Note: Here, when I say question, I typically mean support and discussion questions. Though this marginally can apply to feature request and bug reports as well.

So, I recently spent a good chunk of time writing this question: Pros/Cons lists comparing two methods/technologies/etc. Constructive or not?

I tried to make it the ideal "is this appropriate" question. I put forth existing questions and blog posts about what I thought was a similar, but not quite the same topic. I then put my arguments in for why these existing stances maybe don't make sense for this behavior. I was expecting for it to be a rather well accepted question(ie, get upvoted), but most likely with an answer saying "no it isn't appropriate for these reasons ...".

I got good answers for why it's inappropriate, but for even mentioning the subject, instant 10 downvotes and 4 (probably) sympathy upvotes. I don't care about reputation, and I know votes on meta have traditionally been different, as mentioned in the FAQ as well. However, I've stopped coming to meta because no matter how much you say "votes don't matter", it does bug me when I spend a lot of time building a good quality question only for it to get downvoted into oblivion.

I can really see why people rage-quit from meta now. No matter in how bold of font you say votes don't matter on meta, people still feel bad when their perfect quality question gets downvoted.

Why can't we (somehow) change it so that downvoted questions/requests mean "bad quality" and not "unpopular"? And then to show disagreement, upvote(or downvote) an answer that says "no this won't work because of X".

This isn't a technical problem, it's the mindset of the community. However, I think we scare off a great number of people because it's traditional for a users first post to be "why was my question closed" only to be followed by 20 downvotes of "disagreement that it should be reopened".

I have no idea how to solve this, but I do think it's a problem. And admitting that it's a problem is a big step toward a solution :)

References for "downvote for disagreement" just from my recent questions:

Why is this question closed as "not constructive"? -7

Why was this question on unit test generation closed as not constructive? -4(read the comments for some interesting discussion about this issue.. and also, this one before Shog9's edit, probably deserved some of the downvotes)

Pros/Cons lists comparing two methods/technologies/etc. Constructive or not? -6

(also, if you disagree it's a problem make sure to follow convention and downvote into oblivion)

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    Why can't we (somehow) change it so that downvoted questions/requests mean "bad quality" and not "unpopular"? Then how would we give our input on questions/answers? You are supposed to downvote when you disagree on meta. – ɥʇǝS Feb 27 '13 at 4:11
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    So you know the Meta votes are different, say you don't mind the rep, but still get upset about the voting? – Bart Feb 27 '13 at 4:13
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    @Bart Who doesn't get upset, at least a little, when their question/answers gets mega downvotes, no matter how much they know it doesn't matter? – ɥʇǝS Feb 27 '13 at 4:14
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    @Bart it's a psychological thing I think. I've come to associate downvoted questions with bad/poor quality questions, not necessarily unpopular ones. Probably because I don't post things on meta as much as I once did so my mind adjusted to the "regular" stackexchange mindset of downvote=bad quality – Earlz Feb 27 '13 at 4:15
  • @Seth I can't imagine I would, knowing full well how the system works, which is explained clearly in the FAQ (meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#vote-differences). I would perhaps not appreciate the disagreement, but that's another matter. – Bart Feb 27 '13 at 4:16
  • @Earlz I don't think "downvote == unpopular" on meta, per se. More of "disagreement". – ɥʇǝS Feb 27 '13 at 4:16
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    @Earlz Then it's really a matter of adjusting you mindset when you post here. You win some, you lose some. Perhaps it's the simultaneous loss of rep (unique to this Meta) that makes it seem more harsh than it really is. (Especially to users new to Meta who often don't read the FAQ) Without any rep loss perhaps the message would be perceived to be less severe. – Bart Feb 27 '13 at 4:20
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    @Bart I don't think the rep loss really matters though. Most people don't care. I think it's a symptom of shoe-horning a very subjective set of topics into something that's designed for questions that aren't subjective. You can see this right now. Hover over the downvote button. You get "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful". Not "I disagree with the topics discussed in this question" – Earlz Feb 27 '13 at 4:24
  • @Earlz Adjusting that message has been discussed before. Problem is that both vote meanings hold on Meta. I often do downvote Meta questions because they are not useful or don't show research effort. And I downvote every now and then in disagreement. It's perhaps a slightly peculiar system and not ideal, but I don't see it as particularly abrasive. – Bart Feb 27 '13 at 4:27
  • @Earlz Oooh, good catch. That help text needs to be changed for meta. – ɥʇǝS Feb 27 '13 at 4:27
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    Because we've heard it all before. You knew we heard it before, both with your last question and this question. Because most of those questions (this question) are just rants we're sick of reading every day. Honestly if you know these things have been discussed to gruesome death on Meta and you still ask them you shouldn't be surprised there's a negative reaction--not that there was. You got an extremely level reaction and downvotes indicating "no, that's not okay". And you know that. You say it right in your post. – Ben Brocka Feb 27 '13 at 4:29
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    Votes aren't different on Meta. They're just freely used because posts stick around long enough for more of the gallery to throw their bones on – random Feb 27 '13 at 4:31
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    And now you've tactically edited your title to make it sound more agreeable, which is lovely. I'm not having this discussion again. – Ben Brocka Feb 27 '13 at 4:31
  • @random I trust you'll update the FAQ to reflect this? – Bart Feb 27 '13 at 4:32
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    It's not about unpopular but good questions. It's about an endless torrent of "why was my question closed" and "I disagree with this rule". It's completely disingenuous to assume "unpopular but good" is the relevant category here – Ben Brocka Feb 27 '13 at 4:36

It is an existing problem that people downvote Discussion, Support & Bug questions. Some may deserve to be downvoted because of how they are written (or maybe bad in the case of Bug reports), but I see no reason to downvote reasonable Discussion questions.

Feature Requests are the ones that are downvoted to mean you don't disagree.

I'd say you have to be careful to make the question very discussiony and less feature-requesty, but in general there is a problem on Meta with carefree downvoters on Discussion questions.

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    "Huge problem" might not be my choice of words, but often (especially with support requests) some of the downvoting is rather pointless. – Bart Feb 27 '13 at 4:33
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    @Bart, yeh, I hate it when people downvote support questions in the only support forum we have for users. – Lance Roberts Feb 27 '13 at 4:34
  • Did you meant to say you disagree? I have to agree with you that it does not make sense to downvote support questions. – user213400 Feb 27 '13 at 5:04
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    People getting downvoted for discussion questions seems to me to be almost invariably because the OP disclosed their opinion on the discussion topic (which side they're on) in the question, and voters are voting on whether they agree with that opinion or not. If you wanna have a discussion, it may be better to leave your opinion in an answer, and keep the question neutral. – Josh Darnell Feb 27 '13 at 5:42
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    And I know some guy that got massive downvotes on meta he's not allowed to ask questions anymore :( – user4234 Apr 21 '13 at 12:21

The way to fix it is to change the community entirely, swap them out wholesale. When you're advocating for the existence, resurrection or for kid gloves on questions and question types they don't want to dilute the well, you're always going to have a hard time.

The rejection of such questions is what they want and any perceived attack on the ability to maintain the signal to noise will suffer.

There is no difference behind how votes work on a meta. The only major shift is that questions linger a whole lot longer on the front page (no matter the sort view) and because of that, attract a lot more chances of being read and voted on.

This also increases the "I'm tired of seeing this discussion come up again" feeling inside users who take the time out of creating image macros and quoting the manual to throw their one-click judgement.

"Not useful" is one of the suggested reasons you can downvote a post. If someone doesn't think trudging through whatever aspect is a useful sport of time, down we go.

Also keep in mind that a lengthy post is often seen as taking the scenic route, especially when the summary or call to action is waiting all the way at the bottom.

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