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Downvoting legitimate questions on Meta because one disagrees with the question's premise has become a bit of a problem.

  1. Question bans on users asking legitimate questions are a real possibility.
  2. Discussion can be suppressed. Heavily downvoted questions fall off the front page, and no longer have any visibility.

If you disagree with the question or its premise, why not:

  1. Vote on the question based on its clarity and usefulness. That's how we do it on every other SE site.
  2. Express your disagreement in an answer explaining why you disagree, and allow your opinion to be voted/vetted by the community on its own merit.

You can still vote down questions that:

  1. Do not demonstrate minimal research effort (close as duplicate of FAQ questions), or
  2. Are merely rants, or otherwise not constructive.

Feature requests are an exception. Note recent change in Help Center verbiage:

Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta invites the community to discuss, debate and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software itself works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself.

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    Also, if there's already an answer voicing disagreement, you could show your disagreement by upvoting that. – StephenTG Aug 19 '13 at 17:20
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    I downvoted this question because I disagree with it! Wait, what? – Madara Uchiha Aug 19 '13 at 17:21
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    Well, I upvoted because I agree. Wait, what? – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 17:24
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    I'd just like to point out that there tend to be a lot of cases where people say that a question is downvoted because of "disagreement" when that's often not the case. – Servy Aug 19 '13 at 17:24
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    This would be a lot easier if there were some kind of automated or pro-forma path to indicate disagreement. – KatieK Aug 19 '13 at 17:24
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    I vote: radical change This question changes too much in the original meta spirit; the original meaning or intent of the site would be lost. :-) – Mat Aug 19 '13 at 17:26
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    Sooo... this question should not have 42 downvotes, but instead should have 1-42 answers, depending on the downvoters who feel like answering? – LittleBobbyTables Aug 19 '13 at 17:27
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    @LBT it should have one answer with 41 upvote – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 17:28
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    @LBT: That question is not making an assertion, so there's nothing to disagree with. – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '13 at 17:28
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    @RobertHarvey You might want to add that recently the help center has been updated in this regard. I.e. reserve your disagreement downvotes for feature requests. meta.stackoverflow.com/help/whats-meta – Bart Aug 19 '13 at 17:41
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    @ColeJohnson: Those are both feature requests. – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '13 at 17:48
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    @ColeJohnson: I'm not going to review the backstory, but it's an unfortunate fact that, without specific examples, the justification for feature requests can often be too vague, and providing examples often focuses the community on those specific examples, and not the broader feature requests. – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '13 at 17:53
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    There's also a problem that springs from this: the "downvote for disagreement with discussion" often tempts me, and I'm sure others, towards casting a "sympathy" or -- more accurately -- "why the fsck is this downvoted so much, it should be on the front page right now" vote on [discussion]s, which is not how votes should be used. It's a nasty choice between watching debate be inhibited (even on topics where I'm in strong disagreement with the OP, I don't want that) and using my votes dishonestly. – Josh Caswell Aug 19 '13 at 18:37
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    What happens to discussion questions implicitly carrying feature-requests? – asheeshr Aug 20 '13 at 16:25
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    The problem here is that the Stack Exchange Q&A format is ill-suited to discussion-type posts such as those found on Meta. I've always found it deeply ironic that we jump on people treating SO like a discussion forum, but try to shoe-horn SO into being a discussion forum and issue voting platform with the Meta offering. – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 21 '13 at 10:57

10 Answers 10

69

Introduction: the curse of free will

This is a good idea... For those rare discussions that actually lend themselves to it. In my experience, many - if not most - do not. To pull this off, you have to be able to present a topic for discussion in a way that doesn't immediately come off as leading - if folks think you're pushing an agenda or arguing for a specific change, they'll vote on the implied opinion. Folks around here aren't that dumb - they won't let a tag below a question override the intent conveyed above it.

Ultimately, the success of this strategy depends on the skill of the folks asking the questions... Not those answering them, and certainly not on those voting. That said, there are ways to turn an unpopular discussion - or a support-request, or even a feature-request... Should you wish to do so.

The problems facing constructive discussion on Meta Stack Exchange

(In which I dispute the premise of this discussion)

Down-votes are probably the last thing someone trying to start a discussion should be concerned about here. I get down-voted fairly often; it stings a bit. "Oh no!" I think to myself, "Someone on The Internet doesn't like me!" But that small bruise to my ego pales in comparison to an actual answer tearing apart my arguments and explaining in gratuitous detail why everything I thought I knew is laughably wrong. You wanna really get under someone's skin? Make them look foolish in front of a bunch of other folks. This is where "answer, don't down-vote" falls apart: instead of quietly burying an unpopular discussion, now you're harpooning it.

In this light, the side-effects of heavy down-voting that folks so often fret about become small mercies: a question dropping off the front page after 8 down-votes becomes less of a target for pile-on derision, while a quality-banned user can still retain most privileges here, save for that of posting questions. We did look into disabling q-banning here entirely a while back, with the idea that mods could just suspend folks who were disruptive enough to warrant it - but it turns out, some folks can get along just fine posting answers or comments, they just can't seem to start a constructive discussion. Beyond that, the number of folks to ever encounter the q-ban here is very small, and more of a boogieman than a legitimate threat.

The real problem with voting: support questions

As Kate noted elsewhere, we changed the help page describing meta voting because it didn't accurately reflect reality. For the most part, folks already vote on discussion questions just as they would on any other site - which is to say, they up-vote opinions they agree with, and down-vote opinions they disagree with. Hey, this is why we discourage discussion questions on other sites!

But Meta serves multiple purposes, and there are actual questions here: support questions concern the operation of the site itself, and generally resemble questions you might find anywhere else on the network. So it was disappointing to see some apparent wagging of the dog happening with the voting guidance, as folks openly claimed to be down-voting based on Meta's "special voting rules". I'm hoping that the change at least reduces confusion, and eventually encourages folks to just vote on questions here as they would on questions anywhere else.

Encouraging constructive discussion, even when the question doesn't

I want to close this by noting that it is possible to salvage a discussion that's off to a bad start by posting a supportive, well-reasoned answer, just as it's possible to "harpoon" a poorly-constructed discussion with a harsh, critical answer. You have to really want to do this though - if you strongly disagree with the premise, you're probably not gonna pull it off. That said, here are a few tips for doing so that I've picked up over the years:

  1. Ignore the personality of the asker, especially if it is repulsive. Not naming any names here, but some folks can make an idea unpopular just by how they present themselves. Hold your nose and get past it.

  2. Take the best possible interpretation of the topic, even if it isn't exactly clear that's what the asker wanted. Maybe the asker is trolling, maybe he's just upset and venting, but either way "nazi mods and their evil voting fascism" isn't gonna win too many people over - so let's assume he meant "Well-meaning but inexperienced users may vote out of ignorance thus skewing post scores" and run with that. This is where you capture whatever idea caught your eye in the first place.

  3. Re-state the premise - as you understand it - followed by your argument. Prefixing this with something like, "By gum, old chappie - I do believe you've really made a quite brilliant observation here, but since some folks seem to have badly misinterpreted it please confirm I've got this right" can't hurt either.

    Alternately, skip answering entirely and just re-write the damn question from scratch, editing the original to resemble something that a sane, not-mad-at-the-world person might write after careful research. This has the down-side of not giving you precious meta EXP, but the upside of driving folks who did just want to rant a ready excuse to rage-quit while ranting about overzealous editors.

Finally, remember: MSE is SE's Washington, DC. It's convenient being this close to the center of power, but sometimes it kinda sucks having a gimped local government. Eventually, we'll fix that - and fix the support and q-ban concerns with it.

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    As a profound opponent of any attempts to issue top-down orders to change the established voting practices on Meta, I must say that the portion of this answer that really resonates with me is where you mention that people are really voting on questions here just like they are on other sites. The only difference is, we allow more open-ended, discussion-based, opinion questions on Meta. That's exactly right. It isn't that voting is different on Meta, it is that Meta is different. If people asked these same types of questions on other sites, I'd vote accordingly. – Cody Gray Aug 21 '13 at 8:56
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    It's actually somewhat gratifying that folks miss this point now, @Cody - when Meta first launched, it was still fairly commonplace to find subjective discussions on Stack Overflow, and naturally the voting played out there just as it does here. It's still possible to find some of the old discussions surrounding voting on the main site that mirror this one - and of course, they went nowhere, because the nature of the questions themselves discouraged any other behavior. – Shog9 Aug 22 '13 at 19:59
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    FWIW, I very much prefer a detailed response taking apart any argument I put forward. I can learn something from that and I can respond to any points raised. A downvote, on the other hand, provides no information whatsoever. It's cowardly and destructive. It's the social equivalent of anonymously throwing a rock through someone's window. – Peter Alfvin Nov 27 '13 at 8:24
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Thank you for posting what I have been thinking of posting for weeks but have not for fear of being downvoted into oblivion (seriously). This would be a culture shift, but I have thought about this for some time, trying to make a strong case for it, and here is how I would suggest it should work:

As a trial, and since feature requests seem the most prone to problems, this is for feature requests. (Maybe it need only ever be for feature requests, but having different voting methods for different question types would certainly be confusing.)

A good starting point would be to start phrasing questions as questions, to exercise the normal SE instinct people have. That is, to only downvote questions if they show no research effort, are unclear, or are not useful. A feature request could be presented as a question outlining the problem and an answer with the actual feature request in it. The question could be of the form "What can we do to deal with [perceived problem]?" (or just "Dealing with [perceived problem]?"). This could be a good way to short-circuit the learned behaviour behind "voting on meta is different". ("Hey, this question is not a feature request. It's just a concern. I don't like the proposed feature request in the answer, though, so I will downvote that.")

That's just an implementation detail (though a big one). Here would be some reasons to implement voting on answers instead of questions, though, no matter how it ends up being done:

  • An advantage of this is that other feature requests that would same the same problem in the question. Alternate solutions to the problems inherent in feature requests are not captured especially efficiently in the present system.

  • Another advantage of this is that the questioner would have to think a little harder about what exactly the underlying problem is. This should cut down on proposals with little backing them up, but the main advantage would probably be the first one again: generating a wider array of possible solutions.

  • Of course, we would probably chase away fewer new users of Meta (and have to deal with less complaining and explaining that "voting is different") due to perception of established Meta users be mean. Voting need not be different.
  • What I would consider the main advantage of the new system would be adding information. We could distinguish between voting on the problem and the proposed solution. It seems to happen very often that good problems get dragged down by poor proposed solutions, when really those problems should be addressed.

Downvoting could be made free, by the way, for answers, in order to keep those free-flowing. Of course, we could also use this opportunity to get away from MSO being so downvote-happy and instead have dissenters propose and vote up competing answers, which could be made up of other feature requests, other ways of addressing the problem, and potentially an answer describing how the problem is not really a problem (if some people think nothing should be done about it). Inviting a 'negative' (no action) answer for questions about problems (instead of downvotes on what might be decent suggestions) would be nearly equivalent to allowing everyone to see upvote and downvote counts on issues where it would be good to give more visibility to community opinions of proposals. (A downvote on an answer can get lost in the noise if the majority does the opposite, but an upvote on the opposite answer is more noticeable and informative.)

There are some drawbacks to speak of, but I think they are fairly small:

  • For some problems that really only admit of one solution (true single feature requests), it might look strange to fit it into the mold I am talking about. I think this is small price to pay for the advantages above, though, and of course some of the strangeness would fade with time.

  • I anticipate that finding feature requests and sorting them by popularity would become a bit more difficult since they would no longer appear in question titles and be packed together with their associated problems, but again I think the pros would outweigh the cons. Implementing a new, dedicated kind of search by feature request answer vote could actually be done to overcome the searchability problem. In the end, though, it may be that MSO fares better with answers being be answers regardless of searchability issues. (Stack Overflow might be a bit easier to navigate if the questions and answers were all lumped into the questions (and sometimes even the question titles), but that does not mean it would be a better site.)

  • So this would be based on the presence of the tag on the question? – Asad Saeeduddin Aug 19 '13 at 17:43
  • You can phrase a feature request as a question, but it's inevitably a yes or no question (should we do this?) with voters upvoting for "yes," downvoting for "no. – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '13 at 17:50
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    What's stopping a user from doing this now? We have the instant self-answer capabilities. Why can't a user separate their question and answer, identifying the problem in the question and suggesting their solution in the answer? In fact, I'd much prefer people do this, so they'd stop having that horribly lame excuse of "well that question is suggesting a feature that's slightly different from mine" even though the questions identify the same problem. It just happens to have a solution included in the question too. – animuson Aug 19 '13 at 17:51
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    @animuson: Problem is purely educational. If we start actually doing and encouraging it, it would become norm. – Madara Uchiha Aug 19 '13 at 18:06
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    @animuson That is a good question. It does have an answer, though, at least for me: Again, fear of a downvote-stomping. I was already exposing myself to (legitimate) downvoting by proposing anything. For widest acceptance I felt pressure to be as conservative as possible in how I presented my proposals. I wanted to do it the way you suggest, but it was not worth the risk. I might get downvoted for posting a question and an answer, which some people might think is upvote-fishing or just being a know-it-all. if we want people to do it, we need to remove the risk by making it the norm. – A.M. Aug 19 '13 at 18:08
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    More specifically, most of the highly-voted answers on Meta come from the people who can actually make things (like feature requests) happen, so I figured some people might downvote any answer posted by anyone without that kind of say. (Actually, if the feature request is in the question (as they are now), really the only thing left to say is "Yes, we'll implement it (or we have implemented it)." or "No, we won't implement it.". ...so reactionary downvoting of non-authoritative answers actually has some basis.) – A.M. Aug 19 '13 at 18:14
  • @A.M. Hopefully with a change like this, the answers would all be possible solutions, and the accepted answer would then become the one that was actually implemented (assuming the OP came back and accepted it). An excellent example of this would be this question (minus all the "I Agree" crap that doesn't actually suggest anything, which I hope a move like this would give me the go-ahead to delete silly answers like that). – animuson Aug 19 '13 at 18:17
  • That sounds good. The "accepted answer" construct is a bit strange for something that might be better off being more democratic, so co-opting it as more visible and easily searchable echo of 'status-completed' sounds like a good use of it. – A.M. Aug 19 '13 at 18:21
  • @A.M. Generally we encourage users to only accept answers on feature requests and bugs once it has been completed, or there is an answer that discounts the bug or feature request that they agree with (thus closing it in a sense). Accepting something makes it look like it's already been dealt with. – animuson Aug 19 '13 at 18:24
  • @animuson I like that idea. Often you see alternative methods for implementing a feature as answers so why should the OP's answer be up in the question. – psubsee2003 Aug 19 '13 at 18:41
  • +1 I actually just asked about and promoted this specific proposal yesterday in a comment exchange on meta.stackexchange.com/q/193740/216381. It occurs to me also that the separation of the "problem/need" into the question portion as similar to the "In order to" clause used in behavior driven development. – Peter Alfvin Aug 20 '13 at 2:18
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This is a valiant effort, but let me share my thoughts on why this wouldn't catch on so easily:

  • Old habits die hard - Many of the meta folks here are "old dogs", starting a new trend might be difficult at best.
  • People like to downvote - Let's face it, it's fun. Many people have a trigger happy finger when it comes to downvoting in general, and questions specifically.
  • There are no consequences for voting - Reputation isn't negatively affected by downvoting questions. In fact, on any other meta other than this one, there's no reputation change whatsoever, so even if you were uncomfortable with downvoting because you don't want OP's rep to be damaged, that doesn't exist anymore.

So the actions I would take:

  • No automatic question ban on meta - Why the hell does that even exist? If someone is abusive, suspend. If someone goes against the mainstream, we shut him down?
  • Reputation effect when voting on meta - Specifically, negative effects when downvoting questions on meta, just like on main sites on answers. It works well in making people think twice.

That in addition to the effort to re-educate people to not downvote questions they disagree with.

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    You: There are no consequences OP: Question bans on users asking legitimate questions are a real possibility. Me: Which is it? I don't have enough experience to know either way, but I tend to think the latter would be true. – chue x Aug 19 '13 at 17:32
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    @chuex There are no consequences for the person casting a downvote on a question. – Bill the Lizard Aug 19 '13 at 17:33
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    @BilltheLizard - While that's true, what happens to the OP if he gets downvoted a lot for asking well research questions? – chue x Aug 19 '13 at 17:34
  • @chuex I'm thinking about JHawinss right now – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 17:36
  • @chuex The point is that Madara isn't suggesting that there are no consequences for the person asking the question, he's suggesting there are no consequences for the person casting the vote. – Servy Aug 19 '13 at 17:36
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    @chuex He currently gets banned. See this if you happen to disagree with that effect. – Bart Aug 19 '13 at 17:36
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    @chuex It is possible for someone to get question banned on Meta for getting downvoted on questions that people simply disagree with. That was a point from the question. Madara's point in saying "there are no consequences" was only talking about consequences for the downvoter. – Bill the Lizard Aug 19 '13 at 17:38
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    Perhaps I'm an anomaly, but I do not downvote for the fun of it. If the post is well thought out, I may not upvote it if I disagree with it, but downvoting doesn't really make sense to me, either. I'd rather post my thoughts in an answer. – Steve P. Aug 19 '13 at 18:26
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    @SteveP.: Sadly, most people are not like you and me. – Madara Uchiha Aug 19 '13 at 18:28
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    I was going to share my views but am now afraid of downvote-retaliation from the apparently many folks who enjoy this new form of pulling wings off butterflies and swinging cats by their tails. – DocSalvager Aug 22 '13 at 21:05
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Question bans on users asking legitimate questions are a real possibility.

Then the question banning algorithm should be adjusted on meta so that this doesn't happen. (See also Question banning should work differently on Meta)

Discussion can be suppressed. Heavily downvoted questions fall off the front page, and no longer have any visibility.

If that is not desired, then the thresholds when a post stops appearing on the front page should be adjusted accordingly.

It would be much simpler to modify the parameters of the algorithms which cause these problems, than change the whole way voting on meta works.

7

I think part of the problem here is that questions are often incorrectly tagged. How often do you see feature requests tagged as discussion?

Very often I see "discussion questions" of the form:

I'm having problem X, here are several proposed solutions to this problem.

Which can create a downvote magnet for a few reasons:

  1. Is it really a problem that needs to solved to begin with? All too often people will be offended by downvotes, questions being put on-hold, being question/answer banned or a distinct lack of free ponies and ice-cream. While I could do with some free ponies, I understand that it shouldn't be SE's job to provide them. Seriously though, when people come ranting about the sky falling in response to minor misunderstandings it isn't usually received well.

  2. The "several proposed solutions" approach is also frequently problematic. If one of the five proposed solutions is reasonable, but the other four are arrant nonsense, people are more likely to downvote based on the majority of arrant nonsense than upvote the reasonable solution.

  3. Is it a or a , or a about a possible future ? This may seem like semantic quibbling, but I think it has an impact on the way people vote. If it is a feature request that people strongly disagree with, they are very likely to downvote and offer a counterpoint in an answer, if its just a discussion, they may be a little more inclined to talk it out and possibly come up with a better solution.

To more directly address the question, I think we could do a bit more to allow minority opinions and new users to be heard, and perhaps a gradual shift in the voting culture could be a part of that, but I think we could do a bit more to educate new users about the existing culture here on Meta.

Simply giving new users a heads up as to why their questions aren't being well received would be a good start. In cases like I pointed out above perhaps we should be asking for clarification before voting, or offering pointers as to how to ask about perceived problems and mentioning that proposed solutions might be better brought up separately after a consensus is reached about whether the perceived problem is in fact a problem.

Perhaps most importantly this advice offered in How do I participate in Meta and not die trying?

Heavily Consider Not Suggesting Anything If You Are New

  • Although this sounds cruel, elitist, and rude, it is innately true: The higher-reputation users have been around longer than you have and have a better understanding of Meta Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange sites. It takes a little while to get used to Stack Exchange and learn the inner workings and methodologies of why things are the way they are.

    The reason it is very difficult to find anything on Stack Exchange which is trivial or sloppy is that all of the inner workings have carefully been thought through, tested, and polished. In other words, if you have no idea what rocket science is, it makes no sense to walk into NASA and start telling them how things should be.

  • If you still have suggestion(s), that's great! However, the best advice to you is to hold that thought, learn the ropes, eat your waffles, ride your ponies, and then revisit us. You will have a better background and more experience to suggest. Don't suggest anything before thoroughly looking if it was suggested before.
6

There has been a lot of discussion lately about downvotes, or at least that I have encountered from my perusing on meta. Indeed downvotes are a topic which have been discussed at length. Right now the current status quo on MSO seems to be to downvote anything which is not a "good" idea.

As a result of "good" being mostly comprised of opinion and consensus anything which bucks the current trends is usually downvoted.

This is hard on new users, or on those who are not aware of the general consensus on hot topic issues. I have even been informed before that new users will just post off topic questions if they even knew of meta.

That being said, new perspectives are important. Although new users may lack "trust" in the community (low rep / just joined) that does not mean some of them are not experts. While it is important to be vigilant against spam, duplication, trolling, and misguided epiphanies, it is also important to provide an environment which welcomes improvement.

So I would say I agree with @Robert Harvey on these points. These are just my opinions.

  • Feature Requests are an edge case and should not be affected by this discussion.
  • Discussions which raise legitimate issues while being well worded should not be downvoted for the sole reason of disagreeing with the premise.
  • Duplicates, off topic questions, questions which show no research, and questions which do not fit the MSO format are all fair game.
3

Though I laud the attempt I would opine that it's going to be extremely difficult to affect a change in behaviour for the reasons Madara states; namely that this culture exists already. A good start might be being a bit nicer to new users?

Your two points could be easily covered off, without trying to change people's behaviour. As others have mentioned automatic post-bans on meta are ridiculous. There's a large number of mods and I'm sure you're more than capable of banning someone if it becomes necessary.

As to your second point about discussion posts meta already has a different limit. Why not change it again so that posts stay on the front page until -999 (or whatever other score). The discussion doesn't then get stifled.

I'm not sure this does actually happen, Should downvote-without-comment rate remain unpublished? was at -8 within a few minutes but people have continued to vote on it. I suspect the pile-on-effect has taken hold though.

tl;dr

Both the stated reasons for your request don't actually require a culture change but a code change. Why not do this at the beginning as a simple first step?


Another possibility might be to either make it more expensive to downvote questions, cheaper to downvote answers or maybe even reverse the current situation and make it free to downvote answers and cost rep to downvote questions. Not saying this is a good idea but it would help change the emphasis and if translated to certain tags for meta () for instance might make a difference. It's extremely easy to get MSO rep so a few extra downvotes on answers shouldn't make much difference.

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    The idea of changing the rep effect of casting downvotes on Meta is intriguing (although I think there's zero chance it will happen). Given the subject matter of a Meta site, questions -- especially constructive, well-thought-out discussion -- are essentially an equal "unit of work" with answers. – Josh Caswell Aug 19 '13 at 18:49
1

For a basic tl;dr, scroll down to the image in the middle of the answer...

Downvoting legitimate questions on Meta because one disagrees with the question's premise has become a bit of a problem.

Agree totally
From my 2nd/3rd week here having become a bit more familiar with everything I noticed the less-than-ideal double usage of the voting system on Meta.

As the two usages of the voting system are for entirely separate requirements, the votes are almost meaningless as the two are mixed. While sometimes obvious, you cannot always determine if people are voting to agree or disagree with the idea/proposal etc or because they felt the question was bad.

Voting is based on personal opinion/reasons, and even when the voting system is for a more single set of purposes (such as SO), with the personal judgements, "out of bed the wrong side" and "had a great day", one can only summarise to a certain degree of accuracy what and why others have voted.
With Meta votes having two purposes, it's even harder to judge, sometimes not possible.

However, currently it's the only quick and simple means to agree or disagree.

Reasons it wont work

Vote on the question based on its clarity and usefulness, and express your disagreement in an answer and allow your opinion to be voted/vetted by the community on its own merit

This would of course work perfectly, without doubt... if everyone adhered to it, but first they'd have to know about the change, and even then, how many people will actually change?

  • People stuck in their ways can't be bothered to think about something new;
  • They forget about the change;
  • Are stubborn, simply wont be enforced or persuaded to change;
  • Like it the way it is/disagree with the change;
  • Too much work to now have to answer or wait for an answer to voice their opinion;
  • Too much work to read the question and additionally answers to be able to vote based on agree/disagree;

If there is no answer for people to cast their vote on, are they going to return later to see if there's an answer? Or post one themselves? Not everyone answers, but lots of people vote!

Even if there is an answer, the answer content/context may not directly reflect either their agreement or disagreement of the original question. So they still don't vote, or may vote falsely/inaccurately, or again just vote on the question as it's always been.

As you never know who's voted (or why), and in any public community people do all sorts of things for weird and personal reasons, many have no reason to change and can continue the way it is without anyone knowing.
Of course you could promote the change heavily and so only a few vote incorrectly, but still, Meta is unique in that people vote purely on their opinion of a feature-request or suggestion.

So while I like the "vote on answers" idea, it's still not ideal for the aforementioned reasons, and I think as Meta is Meta and agree/disagree is a large part of this site, it should have a specific function to handle what is a good percentage of its purpose.

I know only two well the issues and requirements with a new function/feature, and I can see this one scaring the whatsits offa people here. But if you want to have two separate purposes of voting on meta that works well and people understand and don't have to do much work with, they're simply going to have to be separated.

Suggestion
Have a secondary voting mechanism for questions and answers right under the current one. Both labelled clearly so people know what's what.
Top one: Standard Clarity/etc voting;
Bottom one: Agree/Disagree;

enter image description here

The good thing about this is you can have it on the question and vote on the idea without having to wait for an answer that suits your opinion to vote on.
And when answer do come along you can also vote on them as to whether you agree/disagree.

I'd say agree/disagree votes do not change your rep at all, they're literally just a vote count for the given question and answer. Although I suggest a min rep requirement on Meta of say 500, to stop people voting who don't yet know enough about stack etc.

I don't know the best structure for this obviously, and it should be considered if this would only be on specific tags, or create a new one to handle this "proposal" tag. If you want votes on opinion and agree/disagree use this tag.
(I can feel the site's devs hurtling towards my house now...)

Discussion can be suppressed. Heavily downvoted questions fall off the front page, and no longer have any visibility.

This is another really bad result of the two voting requirements being mixed. With my above proposal, this would no longer be an issue.
The top voting would be as per normal, rubbish/dupe questions would be voted off the page.
Good question would remain, regardless if people strongly agreed or disagreed.

Returning the natural order of things where questions are placed based on question merit.

The new feature provides potential consideration for factoring in both the question "clarity" votes and "agree/disagree" votes somehow for question placement. ie if a question is rubbish and not many agree, it's pushed past those questions which have a few upvotes for well presented etc and a few people agree. If this has the (likely) affect that new questions push the older ones away and lack of visibility causes no more votes, when there may otherwise have been a lot of "agree" votes, then bounties become more useful!

The ban/enforcement algorithms would also come back into play as they have their own vote counts, although still less harsh as other sites/areas.


An idea I had to work in addition with the secondary vote mechanism:
Consider new tab(s) (ie where "newest" "featured" "frequent" etc are).
Perhaps have "feature-request" and/or "discussion" tabs for all questions with tags of the same name.
This would collate all questions which are more about agree/disagree votes, and so factoring in both the question "clarity" votes and "agree/disagree" votes for question placement would be better suited too.

Just a thought..

  • So. votes on my answer are -1 and +1.. for what? One good one poor for presentation, grammar and detail? Or one of you agreed and the other disagreed? Or perhaps a mixture.. someone agreed with the idea, and someone thought my answer was too long and badly worded? So even with the proposal to vote on answers only it still doesn't give a very good idea on "agree" and "disagree" votes. – James Sep 29 '13 at 1:41
-6

I don't feel that automated question bans are the proper course of action. And this answer may be unpopular, but we don't need an ALGORITHM to determine if a user should be allowed to ask questions. This should be a moderated event, and only used in EXTREME cases where someone is abusing the system. I fully support any ridding of the Auto-Ban system, and agree that downvotes should be used carefully.

Perhaps an Auto-Ban if you ABUSE downvoting? Like, perhaps, if your ratio of downvotes to upvotes is excessive, and your total downvotes > 500? That would shake a few leaves...

  • How would you quantify an abuse of downvotes? – StephenTG Aug 19 '13 at 18:09
  • If you have an insane ratio of downvotes to upvotes, and your total downvotes excede, say, 500, you're downvoting too much. – Johnny Bones Aug 19 '13 at 18:10
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    -1 just for the phrase "question bans are dumb." On Stack Overflow, question bans are extremely effective at stopping the most egregious of the wretched question askers. – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '13 at 18:13
  • Or, say, an algorithm that looks at the number of downvotes one specific user uses on another specific user's posts. I have one person in mind who woul dthen get an immediate ban. You see, that's a form of harassment. – Johnny Bones Aug 19 '13 at 18:14
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    Some reading: Can we prevent some of the low-quality questions from entering our system? (Also, the ban is fed by downvotes, hence is a community moderated event.) – Arjan Aug 19 '13 at 18:14
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    As far as one user repeatedly down (or up) voting another is concerned, there are already metrics in place to keep an eye on that sort of thing and reverse it if it gets out of hand. – StephenTG Aug 19 '13 at 18:18
  • OK, I've edited the temperment and wording to express what I feel. I still think auto-banning isn't a good idea, as every case is different and should be assessed individually. – Johnny Bones Aug 19 '13 at 18:21
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    Auto-banning is great. Just not on Meta. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Aug 20 '13 at 2:49
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    @Robert Harvey : Not true at all. was meta.stackexchange.com/questions/185381/… a "Wretched" question? Should it cause a "Brand New User" of SO get question ban? Was this about hacking or heavy abuse or just a suggestion? You are heavily underestimating the volume of disappointment of SO voting system . Try to save SO. – S Nash Aug 22 '13 at 12:07
-9

I think it is wrong for people to downvote or questions since this is the support website, and no question should be discounted.

If because we have too much of the culture of anti-newbieism that we are unable to get people to change behavior, and we can't automate it, then it'd be nice to for mods to clear negative votes on these types of questions. Maybe a flag option for regular users to alert mods to the need.

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    I won't ever touch votes. Once you go down the road of ballot box stuffing, you can never recover the integrity of your voting system. – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '13 at 17:54
  • "I faked the voting results those 20 years back because if you got elected a president, you would have kept being ridiculed."- – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 17:55
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    I would much rather have it be disabled based on tag, but wanted to cover all the bases. – Lance Roberts Aug 19 '13 at 17:55
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    I hardly ever vote on support or bug questions, unless they are terribly unclear or very poorly researched. But I have to say that I don't subscribe to this idea of a "culture of anti-newbieism". – Bart Aug 19 '13 at 17:58
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    @Bart, I like to upvote bug questions, since I want to encourage people to report them. – Lance Roberts Aug 19 '13 at 18:02
  • Ah, that should have read "hardly ever downvote". You are right. Great support questions or bug reports of course deserve upvotes. – Bart Aug 19 '13 at 18:03
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    support/bug questions are commonly enough poorly research or unclear, each of which are appropriate reasons for downvoting the question. There are also a fair number of those questions that are actually feature requests/discussions and just mis-tagged as support/bug. That's pretty much the only time I can think of seeing "disagreement" downvotes on such questions. – Servy Aug 19 '13 at 18:11
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    part of being new is not knowing how to do the research. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and JUST HELP THEM. – Lance Roberts Aug 19 '13 at 18:20
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    @LanceRoberts There is of course a different level of research that can be expected of different users, based on how much they have contributed, how easy the specific content is to find, etc. You are correct that just because the answer exists doesn't mean that the user is capable of finding it. However, there are users that clearly have made no attempt to get an answer to their question, and that should have found an answer with a level of research considered "reasonable" for that person. It is up to the voter to determine what they consider "reasonable" in context. – Servy Aug 19 '13 at 18:23
  • In most cases, sure. In some cases, nah. If your question is (for example) "how can I favorite a question?", then I think it's fair enough to assume they will be able to search for "favorite question". But even in such cases I often just don't vote. Not always though. – Bart Aug 19 '13 at 18:24

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