Take a look at this question. It's a really crappy question that (especially for the first revision) really deserves its -4 score.

However, one user has written what (to me, who doesn't know jack about Objective C) looks like a great answer, tutorial style.

Knowing nothing about the topic, I can't really judge this or do anything about it, but I just feel bad that the answerer has gone through some lengths to write up a (seemingly) good answer for a question that hardly anybody will ever look at. I can't even upvote the answer, because I don't know if it's good.

One idea that I had was a "Flag for pro attention" kind of thing that make the question show up in some lists for people that are active in the particular tag(s). However, I think things like that have been discussed before, and not really come to a conclusion. I myself can't think of a good way to accomplish this.

But I also don't want to leave this question rotting there. So how would you handle this and similar cases?


4 Answers 4


I will generally upvote any answer if it is well written, even if I don't have a lot of knowledge of the problem domain.

So what does "well written" mean? I may not know Obj-C, but I know when ...

  • someone has put together a well-formatted answer
  • someone can write in a clear and direct manner
  • someone has spent a non-trivial amount of time trying to help someone else

Also, this is why the Reversal badge exists!


You did the only thing that could possibly help: you edit the question such that it no longer deserved the down-votes.

IMHO, the system is working as it should: the problem wasn't the down-votes, it was the crappy question. Even without the down-votes, the chances of someone with a similar problem actually finding the existing question would have been terrible due to the lousy title and lack of tags. Down voting in this case served to de-emphasize what was essentially clutter.

This is an excellent example of why editing is so critical to Stack Overflow... Thanks to your help, a lousy question (and a possibly-wasted answer) have been replaced by a decent one. Treat yourself to a nice big plate of waffles - you deserve it!

  • You're giving credit to the wrong person. The only thing I did was removing the "please email the solution to..." part. That's my point: I didn't feel comfortable with editing a question concerning a topic I don't know at all.
    – balpha Staff
    Aug 23, 2009 at 18:16
  • @balpha: you're just trying to weasel out of a delicious plate of maple syrup-soaked waffles. Don't be so hard on yourself. Just share some waffles with Eric...
    – Shog9
    Aug 23, 2009 at 18:25
  • No waffles... But my girlfriend is just taking the muffins out of the oven. Wait a minute, why are we talking about food here?
    – balpha Staff
    Aug 23, 2009 at 18:26
  • That's what happens when i post during breakfast... Mmm... muffins! goes back to peach pancakes
    – Shog9
    Aug 23, 2009 at 18:29

I think people are too often to downvote and vote to close, particularly in the case of questions from newbies. There's been various discussion topics about being nice to the newbies.

In this case the answerer can't edit the question. If they could that would be the best approach because the answerer in your example answer clearly knows what is meant and should be capable of articulating a better title.

I just shake my head at those 4 downvotes to that question. Honestly theres no need for it. It's a real question with a bad title but titles are only one edit away from being fixed.

  • @cletus: Was editing said question when you wrote this, so +1 to you for inadvertently advocating my rogue actions.
    – Eric
    Aug 23, 2009 at 10:43
  • @Eric: You mean you didn't ask the OP for permission to edit? goes to call a moderator
    – balpha Staff
    Aug 23, 2009 at 10:47

Think twice, if the question is really bad.

Particularly on meta sites, it is quite common, that our wonderful community thinks, downvote to the question means "no". It seems, a large part of the voters simply can't understand the difference between these:

  1. "it is a bad question" (means downvote to the question)
  2. "good to make it clear: the answer to this question is NO" (should mean upvote to the question, and up/downs to the corresponding answers)

Many of our most wonderful question-downvoters wants to say (2) with his vote, but he votes as (1). On this reason, most highly downvoted questions are not bad, particularly the ones coming in pair with a highly upvoted "NO" answer.

It is particularly evil if they only want to punish the OP for asking it.

They will now downvote this answer.

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