I gave this answer to a question. It rapidly attracted a significant number of negative votes and negative comments, to the point where my first reaction was to delete the answer. I could improve it of course, and I did make some effort.

What surprised me is that despite getting so many negatives, I also seem to be getting a number of positives, to the point where my net reputation on this answer is +66. Deleting the answer would be a net loss.

So, what should one do in a case like this? Improve the answer? Answer the detractors? Delete the answer? It largely depends on whether an answer like this is a benefit, on balance. And that's hard for me to assess.

[BTW it would be easier to track what's going on if I could see the votes individually.]

  • 1
    You can see the votes by clicking the score, you got 1000 rep on SO. Mar 20, 2014 at 9:30
  • Just a quick opinion, I'll say, leave it or improve it, but don't delete the answer. Some people found it useful and upvotes your answer. However, I think the question itself is a bit opinion-based. Mar 20, 2014 at 9:32
  • @ShadowWizard: Really? I had no idea. Did I get a congratulatory email that went straight through to my spam folder, or was I supposed to just know?
    – david.pfx
    Mar 20, 2014 at 9:36
  • 1
    @AndrewT.: I thought the question and the accepted answer were quite weak, reflecting a serious lack of insight into the issue. In other circumstances I would put more effort into improving the answer. Having been greyed out it seems hardly worth it. Who's going to notice?
    – david.pfx
    Mar 20, 2014 at 9:38
  • 1
    @david you should have seen a notification in your inbox (not email, just on Stack Exchange sites, in the top bar) telling that you got the privilege Established User. In there, it explains the two powers you get: "view the vote counts on posts" and "expanded usercard". Congrats, and keep up the good job! :) Mar 20, 2014 at 9:44
  • 2
    in hot questions (and your answer is posted in such a question), voting is broken: basically any answer "...gets a nice portion of populist upvotes and supportive comments, a portion sufficient to cover any downvotes and critique from site / tag regulars - a portion sufficient for other newcomers to believe answers like that are welcome and rewarded (broken windows anyone?)"
    – gnat
    Mar 20, 2014 at 10:25
  • @ShadowWizard: Thanks for the explanation. I don't feel that 'established', having only been doing this about 2 months, so I totally missed it. I was going to stop at 1K, but it's strangely addictive and 2K is starting to look attractive...
    – david.pfx
    Mar 20, 2014 at 10:37
  • 1
    I did not actually read your answer... it was long so I assumed it was good and upvoted it... would you prefer I retract that vote?
    – Chad
    Mar 21, 2014 at 16:18
  • @Chad: Now that's an offer I haven't had before. I've only been doing this about 2 months and I still feel very much a newbie. Kinda fun, though.
    – david.pfx
    Mar 21, 2014 at 23:49

2 Answers 2


I think they do provide interesting, possibly helpful information. I actually found myself in a similar situation at very low scale (+1+1-1-1-1-1+1), had the same impulse but decided that if people hesitate about it, it might still have some merit.

This is one reason I started this other thread (Debatable questions/answers, public insight on vote counts), even though any possible future feature would probably not address few-vote-counts like my example.

Especially since I have the feeling negative votes encourage you to improve your answer, but sometimes people are so prone and fast at down-voting you and commenting you that you find yourself in a rush to explain yourself and it does feel somewhat overwhelming and discouraging more than anything.

I personally ask for clarification before even considering a down-vote but I often feel like not too many people do that.


It isn't actually a good question. It's based on a student misunderstanding the professor. I don't believe any professor would recommend not freeing the memory allocated by the program. They probably say not to use malloc/free to allocate very small blocks of memory.

Your answer could be understood as advocating for not using free and all, while malloc'ing normally (which is absurd) or using VM with garbage collector (which doesn't address a question) or just a try to add your 2 cents to hot network question (which some consider a deadly sin per se). Or you were just downloaded for the question someone thought doesn't deserve such attention.

Generally such voting pattern on non-meta post means, someone is wrong here. Either upvoters, or downvoters, or the post itself doesn't belong there (meta, opinion-based, flame warfare etc.).

Because the question has one really good answer, it's unlikely to be answered and what can you do is to edit your answer to make clear what you mean. I suppose, you are opting for reusing the blocks of memory if possible? If so, bold it.

  • I still don't think it's a good answer. It's a good description of block coalescing, but that's pretty basic stuff. The real question was why the professors (who know about coalescing) still think there will be a hole, and that didn't get answered.
    – david.pfx
    Mar 20, 2014 at 9:42
  • @david.pfx I'm quite sure the professors have said something else as the OP has written. Namely, to avoid using free when you can reuse that memory block in the future or something similar. Mar 20, 2014 at 9:46
  • It seems that hot list questions are rarely good questions from the perspective of the active community.
    – Chad
    Mar 21, 2014 at 16:20

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