-39

This question already has an answer here:

Yes, moderators, I already know that this question has been posted a number of times, the first one of which I came across was asked some 8 years ago and yet this seems to still be a problem. I wish to bring it up yet again to see if anyone can answer my point of view on this problem...and answer reasonably without succumbing to jerk-hood or other down-votable nonsense.

I'm asking this question mainly because I posed a question asking for some help in building (compiling in my environment) an open source library. My current configuration does not allow me to do so and I don't know why. The question is reasonable and I'm NOT a newbie, I've been writing software for over 40 (yeah, forty) years so I do have a clue. The company I work for also seems to think I have a clue as they pay me a very nice six figure salary. My ability with software isn't in question here, the reason for the asinine response to my question is. What I expected was a link to a documentation site that I might have missed or a request for clarification or even perhaps an answer like "did you include such and such a library?" or something reasonable in response.

What I received was 3 down-votes which cost me 6 points of rep on the QUESTION ITSELF with NO explanation. I further conclude that this was done out of spite because the times on all three down-votes is within a minute of each other, two in the same minute. I came here to search out why comments on down-votes are not required. What I found was rather disheartening.

I'll be the first to admit, I did not read all the comments of all the answers for my search on why people are allowed to be vicious without consequence. TLDR indeed. BUT, I did take time to scan through to get the gist of the answers and this is what I concluded:

  1. The predominant attitude seems to be "grow a thicker skin". Not helpful.

  2. It seems that the prevailing attitude is "it won't hurt your reputation that much, everyone can afford to lose a couple of points". Not reasonable.

  3. "Why should I comment on something that is obviously <insert viewpoint>".

In my case, I don't contribute to SO that much (and this is one of the biggest reasons - the no comment down vote) so my rep isn't that high, so NO I can't afford to lose points, especially to mere spite.

When I do answer questions, I give good answers that always get up-voted so the community out there must believe that I'm not clueless. And yes, this id was created solely to ask this question, I don't need all the flak I'm going to get against my "real" profile.

So, here is my proposal to fix this problem. It comes from an old Pagan belief in that what you do to others comes back on you many-fold (some say 3, some say 5, others other values - you get the point). So, if you decide to down-vote a question or an answer, you get a choice:

  1. Comment your down-vote with a good explanation. This is the desired response and is in keeping with the spirit of SO.

  2. Down-vote with no comment, but YOU LOSE 10 TIMES THE REP POINTS OR 1% OF YOUR TOTAL REP POINTS whichever is GREATER for doing so. E.g. I lose 2, you lose 20 and yes, doing this can take you negative on your rep. It should cost and cost mightily for being a jerk.

  3. I, as the QUESTIONER, AM ALLOWED TO REVIEW YOUR COMMENTS and can reject your down-vote and recover my rep points so long as I answer your down-vote with comments of my own - no penalty to me for rejecting your down-vote. Moderator then gets to approve/reject the rejection. All comments to be public, of course.

  4. It would be even nicer if I could get the user id of the down-voter and report their activity to a moderator for review. A nice "Spiteful" button on a comment or answer rather than just an up- or down-vote, but that's probably asking for too much. The trouble with allowing interaction between folks is that someone usually has to act as the babysitter.

It won't completely solve the problem but it will take the ability to simply be vicious down to a level that is like any other good compromise - EVERYONE pays for their actions.

Now, some of you might be wondering as to the harshness of my solution. Here it is: The gist of what I learned reading the other questions and comments is that everyone was looking at it from the point of view of the person answering, e.g. "I don't need to comment on stupid questions, I can just down-vote them because...". Really? Or "This question/answer is really obvious/useless/off-topic, I'm going to down-vote it because it's plainly obvious/useless/off-topic ...", that's some ego you have there, or "Some questions are just too <insert descriptive phrase> to comment on", etc. etc. etc. The point here is THAT IT ISN'T ABOUT YOU, IT'S ABOUT THE PERSON THAT ASKED THE QUESTION!.

THAT person may have a perfectly legitimate reason for asking their question. However, in ALL CASES, that person DESERVES a REASONABLE ANSWER. Perhaps they are clueless, WHAT DOES IT MATTER? HELP THEM OUT! If the question is a "Do my homework for me" question, SO WHAT! They will pay the price for doing so later and, maybe, just maybe, they'll learn something because you...wait for it...HELPED THEM OUT.

And here is a biggie: The ONLY reason to down-vote a QUESTION is if the question itself contains bad information. EVEN THEN, COMMENT AND LET THE PERSON KNOW WHY YOU THINK IT'S BAD INFORMATION! It is my opinion that questions should only receive up-votes because of their pertinence, nothing else. No down-votes at all, if it isn't a good question, it won't show up in the result set at as high a level as another that has been up-voted. So much the better.

And do notice, I said QUESTION, NOT ANSWER there - my recent experience is with a QUESTION that I posed, NOT even an answer I gave.

But, the same goes for answers. If you are going to down-vote an answer, EXPLAIN YOURSELF OR TAKE THE HIT FOR BEING AN UNINFORMATIVE JERK.

Because, folks, at the end of the day, SO is about ANSWERING QUESTIONS, not displaying egos, rendering opinions on relative worthiness or anything else that has to do with the answers or the person answering. To paraphrase Joe Friday, Just The Answers, Ma'am.

It seems that even some of the moderators have inflated opinions of themselves such that they have forgotten the reason that SO was created. I have seen some mighty high-handed responses on a routine basis, worse because the moderator might have closed or ill-commented the question, BUT THE ANSWER THAT I NEEDED WAS PRESENT WITH THE QUESTION. Ooops, looks like someone got a little egotistical and reached out to slap someone just because they could rather than because they should.

We shall see if that happens here, too.

marked as duplicate by PolyGeo, Ward, Nathaniel, gnat, Glorfindel Jun 29 '17 at 6:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 11
    Is there something broken with your Shift key? – πάντα ῥεῖ Jun 28 '17 at 22:44
  • 5
    A shame you didn't link to the question, as we can't really know the circumstances. Is it possible that the question was not, in fact, as clear as you think it was? Did it contain any details that would help others figure out what the issue may be? – Oded Jun 28 '17 at 22:47
  • 9
    Yet again, someone not really understanding what a downvote means. For someone who purports to write good answers, you seem to lack a basic understanding of what voting is fundamentally about. Turn it around; what if upvoting is treated to the exact same process? All of a sudden, rep inflation becomes a massive thing. Point is, downvotes are specifically against the question, not the person, and act as signal to other readers. They are not for the poster. They are for the community. – fbueckert Jun 28 '17 at 23:26
  • 11
    -1 because no one "deserves" answers to the questions they ask — the SE network of sites is primarily for searchers, not askers, to benefit from. I don't know you from Adam and I have not the slightest personal animus; I just think this suggestion is founded on fundamentally erroneous (if understandable) assumptions. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 28 '17 at 23:39
  • 5
    Nope. We do care why. We just care about the long term effects more. That, over everything else, is what drives SE. Learn what downvotes are all about before deciding your interpretation is correct. Ask a question in good faith, and you'll get a good reception. Ask one that's more rant and accusations than actual question, and you'll find that no one is all that receptive to it. – fbueckert Jun 29 '17 at 0:01
  • 11
    I understand your stance perfectly. And it highlights a fundamental misunderstanding of what SE is about. It's not about you. It's not about me. It's not about the votes. It's about building a respository of high quality knowledge. The people are the way it happens, but are not the focus of the process in any sense. Votes are the way we signal what is and isn't good. That takes precedence over your hurt feelings. Yeah, downvotes suck, and it's hard to be objective over them. It doesn't change the fact that they are not personal. – fbueckert Jun 29 '17 at 0:17
  • 5
    What happens if an explanation already exists? It's not uncommon for people to simply ignore helpful comments, and refuse to fix their questions. Why should I be forced to add the same explanation to be able to downvote? – yannis Jun 29 '17 at 0:20
  • 6
    @Mick You're grown up, no? So we expect grown ups to get informed by themselves at Stack Overflow: stackoverflow.com/help/on-topic stackoverflow.com/help/dont-ask stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask And there's even more material you can check your question against. We won't repeat all of that with every downvote applied to a question. Don't tell me you can't know why a question is bad. – πάντα ῥεῖ Jun 29 '17 at 0:20
  • 15
    Everyone gets the same message from a downvote; "This question does not show research effort, or is not useful." There you go. That's as specific as you get. Everything else is, and always will be, optional. If you want more, try asking in good faith, without the ranting and curation hostile suggestions. Oh, and try spelling my username right. – fbueckert Jun 29 '17 at 0:49
  • 11
    No, that question will be closed, because it is an opinionated question, without basis for objectivity. It gets down votes because it isn't really a question. Not the way we classify them. And the number of down votes tells you just how many people believe its not a good question, and that future readers should ignore it. Which is their entire purpose. – fbueckert Jun 29 '17 at 0:56
  • 9
    "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful" is the tooltip on the downvote arrow @Mick. – yannis Jun 29 '17 at 1:00
  • 5
    If down voters want to, they can comment to elaborate. Beyond that, assume that's why. – fbueckert Jun 29 '17 at 1:07
  • 7
    @Mick So we would allow the asker of the question to moderate everything by themselves? Would be a good idea for traffic control: "Ha, officer I'm rejecting your fine, troll away from me." – πάντα ῥεῖ Jun 29 '17 at 1:17
  • 6
    I vehemently disagree, and believe you lack a full understanding of the premise of SE, therefore your argument is predicated on a faulty assumption. And it just gets worse from there. At this point, I am no longer willing to engage. You want to destroy the very community that makes SE great. And that I oppose wholeheartedly. – fbueckert Jun 29 '17 at 1:21
  • 9
    We can't control what sites outside the SE network do @Mick. Nevertheless, Stack Overflow isn't a big textarea where you can just post whatever you want. Once you arrive at the site you are asked to register an account and review the community's guidelines before posting your first question. Furthermore, a fair amount of help material is available to all users, and in most cases is more than enough. You are, of course, free to ignore all that, but you don't get to claim ignorance or demand further explanation when the community rejects your question. – yannis Jun 29 '17 at 1:37
17

I am vehemently opposed to this suggestion. It destroys the basic premise that SE is built upon; that content is curated, and high quality posts rise to the top. By punishing those engaging in curation activities, all that will happen is that people will stop engaging in those activities, which will skew votes greatly upwards.

Comments are not required, and will not be, because people don't down vote enough as is. By placing another barrier in the way of voters, less people will vote, and it will slowly (or quickly, depending on the harshness of the penalty) destroy the community's willingness to actually engage and curate content. And then we become Quora.

So, no. This should not happen.

15

This is the thing you've misunderstood: Your statement,

The point here is THAT IT ISN'T ABOUT YOU, IT'S ABOUT THE PERSON THAT ASKED THE QUESTION!.

Is wrong - or at least incomplete. One of the critical functions of downvotes is to tell other people (not the OP) what the community thinks of a question or answer. A negative score on a question tells other people that the community doesn't think it's a very good question.

  • I don't mind a down vote, so long as it's a legit reason and the only way I know it's legit is to...wait for it...READ THE COMMENT! I have no problem at all with fixing something but I have to know what to fix. A simple down vote does not tell me anything and I couldn't care two spits about the rest of the community and their take on the question or the answer for that matter, I posted the question, I'm the one that cares about the answer. In No Case is it appropriate to take a negative stance without explaining why. It's not helpful to anyone and, worse can cause unintended side affects – Mick Jun 28 '17 at 23:38
  • 5
    @Mick: And yeah, there we go. The SE communities value their common benefit more (much more) than the benefit to any one asker, and are more than happy for the software design to reflect this fundamental value by making downvotes relatively easy to use so that the community can benefit from good scoring, even if askers are at times irritated or inconvenienced. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 28 '17 at 23:42
  • 13
    @Mick If you want to learn what might need fixing about your question, you might consider asking a Meta question about the question itself, rather than jumping to the conclusion your question is perfect, and the community is the problem. Just a thought. – Alexander O'Mara Jun 28 '17 at 23:43
  • I don't presume anything when I ask a question. I asked the question because I want an answer. I don't have a viewpoint on it's relative level of correctness, all I know is that I have a question and have phrased it the best I know how at that moment. If there are perceived problems with the question, the perception belongs to folks other than me. As such, how can I ask a question about fixing something that I don't think is broken to begin with? In short, how do I know about what I don't know? The case I'm speaking of that generated this post did, finally receive a good comment. – Mick Jun 28 '17 at 23:50
  • @Alex - continued. And I fixed the question because the stated deficiencies were something I agreed with in retrospect. I didn't see it to begin with and the circumstances were rather unique concerning the target of the question. But I wouldn't have know that without the very helpful comments provided.. – Mick Jun 28 '17 at 23:53
  • 6
    @Mick Loads of people have asked Meta questions looking for help improving their question, without knowing what is wrong (hence the question asking what is wrong). Such questions asked in good-faith are generally well received. – Alexander O'Mara Jun 28 '17 at 23:56
  • 9
    @Mick "I asked the question because I want an answer." And you call other people volunteering here egocentric? Seriously?? – πάντα ῥεῖ Jun 29 '17 at 0:00
  • @Mick: I do have sympathy for people looking for actionable feedback on how to fix their questions, and I think there are ways SE could improve on that (in particular, predefined lists of anonymous reasons for the vote). I don't think it's worth sacrificing easy up- and down-votes to do so, though. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 29 '17 at 0:31
5

You seem to assume a great deal of malice involved with downvotes in general.

What I received was 3 down votes which cost me 6 points of rep on the QUESTION ITSELF with NO explanation. I further conclude that this was done out of spite because the times on all three down votes is within a minute of each other, two in the same minute.

you seem to assume the votes were out of spite because of the time between them. there is almost 7 million users on SO, while i'm not 100% sure on the number of those online at the time and with downvote privileges it is entirely possible that 3 users could have found you're question at the same time and downvoted it for different reasons. not knowing the timing of the first vote to when the question was posted keep in mind that some people can read really fast. the only time you should be suspicious for malicious voting is when within seconds all your questions/answers over the last view years get down voted when most weren't bumped by the Community user but there is a system in place which helps correct this

now about you're proposal

  1. Down vote with no comment, but YOU LOSE 10 TIMES THE REP POINTS OR 1% OF YOUR TOTAL REP POINTS whichever is GREATER for doing so. e.g. I lose 2, you lose 20 and yes, doing this can take you negative on your rep. It should cost and cost mightily for being a jerk.

this becomes quite the hassle for users with more than 2,000 rep so those with more than 100k rep, who probably have the most experience on the site to know good and bad questions/answers, are going to loose 2k or more rep for making 1 downvote for not wanting to spam the same comment "this shows no research" or something that's already been commented

also Negative Rep isn't normally possible by the normal system. since you loose privileges when your rep drops bellow what is required for one. negative rep would mean you can't use the site at all, the only times there is negative rep is when there is a suspension (though we still see it as 1 rep but in reality is bellow 1). ofcause someone getting into negative rep with this suggestion would be impossible since you need 100 rep to downvote (for 125 on SO) and at the least they will lose 20 rep

  1. I, as the QUESTIONER, AM ALLOWED TO REVIEW YOUR COMMENTS and can reject your down vote and recover my rep points so long as I answer your down vote with comments of my own - no penalty to me for rejecting your down-vote. Moderator then gets to approve/reject the rejection. All comments to be public, of course.

this adds more work for the moderators who are in essence the exception handlers for a site when the community can do something. also i have seen cases of users posting obviously off-topic questions and arguing the point that it's a valid question despite evidence to the contrary (the off-topic reason with meta posts)

also you can ready in a way review comments and reject them to be removed as you can flag comments

  1. It would be even nicer if I could get the user id of the down-voter and report their activity to a moderator for review. A nice "Spiteful" button on a comment or answer rather than just an up or down vote but that's probably asking for too much. The trouble with allowing interaction between folks is that someone usually has to act as the babysitter.

this is kinda redundant if they are almost forced to comment. also as you assume there is malice in all downvotes it would be rightfully so to assume that users will revenge downvote anyone who they knew downvoted their posts spamming the comment like "ha ha ha ha ha ha you suck go die" or garbage adding work for the user to then reject each comment and mods to then validate the rejection which again adds to what i just said about adding more work to the mods


"This question/answer is really obvious/useless/off topic, I'm going to down vote it because it's plainly obvious/useless/off-topic ...", that's some ego you have there

while obviousness/uselessness could be different between each person how does "This question/answer is really off topic, I'm going to down vote it because it's plainly off-topic" have anything to do with ego? if there is evidence that the user knows that a kind of question is off-topic (the badge for going though the tour) and posts it anyway why not downvote it? you say earlier with your suggestion

EVERYONE pays for their actions.

but this comment seems to only be targeting the voters, not the people who ask the question so then not EVERYONE is paying for their actions.

what if the question isn't a question at all but some petty user attacking a mod's actions? yes this did happen a couple of days ago on Movies and TV where a user kept creating accounts and using vulgar language effectively saying in one question "if [MOD] stops deleting my accounts i'll stop this abuse". it's clearly not a useful question, it's not a question at all. where is the ego in me down voting that?


The ONLY reason to down vote a QUESTION is if the question itself contains bad information. EVEN THEN, COMMENT AND LET THE PERSON KNOW WHY YOU THINK IT'S BAD INFORMATION!

you seems to be forgetting the 3 reasons that the hover text of the buttons say

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

take the following questions

  • Stack Overflow - how do i output to the screen/page? | Tagged: php, c++, ruby, iphone, zombie-process
  • Arqade - [dump of error log] | tagged: minecraft
  • Stack Overflow - code wont work hfksjfdahkjfdhfdkjhfdskhfdskjhfdsk (no code posted)
  • Stack Overflow - i have the following PHP Code which has a user send a command and there is a placeholder for when the command is sent [code posted]. how can i make my toaster receive these commands
  • Stack Overflow - how do i connect to a database in PHP?

all 5 of these fall into one of the 3 reasons and you're suggestion would have the comments spammed with the same reason. now you might argue that the comments will only get posted if you approve them but what about users who post a question but do nothing to fix or answer comments already made currently? you have admitted yourself here that the account you used to post this question is not your actual one so what if you decided to just post this and return to your original account (which i highly suspect you did given the lone upvote though it's just as probable that it was someone else. but since you are assuming that no one has good intentions with a down vote why should we assume that there are good intentions with upvotes either?)


Because, folks, at the end of the day, SO is about ANSWERING QUESTIONS, not displaying egos, rendering opinions on relative worthiness or anything else that has to do with the answers or the person answering.

while you are right in some parts you contradict yourself here. how can SO be about answering questions but not about anything else that has to do with the answer? Stack Overflow is about making library of detailed answers like what the tour says, so where is the detailed answer when it's a code dump that only works with the Asker's code and doesn't explain what the problem was and what was done to fix it? or a link which provides an answer but later is lost because of link rot?

But, the same goes for answers. If you are going to down-vote an answer, EXPLAIN YOURSELF OR TAKE THE HIT FOR BEING AN UNINFORMATIVE JERK.

there is also hover text for the downvote button. while it just says:

This answer is not useful

how useful is an answer with a dead link or an unexplained code dump, or even saying "i have this problem to" or "thanks, this worked for me"


If the question is a "Do my homework for me" question, SO WHAT! They will pay the price for doing so later and, maybe, just maybe, they'll learn something because you...wait for it...HELPED THEM OUT.

the problem is when will they pay the price? when it comes to a programming exam where access to the internet is removed? when their employer finds out they have been paying someone to get someone else to do their work for free?

while there are different way of learning you can not deny that sometimes if you do someone else's work for them what they learn is reliance.

there was a student in my university programming class who i helped alot, probably to the point where i was telling them what to do (ie "because you can only read the file one line at a time and you don't know how many lines are in a file you will need a while loop which will add each line to your variable and terminate if the end of the file is reached.", "because this is a text box a user could put in the word hello instead of the number you are expecting so you need an if statement to check for this and output an error if it's not a number"). about a year or 2 later after i graduated they emailed me asking if i could do their assignment saying they couldn't understand it yet i wasn't the only person they emailed, they emailed everyone in the class (i had my university emails forward to my personal email at the time)

there is nothing wrong in giving a guiding hand but one of the things about Stack Overflow and any other Stack Exchange site is that you put in some effort to solve it on your own. this is the Research Effort the voting buttons talk about


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .