Why questions that are likely posted by newbies are being downvoted even though they could have an answer? I have observed that unfriendly behaviour mostly in C++ threads. Why?

Such posts where the code is not indented, the OP was probably not aware of indentation but his question still can be answered, or when questions are relatively easy but the person has no clue how to resolve an error?

Is it hard to point out that a person should indent the code or simply bypass the question? What's the point of downvoting? According to stackoverflow, you should downvote if the post is least useful but I have seen posts myself that are of value. Why so unfriendly?

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    Why do you assume that a question with downvotes can't be answered? Why do you assume it is not the task of the asker to get familiar with the site and its rules prior asking (you also failed to do research for your "What's the point of downvoting?" question). – Tom Sep 8 '17 at 8:00
  • Because they tell the asker that his post is inappropriate and should be deleted (not modified)? And the main point of my question is not about "What's the point of downvoting?" but why being unfriendly. Regarding the research, how would I know that I need to research first before posting? – user4447655 Sep 8 '17 at 8:20
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    "how would I know that I need to research first before posting?" Common courtesy? – yannis Sep 8 '17 at 8:28
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    Downvoting should not be interpreted as an unfriendly action, but as a signal to the original poster and other users that the content should be improved. – user204841 Sep 8 '17 at 8:40
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    I'll just link to the other answer you posted on a similar question. meta.stackexchange.com/a/300635/171697 – Jamiec Sep 8 '17 at 8:53
  • "Why questions that are likely posted by newbies are being downvoted even though they could have an answer?" - In most cases at least on person will provide feedback on a question that is not being well received by the community. I am not sure what being a "newbie" has to do with asking a quality question. You don't have to be familiar with how a SE community works to understand how to ask a question, you do it all the time in real life, but for some reason people seem to forget how to ask actual questions once they sit down at a electronic device. – Ramhound Sep 8 '17 at 13:41
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    "Because they tell the asker that his post is inappropriate and should be deleted (not modified)?" - If they are getting told the question is "inappropriate " and the question should be "deleted" it means that no reasonable amount of effort can be put into the question to make it "appropriate" which means it should be deleted. How is saying, a question isn't appropriate, unfriendly though? "What's the point of downvoting?" - To indicate to the author and the community that you believe the question should be improved. – Ramhound Sep 8 '17 at 13:43
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    "According to stackoverflow, you should downvote if the post is least useful " - An inappropriate question isn't helpful. – Ramhound Sep 8 '17 at 13:45
  • Another remark: mostly, not the answerers vote you down. The primal interest of the answerer, to attract attention to his answer (to collect upvotes). Negative-score questions typically distract attention. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 14:54
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    go to idownvotedbecau.se and read the linked pages. They contain many common issues faced by new users, why they are considered downvote-worthy and how to fix. – user1228 Sep 8 '17 at 17:41
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    Unfortunately, I suspect that one reason why such poor quality questions are posted is that our advice and help is free. If other professionals that the OP's interacted with were treated in a similar manner, the resulting bill would have $$$$ added for 'just wasting my time and making me ask for clarifications'. The posters would never cosider treating their doctor, accountant, lawyer or garage technician in such a 'Here is code I copied, fix it' manner - they would lose their house. – Martin James Sep 8 '17 at 19:31

Stack Overflow gets a metric crap-ton of questions every day. If a question fails at the most basic level (very poor formatting, no evident prior effort) I will downvote it to signal potential answerers that their time is probably better spent elsewhere. That they should skip it and move on to help someone that did put some effort solving their own problem before asking, and also bothered spending five minutes learning how to format their posts.

We simply do not have the resources to answer every question that reaches our shores. Downvoting helps us focus our efforts on the more deserving ones. It might not feel friendly to the person who asked a crappy question, but it is friendly, very friendly to the wider community.

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You are dealing with multiple simultaneous effect coincidentally, and you see only their sum.

  • Many of the newbies have major problems, not with English, but with literacy et al. They can't formulate a single sentence, they don't use capitals, punctuations, while it is clearly visible that their English skill is far enough for them to do it.
  • Most of the newbies are not only newbies in the IT, they are newbies in the communication, too. They are simply incapable to understand, for example, that we aren't a "wonder machine" seeing everything on their machine and understanding all of their thoughts.
  • Yes, also an irrational hostility exists. It targets mainly newbies, but everybody gets a little from it. For example, recently I've made some Go questions (I have 4600 rep and 10+ golden badges on the SO). Nearly all of them were downvoted. In one of them, I've got also some close votes with "go to the SU" reasoning. Why? I have no idea. My impression is that somehow a "community" were collected on the SO around Go, and this community has an irrational, collective urge to exterminate all the Go newbies. I think you could have faced some similar in the C++ area now.

The evil is mainly an irrational thing. Doing harm, because it is needed, or there is no other option, is not really evil. You can understand it, you can deal it, you can handle it. Even if it is harmful, at least you have something to think, something to do. There are ways of a compromise, there are ways to adapt.

In the case of the pure evil, you simply can't see or can't understand the reason. Because there is no reason. It is a l'art pour l'art thing. It is an esoterical thing.

I've tought on a possibility, that I start a new account, from which I only make my questions. If you separate your questions into a secondary account, and thus you have only answers on your main account, then your main account will be exempt from the problem, that you can't delete even your own downvoted questions. This can be done legally on the rules of the SE (until you use your different accounts to support eachother. I.e. not only voting to your own posts is forbidden, but any self-supporting activity, for example writing supporting comments from your alter-egos). There is also a danger, that your new "question-account" gets a question ban. If it got, it would be a misuse to post questions from any of your accounts.

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    @S.L.Barth Thanks, my English were always buggy with the negation rules :-) I fixed it. Maybe "while you don't use", or "until you use" would be equivalent. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 9:14
  • Couple notes: you can certainly have separate question and answer accounts, no problem on that at all. But it's more than "makes sure they don't support each other", it's "make sure they do not interact in any way ever"; for example, you may not even downvote one from the other. Also, separate accounts won't help you delete your downvoted questions. An OP cannot delete a question once it's gotten >1 answer, or even 1 answer with a score >0. Separate accounts won't change that. – Dan Bron Sep 8 '17 at 11:00
  • @DanBron The separate accounts help that on the way, that at least his real, main account won't be attackable by question-downs, and it won't be associatable by his downvoted questions. In exchange, he gives up the (typically, few) reputation what he could have achieved by his question ups. There are numerous high-rep users on the sites without a single question, I think they may have a question-alterego around. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 11:12
  • @DanBron The rule about non-interaction is surprising on the first spot, although I think it is reasonable for the second. Could you show some reference about it? – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 11:14
  • I was only responding to this part of your answer "exempt from the problem that you can't delete your own downvoted question". Even with two accounts, you can't delete your downvoted question if it's gotten answers. But as you say maybe it's less of an issue if you're mostly trying to delete the questions because of the reputation impact. On "alter egos", I have a 20k+ rep on EL&U and I don't maintain a question-asking alter ego. In fact, I wish I could think of more good questions to ask. – Dan Bron Sep 8 '17 at 11:15
  • Here you go: don't vote on your own posts, etc. – Dan Bron Sep 8 '17 at 11:26
  • @DanBron I didn't make enough clear that I've thought on the question-account as a secondary one, whose sticked questions aren't a problem. I tried to make it more clear, by editing the post. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 11:30
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    re "There are numerous high-rep users on the sites without a single question, I think they may have a question-alterego around." or maybe they just made the needed research effort which in turn has answered their question before they have to ask and doesn't need an alternative account. – Tensibai Sep 8 '17 at 12:28
  • @Tensibai Saying that you answer thousands of questions without having asked a single one for yourself, yes it is possible. But saying that it is the common, surreal. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 12:41
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    @peterh I've only answered 522 questions on SO, not thousands ;) I usually find my answers by search or trial and errors or chat on various medium. I assume I'm not alone for this and that's less surreal than thinking most high rep users have an alternative account to ask questions. – Tensibai Sep 8 '17 at 12:48
  • @Tensibai In my opinion, it is highly unfortunate in the case of these accounts, who really don't ask anything, only answer. After writing so many HQ answers, probably they could write also very good questions. However, I think we both are talking about hyphotheses and speculations, because none of us knows, who has question-alterego and who has not. But only I admit it. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 14:29
  • @Tensibai Furthermore, questions works also as resources here. Without questions, we wouldn't have anything to answer. This is a major driving force behind the SE model. On "ordinary" Q&A sites, web forums, the questions are typically askings for free work. Here a question is a way to show our skills to the world (and to collect rep, badges, and so on). Your Q/A stat on the SO is really impressive. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 14:35
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    @peterh If you wish, for my own part I know I'm better at writing answers than writing questions, and writing questions I already know the answer of is even harder as I'm biased toward the answer when writing it. If you want a very high profile exemple see this one very good person in R and mainly answering question only in a "I'll help users whatever" – Tensibai Sep 8 '17 at 14:35
  • @Ramhound Yes. And you don't really understand the reason, you don't know, why you got. Accepting the community consent, you would be ready to delete your post, but even this is not allowed. That -11 question is a permanent wound on your profile and you can't do anything. I deeply agree you, in my opinion, a site really wanting their visitors to feel themselves well, shouldn't allow this. Btw, I think also your up/down ratio is frightening a little bit :-) 40k down, and a lot for answers... – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 8 '17 at 14:44
  • @Ramhound I typically flag these answers as "not an answer" or VLQ. Also I do unpopular things sometimes, for example if I see that nearly all the answers are bad below a question, then I vote all of them down, and explain the problem in comments. But I do this rarely. In VLQ/VTC/down things, I concentrate my efforts only to the obvious crap. In questionable cases I am friendly, I think if the case is not obvious then it is better to decide positively (for the OP). I do this because my hearth bleed seeing the so many disappointment what the irrational hostility causes. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 11 '17 at 4:08

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