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What purpose does downvoting questions serve?

I really want to know why down-voting a question is implemented in Stack Overflow. I have seen many questions down-voted and got frustrated. People are asking questions because they are looking for answers, what's the point in down-voting the question itself

Today I saw one of my questions was down-voted without a comment explaining the reason why.


Most of the fellow stackers responded to the question saying, "You didn't provide the expected result and that's the cause." I feel "Concatenating associative arrays" conveys everything. It doesn't require the expected result to be added.

And I wanted to convey my thoughts regarding this after getting your responses.

  1. I agree that down-voting the question is necessary if it's abusive or irrelevant. Not for forming the question (or perhaps not reading the FAQ). (If you don't understand the question, you can go ahead. Some people who understand the question will reply to it.)
  2. Down-voting the question and rude comments aren't necessary. The guys asking the question might be new to that technology (you can't always expect a very challenging question, say, "What's an associative array?" is also a question) or new to this site or poor in English.
  3. If you are down-voting the answer it means you are doing the right thing (and help the community to not follow the faulty approach). But down-voting question will not help you (I know it's just a negative).


All my below responses finally saying you are downvoted because the question is not understandable... I wanted say my last words in this and wont justfify myself hereafter.. Most people wont care to visit the downvoted question. i am lucky so i got an answer before its downvoted.. what if i downvoted before anyone answer my question. what others think abt that question when seeing this is listed in unanserwed tag. i myself propably think its a duplicate one and will avoid click the link.. most of them do this.

So if you wanted to downvote just leave a comment alongwith... thats all folks..

  • 4
    This should be on Meta I think.
    – beggs
    Aug 21, 2009 at 8:21
  • 1
    no i dont want to move this to meta... no ppl will see this... this is where more ppl surf .. i wanted this to be here...
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 8:23
  • 17
    What you want is not relevant compared to the stated purpose of the separate sites. Aug 21, 2009 at 8:30
  • 2
    I actually love the irony of this question being downvoted.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 21, 2009 at 8:30
  • 8
    I know you can spell "you", so why didn't you?
    – Welbog
    Aug 21, 2009 at 11:41
  • yes i can... and i assume "u" got me another "-".. did u (sorry you.. i cant control it.. it just came) read the rest of wat am saying...??
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 11:49
  • 6
    Obviously I read it as I took the time to correct your (seemingly deliberate) spelling mistakes. I happen to disagree with everything you have to say because you're wrong.
    – Welbog
    Aug 21, 2009 at 11:51
  • thanks for that... and english is not my first language..
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 12:02
  • I am well aware of that.
    – Welbog
    Aug 21, 2009 at 12:10
  • 4
    Funny thing is that it's not really logical. It's not your primary language, so you should use it "on the base", not with using shortcuts, no ? I hardly see "english is not my first language" as an excuse for shortening words...
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 21, 2009 at 16:00
  • 2
    @Gnoupi: i think it's more like, "it's not my primary language, I'm not comfortable writing in it, therefore I intend to use as little of it as possible when forced to." Or rather, "it's not my prmry lngge, I'm not comfrtble wrtng in it, thrfre I intend 2 use as lttle of it as pssble when 4ced 2."
    – Shog9
    Aug 21, 2009 at 16:12

5 Answers 5


Why is downvoting a question important?

  • It encourages users to follow the FAQ. It hopefully makes them frame their next question more carefully, with complete information.
  • It indicates to a fellow user of the site that they are advised not to waste time on the question. It keeps down fluff and noise.

I visited your question just now, following the link in your post. It is obviously incomplete because you haven't provided a) the result you're seeing b) the result you want to see. I note that you have followed up on the downvotes with a follow-up question, but you still haven't bothered to edit the question and provide this information. So, it is of very limited help to the community as a whole.

Have you read the FAQ yet? Did you see this part:

What if I don't get a good answer?

In order to get good answers, you have to put some effort into the question. Edit your question to provide status and progress updates. Document your own continued efforts to answer your question. This will naturally bump your question and get more people interested in it.

If I come across a bad question, why do you think it is wrong to convey this through a down-vote?

  • "I note that you have followed up on the downvotes with a follow-up question, but you still haven't bothered to edit the question and provide this information.".. i got an 6 answers to that question.. the code i gave in my post is sample.. and (concatenating two associative arrays) conveying everything i wanted to say.. ppl experts in javascript (not me) understand wat am saying... and my question doesnt required the sample output... wats concatenating means?? isnt that explain enough.. or do u want me to add the result (sam,sam,kam,kam) as expected in my post...
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 10:44
  • 1
    "I have problem concatenating two associative arrays in javascript" + code does not equal a "detailed and specific" question as mentioned in the FAQ. Like you say, experts in Javascript can understand you, but not anybody else. It conveys no information to a programmer from a non-Javascript background, or a Javascript novice programmer. You got answers irrespective of the question, not because your question was good. A good question would say what you're trying to do, what code you're using, what the result of running that code is, and what you expect it to be.
    – nagul
    Aug 21, 2009 at 11:49
  • 1
    @Ramesh: the experts in JavaScript were able to determine that you didn't understand JavaScript. They must have seen that kind of failure to understand before. You got lucky that you're not the first person to understand what an array is. Aug 21, 2009 at 12:24

I am curious why you are "frustrated" with the downvote you received?

The vote itself was cancelled out with an upvote giving you +8 reputation in total. The community is there for that reason so that an individual downvote that is considered harsh is negated by others.

Also you received a good answer to your post which you accepted. How can you be frustrated with anything if your question was answered.

  • robin.. yes i got a answer and very happy abt it.. but seeing "-" means ur question is useless (same way we vote the faulty answers).. that y i got bursted... :(
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 9:00
  • 5
    that is the point you've missed. seeing "-" does NOT mean your question is useless. It means ONE PERSON thought your question wasn't good enough. That is the whole point of the community, everyone has their opinion. If everyone thinks your question is bad, it will be downvoted more than it is upvoted. I have been downvoted on stackoverflow many many times, I'm sure Jon Skeet does as well. Does that make his answers useless? No! It's just the opinion of some people.
    – Robin Day
    Aug 21, 2009 at 9:03

Don't take it personal. People are not judging you, but the question. Maybe they thought it didn't contain enough information to be answered usefully. Maybe they thought it was too subjective. Maybe it was completely unjustified and someone had a bad day or just clicked on the wrong arrow and didn't notice. You'll never know, and getting angry about it will not achieve anything.

  • thanks michael.. i admit wat u r saying.. i just got bursted seeing downvoted for just asking a question...
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 8:57

Though in general voting is for posts, not for users, downvoting actually also feeds the Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account, to filter out low quality questions.


IMHO, a question should be voted for "reusability". Is this question for general interest, could it be used by many people and probably is still interesting in two years?

Some people do no spend enough time to really think about their problem before asking a question, wasting other users time. This should be down-voted.

Sometimes its unfair. Getting down-voted is not as bad as some people think. Nobody should take it personal. But - it is how it works and the votes are not always expressing the quality of a question or answer.

  • stefan, i agree with u in every term... i accept if my answers are bad and getting downvoted... and i really admit my fault... but why the questions getting downvoted...
    – RameshVel
    Aug 21, 2009 at 8:55

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