Mostly I am on Stackoverflow.com where new/experienced programmers share their knowledge. When a new user asks his first question, the question can be downvoted because the user's question is a bad question. They do not read the https://stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask document which helps users to ask a good question.

Now what is the point of the possibility of downvoting a new user's question if it is already -1? Example: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/43494459/how-to-save-a-picture-in-camera-roll-with-a-custom-nam. A question which has now -8.

Of course, there are a few things about the user's question that make it a bad question. But why can users downvote a question if it is already -1? What is the point of showing -8? The point that the question is bad is already indicated by the -1 (note: only people with 125 reputation can publicly downvote a question).

I feel -8 does not have any added value to the user itself. I think when he sees the -8 he just leaves the website or anything other than positive. It is now like: "Hey man! Bad question! Here, have a downvote!" times eight

Especially for new users, I think it is important that a review should be made when the question received a downvote. The question should be on hold and "normal" people should not be able to downvote/see the question. When the review is made, the mod can decide that the user should rewrite his question to make sure people see it again. I already thought this was possible, but I think it is a great idea to not bash away the new user, by simply spam downvoting his question.

What do you think about this? Is it okay there is no limit on downvoting a new user's question?

  • 8
    The downvotes are not only for the benefit of the OP. They are also there to indicate a problem post to other users of the site.
    – Oded
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:36
  • I do not really see a difference between a -1 question and a -8 question. What I am thinking: it is already clear that a question should be asked differently if it has -1. What does a question which holds -8 tells the other users more than a question which holds -1?
    – user357260
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:40
  • Most of the times having such people leave is NOT a bad thing, for Stack Exchange as a whole. It makes the sites bit better by having bit less bad content. Apr 19, 2017 at 12:40
  • -1 could be Tim post losing his keys. -8 could be Tim Post losing his car. More seriously, the 'best' thing you can do for a new user is help them know what went wrong rather than insulating them from the normal functions of the site. Apr 19, 2017 at 12:49
  • 6
    1. the -1 is occasionally a drive-by downvote, meaning it's going to be without feedback. So I won't take a -1 score to be like -8. -1 means one person thought it's bad, and -8 means 8 did. 8 people are more likely to be right than one person. 2. Why should I be prevented from providing my feedback because you did? Both our votes matter.
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 19, 2017 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


A question being at -1 means one person thought it was a bad question. a question being at -8 means eight people felt it was a bad question. That's a relevant difference. It tells you a lot about the likely qualities of the two questions. That of course brings us to our first reason for letting votes go beyond -1; it sends a stronger signal to everyone that about what the quality of the question is, both for the author of the question, and also for possible readers of the question to realize that the question isn't going to be a good question.

This "stronger signal" as to the quality of the question has lots of other uses as well. In particular, automated systems can start to take various actions on questions and they can use votes to determine if a question is a good question, and the number of votes to get an idea of just how confident they should be in that assertion.

There are a number of automated systems that leverage votes; if a question's score gets sufficiently low (-3 on most sites) it stops showing up on the homepage, closed questions cannot be deleted by non-moderators unless they've been closed for several days or have a score of -3 (in other words a question with a much lower score is considered plausably unsalvageable), the total score of questions is taken into consideration by the post ban algorithm when trying to determine if a user is performing largely positive or largely negative contributions, and considers questions with a much lower score to be "more" negative contributions, etc.

If you prevent questions' score from going below -1 then you lose out on that information on just how bad a question is, and inhibit the ability of those automated tools to properly handle questions.

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