A new user logs into their account, with lots of enthusiasm posts his first question in the community.

Being unaware of format regulations, the user might make mistakes. Also, the enthusiasm might force extra capitalization mistakes.

These mistakes attract the attention of experienced ones, who most often downvote the bad formatted question.

Getting 3 or 4 downvotes at the initial stages could affect the mindset of the new user.

How do the downvotes affect the mindset of the new user? Does this discourage the user from posting another question or does it encourage the user to post a well formatted question the next time?

  • 7
    Disagree: "could discourage the new user from posting another question" - conversely it might encourage them to take a look around and see how things work (which they should and could have done first) before posting another not terribly well constructed question. It sends a clear message - we expect quality content. I normally edit to fix formatting issues, but vote on content unless the poster has wilfully refused to format things.
    – Flexo
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 10:59
  • Really !!, is it a good idea to encourage someone, who is not even aware of how to phrase a question. Dont think so. It would be good idea for someone who is having a good reputation in the community, not for the beginners. Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:02
  • 13
    Experienced users will normally edit the question if there are formatting problems. Additionally, most downvotes are not because of the formatting but because of other issues in the question (off-topic, not constructive etc).
    – Oded
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:03
  • 2
    Welcome to Meta Stack Overflow! Preemptive comment on downvotes on your question: see the faq, votes on MSO are different from the regular Stack Exchange websites. Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:03
  • 9
    Isn't there any such good idea to make the new user aware of format regulations... RTFM? No seriously, we've got a ton of help for new users all over the site...just look for it, read it. Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:10
  • 8
    @SahilMahajanMj downvtes and editting here is just meant to prove that we are superior No, just.. no. we have more reputation than you(new user) Irrelevant. should teach new ones how to phrase their questions Do you not see these? i.imgur.com/QeRai.png i.imgur.com/1MuiU.png there's a friggin' live preview of text you type. I'm sorry if you aren't bothered to look at those you deserve to be downvoted Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:13
  • 8
    "Being unaware of format regulations" - do you mean despite the numerous prompts you get before you ask your first question, including a checkbox you need to tick to say that you've read the help provided?
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:42
  • 3
    @SahilMahajanMj: Votes on Meta are different (As noted in Martijn's comment, by the way. Did you follow the link?)
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:43
  • 2
    If we didn't enforce quality standards on new users people would hate them a LOT more and a LOT more openly
    – Zelda
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:52
  • 1
    Meant to? No, absolutely not. Does it? Yes, absolutely.
    – casperOne
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 12:09
  • 5
    @SahilMahajanMj: Unacceptable? The votes on this post, which simply indicate very clear disagreement? (Not irrelevance, just disagreement.)
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 12:15
  • 8
    @SahilMahajanMj: If people were "racing for virtual reputation", they wouldn't bother taking any action. Instead, people are concerned with the quality of questions on the site. In what sense is it "injustice" if you've explicitly clicked on something which basically says "I've read and understood the instructions of how to ask good questions" and then asked a question which ignores those instructions?
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 13:10
  • 5
    when you clicked that button that said "log me in" Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 13:13
  • 5
    @SahilMahajanMj: When you ask your first question. I'm 99.9% sure you go through an interstitial which does exactly that. Unfortunately it's relatively tricky for me to go back and ask a first question again to capture that as a screenshot... but I'll try over the weekend.
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 13:45
  • 2
    @SahilMahajanMj Look at today's example. This user joined SO today. And asked this question without formatting. He got 5+ upvotes. Do you know why? Because he asked a good question with some efforts. And a high reputed user formatted his question. See the original question without formatting here.. Do you still think A new user gets 3 or 4 downvotes at the initial stages due to bad formatting or capitalization mistakes?
    – Himanshu
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 4:46

3 Answers 3


Is Downvoting meant to Discourage new Users

No, it's meant to discourage bad content.

These mistakes attracts the attraction of experienced ones, who most often downvote the question.

There are four main reasons to downvote:

  1. Lack of research effort
  2. The question is unclear or hard to understand
  3. The question is not useful
  4. The question is not a real question or off-topic on the whole SE network

You'll notice that three out of these four reasons are from the downvote-tooltip. The last comes from experience, because crappy questions get downvoted and closed. Because that's what we do with crappy questions. Normally users are trying to salvage the question before downvoting for the second reason, except if the question does not seem to be salvageable.

Getting 3 or 4 downvote at the initial stages, as such I got could discourage the new user from posting another question.

I know I'll get into the-place-of-eternal-pain for saying that, but that might not be a bad thing. There's also an automatic ban in place which gets triggered if the user posts too many downvoted questions or answers. If the first question is already attracting a load of downvotes, there's a good chance that the second will, too...as will the third...

Isn't there any such good idea to make the new user aware of format regulations and for phrasing question with relevant matter.

We already have that, all over the place. Thanks to Sathya for the last two pictures.


As Jeff Atwood pointed out a while back, the sheer number of new users makes it impossible to adopt a laid-back hand-holding approach for newcomers.

I think this is a reasonable strategy because allowing new users to ask low-quality questions without limit and use SO as if it were a forum would result in the old/existing users slowly giving up on the site. And it's the current userbase who make SO what it is.

That said, I also think it is okay for anybody who joins the site and begins to use it without first taking a look around and familiarizing themselves with the basic rules of how things work on SO to get immediate negative feedback. Sure, they might not be very happy about that, but the alternative is everybody else not being happy so I'd call it a good tradeoff.

The oblivious newcomer who, after ignoring the rules and getting burned, feels that he has been wronged will probably give up on SO. Which, again, is fine because it is exactly what the system is designed to achieve.

There are always others who will wonder if maybe it is they who are in the wrong and will mend their ways and end up making useful contributions to SO.

  • yep. i call it the banhammer Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 11:47

I personally think downvoting (and even the ban) is meant to helpful to new users. The reason I say this is because there is a reputation limit (1) that they can achieve. This means that they receive the downvotes without too much penalty, which should send a warning to the users that the question/answer is of low quality.

If the problem persists, the ban is placed until conditions are meant. As seen here: What can I do when getting "We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"?

the ban is until people improve the quality of existing posts and post good-quality answers. Keep in mind this applies to Stack Overflow (and other non-meta SE sites). In Meta, downvotes can be received if people disagree with your ideas.

You must log in to answer this question.

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