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On a recent question, a user decided it was a bad question and downvoted all answers with the comment "-1 closevote, not answer!". I realize that the community doesn't want to reward help vampires, but is this the appropriate response?

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It's their downvote to give as they please. If they are as frustrated as anybody else by people who answer regardless of if the question is on topic when they should just be closed, give it to them. –  random Jul 11 '11 at 21:47
    
Specifically, imho the question wasn't bad because from a help vampire, but because it wasn't very clear, and all answers were educated guesses. If you refer to this question, of course. –  Damien Pirsy Jul 11 '11 at 21:51
    
@random That makes sense, but the end result in the particular question was a lot of comments about "why the downvote, this is an answer". If the question closes quickly, I suppose it doesn't make a difference. If it doesn't, it ends up as a noisy repository of confusion for future Googlers to find. –  Farray Jul 11 '11 at 21:53
    
@Damien Yeah, that was it. –  Farray Jul 11 '11 at 21:53
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It's not good form, but I can see why the user did this. –  Pëkka Jul 11 '11 at 22:43
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@random While each user can, in the end, use their down-votes how they want, that doesn't make a discussion about the appropriateness invalid, nor efforts to guide users away from behavior that is deemed "bad form". In other words, we are talking about what should a user do, not what rights do they have. –  NickC Jul 12 '11 at 4:03
    
great question. I'm happy that I found it –  genesis Jul 12 '11 at 16:05
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3 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Don't mass-downvote answers. It's just bad form.

If you hover over the downvote arrow for an answer, the tooltip says "This answer is not useful." That should be your guidance for downvoting answers.

We don't have a "policy" that users should vote to close instead of answering an off-topic question, though that is probably a good practice to follow. We certainly don't have a standing policy that users downvote all answers to off-topic questions; that is not the purpose of voting.

That said, it's perfectly within the right of a user to downvote any answer for any reason, just as it is perfectly within the right of a user to post an answer to an off-topic question, so long as that question is still open.

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Hm, actually I'm now more confused. I was told by Lasse that mass downvoting is prohibited and may be punished. I am told by you that mass downvoting isn't good form, but it's still my right to do so if it pleases me. random says (though I'm not sure I understood that correctly) that it's actually good to downvote such answers. So, what is it now? Prohibited, good, bad? –  NikiC Jul 11 '11 at 22:52
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@nikic: It's kinda like the difference between the Prima Facie speed limit and the safest allowable speed. Can you legally travel 55 miles per hour on a two-lane undivided highway in California? Sure. Should you do it at night while it is snowing and the road is icy? Probably not, and if a cop catches you doing it, he will cite you. Use your common sense; ask yourself "Is this community-friendly behavior I am engaging in?" –  Robert Harvey Jul 11 '11 at 22:58
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@NikiC: Was Lasse talking about mass downvoting a bunch of questions and answers from the same person? Because I think this case is a little bit different. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 11 '11 at 23:28
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@NikiC: I suspect Bill's right - there's certainly nothing wrong with down-voting a bunch of wrong/unhelpful answers, and in fact this is sometimes necessary when a bunch of folks jump to post a quick answer before reading the question carefully... What we don't want to see is one user following another around, down-voting everything he writes for personal reasons. –  Shog9 Jul 11 '11 at 23:53
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@Shog9: Or voting down a bunch of answers on the same off-topic question because the question should have been voted to close instead? The answers were perfectly fine, they were just posted to an off-topic question, so I suppose if you want to interpret that as "unhelpful..." –  Robert Harvey Jul 11 '11 at 23:56
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@Robert: I'm with random here - the votes are the user's to do with as he wishes. The comments are rude though - there are better ways to educate folks. –  Shog9 Jul 12 '11 at 0:05
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@nikC: The worst part is you downvoted people who haven't earned the rep to close/view close votes! How can you blame them? –  Lorem Ipsum Jul 12 '11 at 3:25
    
Answers to bad questions are not helpful to the site, as when we reward a bad question, we will tend to get more bad questions. But the answer may be helpful to the person that asked the question. So what does "This answer is not useful." mean? –  Ian Ringrose Jul 12 '11 at 8:24
    
@Bill: Well, I don't think that he was talking about that. (At least that wasn't what I did. I just downvoted the answers on that one question.) –  NikiC Jul 12 '11 at 10:52
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Down-voting most of the answers given for a question (or all the questions) just on the basis somebody thinks the question should be closed doesn't seem fair, to me. Down-voting should be reserved for answers that are not useful.

Leaving out the specific case, what would happen when a user thinks a question should be closed, but other users think it should not be closed, and they don't vote to close the question, which doesn't reach the necessary number of closing votes? What happens if the question in the current form needs to closed, it gets closed, the OP edits it, and the question is re-opened? In this case, the question still needs answers, and the existing ones could still suit the question, or need to be edited to suit the question as it has been edited.
In both these cases, who answered the question got a down-vote that cannot be removed if they don't edit their own answer, and the question is still open. Do you think it is fair? I think it is not.

Looking at the specific case, the user down-voted also the answer given from a user with a reputation lower than 3 thousand, who cannot vote to close questions, and cannot see when a question is being voted to be closed.

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If you look at the example you mentioned, it seems pretty counter-productive to mass-downvote answers: A question that would have been closed almost immediately without much ado now has a massive 10 downvotes (I feel sorry for the OP...), downvotes on the answers that lead to sympathy upvotes (I think...) that lead to more downvotes that lead to more upvotes.

Kind of the opposite effect of what you want for a question like that in my opinion.

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