34

Now, I realize that in a sense it helps meet a certain common demand, that folks explain downvotes. It's an excellent resource. It explains very well how a post can be improved.

On the other hand, I think a bare link to it is off-putting because:

  1. As an experienced user, I feel there's often a little more guidance that's needed.
  2. It puts the focus on the downvote, rather than the improvement until you click through. A new user is going to focus on the former, not the latter.
  3. It's an LMGTFY-style 'lazy' way to deal with a lower-quality question.

Now, together with a bit of fluff "Your question could do with some improvement blah blah" and a link, its handy.

I love the intent, not the implementation. Could we consider encouraging better, more productive use of it, or maybe blacklisting bare links to it (if possible) to encourage more insightful commentary?

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    It also has horrible advice. I agree the intent is wonderful, the implementation, will cause more problems for those follow advice like removing their question before attempt to improve it – Ramhound Apr 27 '18 at 1:52
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    Are these comments very common outside of Stack Overflow? I found 3 on Server Fault in the last 2 months, none on any of the other sites. Are you deleting a lot of them on Super User? – Andrew Myers Apr 27 '18 at 4:42
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    tbh I don't really remember where I saw it - only that throwing a link like that felt unhelpful. A bit more context would have been nice? – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 '18 at 5:04
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    A 'bare link' is offputting? Maybe, for some, but it's really quick to put in and saves having to continually copy in the same stuff, (kinda why hyperlinks were invented in the first place). Many users don't want dedicated one-on-one comments anyway. They might say they do, but they really don't, and neither do the user-moderators. – Martin James Apr 27 '18 at 10:21
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    Well, admittedly I hand write most of my comments - if we expect new users to make an effort - I kinda think we should too. Literally all those things you've said is why it seems a bit offputting. I mean sure its easier but what does it teach new users, practically, other than folks basically can't even be bothered with em. I think its useful in conjunction with other tools – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 '18 at 10:53
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    @Ramhound horrible advice??? Pull request or it didn't happen. – Won't Apr 27 '18 at 13:09
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    Cross site dupe: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/355950/… – ShaWiz Apr 29 '18 at 19:30
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    I flag as "no longer needed" all bare link comments to idownvotedbecau.se I see. Those flags invariably are accepted. I find those bare link comments annoying and unfriendly. – Mark Rotteveel Apr 30 '18 at 21:47
  • I've had one or two cases where a new user did respond by improving their question. So it can work. Would be interesting to see if we could make it sound friendlier - and if that helps. – S.L. Barth May 3 '18 at 6:59
  • @S.L.Barth but is it really worth it? I believe most users just ignore those links, let's say 80%. Some others are offended by them, and some like you said actually get the idea and improve the post. I don't know the numbers, but is it really worth alienating many people? Is it really so hard to copy&paste some friendly comment instead? – ShaWiz May 3 '18 at 8:03
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    @Ramhound Am I missing something? The reason for the DV (lack of research) is explained thoroughly and well. I like the content, however, the actual layout would be a bit intimidating to a newcomer. It looks like a British government announcement for some reason. – Mari-Lou A May 3 '18 at 8:14
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    @S.L.Barth yes I'm pretty sure it does, because I'm 100% sure that if such link was posted under my own question, I would see it as rude. I wouldn't burn the club for that, but I would take it as "you suck, click here to know why". Actually the answer posted now reflects my thoughts. With the ongoing "SO isn't welcoming" saga, I must also mention that I'm pretty sure such comments are part (maybe not big due to low volume, but still part) of the "being unwelcome". Such comments are as far from being welcoming as something can be. – ShaWiz May 3 '18 at 8:42
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    I think that was mentioned in an earlier comment – Journeyman Geek May 3 '18 at 20:03
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    when I looked to that site "must be done" in header did feel too offensive and I actually did not want to read any more than that. It might be useful if it would be more welcoming and motivating but at least for me the writing style was too offensive and feels like lmgtfy joke. – Sampo Sarrala May 4 '18 at 17:18
10
+50

I do also feel it's kind of off-putting at first glance. It reads as if there's little care about what the question actually is, like it's just throwing robotic jargon at them. Bare links to it read even more like LMGTFY links than actual helpful links, and even though it doesn't carry the sarcastic tone, it still doesn't seem very nice or approachable.

I would however, be in support for potentially linking to them in some nicer pro-forma comments that properly summarize what's wrong, but I'd like to see the site's content cleaned up quite a bit first. As it's currently written, it:

  1. Includes an arguably debatable reason: "Being unresponsive" - 99% of these cases already merit downvoting for other reasons anyways, like being unclear.
  2. Includes a couple redundant reasons:
    • "No debugging" - I've yet to see a case of this that isn't either "no code", "no errors", or both. And for genuine cases where they didn't even try to test their code, it can just be chalked up to "no research" (trying their code counts as research into their issues).
    • "No MCVE" - We already have a FAQ page at //$SITEURL$/help/mcve specifically dedicated to it. A canned comment to this more directly helps people, and it has basically the same content (if not more) than the idownvotedbecau.se link. Furthermore, all but one part, "verifiable", is covered with more specific reasons on that site that are better suited to each problem, and "verifiable" in particular isn't something you can typically tell just at a glance like the others. (Just because you can't reproduce it, doesn't imply others can't.)
  3. Includes a few reasons that are just as easily explained in a canned comment, providing little extra benefit to them:
    • "Too much code" - I've got this canned comment which does just as well in practice: You seem to have posted more code than what would be reasonable for your issue. Please read [ask] and how to make a [mcve], providing a MCVE helps users answer your question and future users relate to your issue.
    • "No code" - 99% of these are resolved after me posting this canned comment (or failing that, the first reiteration of basically the same thing): It seems you have a problem with your code. However, we can't help unless we have [code or information that can reproduce the problem](//$SITEURL$/help/mcve). Otherwise, we are just blindly guessing. The remaining 1% who don't get it after the second time probably wouldn't get the idownvotedbecau.se link either, since you usually end up having to drill this simple concept into them of "we can't help you unless we know what you tried". (Also, another issue that's almost as common is not having enough code, which amounts to similar issues.)
    • "Missing exception details" - I've got this canned comment which is a little more general, and it works just as well most of the time: Can you elaborate on how your code "doesn't work"? What were you expecting, and what actually happened? If you got an exception/error, post the line it occurred on and the exception/error details. Please [edit] these details in or we may not be able to help. The issues I run into with this are very similar to the kinds of issues I run into with the "no code" issue.
  4. Includes a few reasons that could stand to be improved:

Yeah, I know I'm not a high-rep user. So do take my guesstistics and fauxnalyses with a grain of salt. ;-)

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    Also, I might leave a comment, but choose not to downvote. Leaving such a link basically binds you into downvoting. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 6 '18 at 4:14
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    I do that frequently myself. But here's the thing: if you choose to downvote, but obscure the link within a more helpful pro-forma comment, it no longer conceptually locks you into downvoting. (For what it's worth, if you downvote and then change it to an upvote, you still downvoted by definition, even though you didn't keep it.) – Isiah Meadows May 6 '18 at 4:16
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    I upvoted this because it provides useful, workable alternatives, and suggests improvements :p – Journeyman Geek May 6 '18 at 4:43
17

I've only seen these links used maybe twice, but I really dislike them.

Used as a link-only comment it comes across as lazy, snarky and off-putting (whatever the actual intent is; and I'm sure they are perfectly well intended). It comes across as "this person hates my post so much had to point it out... but couldn't be bothered to explain why".

If it comes with an explanation and suggestion for improvement then it's not so bad. But more importantly, it still focuses on the wrong thing...

Explicitly advertising your downvote in itself is no help to anyone. Sure, we all know downvotes aren't really personal and the numerous requests for explaining downvotes makes it sound like a good idea... but that's not really true, and it's not helpful either way. However much we like to tell them it is wrong, users do take downvotes personally and advertising your downvote is just rubbing salt in the wound, with absolutely no benefit.

What is helpful is the reasoning that comes with it. So, instead of saying "I downvoted because..." what you should be doing is suggesting improvements to the post. That is constructive, helpful and doesn't bring along the misplaced sense of personal attack for the ride. Simple.

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    That's so true, in so many levels. Cheers. – ShaWiz May 3 '18 at 8:38
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    If they follow the link, they get much more explanation than fits in a comment. Maybe the links should have a different name (HowToImproveYourQuestionOn.SE...??). And come in a canned comment that explains the issue quickly, with the link itself as a "read more [here]"). – S.L. Barth May 3 '18 at 8:49
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    @S.L.Barth sure, that'd be great. I've got no problem with the advice (not that I've actually read through it all; but in in principle), it's the focusing on downvotes I don't like. – Cai May 3 '18 at 8:51
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    @S.L.Barth throwing too much at people is also not good idea in my opinion, even if it's constructive. Anyway, personally I think domain like "stackoverflow.tips" might be better idea, as it can be used for more things, not just explaining downvotes - it can be used to any tip we want to share. – ShaWiz May 3 '18 at 8:57
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    @ShadowWizard, Cai : you might be on to something here. We could create some pro-forma comments, only one or two lines long. Ending with a "read more [here](https://idownvotedbecau.se/...)". Neatly hiding the domain name. – S.L. Barth May 3 '18 at 9:02
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    @S.L.Barth exactly. That would be both welcoming, we can also start it with "Welcome to Stack Overflow!" in case it's the user's first post, and get higher chance for the user to actually listen. – ShaWiz May 3 '18 at 9:04
  • You could also add some further prompts to users reviewing in the First Posts queue. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 3 '18 at 9:27
  • @Sonic I really like that idea. – Cai May 3 '18 at 10:01

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