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How can I address getting a low quality downvote? Clearly a flame war is not the best option, but I have often felt downvotes (not just mine) are unfair and often gratuitously snarky (be nice).

Is there a policy on that other than 'go write a better question'? Where is it? I found something about reviewing the low quality flags people put on posts, but not how the OP can constructively engage in a defense of his or her question with the critics involved.

In this most recent case, I went to considerable detail as to the history of my issue, including pieces of code, and still I got a downvote with no explanation (and of course, no help). I get it that there are stupid, lazy, duplicate, and poorly thought out questions on this site. But what happens when you dispute the downvote (which is often anonymous) but don't want a flame war that distracts from the question?

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    I'd wager it's because the question is off topic. If you have a problem administrating a Django installation, you should be asking that over on Webmasters, or some Django help forum.
    – user1228
    Dec 21 '16 at 15:11
  • @Won't I assume you wrote this after looking up my last question on SO. Someone edited it to change the tags, which hopefully improves it, but in some ways that demonstrates my point. I only knew what I was doing at the time, so that is why I tagged it that way. But the anonymous downvote with no comment came before the (hopefully helpful) edits. Jan 2 '17 at 23:49
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If you received any feedback in comments, you'll want to start by addressing that. But often (as with the question you're describing), people don't comment when downvoting -- and they're not required to.

When I receive downvotes on what I thought was a good question or answer, I first reread it with a critical eye. Maybe I wasn't as clear as I thought I was, or I've left out something important, or my logic is off. If I see close votes, I'll think about close reasons (including the per-site off-topic ones) to see if that sheds any light.

If I've done all that and am still no more enlightened, then I'll do one of two things:

  1. Wait. If other people upvote and there's just the one downvote, it probably doesn't mean anything.

  2. Ask constructively for feedback. Not "why U downvote?!" but, rather, "I'd like to understand the downvotes so I can improve this post". Then, wait. People still might not comment, but I've found that a comment like that can prompt people to clue me in. Remember, especially if you're a new user, before that point the voter has no idea whether you're open to feedback and willing to edit at all. So, provide that signal.

Alternatively, if you have enough reputation to chat and the site has an active chat room, you can drop in there, wait for a suitable lull in the conversation, and ask for feedback there.

The active members of a community want to make its site better. Show that you share that goal, and ask what you can do to address problems, and you're reasonably likely, in my experience, to get the help you seek.

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  • ok, it happened again. I got nicked two points for asking a question: stackoverflow.com/questions/43330266 Note, they do NOT criticize the question itself, I showed my work, and that I had looked around for similar questions. And yet, I lose two points. Why? As near as I can tell, it's because I didn't see what I was doing wrong. Well, if that's the test, no one should ever ask a question. I just don't get the culture on this site. It is not at all welcoming most of the time, and that seems to be just fine with all of you. Apr 10 '17 at 18:51
  • You'll need to ask the people on SO, not me. I gave a general answer, but I can't diagnose your individual questions on a site I'm barely active on. Apr 10 '17 at 19:32
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In addition to the very good answer by Monica Cellio.

Please keep in mind that everyone is free to use his votes however he likes. There is no "right" and "wrong" voting, except for serial voting (that's the "wrong" sort).

I don't really get how you get to the conclusion that some downvotes are "often gratuitously snarky". How are those downvotes snarky? If you get a downvote it could pretty much mean anything, why do you think that they're "snarky"? And how would that conflict with the "be nice" policy? If I dislike the question you posted, you'll very likely get a downvote from me.

Does that make me an asshat?


All things considered: Voting is a privilege, but the only real way of losing this privilege is by abusing it (=> serial voting). Apart from those clear abuse cases, anyone is free to vote however they like to.

I personally downvote almost every question that fits the close reasons (additionally to flagging them), and also questions with poor spelling, a bad structure... You get the idea.


TL;DR: Anyone is free to vote however they like it, as long as they don't do nasty stuff like serial voting. If you don't want downvotes, make sure your question is suited for this network (on-topic, clear, structured etc.).

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  • Let me clarify. I did not mean to suggest that my most recent SO post had snarky comments, only that from time to time I do see comments that I consider gratuitously snarky, and those are not all mine. According to Google, snarky is: (of a person, words, or a mood) sharply critical; cutting; snide. "the kid who makes snarky remarks in class" cranky; irritable. "Bobby's always a bit snarky before his nap" A good category of examples would be questions about the relevant docs. Refusing to follow might deserve snark. Not understanding them does not. Jan 2 '17 at 23:54

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