A feature request on meta is different to a regular post in a number of ways. Here and here is explained that and why a down-vote on meta is different from a regular vote on StackExchange.

However, a down-vote also has a sort of peer pressure to it. Which would mean that an unpopular feature request will be deleted. Which to me seems kind of odd. Also because this might cause other people to do the same feature request.

When a request is proposed properly, the discussion and answers might still be useful. Of course the user is free to leave the question open. But it's nobody likes having a question with a lot of down-votes on their record.

So how should I approach this when doing a feature request? Should I leave it up in spite of a mass of down-votes?


4 Answers 4


First, understand that this happens only on this meta, on Meta if you will. On per-site metas there is no independent rep and therefore votes have no effect on you other than emotional responses you may have.

Second, a feature request on Meta is a bigger deal. If you are the 4000th person to suggest that comments should be mandatory when downvoting, or that downvotes without comments should cost more, or any of other dozens of feature requests to solve the problem of commentless downvotes, then you are demonstrating that you don't really understand the history, culture, and mechanisms of the SE family of sites, and reducing your reputation seems like a fine response to that. If you are the first person to suggest that when two users post similar (almost identical) fact based answers to a question like "how long does it take to get from Paris to London by train?" or "which of these three sort methods is fastest?" or "what is this low plant with white flowers" that one of them should be forced to delete their answer, because they were obviously copying, then you are again demonstrating that you don't understand how these sites work or what they are for, and you're going to get downvotes and lose reputation.

I downvote FRs when I don't just dislike the suggested feature, but the question shows that the person cannot possibly have given the request the thought it deserves. If I disagree with a FR but think it shows thought and is generally aligned with the site, I will just upvote an answer that says "I don't support this idea and here's why." If such an answer doesn't exist I'll write one. I understand some people just see all FRs as polls and up/down vote to indicate what they think, but I don't believe those people are the majority.

When FRs get downvotes we often soothe the asker by saying "downvotes on Meta indicate disagreement, not quality" and that's sort of right. But you get more downvotes if your idea is actively wrongheaded or has been suggested many times in the past.

Finally, there are a number of logic holes in your post. You assume for example that Meta voters will downvote a feature request just because other people are doing so, and apparently believe that happens more on Meta, and therefore we should change the mechanisms to guard against that. You also seem to think that whether or not you gain or lose Meta rep is more important than whether or not your feature request is accepted. I've suggested a lot of things, and got a lot of rep for my suggestions, but they haven't been implemented, which makes me sad. The rep is no consolation, believe me.

As for what you should do if you get a lot of downvotes for a bad suggestion, I would try in this order:

  • edit it a little so that it is less objectionable. I don't mean change "ban" to "encourage" but maybe soften it a little, or just add more explanation
  • if you haven't earned the Peer Pressure badge, and you are in no danger of a post ban, delete it for the badge
  • if it is hugely downvoted consider asking to have it dissociated from your account so the rep loss doesn't hurt you
  • most importantly, understand why people reacted quickly and strongly. Very negative questions are not shown on the front page, so getting a lot of downvotes will happen very quickly in most cases. Did you use inflammatory wording? Proceed from assumptions that were so wrong they offended some people? Suggest something that's been suggested many times before? Learn from it.

The smarter move is what you've done here, which is to ask about a feature before suggesting it be removed or changed. Your underlying logic is right, and you can see that in the lack of independent rep on the per site meta sites. But Meta is special and this is one of the ways that it is special. Rep here is real. And the rules here are not like other places, and not all written down. And not everyone behaves the same or follows simple and logical published rules. That's just how Meta is.

  • 2
    "If you are the 4000th person to suggest that comments should be mandatory when downvoting" > It sounds like a good idea ;) May 19, 2015 at 13:50
  • 1
    "only on this meta, on Meta if you will" Is the distinction in the capital letter?
    – laurisvr
    May 19, 2015 at 13:57
  • " But you get more downvotes" That to me seems way to arbitrary. Suggesting a feature but getting only -3 means that the feature is not desired. But the request is original and makes sense? And -10 would then be a poorly phrased, duplicate feature? This would assume people take the current number of votes in consideration when voting. Which to me seems unlikely.
    – laurisvr
    May 19, 2015 at 14:00
  • 1
    "I downvote FRs when I don't just dislike the suggested feature, but the question shows that the person cannot possibly have given the request the thought it deserves." This doesn't stroke with this. Where it says: On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement
    – laurisvr
    May 19, 2015 at 14:03
  • 4
    @laurisvr: The per-site meta (meta StackOverflow, meta ServerFault, etc) is different that the governing "Meta", or "Meta StackExchange", or "MSE". May 19, 2015 at 14:07
  • 3
    it doesn't conflct, @laurisvr. On nonmeta sites, dv means "this post is badly written or doesn't show research." On meta sites it means "this post deserves a dv for the usual reasons or I disagree." You cannot know which in many cases. From me it may mean "this post comes lose to deserving a dv for the usual reasons and I disagree, so that pushes me over the line to a dv." May 19, 2015 at 14:08
  • @Patrick Hofman I think you refer to the meta Vs Meta. I got point of the sentence:). But I don't see how the distinction follows from the capital letter.
    – laurisvr
    May 19, 2015 at 14:13
  • 2
    @laurisvr the capital letter indicates that Meta is a proper noun. It is a nickname for MSE since it is the Meta site for the entire network. The lower-case meta is a reference to any meta site in the network, or a meta for specific site. The distinction is the use of the definite article the vs the indefinite article a. May 19, 2015 at 14:18
  • @psubsee2003 That sounds a bit German but I was not aware of this convention. Thank you for informing me:)
    – laurisvr
    May 19, 2015 at 15:03
  • @laurisvr but there are no masculine or feminine articles in English :-) But proper nouns are virtually never referred to using "a" in English. May 19, 2015 at 15:09
  • 3
    @laurisvr at the risk of pinging Kate again for a comment unrelated to her question (sorry Kate), I just looked at your link - you are misunderstanding something I said. In German, all nouns are capitalized. In English, it is only proper nouns that are capitalized - that is nouns that refer to a specific item or person May 19, 2015 at 21:25

Reputation on feature requests (and questions in general) rewards the asker for his/her contribution to the site.

If the question is received well, it will benefit the asker. If it isn't well received, it will help the asker to rethink if his/her ideas fit in the SE model and the opinion of the community.

Eventually it may even gather up-votes of same-minded users, so the usefulness can change over time. And indeed, the discussion might still be useful, so more reasons to keep the post.

Question bans on meta are given less already than on other sites for the possible number of down-votes on feature requests, so a single 'bad' post will not trigger instant question ban.

The loss of reputation doesn't hurt, so don't feel bad if you have a single down-voted post on your account. We all have and we are still okay.


Down voted feature requests are important. They show that the community did not like the idea as it was proposed. As the asker, this provides you with some feed back:

  • Should I reevaluate how I use the site?
  • Should I reevaluate this feature request? Is it as important as I thought?
  • Was my argument for why this is needed flawed? Can I change how I presented the request?

If you received answers to the request, it's likely that they contained information on why the request isn't a good idea. Utilize that information when you reconsider your request. It's possible that you didn't think of something more experienced users did.

Down votes aren't a bad thing and I wouldn't be concerned with them. A feature request, whether rejected or not, is your attempt at improving the platform. Sometimes your ideas for improving aren't the same as others.

If you received answers on your post and they received up votes, you won't be able to delete your question. You can, however, request that your name be removed via disassociation

To request disassociation, use the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page. In the form, say you want to disassociate a post and include the URL.

In that case, the down voted request will still remain on the site for future visitors, but your name won't be attached to it any longer.


Why does downvoting a feature request penalize the asker? Quite simply because (purely as a technical convenience?) we reuse what is normally a "question quality" voting mechanism to vote for or against the proposed feature.

We do this because it kind of makes sense up to a point, and because it would presumably be a big deal technically to have separate voting buttons for feature requests. Discussion when it does arise tends to gravitate towards "we should expect things to be different on meta", without really acknowledging that our process may be somewhat compromised by using one mechanism for two very different things.

Is this in fact the best solution? Is it actually an unthinkably big deal technically to add feature-voting buttons?

I would like to see both voting mechanisms freed from their "shared-use" compromise by the introduction (if possible) of separate feature-voting buttons in feature requests.

EDIT: below is a proposed implementation, which requires only two changes:

  1. When a question has certain relevant tags such as , a "voting answer" will be auto-created. The voting answer will be a normal answer, but will be posted by the Community "user".

  2. The rep cost normally associated with a downvote will not apply to downvotes of voting answers. EDIT FOR CLARIFICATION: In other words, the rep of neither the voters nor the OP is affected by votes on the voting answer. Normal rep rules continue to apply to votes on the question.

enter image description here

  • In what way will that dissuade anyone from asking for "downvotes to require comments" or any of the other oft repeated, research free questions that come up here time and time again? There's no free pass for bad questions here and I don't see why there should be. Jun 10, 2015 at 21:11
  • @RobertLongson I've added a clarifying note, as I believe you may have misunderstood what I'm suggesting. The dissuasion you mention is unaffected, since the question will be downvoted if it deserves to be.
    – Reg Edit
    Jun 10, 2015 at 21:25

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