I am having a few serious problems with Stack Overflow that's calling into question the suitability of Stack Exchange as a whole.

When I ask a specific to-the-point question which ONLY uses the minimum required code to present my problem in a way that would be easily readable to others looking at it later so to obtain the required answer, what happens?

It gets numerous negative ratings, all based on it being "not real code" (even if I clearly say it is JUST a snippet) and then I have to deal with harassing rants (with no way to get them to go away) until I actually change it to include stupid extra information that doesn't help anyone except their own vanity.

Here's a simple example of that:

Is there a one line approach to declaring and initializing pointer variables?

It was clear, simple, and to the point, but I had no choice but to add more and more information just to get people to shut up. Those people who kept trying to force me to change it all voted it down, but more people liked the question. (4 voted down, 5 voted up, yet has a net -1 which means the weight of vote down is higher).

This issue was worse though:

Write to dynamic array

I had one clear problem, presented what it was, the steps I was taking, and the desired behavior. Well, every comment and answer was asking me for irrelevant code because they were incapable of understanding the problem. Instead of just accepting the fact that they didn't know either, they pestered me until I wrote an entire program with the problem - using as few lines of code as possible, since I was trying to avoid going off topic - but the moment I did that it was voted as off topic and placed on hold.

Meanwhile, everyone who was incapable of answering gave it a thumbs down rating, and although I was able to solve my own question eventually that doesn't change anything for them.

I've been using Stack Exchange for a few years, but whenever I actually try asking a few questions I find myself immediately put off. There is no way to, for example, directly contact the people who vote to remove it, and there's no consequence for abuse of power either. There's no way to gauge if the reasons people think are real or not. It seems to be a group of elitists who have no real interest in helping anyone overall, and base the value of a question not by any real criteria, but by their own bias.

It's so bad that even after editing with a bold "THIS IS MY PROBLEM" and "THIS IS THE DESIRED BEHAVIOR" it doesn't make any difference to them, and in comments on pages people will harass me into changing my question on the basis of unreal issues and there is no BLOCK USER function.

So, really, is there any way to avoid this kind of drama? Can't I just ask my questions, get my answers, and be done with it? And how can I deal with people who maliciously abuse their power out of personal bias? Because I really can't deal with all this nonsense.

And even when there is no drama, when everything is clear and to the point, I still have to deal with the fact that people don't have to give a reason for how they rate a question. An experienced programmer will read this:

Counting number of integers in text file (undeclared identifier using fin>>x)

and just think that I was stupid for asking and give it a thumbs down. It was a good question, and at least some people vote it up, but overall I get attacked for asking anything at all, and even though I have an overall positive rating that grows I am getting warnings that I will be banned from asking question and all because the average user apparently has the power to ban people just because of their own personal bias.

What I would LIKE to happen is pretty simple: I'd like to ask a question, keep it to the point, write minimal code so not to confuse anyone else who comes by, and not be attacked by people who use the rating system to force me to change what I write. I would like to focus entirely on my problem, and not the drama, and then either select the answer that solves the problem, or post my own answer for the benefit of others when I solve it myself. I'd like people to review the quests purely on the merits of the question itself, and if they down vote it, I would like to see that down vote to actually MEAN something. Like, require people to actually give a REASON for the downvote, and if they give a reason for the downvote that isn't true, allow that to be reversed. I mean, the way it is currently set up, what is to stop me from retaliating against someone by voting down every question they ask? What's to stop someone from creating multiple accounts to do that and ban them?

(I'm not asking specifically about downvotes.)

EDIT: To elaborate, let's take a look at this question again: Write to dynamic array

It is currently "an hold" as being off topic, but it's not. The problem is that the people who didn't know the answer said things like:

"Too many pointers" and " you would post actual code instead of a snippet that has no hope of compiling, someone might be willing to help you improve it." but finally finally giving into that was exactly WHY it was put on hold. So if it can be downvoted by people who personally don't like an approach and personally want entire programs that compile (instead of snippets as the rules say) and when I complain people tell me to improve my questions!

This isn't a question about why downvotes exist; it has more to do with how to stop all the drama, how to adhere to the rules without being prone to bullying, and how to keep a question focused.

I mean, on SEVERAL OCCASIONS I would say: This is my problem, in this section of code and in many of those cases all the answers are "It must be somewhere else" and downvote me until I do what they tell me to do, but when I eventually find my own answer which is - surprise, surprise - exactly where I said it was there are no comments and no reversals because they are too prideful to admit it. If I wasn't at risk of being banned over it I wouldn't worry so much, but it happens with every other question and it's just getting old.

  • This was tagged as "discussion" because it's not a simple question. I didn't ask "what purpose does downvoting serve" - I asked about something much more complex, such as why the down votes are weighed more heavily than the upvotes, why people can harass me in comments, and other issues. ... oh, haha "Shadow". In other words, your position is "If you don't like it go somewhere else" which is EXACTLY the kind of stupid messed up mentality I am talking about. You have absolutely NOTHING to add except a snarky remark. Maybe if I trolled threads instead of answering I'd have 67k "reputation". – Elliander Feb 22 '16 at 7:46
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    You're totally right @Elliander, that's how I got my reputation. – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Feb 22 '16 at 7:49
  • Look, I opened this thread because I have been attacked in multiple threads, and multiple people have been using the down vote system specifically to try to force me to change my questions to suit them (and not the rules) and whenever I give in to their demands I get a question flagged as being off topic to be removed. My problem is that I can't ask actual questions that are clear and to the point without drama and I'd like a solution to that. – Elliander Feb 22 '16 at 7:54
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    1 Upvote on a question = +5 rep. 1 Downvote on a question = -2 rep. Upvotes are higher reward. You see -1 on the first question because you got 1 upvote and 2 downvotes. But you got +1 rep from it. (So no, the impact of downvotes on your rep is not higher than the impact of upvotes. For the question score they have equal weight. Question score != rep.) – Mat Feb 22 '16 at 9:26
  • Simple questions tend to be clearer and fare better in terms of voting. The more complicated your question the more likely readers will be to engage in trying to interpret what you are asking, or just giving up and downvoting. – PolyGeo Feb 22 '16 at 10:08
  • Nobody is forcing you to do anything, people are just trying to help you improve your question, based on the rules you obviously don't understand. – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Feb 22 '16 at 11:56
  • This question belongs on meta.stackoverflow.com – DavidPostill Feb 22 '16 at 13:13
  • A little bit of formatting, inverted pyramid and a catchy title might alleviate all of your problems. Some of it are about answers, but most applies to questions as well. – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Feb 22 '16 at 20:07
  • And change your profile to use your real name. From Programming Question Policy, Take #2: "it should be clear that people asking programming questions should use their real identity by default, and post anonymously only if they had very good reasons" – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Feb 24 '16 at 20:11

what is to stop me from retaliating against someone by voting down every question they ask? What's to stop someone from creating multiple accounts to do that and ban them?

The serial voting script and the sock puppet detection script. And there is a community that will step in.

What you should learn is this: don't take downvotes personal. One user liked your question, two didn't. So what? Why do you care so much? Try to improve your question as much as possible. If that doesn't help, someone just thought your question wasn't clear or useful. If they don't comment, you don't know and should move on.

Users are free to vote as they wish within boundaries of course. Judging the usefulness of a question or answer is not the job for a moderator (so they won't 'correct' the voting).

Stating that the votes are malicious makes you feel you are not taking an honest look at the votes or the users voting. Would you have complained as much when one user upvoted you too much? I think not.

  • It's not as simple as that. If 5 like it, and 4 don't like it, and it has a net negative, it means everything skews for the negative. Meanwhile, the system auto bans anyone who gets down votes too much. My question is not just about down votes though. It's about all the bullying and harassing behavior. How do I NOT take it seriously when, instead of actually answering my question, people get stuck on irrelevant information? and how am I supposed to respond when changing the question to suit them gets the question itself removed? – Elliander Feb 22 '16 at 7:44
  • I am stating that they are malicious because they are. To give a specific example, on one of the cited questions I asked about improving an approach, and one user focused instead of a "memory leak" in a non-existent program (it was just a code snippet) and would NOT stop attacking me until I changed the question to include the stuff I wasn't asking about. Multiple people voted it down specifically because I didn't do that, which means that all of them hold the position that "If you don't know, don't ask" which is clearly a malicious mindset. – Elliander Feb 22 '16 at 7:52
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    @Elliander I'm not sure where you're getting the +5 -4 = -1 which you refer to in both your comment and question. The question you linked to has +1 -2 = -1. – grg Feb 22 '16 at 8:17
  • On my page I see a break down of ratings: +5 / -4 01:40 3 events Is there a one line approach to declaring and initializing pointer variables? – Elliander Feb 22 '16 at 8:23
  • @Elliander Because you get +5 rep for the one upvote and -2 each for the 2 downvotes, so +5 -4. Your looking at the rep you gained/lost, not the actual voting. Rep IS NOT VOTING. – thesecretmaster Feb 23 '16 at 18:38
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    @Elliander you can only see vote counts when you get to 1000 rep – thesecretmaster Feb 23 '16 at 18:50

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