A new meta user brought up this question. It's about a REST question that has an accepted answer that is incorrect, and another more correct answer that has a lot of upvotes.

Based on the information given by waffles in this answer, the OP suggested downvoting the incorrect accepted answer. This was greeted by a slew of downvotes on his Meta question (peaking at -16), even after he removed the bit that offended the community's delicate sensibilities. (IIRC he was at -9 when he removed the bit.)

I agree downvoting the accepted answer may not be the right path to take in the case of the REST question, but is gang downvoting the Meta post the right way to welcome a new user who only wants to help make SO a better place?

How am I going to defend Meta against people who say it is a place dominated by rudeness and a community who enjoys alienating newbies and outsiders for no good reason?

  • 9
    Meta is a harsh mistress indeed, however I think it won't be that hard to find more than a few questions by newer users that were welcomed with open arms. For the question in question, the unconstructive tone played a big part in getting down voted to oblivion, the OP is more demanding than asking (imho).
    – yannis
    Jul 11, 2012 at 7:36
  • 4
    Peaking? More like valleying, amirite? :P Jul 11, 2012 at 7:53
  • Check out this recent -22 question. The question's tone is just fine, no rude comments at all, constructive discussions in the question and the answer, OP doesn't even mention that (s)he is getting down voted to oblivion, and generally seems satisfied by the response, despite the huge pile of down votes. I think newer users may completely ignore the down votes, if they get a friendly response in comments and answers, but for that to happen, their tone should be equally friendly to begin with.
    – yannis
    Jul 11, 2012 at 7:56
  • 1
    @Yannis I don't see how the OP here was unfriendly. He was simply frustrated about an aspect of the system that doesn't work well (in his opinion), and passionate about getting it fixed. The -22 one is a feature request, that's a different ball game - and I agree that went totally okay.
    – Pekka
    Jul 11, 2012 at 9:04
  • I'd argue that it is a duplicate...there for shows a lack of research effort. ;P Jul 11, 2012 at 11:07
  • 2
    If you come to Meta asking users to pile on their downvotes, it's going to be a messy day
    – random
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:33
  • This is a frustrating problem I've wondered about a number of times. The best possible solution would be for people to stick around and learn the tone of the community before posting their question, but I realize that's not always possible. You can't expect the community to embrace you when you haven't taken the time to learn the community. The very first question I asked here was a duplicate, but I at least took the time to learn the importance of freehand circles before posting =) Jul 12, 2012 at 12:40
  • @Pekka this question has been around for a month already and the only comments and answers here are from people with 1,000+ points. I guess you were supposed to raise the attention of new comers but very few people like to come to meta a-fresh, being insulted or downvoted and afterwards happily learn the rules of the community. As an educator i am appalled by how this community works, and beware, i am a newbie so what do i know? i got downvoted heavily on my first appearance, no explanations, on a question that i found most offensive. Does it make me want to learn the rules now? your guess?
    – user190780
    Aug 16, 2012 at 20:43
  • @Andrea yeah, the tone towards newbies on Meta is definitely too rough sometimes, and should change. However, it's a place with many good people, too. If you're interested in online communities, it's worth putting on the thick skin and sticking around. My very first Meta question was downvoted, too; IIRC, it was at -9 at some point, and I thought, what a bunch of dicks... but I stuck around and found out that there are nice people and productive discussions as well, and I've by and large enjoyed my time here.
    – Pekka
    Aug 16, 2012 at 21:14

3 Answers 3


(I took no part in this, except for an upvote on that post after seeing this one)

I think what happened was this: a few meta users didn't like the "downvote this plzz" part. The post goes down to -9, after which nobody even cares to read the post and just piles on downvotes. Issue is, a posts existing vote score prejudices the reader (I think). Happens to me sometimes, as well :\

Also, the tone of the post was rant-y, which further adds to the prejudice. (Like Yannis said)

I've seen a few similar posts on meta which are rant-y and get downvoted. In this particular case, the only "alienating" things were the downvotes. The comments seem pretty OK to me. And, it was explained that downvotes are different on meta:

BTW, rep on meta is even less meaningful than the usual stuff, so don't fret the downvotes beyond deciding not to do this again. We won't hold it against you.

Though the "downvotes are different on meta" comment ought to have been posted earlier.

The root issue here is one of pile-on downvoting, and misconceptions about meta votes for newbies. Don't know how to fix the former, but the latter can certainly be fixed with one of those friendly red notification popups, saying "don't worry about downvotes, [they are different on meta]"

  • 1
    "...nobody even cares to read the post and just piles on downvotes", true, true, true! +1 here and on the question at hand.
    – Zuul
    Jul 11, 2012 at 10:05
  • 1
    "Also, the tone of the post was rant-y, which further adds to the prejudice." If the tone is rant-y, there is no more prejudice.
    – Alenanno
    Jul 11, 2012 at 15:04
  • You have to go to the post to add your downvote. I for one always check out posts scoring lower than -8 because of the trainwreck effect
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 11, 2012 at 15:20
  • 1
    @alenanno It wasn't really a rant, but it could be interpreted as one. :\ Jul 11, 2012 at 15:34

The OP didn't ask people to down-vote the accepted answer, they asked people to downvote the question, contrary to Waffles advice, because,

"hopefully the author will see his rep bleeding away and fix the answer."

IMHO, this is highly unconstructive and highly deserving of being down-voted to oblivion.

If the OP was asking for the accepted answer to be down-voted it could have been closed as an exact duplicate of SLaks question where Waffles advice was mis-interpreted. As it was he was effectively asking everyone to punish another user for accepting an answer that helped them, however misguided that answer might have been.

Disclaimer: I didn't down-vote the question but I did up-vote Oded's comment:

"I feel like downvoting this question because of your suggestion to downvote that question. It is something entirely non-constructive"

  • 2
    Ah - I hadn't realized he actually asked to downvote the question. Still, this kind of pile-on downvoting is not constructive, either. From what I can tell, the OP was simply passionate about righting what he perceived as wrong.
    – Pekka
    Jul 11, 2012 at 9:00
  • 1
    @DiscountGucciHandbags, normally I'd agree with you but this user was advocating pile-on down-voting against another user for no reason. Jul 11, 2012 at 12:13
  • Even without the "pls downvote" it's still something quite easy to disagree with. Maybe some of those downvotes were to be mean, but I think most of them are deserved due to the content of the question rather than the irony of "pls downvote"
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 11, 2012 at 15:22

but is gang downvoting the Meta post the right way to welcome a new user who only wants to help make SO a better place

I thought downvoting on Meta means you disagree with the question or answer. The OP in that post wrote:

Is a great question and has 71 up-votes to boot, but has unfortunately been marked with the wrong answer. The correct answer quite rightly has 60 up-votes, to the marked answer's 11.

Why can't the community over-rule the person who asked the question in cases like this?

I read this to mean: if an answer has many more upvotes that the "accepted" answer, can the system somehow mark that as the "accepted" answer instead? In other words, move the checkmark from the currently accepted answer to the one most upvoted. How in the world this is supposed to happen?

Yes, I am aware that the current text of the question is different from the original post. However, I still disagree with the suggestion, hence the downvote.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .