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Should answers be downvoted even though it is correct, but (should?) not have been posted or "given" away free?! (especially to new users)

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Question in question: html tag transfer it up or down use jquery and ajax when click

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Well if people find that "it is not useful" (tooltip on the arrow) to give away bunch of code to people who haven't tried anything, it's in their right to downvote it. But I do agree that it's a bit rude. –  Hugo Dozois Apr 13 '13 at 16:18
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It's non of our business whether the asker did research or not, if the answer is good upvote it! If you don't think it deserves an upvote because it just gives code away, then let it go. Good answers don't deserve downvotes just because they are on bad questions. –  ɥʇǝS Apr 13 '13 at 16:36
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Please note that my main complaint was just dumping code. That the asker asked a bad question was a side note. –  siride Apr 13 '13 at 17:18

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Answering bad, lazy questions encourages the asker (and everyone else) to ask more bad, lazy questions.

So yes, while you surely answered out of the best of motivations, the argument can be made it's a valid reason for downvoting. I'm pretty sure not many people do this, though.

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This practice is becoming more and more common I think. It's kind of sad because a lot of times, the asker simply forgot to include their attempt, and amend it shortly after being prompted for it. However, those who answered before the code was posted never get down-votes removed from a correct answer. –  crush Feb 4 at 15:21
    
@crush but the solution to that is really simple: don't answer until it's a good question. –  Pëkka Feb 4 at 16:07
    
I shouldn't say "a lot of times" because that's simply an inaccurate metric. What I should say is that the practice of down-voting an answer based solely on the lack of merit of the question is becoming more and more common, despite the significance of the answer. As stated below, I will start gathering some evidence to support this conclusion. It's possible that it's nowhere near as prevalent as I've made it seem. I agree: it's good to refrain from answering until the question is revised, and best to help the question asker clarify the question first. –  crush Feb 4 at 16:12

I personally don't just upvote all the answers that happen to be technically correct as though SO was some sort of trivia game.

If I believe that an answer, which is technically correct, is not actually helpful to anyone like this answer, or if the answer is otherwise unnecessarily low in quality, I'll downvote it.

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This guy gets it. –  siride Apr 13 '13 at 17:19
    
Don't up-vote it. But should you really be down-voting an answer that is correct simply because you feel that the question was asked poorly? –  crush Feb 4 at 15:22
    
@crush You should downvote an answer that you feel is unhelpful. Answers can be unhelpful even if they are technically correct, as this answer states. –  Servy Feb 4 at 15:31
    
The point is that answers can be helpful, even if the question is low-quality. That means don't automatically down-vote the answer because the question is low-quality. At least entertain that the answer could be a good one. –  crush Feb 4 at 15:34
    
@crush I'm still judging the answer over the question. I'm just judging it within the context of the question. I might still upvote the answer if it is an answer that helps the OP understand what's going on, but if it's not such an answer, I'll downvote it –  Sam I am Feb 4 at 15:41

No... the answer might deserve up/down votes, but what the question is should have no bearing. If it was "Dude, don't do their homework!!" the answerer should be reprimanded, true. If it was a question showing no work, vote it down, or even (if homework problem) it probably screams for closing as "too localized". But whether the answer is good (or bad) is another problem. Don't mix up things.

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Can people frickin read? I said "downvote for just giving code". Clearly explained. There was also a sidenote about the nature of the question. –  siride Apr 13 '13 at 17:18
    
If the "just code" is a complete answer? I have voted to not close similar answers... –  vonbrand Apr 13 '13 at 17:52
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it's incomplete in my mind. If a student in a math class asks how to multiply 6 and 7, and you just say 42, then you have given the answer, but you haven't really answered the question in a way that's helpful. –  siride Apr 13 '13 at 17:57
    
It depends... that answer is useless, but an equally short answer could be all that makes sense in some other case. –  vonbrand Apr 13 '13 at 18:03
    
are you talking about short vs. long, or complete vs. incomplete? A short answer can be complete and a long answer can be incomplete. The two are unrelated, though perhaps correlated (I wouldn't expect an exceedingly short answer to be complete, and I'd be flabbergasted if a very long answer were incomplete). –  siride Apr 13 '13 at 18:05
    
OK, for some questions a piece of code (short or long) could be all the answer required, others might require something else. How can I judge a priori? –  vonbrand Apr 13 '13 at 18:09
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I don't know that just a piece of code is ever a complete answer, but depending on the question, only a small amount of exposition might be need to go along with the code. It's really a case by case thing. If the question is about how to make a piece of syntax work, then a line of code or two and a quick note about the "why" will suffice. If it's about how to send messages between threads, then code and quick note or no note at all would be unacceptable. –  siride Apr 13 '13 at 18:15

If you feel that an answer is helpful, you should upvote it. If you feel an answer is unhelpful you should downvote it. Different people have widely different beliefs as to what is and isn't helpful, and that is okay.

A person might decide that an answer is unhelpful because it makes a statement that is wrong, provides code that doesn't work, or even because they make statements that are misleading or likely to be misunderstood, even if correct. Some people may even determine that an answer is unhelpful if it provides a coded solution with no explanation of that code or the underlying concepts used to derive that solution. Still others may decide that an answer that explains how to derive a solution without providing one, or an answer that leaves a portion of the solution undone (as an exercise for the reader) isn't helpful.

If you feel that an answer is helpful (or at least not unhelpful) despite taking any of these actions, that's fine. It's not intended for there to be complete consensus by the community for every single answer. Disagreement on what is helpful can be very beneficial. There is no right or wrong way to vote. With the exception of voting fraud, there is nobody that can ever tell you that the way that you voted was wrong. If you feel that an answer is not helpful for any reason(s) you can possibly think of then it is your privilege to be able to downvote that post. The same reasoning applies to upvoting. As with so many things, just be sure not to take it personally, it's just a vote after all, the world won't end regardless of how someone (or even some group of people) vote on a post.

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What if a lengthy explanation is included? Isn't there a badge for this sort of thing? Giving an answer that gets like 20+ upvotes on a question that has a negative score? It's almost like there is a conspiracy to keep people from receiving that badge. I agree that code-only answers are a bad thing, but sometimes, good answers are getting down-voted simply because the question was poorly asked. –  crush Feb 4 at 15:26
    
@crush If the community indicates, through it's votes, that they feel very poor questions should not be answered, then that is what the community has decided on. The site is community driven. While the devs can affect the behaviors to a degree by creating badges, etc., at the end of the day there is still a lot of control left to the community. I don't consider that to be a bad thing, personally. –  Servy Feb 4 at 15:29
    
I understand that, but I think that a culture is growing where users aren't even reading the answers. They are simply down-voting them based solely on the nature of the question. Shouldn't we at least encourage people to entertain the aspect that the answer might actually be a good one before automatically hitting down-vote? I'm asking this as one member of the community to another. I'm only suggesting that we, as community leaders, don't do anything to encourage such a cultures growth. –  crush Feb 4 at 15:32
    
@crush Through my extensive experience, I find that very low quality questions have a strong tendency to encourage low quality answers. Providing high quality answers to very poor questions is exceedingly rare. In virtually all cases effort should be spent improving the answer before even attempting an answer. People trying to answer questions that simply aren't in a state where they are able to be answered effectively are dooming themselves to failure from the start –  Servy Feb 4 at 15:35
    
I can't agree more, and have learned from experience doing just that myself. However, occasionally, I come across an answer that is well thought out, complete, and well presented that immediately gets down-votes without enough passing for it's entirety to be consumed. Perhaps, they are isolated incidents and I should not so strongly correlate such behavior to the whole of the community. I'll start cataloging those answers so that in the future, I will have a stronger argument from which to make my point. Thanks for entertaining this civilly. –  crush Feb 4 at 15:48
    
@crush Keep in mind that sometimes you are seeing an answer a bit later than another person, who might have a faster internet connection, happened to be hitting a web front end that updated its cache earlier, etc. Some people also read very quickly, or are able to accurately judge an answer's quality by reading certain sections (after all, if you see a fatal flaw telling you the answer won't work, do you really need to keep going). That an answer is downvoted rather quickly doesn't mean it is without cause, or that its cause is not valid. –  Servy Feb 4 at 15:51
    
Yes, I've taken those things into account; those are good points. However, I don't believe that is the case in some of the scenarios to which I am referring. Again, I will bring some evidence next time I bring this up. Thanks again. –  crush Feb 4 at 15:54

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