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Apparently asking good questions is not such a good thing. But everyone will agree that bad questions are worse than bad answers.

Should down votes on questions attract larger penalty to the down-votee? This serves several purposes:

  • People will structure their questions to a much higher quality.
  • Those "not playing fair" with very low accept rates will actually notice the disrepute they're attracting. Whether or not this is the intended use of down voting, it exists and is a form of community punishment.
  • Unnecessary or repeated duplicates (users will often repeat a question until they start getting some answers) can attract penalties.

What kind of increased penalty to the down-votee is reasonable?

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6  
My immediate response to this is with regards to the last comment in the middle point: Please don't use downvoting as some weak form of punishment against some perceived ill a user has performed - that's not what downvoting is for... –  DMA57361 Mar 15 '11 at 12:57

3 Answers 3

I don't agree that bad questions are worse than bad answers. Bad questions are easy to close and get out of the way or edit and make them better. People are, in my experience, a lot more protective of their answers than they are of their questions and so the answers are harder to bring in line with desired quality (or sometimes even plain correctness).

Downvotes are less about "let's take some rep away from that user" and more about "I don't think this question is useful or clear". The community isn't here to punish its members. Instead, it should focus on upvoting good content and letting bad content get closed/downvoted/moved out of sight/go unanswered. I can hardly think of a worse "punishment" for a question than getting no answers.

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Or no upvotes... Questions can be as difficult to formulate as an answer. –  Matt Joiner Mar 15 '11 at 13:15
    
@Matt Definitely, but a lot of questions get answered without getting a single upvote, so I don't think that's as much of an issue. –  Anna Lear Mar 15 '11 at 13:31

I believe your assumptions are flawed:

  • People will structure their questions to a much higher quality.

Given that the majority of 'bad' questions, in my experience, are posted by new users (rep < 200), and often without appropriate formatting, I suspect they ask the questions without regard to the social mores of the site, and ask simply to get an answer.

  • Those "not playing fair" with very low accept rates will actually notice the disrepute they're attracting. Whether or not this is the intended use of down voting, it exists and is a form of community punishment.

Those that don't play fair implicitly aren't that interested in the social aspect of the SE network. I don't think they'd really care about the increased punishment.

  • Unnecessary or repeated duplicates (users will often repeat a question until they start getting some answers) can attract penalties.

Not sure how to address this one, sadly. It's a behaviour I've observed, but...no idea what use sanctions would be against this.

The problem, I think, is that you're starting with the wrong assumption: that a downvote is a punishment. It's not, it's simply a measure of the community's measure of how 'unclear' or 'not useful.'

In short, I don't think that increasing the rep-hit for a down-vote would serve a useful purpose. I certainly don't think it would serve, or is intended to serve, as a punitive measure. If a question is 'not useful' or 'unclear' (as the down-vote is intended to measure) then the question will be either unanswered, or down-voted from the front page and so less-exposed to the community. Repeatedly asking the same question is likely to garner several comments and flags prompting the >3k users and mods to close/delete the questions. Which is as much 'punishment' as I think is deserved, really.

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Questions that were repeated in order to get answers should be closed as duplicates of the original question (or another one like it). –  Anna Lear Mar 15 '11 at 13:05
    
@Anna, yeah: I edited that in after first-posting, and before seeing your comment. Thanks, though :) –  David Thomas Mar 15 '11 at 13:07

"Penalty" is confusing term, I thought you mean the 1 rep penalty it cost to cast the downvote..

Anyhow, I don't think it's a good idea, at least not in its current form. Those people who post bad question usually don't care much about reputation anyway, especially those with low accept rate.

To make the hammer strike harder, we can Close really bad questions, this they can't dodge.

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