Right now, certain close reasons carry automatic downvotes.

The original reason for this was largely to enforce specific quality bans in part because people were not down voting questions. Now that question down votes are free on questions and it seems to be pretty commonplace for question quality bans to trigger, even without the automatic votes from closure, and we have completely revamped the closure system. Is it time to reevaluate whether or not these automatic votes are still a good idea?

What benefits do the automatic votes provide and have they effectively run their course?


2 Answers 2


As Brad Larson points out in the other discussion you link, using this for Off Topic closures has become somewhat tricky:

The two close reasons that was applied on before: "Off topic" and "Not a real question" were intended to indicate things that were clearly not suitable for the site. "Too localized" didn't, because many of those questions were decent and appropriate for the site, but too narrow in scope. The off-topic variants now include questions like this, or others that may be OK questions but don't fit here. I'm not sure that downvotes should be applied to those now that they're under the "Off topic" umbrella.

Some OT reasons - on some sites - definitely do imply that a down-vote is warranted, if not several - but this is considerably less true than it was two years ago. And it may be less necessary as well...

Let's face it: this was added for Stack Overflow, which at the time was suffering greatly from an influx of low-quality questions (which hasn't changed) and a seeming unwillingness from the community to use the most obvious form of feedback (voting). A system for blocking low-quality askers had previously been implemented, but without a sufficiently-strong signal (voting) to work off of it wasn't having the desired effect.

This situation has changed fairly dramatically over the past two years. Here's a graph showing the % of closed questions down-voted to a score below 0, as well as that % when excluding the automatic down-votes from Community:

<0-scoring closed questions as a % of all questions closed - 7-30-2013

I think it's safe to say that we don't need the automatic vote to help identify problem users anymore. What's harder to say is whether or not the psychological effect of the automatic vote is still having a positive effect on the folks asking these questions... Or the folks reading them.

Still, I think we can afford to remove it at this point, if only to simplify slightly what has become a fairly complicated system. If the trend shown above reverses itself, we can always add it back...

Update: as of August 5th, Jarrod has removed this - automatic downvotes will no longer occur after the next build.


Since this change was made, question score for closed questions has remained fairly stable at around 70-75%. This seems acceptable.

<0-scoring closed questions as a % of all questions closed - 2-18-2014

  • What changed Dec 2012 onwards? The increased gap between the two seems to have stuck since then.
    – asheeshr
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 1:15
  • Starts in Oct. 2012, with the introduction of review badges and a small but significant bump in NaRQ and OT closures.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 1:21
  • So, I am assuming those badges would have led to a huge increase in the first posts and late answers reviews (primarily) at a time when there was no option to do nothing in a review. Hence, increase in votes being cast per post. What I find a little surprising is that, once "Looks Good" was added, the number of people voting, didn't fall.
    – asheeshr
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 1:35
  • 1
    This explains why we could safely remove the automatic downvote, but it doesn't explain why leaving it in place is a bad idea. I'm rather in favor of it. I don't vote to put questions on hold for these reasons that are not also due a downvote. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 4:40
  • You're right, I didn't @Cody - this was discussed elsewhere but I neglected to bring that context along. I've edited to hopefully remedy this.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 4:51
  • 4
    We should probably use every chance at simplification we can get.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 6:25

I believe it should be reevaluated - it seems mighty unfriendly for that "on hold" question to also have downvotes; IMO it can disincentivize a new poster from bothering to try to refine their question because it seems like they're being dumped on.

  • 6
    Even after voting to close, I'll downvote. So, -1
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 2:21
  • 2
    @ColeJohnson I realize it's been a month since this comment.... You can downvote all you want and I will generally do the same, but what should we compound that with with an automatic downvote when getting closed? Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 22:12
  • @psubsee2003: Jul 30 - Aug 05 < 1 week :)
    – Ry-
    Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 4:16
  • @minitech ok, where the heck is my calendar, it isn't September already :-) Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 8:46

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