Recently I have been receiving down-votes because I do not correct the OP's answer to use "best practice." This has occurred on a few occasions regarding implicit or explicit syntax or deprecation of functions. For this question, I am specifically referring to PHP's announcement regarding deprecation of mysql_ functions.

In a question, the OP posts code that uses the mysql_ function and I post a correct (accepted) answer using those functions and inform the OP regarding the deprecation and alternatives. I would then receive a down-vote because I apparently have not sufficiently discouraged the OP's use of these functions.

Stack Overflow's How to answer states:

Answer the question

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be "don’t do that", but it should also include "try this instead". Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

Going off the Answer the question guidelines, I know that my answer provides exactly what the OP is asking as well as a "use this instead".

Stack Overflow's Vote Down states:

What is voting down?

Voting down, also known as "casting downvotes", is how the community indicates which questions and answers are least useful.

When should I vote down?

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

Following the above guidelines, I don't feel my answers meet any of the criteria for voting down.

I certainly attribute down-votes with a negative connotation. I ask, to what degree should "best practice" affect down votes?

  • related meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1909/…
    – ajax333221
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 18:37
  • 6
    Please don't assume your answer is correct just because it was accepted by the asker, that only means that it was correct for one person (well, two, if we count you).
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 18:40
  • 2
    @YannisRizos Point taken, however the individual that down-votes would typically inform me their down-vote was specifically because it is not "best practice."
    – Kermit
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 18:56

3 Answers 3


Ultimately, people will downvote answers for their own reasons. Everyone has their own pet-peeves. If I see a use of sprintf, odds are good I'll take some action (though admittedly, it'll likely be turning it into snprintf instead of downvoting).

For some people, the use of APIs that have been officially deprecated constitutes not being a good answer. It constitutes "dangerously incorrect." If that's what they believe, so be it. Neither you, me, or all of MSO is going to change their minds.

It's best to accept it and move on. Or you could actually take their advice and let people know when they're not using the most appropriate APIs for a task.


If you "go by the book", you are right, and the downvoter is wrong; however, not everyone plays by the book1. This should come as no surprise, considering the number of users on the site and the diversity of their backgrounds.

I come across a "best practice downvote" regularly, though not too often, perhaps once a month. My strategy for dealing with them, assuming that their point is correct, has been as follows:

  • Edit my answer to emphasize the "best practice" point; give credit to the commenter for bringing it to my attention
  • Write a comment addressed to the commenter, thanking him for the input and mentioning that you have fixed your answer.

The edit gives the downvoter a chance to reverse his vote; my experience has been that they do it enough times to make the exercise worth the effort.

1 Or at least not by the same book.

  • 3
    Where can I order that book?
    – PeeHaa
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 1:08
  • Worth the effort? How much is a reputation point worth? :-)
    – svick
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 19:32
  • 1
    @svick A reputation point is worth precisely (imagine a short pause for better effect, and a drum roll) one reputation point ;-) Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 20:20

The voting system is a way for the community to say "hey this is a good answer" or the opposite "hey there is something wrong with this answer". When an answer is accepted by OP and the community wouldn't have (down-)voted the answer other people looking at that answer with the same problem will think: "Just what I needed". While it actually introduces only problems. I see the voting system as a quality insurance mechanism (if done correctly).

If OP has accepted an answer that only means that it solved OP's specific problem. That doesn't say anything about the quality of the answer. The thing is answers or not only for OP, but also for other readers.

I don't know about the specific answer of yours, but an answer with mysql_* function in it is just potentially dangerous when people use it. Hence that might be a reason where I may downvote an answer.

Considering the fact that you know the reason I suspect at least someone left a comment about what may have been wrong with it. I think it is the answer's responsibility to educate not only OP, but also future visitors.

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