I often feel I need a degree to ask a question.

I was reading @Denis answer here: When is it justifiable to downvote a question?

This way of thinking is horrific. It's like (if you have seen the movie The Dictator) anything he does not like he would "do the hand gesture on the throat", and have people "taken care of" or killed.

Key points

  • It's a question and answer
  • It is NOT ask a question if you have researched the answer
  • it's not do you have a degree in how to ask a question, where to ask etc...
  • It does have an EDIT button, to improve question.
  • It does have a good community who can modify the question a little better to help out the person asking a question.

Negative emotional effect

I would compare this with a traffic warden, giving a ticket to someone who parks for 2 minutes, to buy a bottle of water. Here are my thoughts:

  • Parking restrictions are for people who park there for a long time and congestion the road so badly we need a system to improve it.
  • it so not there to be absolutely STRICT
  • Issuing a ticket (negative) does not help anyone:
    • local community (the shop) loses business as people will not park anymore there as of fear of parking tickets
    • a driver gets a huge fine for a (robot) person with no feelings and reasonable attitude towards another human and does not understand that parking is to help clear congestion not an opportunity to maximize profits.

Last notes:

Harmony comes from being free to ask, being encouraged to improve and how to improve. Sharing positive emotions with other people. The Fear and hate emotions from Darwin's evolution perspective is a mechanism to help us keep away the negative/bad experiences.

Here is an extreme example:

What if I was an old lady 75 year old, I want to spice up my life and learn how to code! I come across StackExcahnge or StackOverflow, I feel this is nice I ask a question (not a good question, according to dictators).

  • Should we encourage this user to participate by guidance?
  • Should we swear at her and tell her to never ever attempt?
  • Should we laugh?

An alternative

Another way of doing things is to measure the relevance of the question using time dimension to conclude how likely other people are going to find this useful.

If it will attract 1 person a day, I think it's a successful and valid question should not be closed.

If however it attracts 1 users a month, it's a little useless question.

Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiTz2i4VHFw

That is how our brain works, a simple close, or down vote system is a Fast, quick, irrational decision making.

If you continue as you do, if a user down votes or closes a question, is because of an opinion, and we all know opinions are good-for-nothing really, as wide spread as the question-in-question. Why shouldn't we require this person to do some research too, is this question ok, how many people may be interested in this, am I really right in down voting, why do we only require the person who asks a question to do their work.


I think knowledge shared is like a teacher, compliant, understands that some students learn quick, some take a little longer, some don't at all, some have difficulties.

This is a question to debate, the referenced ticket (above) and act as a petition to restore some negative, dictatorship way of thinking.

Ask yourself should we have a community which is a little bit more LAXed as described on the "negative emotional effect".

This is a community which by definition is the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

If you want a welcoming, and positive community up-vote to vote yes and allow a more laxed community.

If you want to dictate, discourage, create a negative effect community and attract hyenas who laugh at your question or bully you or get a degree on how to ask a question down vote to vote for no and allow this dictating way of asking questions.

  • 8
    Your final two sentences are very misleading - the meaning of up and downvotes on meta is already defined. Your definitions do not meet them. And before you ask - I downvoted you, because I disagree with what this post is suggesting (once I eventually figured it out - very long and rambling post)
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 10:43
  • 1
    The question is should it be more laxed Yes up vote, no down vote, also I made this long on purpose a well researched question, does not mean a good question, long is boring and people read between lines. short snappy questions can sometimes be better, open to more than one way of doing things. So it was by design done this way to demonstrate my argument.
    – Val
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 10:50
  • I wanted to add that people who answer expect others to be perfect, but don't expect to read the questions properly, or ask a question if the question is unclear, a user still has a question a question is therefore NOT a void one.
    – Val
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 10:53
  • 7
    Val - you are making things less clear by your two comments. Your question may be well researched, but it is very unclear - I read through it a number of times because I wanted to understand your point. It wasn't easy. Many folks will not bother.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 11:05
  • "Many folks will not bother" is Exactly my point, why penalize the person asking the question, where the problem is the person reading, and answering, who is being inpatient, irrational, set expectations, give room to opinions, dictate, read between the lines, can't be bothered to put a little effort themselves. all of which have a negative effect and project it to the rest of community, I still stand by: that by up-voting this question is like voting yes or no in the argument should it be more laxed! I am not asking to redefine the meaning of up/down voting.
    – Val
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 11:16
  • 7
    You misunderstood my point - the problem here is the question, not the person reading.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 11:17
  • 6
    What Rory is saying - the post is long, rambling and incoherent. It takes effort to read and understand what you are talking about - most people will not make that effort. Perhaps you can edit your post, make it shorter and more to the point?
    – Oded
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 11:22
  • 1
    "the problem is the person reading, and answering, who is being inpatient, irrational, set expectations, give room to opinions, dictate, read between the lines, can't be bothered to put a little effort themselves" This is the person you are asking for free help. Why would anyone should spend time helping you for free, if you can't even be bothered to write a clear and to the point question?
    – yannis
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


Stack Exchange is a site for people to solicit the skills of experts and the way SE actually attracts experts to this site and keeps them around is by having some standards of what sort of questions can be asked.

  • The community does not want to act as other peoples search engines.
  • The community does not want to do other peoples work for them for free.

The questions have to have some quality to them otherwise StackExchange would cease to be such a useful resource and catalog of answers.

All we really want is a little prior effort made, asking a question on Stack Exchange should never be the first point of call, because basically without some standards Stack Exchange would just be Yahoo Answers.

So no, I do not think we should make the standards we have in place more lax. Downvotes are not "mean" they're there for other users to see the quality of questions (and correctness when it comes to answers).

I do however think people could be a little nicer in comments and give guidance to new users, which seems to be part of the problem you have. This topic is already being discussed in depth elsewhere though, so it would not be prudent for me to rehash it here.

Could we please be a bit nicer to new users?

Why is Stack Overflow so negative of late?


You're focusing on downvotes as personal things. Yes, some people do take them that way. And downvotes kinda suck. But it's still the wrong attitude to have. Downvotes are not personal. Votes are for content. This is why it's so easy to downvote.

You seem to be of the opinion that the SE network is for learning and acquiring new users. This happens, but it is not the main focus. It is to become a repository of high quality information. To make the Internet a better place. Experts come and stay because of this focus. It's not about welcoming new users, although that is always an ongoing issue.

By continuing to be a repository of high quality information, new users that are worth keeping will come along, all on their own. Those that leave in a huff on their first downvote are not.

  • That makes sense :), I do feel that after these comments we all need to meet halfway, whether by not taking down-votes as a negative, or (I do agree with you), people are too keen to click down-vote, would it hurt to ask people to be a little more descriptive, or ask for clarification before a down vote. that is what bothers me most. Say I ask a question, I think this is enough to get it going as I don't understand the context in too much details, but I need a compass, I am stuck, enlighten me, it's every ones process of thought.
    – Val
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 14:24
  • I've always been of the mind that welcoming new users is a two way street. We do our best to point out where they've gone wrong, and why. And at the same time, its their responsibility to conform and adapt to the community. Most often, a first time user ignores all the text thrown their way, and asks something that's obviously off-topic. Those users aren't worth even trying, as they've ignored everything up to that point.
    – fbueckert
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 22:46

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