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I started a post earlier with the topic: Listvars does the trick for me is not regarded as an answer The issue is boiling down to a new issue that I felt worthwhile opening a new post for. What is the responsibility of the questioner and answerer. This site wishes to provide good quality answers. But I feel that people are mixing up good quality for good quantity. In the link provided above, some people feel that the reason as to why my answer is not a good one is because it is of low-content. They feel I should have provided extra detail, such as a link to the documentation or describing the command listvars more and how I applied it in my script. That whole debate is revolving around another issue, which is what is being discussed here: What is the responsibility of a questioner and what is the responsibility of an answerer? As such, this post is not a continuation of the above liked post. I provided that as a relevant example of the issue at hand.

The questioner, he is asking for a favor. Asking a favor is not blameworthy, as long as it doesn't exceed the bounds. As such, his expectations should be likewise. His responsibility is to the best of his ability to provide a question that does not cause discomfort to others. Discomfort can be caused by

  1. asking something that can be easily retrieved in the documentation.
  2. making the question ambiguous.
  3. not giving feedback about answers that were given.

Pertaining the answerer, his responsibility is merely to provide a pathway to the successful outcome and resolvence of the question. He is responsible for insight and informing the questioner of something he can't do independently. The moment he did that, he is absolved of his responsibility. Anything over and above that is his goodwill and an extra favor. If he leaves it out, then nothing can be held against him.

For instance in this discussion about listvars, the answerer provided the questioner with correct information. He directed him and now the onus of documentation rests with the questioner. Why? Because it is something he can do himself. Asking for help is always restricted to the point that you can't manage. To ask over and above that is blameworthy. Listvars is clearly not a difficult command that it requires additional explanation to enable the questioner to correctly implement it. The documentation is more than clear enough on the issue. Likewise, a link to the documentation would be a bonus point. But it is not necessary and not a cause to down vote someones post for.

As such, good and bad answers is not about providing a lot of documentation. It is about whether or not you fulfilled your responsibility as an answerer stated above.

UPDATE---

So far the reasons that have been provided are not answering this question. People say that "Listvars does the trick" is not a constructive and helpful way for future users. Or "if you feel that Listvars does the trick is sufficient, then I don't have much to say in response" all of these are not addressing the question. The question is about: What criteria do you use to say whether or not an answer is good or bad? I stated a detailed reason as to why quantity of documentation is not a preferred criteria. I am advocating for judging according to the responsibility of each side, has it been fulfilled or not? But nobody has contradicted my philosophy over here in favor of the superiority of lots of documentation over my criteria presented here. Listvars does the trick was merely an example, don't mix up this issue with that.

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I realize that people who do not agree with me on my prev post seem to be upset about this post. They seem to be unable to separate this question from the previous one. Should I edit the question to make it more neutral? –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 21:46
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"He is responsible for insight and informing the questioner... now the onus of documentation rests with the questioner"- I think you're too focused on whether an answer helps the asker. The purpose of StackOverflow is not just to help the asker- it's to help all future viewers of the question. –  David Robinson Aug 12 '13 at 21:46
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But an overwhelming amount of people seem to be unable to separate this question from the previous if you're referring to the downvotes on this question, I don't think that's the reason for them. After all, your last question was (on net) upvoted. –  David Robinson Aug 12 '13 at 21:47
    
@DavidRobinson But is that help not provided already by giving a person the piece of information required for him to now look up the command in the documentation? –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 21:49
    
@DavidRobinson So all those people who down voted, they all feel that providing a lot of documentation is THE ultimate criteria for helpful answers? If that is the case, then I don't mind how much they down vote this one. I think it provides healthy insights for the platform at large to properly understand the object of this site. –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 21:51
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If you think "listvars does the trick," without showing any code, examples, or specifics is a good answer that makes the site a better place, there's not much I have to say in response. –  David Robinson Aug 12 '13 at 21:52
    
@DavidRobinson What criteria do you use to judge that? Please answer the topic of this post, not the previous one. The discussion is about how to differentiate. Motivate to me why lots of documentation is going to make this site a better place than providing answers, the syntax of which can be looked up for instance. What is philosophically wrong with my criteria? –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:05
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@Khalil Please clarify what is wrong with quoting and/or linking to documentation alongside an answer, and why you are so fixated on that aspect. –  Wesley Murch Aug 12 '13 at 22:13
    
@WesleyMurch It is a brilliant thing to do. Who said I am against that? But is it necessary? That is the question? Whatever your answer may be, yes or no doesn't matter here. What matters is WHY is your answer like that. People have clearly misunderstood this question. –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:24
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@Khalil No it is not necessary to link to or include relevant bits from the associated documentation, but of course it is very helpful to do so. Where did you get the idea that it was required? I think your question may have been misunderstood because it is based on ideas that are simply not true (and it is long and ranty). –  Wesley Murch Aug 12 '13 at 22:27
    
Sometimes providing documentation is merely an extra thing to do, but not necessary. Listvars is an example of that. For you to say that it is necessary, is philosophically mis-categorizing the role of the questioner and answerer. It is only necessary when there is a requirement of application that may be ambiguous for a newbie for example. Listvars is a matter of googling, it doesn't require rocket science to figure out what it means. Now you can disagree with that, but stay within the scope of my question. Nobody has answered anything related to it so far. –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:28
    
@Khalil Forgive me but I fail to see what it is you are trying to solve here. Perhaps it is you that has misunderstood something. I understand that your experience with Stack Overflow is limited, so you may have some misconceptions about its goals and general guidelines. –  Wesley Murch Aug 12 '13 at 22:30
    
@WesleyMurch I am asking a question about what criteria are good and bad criteria to regard answers as good or bad. Are you saying that just because it is long and people are not interested in reading it that I am getting punished for that? On top of that, nobody even answered my question. If it is not true, fine, then lets have a discussion and answer it. Enlighten me! –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:32
    
@Khali if that is all you truly want to know perhaps this will be helpful: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7656/… –  Wesley Murch Aug 12 '13 at 22:40
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"But I feel that people are mixing up good quality for good quantity. " As the impressively negative score of this text-loaf question attests, that's clearly not true. You may want to use more Markdown formatting so people are less intimidated by The Great Wall of Text you've written to keep Mongolian users from invading the answer section. –  root Aug 13 '13 at 21:41

5 Answers 5

At StackOverflow the answerer's responsibility isn't just to the current question asker but to all future question askers that come to the site. As such the answer given should be as complete as possible so that anyone who comes across the answer would be able to understand it. That is the reason all questions and answers can be edited by people with the correct privileges so that the content can be made relevant to any passers by.

It's great that you can provide a one line answer to a question and that is all that the asker needed. But if StackOverflow is going to become the "One Source" that they strive to be then an answer needs to be more detailed than that.

Now if you don't want to provide that level of detail then hopefully you would be fine with your content also being moderated by either editing, voting or removal to better assist all users of the site, both current and future.

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Definitely, I feel that anyone can expand on my answers to make them more useful for future purposes. Your answer is suggesting that the objective of this site is to integrate all the documentation into itself? –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 21:53
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You seem to be caught up on the idea that all valuable content is just repeating documentation. It is not. There is a lot more valuable content than exists in the documentation, at least for any language I've ever worked with. –  Servy Aug 12 '13 at 21:57
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@Khalil Your answer was originally removed by mistake but now it is there. Now, compare it to the other answer. The other answer is clearly better. You got some advice on how to make your answers better as well. What is your complaint? –  Wesley Murch Aug 12 '13 at 21:57
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@Khalil It doesn't need all of the documentation to be a good answer, which is the heart of the issue. Your goal should be providing the best, clear answer you can provide. A one line answer typically does not make for a good answer. Check out this page on how to answer a question. You'll notice that a one line answer doesn't fit most of that criteria. –  Matthew Green Aug 12 '13 at 22:02
    
@Servy Not true. I wholeheartedly embrace the aspect that insight is more than documentation alone. I just don't agree with documentation when it is self explanatory and just a matter of googling it after the piece of knowledge has been provided. Did you read the question of this post, because nobody has answered it so far. –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:08
    
@MatthewGreen You are getting close to understanding the question I am asking here. That link you provided, what philosophical basis does it have to enumerate such answers? That is the level I am discussing. I provided good reasons on my part, and nobody contradicted them. Also, I can guarantee you that none of the answers in that post is contradicting my philosophical standpoint here. From my point of view, you can say that "Listvars does the trick" is not worthy of a vote up. But you can't vote it down just because of lack of documentation. Listvars is self explanatory –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:59
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@Khalil So far your response to everyone's attempt to tell you to provide a higher quality answer, include more detail, explain your answer, etc. you have always responded that you don't want to regurgitate the documentation. That implies that you think the only thing that can be included in a higher quality answer, one with more detail, etc. is one that regurgitates documentation. That is false. There is lots of information that can be added to good answers; it seems you're having trouble understanding that. –  Servy Aug 12 '13 at 23:19
    
@Servy Firstly, Where did I say that I am against adding documentation in every circumstance? Secondly, did you read the question? So far, nobody is contradicting my philosophical outlook here that I am using as a basis for my answers. Yet it is the purpose of this question. I feel that people have hijacked this thread to understand from it whatever suits them and judge me accordingly. None of the answers have anything to do with my question. If you could do me a favor, is there a way I can complain about this to anyone who can decide whether or not people are answering my question? –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 23:37
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@Khalil: They have contradicted your "philosophical outlook". That outlook being that a one-line answer that doesn't provide details should be considered a good answer. We don't agree. Answerers should provide appropriate details, so that the answer can stand alone. "None of the answers have anything to do with my question." I read your question and I read the answers. They seem to answer the question you asked. So if they're not helping you, it seems to be because you're not asking what you think you're asking. –  Nicol Bolas Aug 13 '13 at 2:33
    
@NicolBolas You provided a good outlook on this on your answer. You stated that the philosophical outlook of this website is to be a stand-alone documentation site. As such, the responsibility of the answerer defaults to that. Other people are not responding along those lines. They do say that as a responder, we have the responsibility to be as complete as possible, and that in this manner future people will benefit more. But they did not point out WHY. You did so. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 0:14
    
@NicolBolas Also, look at one of my posts to this answer. I explicitly admitted that the answerer was getting close to responding to my question. He was close, but did not succeed entirely. Why? Because it doesn't contradict my philosophical basis at all. I can still argue that with my basis, you achieve the same thing. Nobody agrees with that, fine. But instead of speaking in terms of what should and what should not, step to the level of why this and why that in a way that my philosophical standpoint is contradicted. You were amongst the few to actually do that. This answer was getting close. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 0:17
    
@Khalil: Oh I see. While their answers contained the exact same content, they didn't use the magic word "philosophy", so they didn't answer your question. Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? –  Nicol Bolas Aug 14 '13 at 0:56
    
@NicolBolas No my friend. I told you I can marry his answer with mine because he is not addressing it, even if you add the magic word: Philosophical to it. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 1:11
    
@NicolBolas To summairze it: He is speaking about a why. But the why he is providing is not contradicting my why at all. You can debate that, but you will have to invoke a better why than he provided. Your why did so, his did not. But at least he spoke in terms of "Why". Many people here spoke in terms of "What" only. As such he was getting close to answering me. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 1:14

You can provide your answer in any form you like, others will judge its value by voting it up or down.

The suggestions you received in your other post are not The Law, they are suggestions to help you post better answers. We are aiming for high-quality content.

The other answer you got to the original question is a good example of an upvote-worthy answer, it's got lots of detail and links to docs and source of examples. It goes beyond the call of just helping the OP (you) solve the problem and provides more useful information so that others may benefit from it.

You are free to answer as you wish, but posting the bare minimum is not going to guarantee that your post is regarded as a good one.

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The other answer was a better answer, because he provided something the questioner himself could never have found within a reasonable amount of time. In such cases, a link is a must. But is it a must when it is merely a matter of googling the command which doesn't require any experience to use? You can say it is better to do so, but to say it is bad to leave it out has no reasonable philosophical basis that contradicts me. If there is, I am all ears because NOBODY has so far answered in that format, which would be an actual answer to my question –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 23:17
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@Khalil: "You can say it is better to do so, but to say it is bad to leave it out has no reasonable philosophical basis that contradicts me." Sure it does. If something would make it better, leaving it out is therefore worse. We want good content, not "minimally acceptable" content. And I would submit that your answer doesn't even rise to "minimally acceptable". –  Nicol Bolas Aug 13 '13 at 2:35

If a question isn't worth writing a good answer for, with code and with an explanation of why the code works, then don't bother answering it. Vote it down. But to say you can toss off half a casual sentence - a single keyword and "works for me" - and expect anyone to treat it as an actual answer? I don't think so.

Questions come along all the time that I can't be bothered to answer. Heck, your "answer" might have made a good comment, and someone who felt like taking the time to write up a good answer could have done so.

This paragraph

Pertaining the answerer, his responsibility is merely to provide a pathway to the successful outcome and resolvence of the question. He is responsible for insight and informing the questioner of something he can't do independently. The moment he did that, he is absolved of his responsibility. Anything over and above that is his goodwill and an extra favor. If he leaves it out, then nothing can be held against him.

is arrant nonsense. You don't have any responsibilities here at Stack Exchange at all. Therefore you can't be absolved of them. What questioners give you is an opportunity. Take it or not as you see fit. It is all done as a gift, and if you don't feel like giving then don't. But don't suggest that tossing off half a sentence should earn you something, or even that the "answer" should not be deleted. It should.

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How can you say that there is no such thing as a responsibility? Everybody agrees that my one line answer is a bad answer. Clearly it means I did not take the responsibility of providing extra documentation! I do not advocate that my one line answer deserves a vote up. I am advocating it shouldn't get down voted because I did provide a good answer. Yes, I could have done more, but that is just extra. Leaving out something that is extra is not something you can get punished for. If you can, then you have to proof why you can do so. I provided a philosphical basis why you shouldn't. –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:39
    
Nobody provided me a reason as to why it should. Yes they say: because you have to cater for future people etc. Answers have to be helpful. But how can you say that: listvars does the trick is a bad answer? None of those answers are telling me why not providing documentation makes me worthy of being punished by being voted down. We all have a responsibility over here, and that is not to make a mess. How can you say there are no responsibilities? –  Khalil Aug 12 '13 at 22:41
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@Khalil I think you missed Kate's point. There aren't responsibilities because your use of the site is entirely optional. Upvotes/downvotes aren't about responsibility, they're about the democratic opinion of the registered users. You didn't get downvotes because of some rule violation, moral failing or philosophy of answers, you got downvotes because people felt that your answer wasn't very good. They have that freedom, and questioning the basis for that opinion isn't likely to change their view. You can change your answer, leave it and tolerate the downvotes or delete it so they don't count. –  AndrewC Aug 13 '13 at 9:54
    
No responsibilities? Don't you agree that you are not allowed to swear on this site? If you do, then you just saddled the person with a responsibility. Answering a question is optional when you didn't start doing so. The moment you posted an answer, it is now a responsibility of your answer to fulfill the various etiquettes on this site. It cannot contain swearing language remember? Likewise, you have the responsibility to respond to the actual question, else you get voted down. Nobody may look or feel at it that way, that doesn't matter. But in legal law, they are classified as responsibility –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 0:22
    
If you swear on this site this is not acceptable behavior and is dealt with by the community Low quality answers as judged by the community are treated similarly. –  david strachan Aug 14 '13 at 10:42

I am advocating it shouldn't get down voted because I did provide a good answer. Yes, I could have done more, but that is just extra. Leaving out something that is extra is not something you can get punished for. If you can, then you have to proof why you can do so. I provided a philosphical basis why you shouldn't.

Your "philosphical[sic] basis" is not relevant. What matters is Stack Overflow's "philosphical[sic] basis".

SO's philosophy is that good answers should stand alone. If you Google for something, and you find the SO page for that question, you shouldn't have to then turn back to Google to figure out how to use the answer. The answer by itself should solve your problem.

Your answer is not a good answer because it cannot stand alone. You said it yourself: "Listvars is a matter of googling". If your answer has to send someone to Google to actually use it, you haven't answered anything. All you've done is give someone another Google search term to use.

That's not a good answer. That's not good content. And therefore, you get downvoted.

Or, to be more explicit:

Pertaining the answerer, his responsibility is merely to provide a pathway to the successful outcome and resolvence of the question.

No it isn't. If we are going to assign "responsibilities" to people on SO, the responsibility of every answer is to answer the question.

A hint does not answer the question. A clue does not answer the question. A "pathway to the successful outcome" does not answer the question.

Only an answer answers the question. That's why the button is called "Post Your Answer", not "Make A Suggestion" or "Provide a Pathway to the Successful Outcome".

One of the dictionary definitions of "answer" is: "a solution to a problem". Your answer was not a solution; at best, it was a guidepost to a solution. Answers aren't guideposts. They're not signs that point you to the information you need; they are the information you need. They're the end of the "pathway to the successful outcome".

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I liked this answer a lot because it really addressed the core of my argument by informing me that the objective of SO is to provide stand alone answers, after which you shouldn't google any further. The reason for this is because SO aims at becoming an all encompassing encyclopedia of practical implementation problems with high quality answers. Such an aim is not in accordance with my philosophical point of view here, they rather clash. Compare this answer to the other answers provided. Only this one is answering my question. –  Khalil Aug 13 '13 at 5:46
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@Khalil: "Only this one is answering my question." Oh really? "At StackOverflow the answerer's responsibility isn't just to the current question asker but to all future question askers that come to the site." That one sentence says everything that my post did, just with fewer words. Plus there's the "But if StackOverflow is going to become the "One Source"" part, which covers the intent of SO. The other answers provided an answer; you either misunderstood it or didn't want to hear it. –  Nicol Bolas Aug 13 '13 at 8:27
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@Khalil: It's perfectly fine for people to disagree with Stack Overflow philosophically. They always have the choice to go somewhere else on the Internet that better fits their sensibilities. –  Robert Harvey Aug 13 '13 at 15:11
    
But who says I want to disagree? I am more than eager to fit in. That is why I opened this post. But instead, it has turned into an epic fight in which I am regarded as some outcast. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 1:00
    
@NicolBolas There is a big difference between your answer and that persons answer you are linking to. I motivated the difference over there. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 1:00

I'm going to have a real try at answering what I think you're asking.

My summary of what you're saying

What criteria do you use to say whether or not an answer is good or bad? I am advocating for judging according to the responsibility of each side, has it been fulfilled or not? But nobody has contradicted my philosophy over here in favor of the superiority of lots of documentation over my criteria presented here. None of those answers are telling me why not providing documentation makes me worthy of being punished by being voted down.

You liked that Wesley Murch pointed you to How do I write a good answer to a question

All of those reasons that are stated over there, what is the philosophical basis for them? In other words, summarize all the different reasons mentioned in a few fundamental laws. If you did that, then you are talking about my topic.

The philosophical basis for voting on Stack Exchange: democracy

Stack Exchange was founded to replace help forums where you have to read through a great deal of discussion to find (or not find) an answer to the question someone asked. Such forums suffer from topic drift "yeah I had that, but now it's going wrong this other way, so....", noise "me too - has anyone found an answer?", untested answers "have you tried ....?", etc, and can be very frustrating.

The idea on Stack Exchange is that the answers and the questions are kept separate, and the best answers get voted up to the top, so that the most helpful advice is the first thing you read. Lengthy comment discussions under the questions get shrunk into a hyperlink to make the best answer quicker to find.

The key philosophy is that democracy is the best way to decide what the best answer is. Every registered user has two buttons they can use once on each answer so that the best answers gets voted up and the worst answers get voted down.

This relates to the answers to How do I write a good answer to a question as an underpinning principle in that the top two answers to that question are written by people with a lot of experience getting the upvotes other users have chosen to give.

How this relates to your philosophy of voting

The key idea on Stack Exchange is that the opinion of many people is the best way to judge quality, and that their freedom to vote how they choose is the mechanism by which this occurs.

You're free to vote on the basis of solved-the-problem, other people are free to vote on the basis of clarity-of-explanation, other people are free to vote on the basis of quantity-of-documentation.

It turns out that a lot of people feel that a very short answer that just gives you something to google isn't a good answer, so those sorts of answers are downvoted and sometimes even deleted.

(Deleting an answer hides it from everyone except users with a lot of reputation points, disallows any voting or commenting, and restores reputation score to where it would have been if the answer wasn't there. This stops the negative effect it was having on the reputation score of the answerer.)

Why I think you're finding all this so hard

I feel that people should express their votes as long as it is academical, not emotional. I feel that people are being overly emotional over here.

Emotion and downvotes
You've made a lot of assumptions about why downvotes occur (and I think you're looking too deeply), but I think that the person most emotional about this is you. You referred to being "punished with downvotes". Downvotes aren't punishments, because they're about the answer, not about you.

Also downvotes don't, in the end, matter. There's just some numbers on a page. Try not to take it personally.

Other people's voting decisions
Give up trying to argue that people should vote in line with one particular philosophy. People should vote in line with their opinion. They should use their judgement to say whether an answer is good or bad.

Rights and responsibilities
That's awfully strong language for a website that you're free to use or not use.

In particular, the argument that because an answerer fulfilled responsibilities they have the right to formal appeal against downvotes is based on an incorrect assumption that there are rules about the criteria people use to vote, and that the people in charge would want to use voting reason rules to overrule the democratic system they deliberately chose to put in place.

There aren't vote reason rules, and the people in charge choose the community as the decision-making body on answer quality.

Democracy
With democracy as the principle, if you're getting downvoted, change what you're doing to encourage upvotes. People gave you this advice; democracy is the principle underlying it.

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Nice summary :). Why do people decide how they decide? What motivates them that one thing is better than the other? Is it all about sharing a mutual common sense about the issue? After registering those questions, can you tell me know, what is the "mutual common sense" that prevails amongst people in this forum to decide what is good and what is bad? Is it random, or can it be formulated in a few philosophical laws? After that, answer how that contradicts my philosophy. If you did those two main questions, you are answering my question. –  Khalil Aug 13 '13 at 22:44
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@Khalil Sorry, mutual common sense cannot be formulated in philosophical laws. I'm not contradicting your philosophy, I'm contradicting your expectation that other people aren't free to choose their own different philosophy while voting. Democracy overrules. –  AndrewC Aug 13 '13 at 22:57
    
Allow me to illustrate it with a following example: In our democracy, we all agree that it is evil to kill someone without any justified reason. That is a majority vote. Everyone agrees with that. Someone now comes along and asks: "What is the philosophical basis for such a majority vote?" Now he tries to initiate an academic discussion with people and he puts out the argument that: "we are nothing but animals" That means that just like a lion can kill a dear, a human being can kill someone else. The power of strength prevails. How are you going to continue the conversation with him? –  Khalil Aug 13 '13 at 23:50
    
Remember, it is just an academic exchange of thoughts, the person putting that idea forward is not necessarily of that opinion. I tell you what most people have done on this site. They responded the person by saying: You cannot kill. To kill innocent people is evil! We need to keep future generations into consideration. Therefore, you can't kill. –  Khalil Aug 13 '13 at 23:52
    
Those are all valuable answers, but alas, they are not applicable to the issue at hand. The reason for that is because they are merely reiterating the opinion that prevails. But the question is, WHY is the opinion like that. The correct way of debate would be to rather to challenge his premises, show why they are in light of the majority vote wrong. In other words, what is the philosophical underlying reason for the majority vote to be like that, and how can that be used to counteract the opponents viewpoint. –  Khalil Aug 13 '13 at 23:54
    
A concrete way to argue in this case would be to point out that the philosophical underlying basis for the majority vote is that we humans all share a sacred sanctity that other animals don't have. This sanctity provides an impediment to killing innocent people. Therefore oh dear opponenet, even though we agree that we all are animals, however, your premises is not complete. We are Sacred Beings. –  Khalil Aug 13 '13 at 23:58
    
Now look for yourself and conclude how many people have spoken to me in this manner? That was the level of my discussion, and yet most people did not understand that. I am awaiting your response. Not as a challenge, but as a way of self enlightenment. –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 0:00
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@Khalil There's a logic gap: the majority agree that we shouldn't kill arbitrarily, but if you ask them, people will provide all sorts of reasons for that: some will say because we are sacred beings, some will say other things. There is a majority view on the outcome of the vote, but that doesn't mean there's an underpinning majority philosophy behind that agreement. I suspect a great deal of disagreement about why we don't allow murder. –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 0:36
    
@Khalil Regarding the person who asserts we are all animals: I would try to convince him that he shouldn't kill and would use whatever arguments I could to convince him. I would also warn him he may get convicted of murder and locked up in prison for a very long time. This is because I believe the consequences of him killing someone are worth my effort to prevent. However the analogy isn't perfect since writing short answers isn't against rules, and you haven't had your account suspended. –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 0:44
    
I agree that I am presenting the situation a bit simplistic, but at least you can see now why I am the whole time saying that people are not answering my question. I hope the parallel between my situation and the murder debate situation is obvious now? I mean, you are taking out the time to point out a small detail to my presentation, but are you taking the time to see how this example is applicable to this? –  Khalil Aug 14 '13 at 0:48
    
@Khalil It is worth making comparison with a shop - you bring your product to the supermarket and no-one buys it; instead they throw it in the bin without paying for it. They buy another product which seems attractive to them. Someone complains to the manager that the product that no-one likes shouldn't be stocked, and they take it off the shelves and put it all in the bin, but give you back the money that you wasted. –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 0:51
    
@Khalil You're very cross about putting your product in the bin, but it's a mistake to look for a philosophical reason for people not buying your product - just make a better product or don't try to sell it in a shop that has bins. They don't buy it because they don't like it. They expect more for their money. Arguing doesn't help you make money, just make a product people like. –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 0:53
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If you wanted that list you would have obtained it simply by asking "I wrote a correct answer that attracted downvotes for being too short. I want to find out more because I'd expected a correct answer to be well received. Where can I find general principles about what sorts of questions get upvotes vs downvotes? I will then be able to improve my answers with this understanding." Tone: positive and seeking help to improve. Your question would quickly get marked as a duplicate of "How do I write a good answer", pointing you to that information, but you would get hardly any votes at all. –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 1:10
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@Khalil (You got the downvotes because you came across as fairly cross and people disagreed with your viewpoint.) –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 1:11
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@Khalil The misunderstanding is partly because your questions are very long indeed, but also partly they don't answer your question directly because people don't want to discuss the philosophy if they believe you're secretly trying to get them to change how they vote or how your question got voted on. –  AndrewC Aug 14 '13 at 1:25

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