At the moment, it is suggested to users that they should downvote if
This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful
This is a pretty lax criterion. Also, it overlaps with the causes for closing a question (officially-listed ones and perhaps also the meta-rationale for when a question should be closed.)
On some sites - at least, on StackOverflow - problematic questions get downvoted very quickly and repeatedly. This is particularly problematic when it comes to new users, who make various honest mistakes or are just not used to what SO (or other network sites) are like.
In light of the above, I suggest:
- That the tool-tip for downvoting be changed to something like:
This question should remain open, but does not show any research effort; and it is unclear or not useful
- That the downvoting privilege page be changed accordingly: From
Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.
to something like:
Use your downvotes when you encounter a question which should exist on the site, i.e. should not be closed, but is egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post; or when you encounter an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.