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: According to http://meta.stackoverflow.com/tags/discussion/info

This tag is used for questions that ask users to — what else? — discuss an idea, concept or problem. Common use cases include hashing out how the community should handle a certain action and collaborating on how to solve a perceived issue within the community.

I posted a topic for discussion over the weekend, which I ended up deleting due to the lack of answers and number of downvotes without comment. I made the mistake of editing to ask people to provide input rather than anonymous votes, and was rewarded with downvotes on idle posts (which I have had deleted too).

Given the definition of , is it appropriate for people to downvote the discussion topic without explaining why? It left me clueless as to which, if any, of the following was the case:

  • It was an invalid topic to discuss
  • Meta is the wrong place to discuss site enhancements
  • It was unclear what the topic was
  • It's seen as a non-issue
  • It shouldn't be a priority for developers
  • The suggested solution was bad (the specific part I was requesting discussion on)
  • Something else entirely

I don't have a problem with downvotes if there's an explanation, but on something tagged as a discussion subject, downvoting without comment (or better still, an answer) just seems incredibly rude. Anonymous downvotes on answers are fine, if it indicates a solution is invalid, or a position is unpopular.

Yes, I fully appreciate that in general people don't always have time for a full answer, but it seems reasonable to expect anyone acting on a discussion post should be prepared to put some effort in - I did when preparing the post, but don't see the point in doing it again.

Hopefully responses to this topic will help someone else.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As Michael has said, down votes on feature requests (site enhancements) generally mean people don't like the idea. So, it probably was one of these:

  • It's seen as a non-issue
  • It shouldn't be a priority for developers
  • The suggested solution was bad (the specific part I was requesting discussion on)

As far as the tag goes, it's just one of the four "main" categories (the others being , , ). It doesn't carry any special meaning about voting or not voting without comment. After all, it sounds like you really probably had a feature-request.

That being said, it can be frustrating to receive down-votes if you can't think of any good reasons to disagree with your suggestion, though, that's not much different in real life.

Also, just as in real life, people tend to be put off when new and unusual suggestions are made with too high a level of confidence or without an inquisitive tone, especially if the problem is not well-stated. (Not saying you did this, since I haven't seen the post.)

So, there's really two different things you can do:

  • Prep the post with more language that you need feedback, like "I might be crazy" (even if you know you aren't).
  • Don't jump right to a solution, and ask questions to find out if the thing you are observing is even a problem, and what might be done about it. Then, maybe even post your suggestion as an answer.

With all that said, I really think you should undelete your posts. Even down-voted questions are valuable here, as things change over time and it's good to see what's been suggested and how it was dealt with already. The more ideas, the better, even those we don't like right now.


After all, you have a high enough rep that you can handle some down-votes — and I just gave you 5 more. Post 'em up!

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It was supposed to be a discussion to flesh out details before promoting to feature request (hence no feature-request tag). I may resurrect; unfortunately I can't find it easily as downvote-deletion lead to a peer-pressure badge and it disappearing from my activity. –  Phil Lello May 4 '11 at 1:19

Assuming that you meant your mentor post, I think the problems was that you gave us a partial solution. You essentially said "Let's implement this feature!" but you couldn't really give us any details about what this feature was about. You never explained what the purpose of mentors would be, except in a very general and abstract sense. This is, effectively, a pointless solution because it wasn't really one.

If you want to get a discussion going about a change to the system, you need to at least be a little more specific. If you said, for example, "mentors should be able to privately contact users so that they can provide guidance", then we have somewhere to get started discussing. That might be a good or a bad idea, but it's a starting point. Your post, on the other hand, felt like an empty feature request.

As for Meta voting in general, it's not a good/bad paradigm like full SE sites. Don't take it too harshly—for example, I noticed you posted a (now deleted) post about SO downvotes, and got downvotes for that. As you were wondering, that was irony on the part of the MSO community—we do like downvoting anyone who mentions downvotes, because we're a much more lax community that other SE sites.

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Downvotes mean something different on Meta. Sometimes they mean "I disagree with your idea", "I don't like your attitude", or "I think I'm being funny by downvoting a question that mentions downvotes". I don't know what you posted, but I'll bet it falls in one of those camps. Unlike on the parent sites, there's no push to justify votes with comments. There's nothing special about the discussion tag in that regard.

Don't take it too personally, it's just one of those things here on Meta.

That said, it's hard to have a real discussion about this without knowing what exactly you posted.

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I deliberately avoided the details here, as this post is really about the discrepancy between the tag description "Common use cases include hashing out how the community should handle a certain action and collaborating on how to solve a perceived issue", and reactions to posts asking for that. –  Phil Lello May 3 '11 at 3:27
    
Tags are just that, tags. Just short nuggets of text, useful for filtering and searching. They don't enable substantially different kinds of discussion with their presence. –  Michael Petrotta May 3 '11 at 3:31
    
I agree that may be how it works on meta; however tags should enable different kinds of discussion, in much the same way that c and java on SO should mean questions are treated in the context of C or Java –  Phil Lello May 3 '11 at 20:07

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