make it stay or a link to view downvoted answers that are common mistakes (not all downvoted answers are downvoted for such reasons)... –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:29

If as your comment says you want "I didn't mean the original understanding of badge, but pin sort of. It could be near the downvoting icon, once a user downvotes, they have the ability to mark as a common mistake... "

then I would say that Downvotes mark the common mistakes and point them out.

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Exactly, that's why they don't need to be taken down. –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:25
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@ChibuezeOpata Which is why answers shouldn't be deleted just for being wrong, they should remain with lots of downvotes. That's already the guideline on the site (although it is broken at times). –  Servy Jan 24 '13 at 20:26
    
So what's the solution? Reputations have emotional connections to the users. Sometimes some answers aren't that bad, however I think if the reputation is not restored after deletion, people would stop deleting those answers if they are not just plain stupid.... –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:33
    
@ChibuezeOpata, I think there are enough incorrect answers, that those that are deleted don't really impact the site that much. There will be plenty of downvoted, incorrect answers to choose from. –  Lance Roberts Jan 24 '13 at 20:36
    
Yeah, everybody thinks some thing. I am not dumb, I simply posted it because I've encountered it some good number of times. –  Chibueze Opata Jan 24 '13 at 20:38

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