I am not saying that there are not some questions that deserve to be down voted. However I often see questions that seem to be down voted simple because for experienced programmers the solution is trivial. For example this question: Python , Changing a font size of a string variable

You can clearly tell from the title that the OP of this question is lacking a fundamental understanding of the nature of a string. I understand that because of this fundamental misunderstanding of strings that the scope of what the OP is asking is quite large. But the thought that strings should or do contain formatting information is probably a common misconception for people just becoming acquainted with programming.

I believe that it would be more useful for people to explain to the original poster why his logic is flawed and by doing so create a source of useful information for new programmers who search Google for "how to set the font size of a string" rather then just downvote the question. I think that down voting should be reserved for questions that clearly do not follow the posting guide lines and for answers that are wrong.

  • 2
    We don't. But that particular question showed an unfortunate lack of understanding of how email works, which indicated a lack of research effort. (I didn't vote on that question). Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 20:48
  • 8
    Stack Overflow generally expects a basic understanding of programming, and a basic amount of research effort. I agree leaving a helpful comment on every question would be the ideal thing to do, but at 5k+ new questions a day that simply is not an option.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 20:52
  • The question only has 2 downvotes. If it had 10+ then it would be a strong indicator of something. As it, it appears most of the people who read the thread choose not to vote at all. At the time of this comment there are more answers to the post than total votes on the question (both up and down).
    – Servy
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 21:00
  • 3
    That question has two whole downvotes by now and valid explanation in the comments. I'm not sure this really is such a terrible example that it needs to be brought up here.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 21:00
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    And btw, at 12 questions and 3 answers surely this user knows how the site works.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 21:07
  • I wouldn't have downvoted that question, but you should take a look at those questions that got closed, they tend to get scary number of downvotes.
    – prusswan
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 21:09
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    Confirmation bias and the logically obvious fact that new users tend to know the system less thus are more likely to ask poorer questions
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 21:54
  • 1. Because they are evil, Muahaha. 2. Because SO, as opposed to other StackExchange sites, seems to have a stingy upvoting policy; see this discussion.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


We don't downvote them because they are new, it just seem like that because the majority of the questions from them happen to:

  • be poorly written
  • fail to transmit the problem clearly
  • focus on simply getting an answer, rather than actually trying to learn something
  • show a lack of a basic understanding of programming
  • show no evidence of having attempted to solve the problem

(In this case, he failed the bold ones)

Note that I said the majority instead of all, there are of course, cases where new users start off on the right foot:

These users came from this query, by searching for users with low rep.

  • These are the rare and extreme cases which bear witness regarding the non-up-voted minority.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 16:19

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