Having just joined SO I find myself in a strange situation, the following question here has much merit, but the person asking the question has been less than sporting.

So the question is, should one ever down-vote a question that has merit? Does the voting system have an ethical side to it, or is it pure quality of the question / answer material?

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    For future reference, questions about SO itself, should go on its meta site, meta.stackoverflow.com
    – Brandon
    Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 19:34
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    Seriously ... W O W. That's probably the least sportsman-like behavior I've ever seen on SO. Your answer deserved the (at last count, with my upvote) 25 score -- and the accept, which he didn't give.
    – John Rudy
    Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 20:29
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    I agree with @John Rudy, that behavior is completely unacceptable. However, I don't think following the other OP around and calling him names is going to make the situtation any better. Don't get yourself punished because the other OP was being a jerk.
    – Brandon
    Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 21:04
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    Your right calling him a cock while pointing him to GetTickCount was a bit harsh. I will remove that comment. Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 21:09
  • @Reallyethical: Good call on removing that comment.
    – John Rudy
    Commented Oct 30, 2009 at 2:46
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    After checking out some other questions from the OP, I have to conclude that the Delphi guys are being -extremely- patient with the OP..... respect for that Commented Oct 30, 2009 at 4:42

3 Answers 3


The reason given to downvote a question is that it's : Not Clear or Useful. This question isn't very clear, and it doesn't appear like the author has put much (if any) effort into the problem himself.

That merits a downvote in my book.

Others may claim that we should just leave the question alone -- but if you encourage unclear questions, that's what you'll get -- causing more work for everyone else, and increasing friction on the site.

  • Thank you. That is clearer and I don't feel so bad now. Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 19:44
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    answering questions on SO is not work! Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 23:36
  • I think the question is clear enough, although I don't think the questioner put much effort into it. It's also a useful question, as other people might want to do similar things. I wouldn't downvote it, although I probably would comment on it. However: are you looking for a reason to downvote because you dislike the questioner's behavior, or would you downvote any question a lazy questioner refers to something vague and off-screen? Commented Oct 30, 2009 at 14:47
  • There are multiple reasons I have for downvoting a question asker: Asking an obvious duplicate (that can be found with a quick search); asking soft questions to garner rep; not doing his homework; not giving us the details we need to answer his question; his behavior towards people that try to let him know this fact; amongst others. Commented Oct 30, 2009 at 15:28

Having looked at the question I would flag the question for moderator attention. In this scenario, as moderator, I would e-mail the OP, and explain to them how the system works, and also explain why their behaviour is not acceptable. It may sound like too much but in some cases users are worth having, and they may just need a more detailed explanation of the system. This may be one of the few cases I would consider moderators having the ability to change the accepted answer.

I would also clean up the comments and the answer a bit and set the question to CW.

Overall, the down-votes on his answer is doing enough damage, so I would not necessarily down-vote the question, but rather the answer. Your answer however is getting the right exposure since it is detailed and correct, and users are seeing the attitude of the OP.

This would be how I would handle it, however the SO moderators will use their own discretion and experience. SU/SF/SO handles certain scenarios differently because of their audience and size. This solution may not work on SO due to its size.

  • I don't think the question needs to be made CW. I might make the answer CW though. Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 19:58
  • @Brad. Selective CW for the answer and question from the OP. The rest can gain rep by all means. Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 20:01
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    If you make the question CW, then nobody can add a non-CW answer. Commented Oct 29, 2009 at 22:24
  • I'm not an expert here, but there was what looks like an excellent answer that other people seem to think very good, and this answers a specific question that was asked (if not very well). ReallyEthical deserves the rep from that answer. Commented Oct 30, 2009 at 14:48

The merit of voting down a question is simply that the question may be incomprehensible and poorly worded, may not be related to computer programming related subjects, may be far to specific and useless to other programmers, or the question could have nothing to do with its title or topic. Realistically being able to down vote something should be left only to trusted users to prevent 'trolling' and voting down of users who you just don't like.

I hope this answer was useful to you :)

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