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I posted this question today where I was confused about the title-filtering algo on SO, received an answer very quickly (great at this point!) and expressed an opinion about said algo in a comment. The result of that and a couple other comments was that the question itself was downvoted a lot as well as the actual question the meta was referring to, got a crowd of downvotes and meaningless and incorrect edits.

Now I have two questions about this. One - do people indeed consider it "correct" (in whatever "correct" means on SO) to downvote the (meta) question because of a comment in it? Or did people think that was a -19 (and counting, given events so far, I'd be surprised if more didn't follow after this post) question itself? (and be honest with yourself if you downvoted - did you really downvote the question before reading the comments?)

And the second one is - a quick check would reveal that people who actually are the major contributors of the r community did not in fact think that there was much if anything wrong with either the title or the question or the following answer to the question (which also somehow got into the cross-fire). Yet the question got quite a few downvotes coming from the meta crowd (again, wouldn't be surprised if more followed after this). I think this quite clearly lowers the quality of SO a lot more than some silly disagreement over what a "proper" title should look like, what do you think?

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closed as off-topic by Robert Harvey Jul 2 '13 at 3:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to seek input and discussion from the community. If you have encountered a problem on one of our sites, please describe it in detail. See also: What is "meta"? How does it work?" – Robert Harvey
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Down-votes on meta are often different - not only can they signify a bad question or lack of research, they can also indicate a disagreement with your general idea. Or more likely, in this specific case, an issue with the flippant attitude about why your original title was bad. People are free to down-vote for whatever reason they wish, and I'm sure some of the down-votes you received were more for attitude than anything else. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 1 '13 at 23:12
The question was downvoted because you were asking what was wrong with a truly terrible title, not because of any comments found under it. – animuson Jul 1 '13 at 23:13
@animuson to be fair, that can certainly explain the down-votes on the meta question, but not on the real question on SO (10 down-votes) or the self-answer (2 down-votes). – Aaron Bertrand Jul 1 '13 at 23:16
This post doesn't really seem to be an actual question, it's just a complaint about your past post being downvoted. At best your question is 'can people downvote anything', and the answer is 'yes'. – JonW Jul 1 '13 at 23:16
This question appears to be off-topic because it is merely a rant about down-votes. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 1 '13 at 23:19
Well do you think this post is enhancing the value of the site, or just contributing to the negativity that you are complaining about? – JonW Jul 1 '13 at 23:22
Yes, I think it enhances the community to talk about its problems. – eddi Jul 1 '13 at 23:25
I downvoted the SO question before seeing the meta post because it was unclear. I made suggestions about how it could be made more clear, but instead of attempting to improve the Question, the OP told me I didn't get it (i.e. it's my fault that I didn't think it was clear.) – Garrett Jul 1 '13 at 23:25
Yes, I think it enhances the community to talk about its problems I think the community and you have different views on who's having the problem in this case. There may be nothing that can be done about it. – Pëkka Jul 1 '13 at 23:32
@eddi, While I don't quite agree with your stance, and I don't think your "flippant attitude" as someone else phrased it was helpful on the other meta question, I actually agree that you are a victim of herd mentality here. It's unfortunate but true that MetaSO sometimes has overboard crowd effects that cause things like this. I'd just say don't take it personally, but do listen to what the community is saying. While the reaction was over-the-top, the advice is genuine. Be a little more humble and put more effort into your questions. – Ben Lee Jul 1 '13 at 23:56
And for the record, I disagree with the community here in designating this as purely a rant. It seems like you're addressing an actual problem with herd mentality. So I +1ed this question. – Ben Lee Jul 1 '13 at 23:58
@eddi You didn't make a single edit to your Question after my comments (other than to defend the tags) – Garrett Jul 2 '13 at 0:01
@Garrett hmm, I'm pretty sure I I replied to your every question, as well as added the zcat example (iirc that was in response to you), which got edited out by someone else later on – eddi Jul 2 '13 at 0:06
@AaronBertrand, no. I think it's a real issue and a legitimate concern, but no, I do not expect a meta question to fix it. I would hope so, but I do not expect it. – Ben Lee Jul 2 '13 at 7:49
@Arun No I'm not; check the timestamps. I don't understand why it would have been so hard to say, "here's a what a script looks like, here's a file I'd like to feed to it and this is what I want the result to be." The edit he made before I told him he knows what a reproducible example looks like was not reproducible because he didn't show us the files. The point is I gave a suggestion for making the question better and eddi wasn't interested. Maybe the question was clear to you, but he shouldn't have been complaining about down votes if he was unwilling to improve his question. – Garrett Jul 2 '13 at 11:34

Your original question was of low quality to begin with. I don't think it was deserving of the 10 downvotes that it's received, but you did draw extra attention to it by posting on Meta (it has 3-4 times as many views as other R questions asked around the same time). You can expect more downvotes when you draw extra attention to a low-quality question. (Note: I do think the post has been vastly improved from the original version.)

Another factor to consider is that you were only trying to change the title to get the question posted. That makes it seem like you weren't really concerned with the quality of the overall question. This could explain some of the downvotes on the Meta question as well as the original.

Reading through the comments on your Meta post, there are some legitimate reasons mentioned there as well. For example:

@eddi: I think people are downvoting you here because you asked a legitimate question, but then tried to defend your bad grammar and your ill-advised title. Meta works best when the folks who ask their questions are actually open to receiving input. – Robert Harvey♦ 2 hours ago

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-1 I disagree fairly strongly about the quality of the original question. Deserving of comments requesting clarification (which it got) and some clarifying responses (which eddi provided), yes, but not down votes, let alone 10. – joran Jul 1 '13 at 23:38
@joran Isn't the point of SO that it is market-driven? It doesn't really matter what any one person's subjective view of a question or answer matters how the votes add up. Is there any way to objectively establish (other than relying on votes/comments/answers) whether a question merited any particular score? – Thomas Jul 1 '13 at 23:42
@Thomas Yup. And in this particular case, I think many, many people are very wrong about the quality of that question. And so I expressed my disagreement on that score. That's all. :) – joran Jul 1 '13 at 23:43
@Thomas crowd-sourcing often works quite well, but expert opinion can trump it in specialized subjects, which this is – eddi Jul 1 '13 at 23:52
@eddi I think I disagree with you on that. Knowing a good question from a question that needs improvement is a skill held by every regular participant on SO. I review posts all the time where I know literally nothing about the language at issue, but I can tell whether a question is being asked that conforms to community expectations about clarity and minimum reproducible examples. – Thomas Jul 1 '13 at 23:58
@Thomas In general, I agree. But the whole "I don't need to know anything about the topic to judge the question quality" thing, while generally true, is not without exceptions. It is also possible that that refrain on Meta causes some people, on occasion, to overestimate their ability to judge a question's quality. So just because people in general do not need to know a topic to judge those questions, that doesn't mean they weren't mistaken in this particular case. Opinions on that will differ. – joran Jul 2 '13 at 0:46
@Thomas sorry, and I don't mean this in an offensive way, as you tried to help and I appreciate that, but you couldn't even tell what the right tags are, yet you thought you can judge the post's quality, and fwiw I like your title edit, but not the body, but I resigned to correcting only the obviously wrong stuff – eddi Jul 2 '13 at 6:08
@edii I started changing things based on the long comments discussion, where I think things got very confused for multiple participants. I wouldn't have changed tags if they hadn't been suggested by others. I'm sorry the post has turned into such a mess. – Thomas Jul 2 '13 at 6:39
Honestly, the question was more-or-less fine. Even the title was not that bad because it should have been taken in the context that the question was properly tagged under R. We see so many other much worse questions under the R tag on a daily basis and they don't receive this level of attention/down votes. IMHO the down votes are pretty much explained away by the combative attitude from the OP in comment discussions (on the SO post and the two meta discussions). The community is probably trying to tell you your attitude sucks, not the question. – Simon O'Hanlon Jul 2 '13 at 10:12
@SimonO101 well, imo the way to express that in a way that's most valuable to SO would be to post a comment saying "question is fine, but your attitude sucks" that would then get N upvotes. Of course we don't live in an ideal world, so I have this suggestion instead. – eddi Jul 2 '13 at 14:09

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