Newly active round these parts; this just happened to me twice.
Is that how I should behave when I get downvote privileges?

  • 1
    No. But that has been discussed multiple times, I'm just too lazy to go look for the duplicates. But a good starting point is this: Encouraging people to explain down-votes Feb 24, 2012 at 11:23
  • 6
    Are you talking about this answer of yours? Your answer is not correct. There's a virtually identical answer that was also downvoted, and has since been deleted: i.stack.imgur.com/ekpvu.png.
    – thirtydot
    Feb 24, 2012 at 11:39
  • 1
    Can you provide examples? I don't see any answers you've given where this happened. Feb 24, 2012 at 11:48
  • 3
    FYI, you haven't done anything wrong by asking this question. The downvotes here are probably intended to indicate that downvoting correct answers is bad behavior. Voting works differently on Meta.
    – Pops
    Feb 24, 2012 at 16:11
  • 9
    @PopularDemand I downvoted it because it's like buying a gun and asking the shop owner if it's good to shoot people in the face now that you have one. Of course SO's policy isn't "you should downvote right answers" Feb 24, 2012 at 16:21
  • 4
    its about as acceptable as starting a whine thread in meta because your incorrect answer got downvoted
    – kekekela
    Feb 24, 2012 at 16:24
  • @MichaelMrozek I read this more as "I saw some guy shooting people in the face last week; should I do that too now that I have a gun?"
    – David Z
    Feb 25, 2012 at 7:51
  • Easy tigers, just trying to find out what's acceptable and what's not. Keep your panties unbunched :)
    – darryn.ten
    Feb 27, 2012 at 8:38

2 Answers 2


If the answer is correct in the sense of containing only true statements, but is not applicable to the asker's problem, then it should be either downvoted or deleted (flag as “not an answer”). Deletion is reserved for answers that are strongly off-topic for the question (for example, an answer that uses a different programming language from the question in a case where the programming language matters). If it takes some knowledge of the topic to see why the answer is inapplicable, downvote.

If the answer is technically correct, but severely misleading or dangerous, it may be legitimate to downvote. Example:

I've just finished wiring an electric socket. How can I test that it's working properly?

⇨ Stick a paperclip in the socket.

You won't find a consensus on how far that can carry to what is merely dubious advice. Some people downvote if you answer fail to mention best practice, sometimes to the point of exaggeration because you can't always explain everything at once. The driving guideline is to upvote answers if they are useful and downvote if they are not useful. If you think that an answer is so bad that following its advice is worse than ignoring the answer altogether, downvote it. If you think that the answer has some good and some bad, a downvote is not warranted. If the answer is only wrong on a minor point and is otherwise helpful, correct it and upvote it.

Whatever you do, when you see something wrong, make sure that it's apparent what is wrong and why. Often, you should comment on the post (unless somebody else has already done that). Explaining downvotes is often a good idea, but it's not required.

  • 1
    +1 almost entirely for the example cited. Feb 24, 2012 at 12:37
  • 2
    I'm amazed that hasn't appeared on DIY.
    – user50049
    Feb 24, 2012 at 13:14
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    Great example of a bad answer. It completely forgets to mention that you must unbend the paper clip first, so that you can stick one end in each non-ground hole of the socket.
    – Pops
    Feb 24, 2012 at 16:08

No. If you feel tempted to do that, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. The only motivation I see for doing this is to more rapidly increase your reputation points so that you seem more attractive as a programmer to peers and potential employers for the purpose of being solicited.

If you carry that behavior to a job or other team project and start complaining about code that is obviously better than what you came up with, any:

  • Company
  • Open source project
  • Project between friends

.. with a decent immune system will quickly get rid of you.

If in doubt, don't :)

If you see down votes collecting on one of your posts and have no idea why (after reading any follow up comments), flag it for moderator attention and we'll do our best to handle it.

  • (OT): Could you restore my post here please? I have removed the comment and now it is a normal answer. Uh, and, sorry for that.
    – Martin.
    Feb 27, 2012 at 19:07
  • Thanks for the great answer :)
    – darryn.ten
    Jun 20, 2012 at 6:57

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