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Encouraging people to explain down-votes

I've noticed a couple of newbie questions on SO where the newbie tried, but just got stuck or maybe didn't have enough background to know even the direction to search for help, getting downvoted. I started to put comments to ask why they were downvoted, but instead just countered with an upvote. Is this the community expected way of dealing with this?

  • 3
    Propose to newbie directions for search.
    – om-nom-nom
    Mar 8, 2012 at 14:15
  • 4
    That's not appropriate. If the question can't be edited to become comprehensible and answerable then it should be downvoted so it rapidly disappears off the front page and makes room for other questions. Mar 8, 2012 at 14:21
  • 10
    No, you should not upvote bad content because of some sense of injustice. That isn't how voting works.
    – user229044
    Mar 8, 2012 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


Stack Overflow is generally nice, and generally nice to newbies, but there is a limit to what kinds of questions can be reasonably allowed to live without turning the site into a trash pile that no expert will want to be active on.

If you (not "you" literally, the OP of the question that got downvoted) have no technical background at all, and all you can do is dump a bunch of copy & pasted code and say "it does not work", Stack Overflow is not the place for you. Some basic understanding of what you are doing is required on Stack Overflow. Go learn what you want to do from a book first, and come back later when you have actual, specific questions.

While leaving an explanation how the question can be improved is nice, it is not required, and for good reason. Downvoting is an important measure weeding out low quality questions. Please do not counter downvotes with an upvote unless you're absolutely sure it's a good question under the guidelines of the FAQ, and the downvote was given even though it is a good quality question.


If you think that a post is worth to being up-voted, you can up-vote it. There isn't much the community can do about the down-votes, as the only user who can remove the down-vote is the user who casted it, if it's done in the 5 minutes period, or if the post has been edited.

There isn't a way to leave a comment for down-voters that is automatically notified to them. Down-votes are free to leave a comment, or not; when they don't leave a comment, it could be because there is already a comment with which they agree, or because they don't have anymore to see, apart what reported in the tooltip for the down-vote button.

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Anonymous down-voting is part of the system; if the down-voters should always add a comment, there would not be anymore anonymous down-votes. I don't think it would be productive to force the down-voters to add a comment. What would be the comment if the down-voter agrees with a comment already left from another user? We surely don't want a set of "I agree with [username]" comments.

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