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I'm here referring to Q: Adding Sleep command to shell script?. It received a downvote most likely because the answer was easy, and then received an upvote, which was probably a mercy vote. Is there somewhere valid reasons for voting, or is any reason okay, so long as one dislikes a post (for whatever reason)?

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"Vote to close reason: Holy Jesus if you don't know this already you should return your computer to CompUSA." –  CanSpice Feb 7 '11 at 19:12
I doubt the downvote was due to it being "too easy." Chances are good it was a downvote because someone was beaten to the punch. –  Adam Davis Feb 7 '11 at 19:21
@poll You mean someone wanted to answer the question, and downvoted to express sadness/anger? –  Tshepang Feb 7 '11 at 19:24
@Tshepang - Yes. I suppose one might see an answer and say, "That's too easy!" but the problem then, is not the answer, but the question. More likely two people were working on answering it, one got it in first, the second saw the "This question has one new answer" alert, and refreshed the question to find that the new answer says everything important, and they would be seen as a hanger-on if they continued to post their answer which duplicates the first. After putting in a whole 3 minutes of work and having to throw it away, one might get a little upset and cast a revenge downvote. –  Adam Davis Feb 7 '11 at 21:31
@poll Sounds too stupid to be true (not directed at you). How could anyone behave like that? I would imagine such a person to downvote the 'offending' answer at least, not the question itself. –  Tshepang Feb 7 '11 at 21:34
@Tshepang - Is it really different than saying, "This answer is too easy, so it must be downvoted!" On balance I don't think it matters, it was one downvote out of about ten votes. It's really nothing more than noise. But to answer your indirect question - users can and will do stupid things for stupid reasons. It's the same as downvoting all the answers in a question other than yours, and we know that some users do that. –  Adam Davis Feb 7 '11 at 21:39

3 Answers 3

George is right that pretty much any downvote reason is valid, since the system allows people to use the votes they've earned as they please. Based on your title, I suspect that you were asking for opinions on what people should do, though.

Personally, I would never downvote, or vote to close delete, for that matter, just because a question is easy to answer. The repeatedly stated goal of Stack Exchange — well, one of them, anyways — is to be the Internet's number one repository of answers to all real, on-topic questions. Not just the difficult questions; all questions.

Back when Meta was just getting started, there was a meme about moving turtles in LOGO. It was based on this question, which was asked by none other than Joel Spolsky. Now, Joel probably knows how to use LOGO, and I guarantee you he knows how to Google directions for doing so. The point of that question was to reinforce the concept that no question is "too newbie" for Stack Overflow, or any other Stack Exchange site.

Unfortunately, many "answer too easy" questions have other problems. In some cases, they're not real questions based on the SE definition of "real." In others, they're so poorly worded that they're truly impossible, not just difficult, to understand. In those cases, I will downvote. But that's correlation, not causation.

As Robert Harvey wisely points out in the comments, newbie questions are explicitly considered off-topic on certain sites. My answer here is not intended to apply to those sites; they are the exception, not the rule.

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There are some SE sites devoted to research-grade discourse that do not allow easy/newbie questions. MathOverflow is one. Theoretical Physics is another. –  Robert Harvey Feb 7 '11 at 19:35

Any reason to downvote is 'valid', in that the site allows it.

It's also valid to upvote an answer that's been downvoted because you don't think it should be downvoted.

If people have a problem with it, the upvotes will more than compensate for the downvotes given.

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That one should upvote a post she thinks has been unjustly downvoted makes sense, but it's deceptive in the case where the mercy voter wasn't going to vote otherwise. –  Tshepang Feb 7 '11 at 19:14
I guess I should have chosen a better word than valid. Maybe something like acceptable or prudent? –  Tshepang Feb 7 '11 at 19:17

I just want to disabuse the notion that this is an "easy" question. I've seen such functions called sleep, pause, wait, waitMs, and many other combinations I no longer remember. I've seen them require parentheses around the argument and not require parentheses. I've seen arguments in units of seconds, milliseconds, microseconds, "ticks", and structs with combinations of the above. I've seen some that require a certain file be included, or a certain namespace be used. I've seen software architectures where a sleep was available but caused bad things to happen, so you had to register a callback with a timer instead. I've seen shells with no sleep command available, so people commonly use strange workarounds with ping or something else.

My point is that the "ease" of a question is in the eye of the beholder. Even if you can answer it off the top of your head now, every one of us was ignorant of that answer at one point or another in our careers, and some of us would have had to look it up anyway because we don't remember which of the dozens of syntaxes we have learned over the years is the correct one in this case. It's a real question, clearly worded as a bonus, and it deserves a real answer.

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