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I recently posted a question about the usage of goto in Java. I, now, understand that it was not fit of SO's Q&A and therefore, should have been closed and downvoted to indicate that it was not fit but, is it really necessary for everyone to pile on? I'm fairly certain that the OP would understand that their question is not fit when they recieve 1-2 downvotes plus closure and that to within seconds. But is really necessary for the downvote count to exceed 1-2 or even 3? When it is quite evident that the question is not fit?

Possible Solution (REDACTED)

I would like to propose a possible solution to the problem of downvote piliing when it clear from the amount of downvotes (>=-5) that the question is bad. Why not have the system automatically close and delete the question to avoid further abuse? (Sorry if the feature already exists, I am not aware of it.)

EDIT:

I was not aware before that I could edit my post while the post had been closed, therefore, I will retract my previous solution but do you not think there should be some buffer between closure and deletion or some message or something that tells the OP that they can still improve their post?

EDIT 2:

The "issue" has been resolved.

marked as duplicate by djechlin, LittleBobbyTables, Aaron Bertrand, Frédéric Hamidi, Bart May 15 '13 at 18:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 16
    Look at it the other way around, is upvote piling really necessary? – adrianp May 15 '13 at 18:02
  • @adrianp I am not arguing the opposite (edit: I am also that not stating the upvote piling necessary, I have not asked for that). I am simply asking whether this kind of behaviour is valid or not? Would it not just make sense to downvote once, twice, three times to indicate that the question is not fit + closure? What's the reason for the mass downvotes? – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:05
  • @gekkostate: What exactly would be not "valid" about it? We vote for our own reasons. Some people vote or don't vote based on the number of votes a question has, and some don't. – Nicol Bolas May 15 '13 at 18:08
  • 4
    @gekkostate The OP is free to close the question after 1 or 2 downvotes; I see downvote piling as a penalty for insisting on asking a low-quality question. – adrianp May 15 '13 at 18:08
  • 10
    @gekkostate: You need to understand that this is just several people each expressing their displeasure with the question. It's not one person voting multiple times, it's several independent people. Why should each one of them not express their opinion on it? – Jon Skeet May 15 '13 at 18:08
  • 2
    @JonSkeet: Because the collective opinion seems pretty well established after -5 votes? – Nicol Bolas May 15 '13 at 18:09
  • @JonSkeet I will admit that it my mistake to keep it around and I should have deleted it after I realized it was a bad question. However, if everyone has the same opinion and it has already been expressed by two to three invidividuals then I don't think it makes logical sense for ten more to say the same thing. – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:09
  • 4
    @gekkostate, it is deleted now, so the associated downvotes are a thing of the past. Regarding your last comment, some of us do refrain from downvoting after a certain threshold is reached, but others do not, especially when the question demonstrates its author did not bother reading the FAQ. I don't think there should be an enforced consensus about that, everybody should use their votes as they see fit. – Frédéric Hamidi May 15 '13 at 18:14
  • 1
    @FrédéricHamidi I have posted a decent amount of questions on SO and I thought I knew the FAQ but evidently not as well as I thought and while I agree that everyone has the right to downvote/upvote as they please, should there not be some feature or something that stops it from going overboard. Let's say that the post recieves -2 for bad question and another two for not reading the FAQ then I think the "punishment" has been established and there is no need to go further. – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:16
  • 2
    @gekkostate, "overboard" is relative, and downvotes are not cast to punish you, but to express there is something wrong with your question. When you see many downvotes stacking up, it only means there is something really wrong with your question. In this situation, you should edit it or, if you cannot, delete it. There is a reason the Peer Pressure badge exists. – Frédéric Hamidi May 15 '13 at 18:22
  • 1
    Re: your edit, no, that is what the FAQ is for. – Aaron Bertrand May 15 '13 at 18:30
  • 1
    @gekkostate Regarding your update: several of the close messages explicitly indicate that editing is an option. This is the case for the off-topic, not constructive and not a real question closures. – Bart May 15 '13 at 18:30
  • Also, before you get too angry about this question, voting is (usually) different on meta (covered in the FAQ here, of course). – Aaron Bertrand May 15 '13 at 18:40
  • 1
    @AaronBertrand Please, don't think I am angry about my question (and I am aware of the meta voting, it simply means that people don't agree with me which is fine). It may have come off that I was irriated (when I posted this question) but this was a learning experience, no doubt and I will make use of what I have learned here. Thanks for clearing everything up. – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:43
12

No, I disagree with your proposed solution. What is the point of putting a limit? Should this apply to answers too? What if there are two bad answers, and one of them is really, really bad? After 5 people have down-voted both, no other votes can demonstrate to readers that one of them was a lot worse?

In addition, the number of down-votes shouldn't really matter. Once you have established your "punishment" and realized that the question was not a fit for the site (if that is the case), you should delete it, and then the punishment is gone. It doesn't matter if 2 people or 200 people down-voted it in the meantime, in either case you're probably unlikely to ask another, similarly bad question. If the down-votes help alert you to the fact that the question needs improvement, then you always have the ability to edit a closed/deleted question and then petition to get it reinstated.

And as one of the comments suggested, consider the reverse: once 5 up-votes have established that a question is good, what value would additional up-votes add?

  • That is a good point, no doubt but I think with questions and answers it is a little different. By upvoting a question numerous times, you are showing that the community thinks the question is a good question (the more the vote count the better the question). Furthermore, I think, by upvoting lots and lots you are showing that question is also well formatted. If one answer is worse than the other once the limit has been reached, why isn't it just deleted? Why keep it around for people to say "hey look, that's a bad answer"? – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:19
  • RE Edit: If it has been established by the community that it is a bad question after, say, -5 votes then why doesn't the system get rid of it? – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:21
  • 2
    And the more the down-vote count, the worse the question. I don't understand why you think down-votes (-2 rep) outweigh up-votes (+5 rep)? I also don't think that proposal to automatically delete a post at a certain number of down-votes makes much sense either. If I post a question and it gets a bunch of down-votes, the desired behavior is for me to have the opportunity to improve the post, not to pull the rug out from under me. – Aaron Bertrand May 15 '13 at 18:22
  • @gekkostate Without any answers that will happen automatically at some point. – Bart May 15 '13 at 18:23
  • If the point of the downvotes is also to give me a chance to improve my post, how does it make sense that within the seconds the post is closed? Where is my chance to improve my post when it has already been closed within seconds? – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:23
  • @gekkostate Posts can still be edited when closed. They can be reopened. – Bart May 15 '13 at 18:24
  • @gekkostate no one is keeping you from editing your question after it has been closed; editing automatically puts the question in the reopen queue. That's also not an argument really related to downvoting, is it? – Pëkka May 15 '13 at 18:24
  • You can improve a closed question and then try to have it re-opened. Also note that down-voting and closing are two independent actions (even though many users use them together). Down-voting is supposed to be about quality / usefulness while closure is supposed to be about whether the post belongs on the site at all (maybe it's a duplicate, maybe it's off-topic, or maybe it's not a good fit). – Aaron Bertrand May 15 '13 at 18:26
  • @Bart and Pekka, it is clear discouragement from the perspective of the OP. I was not aware that I could edit posts after closure (ignorance on my part) but soon after, the post is being voted to delete. – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:26
  • @gekkostate so that seems like another failure to read the FAQ. :-) – Aaron Bertrand May 15 '13 at 18:26
  • @gekkostate If it's truly terrible, yes. But weren't you arguing that the system should delete it anyway? – Bart May 15 '13 at 18:26
  • @Bart I was arguing that when I didn't know that I could edit posts while being closed. I wish to redact that solution. – Jeel Shah May 15 '13 at 18:27
  • @gekkostate No, you said "after, say, -5 votes then why doesn't the system get rid of it?" and now you seem to say, but they vote to delete it, giving me no chance. Seems contradictory. But even deleted questions can be undeleted. – Bart May 15 '13 at 18:29
  • @gekkostate The OP is alerted. Please check the FAQ. It lists all the closure messages and 3 or those explicitly state that improvement/editing is the advised course of action. And there usually is plenty of time between closure and deletion, except for the most terrible of cases. There was a discussion on premature deletion here on Meta some time ago. Perhaps search for that. I am unaware what happened since then. – Bart May 15 '13 at 18:35
  • @gekkostate you have a point in that the close messages don't point out the editing aspect clearly enough. That problem is being currently worked on. See e.g. Help us make "Off-Topic" close reasons clearer to the OP – Pëkka May 15 '13 at 18:42
3

Voters are free to do whatever they wish with their votes, except:

  1. Serial voting, which means following a user's account and voting several of their posts in succession, and

  2. Sock voting, which means using a duplicate account to vote on your own posts.

Vote score is part of the metric by which we apply automated bans on folks who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to post productive questions. The only way this works is if each individual person is free to express their opinion with their votes. That's one of the reasons we removed the 1 rep cost of downvoting a question.

  • And why do we keep it on answers? – Undo May 15 '13 at 18:22
  • 2
    Because people never had a problem downvoting bad answers, even with the 1 rep cost. – Robert Harvey May 15 '13 at 18:23
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    @Undo And because users might "promote" their own answers by downvoting others. – adrianp May 15 '13 at 18:24
  • @adr But... But... It keeps me from promoting my answer by downvoting others!!! – Undo May 15 '13 at 18:24
  • 2
    Mission accomplished. – Robert Harvey May 15 '13 at 18:25
  • It is kind of funny, though, to see a question that is positively voted with three answers, each -2. I wonder what happened there... – Undo May 15 '13 at 18:26
  • @Undo Where can I see such a wondrous thing? – Daniel Fischer May 15 '13 at 18:28
  • @TinSoldiersAndNixonsComin' I was caught in the middle of just such a war once - I promise I didn't downvote anyone, but all the answers (3 of them) had -2. I pulled my answer out of that fight... – Undo May 15 '13 at 18:29
  • 1
    @Undo OP downvoted all answers, answerers downvoted each other :)) – adrianp May 15 '13 at 18:30
  • @Undo I do believe you, yet I'd like to see with mine own eyes (could even be that all the answers did deserve to be downvoted). – Daniel Fischer May 15 '13 at 18:31
  • @TinSoldiersAndNixonsComin' Yes, I'm looking for it. – Undo May 15 '13 at 18:32
  • @TinSoldiersAndNixonsComin' Nope, couldn't find it. Looked through my entire comment history for it, but nope... Could have got deleted - us poor <10k users are kind of left in the dark when that happens. – Undo May 15 '13 at 18:38
  • 2
    @Undo Pity. Thanks for looking, though. (And we 10K users don't see our comments on deleted posts in our profile either.) – Daniel Fischer May 15 '13 at 18:41
3

Yes. Per my answer this:

  • draws attention to delete questions and making it easier to delete
  • is factored into user ban algos (we assume)

Further expressed in comments to your question:

  • if the user asks a really poor quality question, their rep should take that hit
  • additional downvotes encourage self-deletion
  • different voters each have the right to express their opinion, even if they show up later

And there's no problem to solve in trying to limit it. Once we start arguing about whether to draw the line at -5 or -10 or -20 it will be apparent that there's no benefit to drawing a line at all.

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