I have been regularly coming across a new user recently; let's call "him" Bob?

Bob is absolutely convinced of his correctness on every topic. So convinced that he answers questions using completely invalid syntax because he knows how to solve a similar problem.

Commenting on the answer and pointing out the flaws sometimes results in a constructive response but more regularly not. Any downvotes (I haven't) normally results in a semi-unconstructive comment about '"experts"' or a small lecture on how people shouldn't downvote answers where someone was trying to help and that people should learn some manners.

So far, this has degenerated once, with a different user, and the community expressed themselves by downvoting more than usual.

I obviously don't know the particulars of the banning algorithm but it seems unlikely that Bob will be answer banned. He currently has 73 answers, 6 with a positive score and 6 with a negative. Five have been accepted, one an answer with positive score, which means only 10 of Bob's answers have been considered "helpful". People seem to be more wary of downvoting answers than questions, so Bob has escaped the worst. A significant minority of answers I would normally downvote as they're just wrong, but I can't and won't do that.

I am becoming extremely wary of commenting that Bob's answers are incorrect as I can't be bothered to have an argument over it. When combined with the volume of incorrect answers this is detrimental to the site. If wrong answers keep getting posted that people are unwilling to downvote or comment that they are incorrect then they stay around. I can't flag the answers as they're just technical inaccuracies.

Is there anything that an ordinary user can/should do in this situation? Bob is obviously acting in good faith and I don't think that he should be punished for doing so.

I am deliberately not posting Bob's identity as I'd rather Bob wasn't picked on.

  • 32
    Downvote and walk away.
    – Bart
    Jan 26, 2013 at 15:00
  • Going forward that's definitely an option @bart but it's a little suspicious if I downvote 50% of all answers a user posts. Jan 26, 2013 at 15:02
  • 8
    If they are fair downvotes and not in rapid succession, there is no problem. Don't seek him out, but vote as you normally would.
    – Bart
    Jan 26, 2013 at 15:02
  • 2
    “Going forward” means what? In the future? Sounds like a marketing pitch.
    – tchrist
    Jan 26, 2013 at 15:10
  • I spend too much time around sales people @tchrist :-). Yes, it does mean in the future as I come across more answers. Jan 26, 2013 at 15:11
  • 4
    I agree with Bart - in the future, downvote and don't leave a comment. If being that sulky and aggressive is his reaction to every criticism he gets, there's no point starting a fight - he clearly isn't interested in learning
    – Pekka
    Jan 26, 2013 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


Downvote, downvote, downvote -- as you see new bad answers appear. I do not believe that you can achieve a rate here that will be mistaken for serial voting. If content is bad, downvote. Don't waste your time commenting.

  • And what of existing answers? That is what this question is addressing. Not new answers, old ones.
    – Travis J
    Dec 22, 2013 at 20:05
  • See meta.stackexchange.com/a/213192/138822.
    – Rosinante
    Dec 22, 2013 at 20:10
  • 3
    "...as you see new bad answers appear. I do not believe that you can achieve a rate..." -- at smaller sites, you can
    – gnat
    Dec 22, 2013 at 21:02
  • Well, that's outside my ken.
    – Rosinante
    Dec 22, 2013 at 21:15
  • 1
    Don't mean to resurrect this question/answer (unless that's not considered bad on SO, I really don't know much about SO yet!), but I asked a question that was very similar (although it didn't come up in a search or the list of possible duplicates) that was marked as a duplicate of this one. I accept that, it's pretty much the same thing. However, my situation is slightly different, and it still good advice to tell me (with 600 rep) to keep downvoting my 'pugnacious user's posts? I know it only costs 1 but still. If I had 20k+ it wouldn't be an issue for me, but I'd like to enact change now. Feb 20, 2014 at 22:53
  • Also, I mentioned that the area I browse and he answers, the votes on average are +1 for answers and it's 50/50 on questions between 0 and +1, so downvoting this guy's answer doesn't always do much. He miraculously gets an upvote, so my downvote take him to 0, matching my un-voted-on-but-better (yes in my opinion, but I'm pretty sure I'm right) answer. Sorry for the two long comments here, I don't really know if I should have gone about this a different way. Feb 20, 2014 at 22:56

Commenting on incorrect answers is just that–it's only an argument if it's made in to one.

Comments regarding downvotes are just that; comments regarding downvotes– they don't need to be acted upon, but I'd tend towards flagging them as off-topic/not helpful.

IMO it's valuable to comment on incorrect answers, and I tend to downvote the more egregious.

People are wary about downvoting answers because it costs reputation, and can sometimes lead to silly retaliatory behavior. If it's serial retaliatory behavior the system will catch it.

Downvoting tends to push an answer down; if it's downvoted enough you can vote to delete. If it isn't, oh well: it's the internet, reacting to every "Someone is wrong on the internet!" hue and cry gets old fast.

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