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Why does SO have so much attitude and condescension, even after several measures have been taken to eliminate it?

We can and need to do better

  1. Problem: S.O. still has so many people with a bad attitude
  2. Expected Behaviour: Stack Overflow's efforts to change this would've succeeded more
  3. What I've done: I have taken to even writing notes in my post, sometimes to ask people to be kind and remember that we are community to help each other, and sometimes that I have learning disabilities, which I do
  4. My Theory: S.O. has tried but not succeeded because so many people are attached to how things are or have been. Make it more of a priority to make it extremely visible on every page that inclusiveness, welcoming, and helpfulness is the expected culture here and to remember that.
  5. Possible Solutions: Listed at the bottom of this post.

Yes, this keeps getting mentioned, but that's OK because it is still a huge problem. For example: Could we please be a bit nicer to new users?


Why this is different from the 'duplicate':

It deals with multiple solutions and issues, not just “downvoting.” It deals with the fact that this is STILL happening and that while people on S.O. are mostly helpful, there are a significant number of members who continue to behave poorly, condescendingly, and irritated at questions they don’t like, or inexperienced programmers.

And to be honest, the heavy downvoting of this post is an example of that environment, too.


A little history

I have been on Stack Overflow for a very long time, since 2011. I’m not a newbie. I know that there have been things that have been tried, but it’s clear that I have to repeat myself: They have not worked well enough. I am not blindsided by the snottiness that can come from asking a question that others think is “dumb” or “doesn’t match the criteria of a ‘good’ question.”

Remember back in school, how good teachers, yes, the GOOD ones, told you that there was no stupid question? That if you had a question, most likely other people have the same question but are too shy to ask? Do you really think that doesn’t happen here? People come here with the hope that they can get help, but most of the time their first experiences are negative, critical, aggressive, and unwelcoming. Even after all these years.

When I first started I noticed lots of non-answers and comments with bad attitude, chastening, downvotes, and condescension for me not knowing the answer to something that I'm asking a question about and a general assumption that I had not done enough research.

Unfortunately, this problem still exists more than 10 years later, to an extent far greater than it should. I know Stack Overflow does try to address this, and I have noticed some degree of improvement, but it still seems that there are people who seem to be on here for no other reason than to downvote people or tell them they're not doing enough research or asking obvious questions that they should already know.

It seems that there is at least a small group, possibly a large group of people here who just seem to love to downvote people. And some of it just seems punitive for someone not being an experienced enough programmer. It's just generally mean-spirited a lot more than it should be here.

Sure, there are reasons that some posts would be downvoted, but it shouldn't be used to hurt someone, to punish someone, to discourage someone, or to imply that they're basically stupid. And we should make sure that if the person is a new user that were especially gentle with them. It's easy to see how much experience on the site people have so be nice to them.

Inclusivity, not elitism

Stack Overflow does not just exist for expert programmers. It is a resource that is mentioned in every Intro to Programming class or boot camp. People who haven't had decades of experience or are “L17659” engineers should feel welcome here, too, and not be essentially beaten down for making mistakes.

Additionally, I am a programmer with several learning disabilities and processing deficits. I know I'm not the only one; there are thousands of us. And there are things that are more difficult for me or my fellow LD community members to understand than for neurotypical people. It is my experience over the last 11 years that literally noone ever considers that that could be the case for a question that might seem obvious to experienced/neurotypical programmers.

So I have started including this information in some of my questions, but many times it gets "moderated" out, which I find kind of obnoxious, disrespectful, exclusionary, and a big part of the problem. Stack Overflow should be an inclusive place where people with disabilities and different levels of understanding, experience, and education, should all be welcome, and helped by those who have understanding.

Solutions: So, what can be done? A lot, actually

Credit where credit is due: Stack Overflow has done a lot to make the place feel friendly. But unfortunately, it’s still not enough. People complain about this often, and Stack Overflow now has a bad reputation about being a place where beginners will basically get beat up, and this makes it obvious that whatever has been done hasn't been enough.

I have a few suggestions of how we might change this. Some of them have been mentioned, and some of them haven’t, as least as far as my research found. All of them will no doubt, get resistance, some of them, or maybe all of them might not get done because S.O. is a place where “death by consensus” happens far too much.

The basic ideas are to de-incentivize bad behavior, and incentivize good behavior. Right now it doesn't seem there's a whole lot of penalties for people, being jerky, unpleasant, condescending, etc.

Here are a few ideas I think could make a big difference:

  1. Use Economic theory. What do people get out of being mean? Find out. Then take it away or make the consequences for it too great.

  2. Require downvoters to give a reason of at least say, 50 characters (enough to have a cogent explanation) to be written for each downvote. This would give the OP and understanding of exactly why their question was downvoted which would help improve their questions in the future. Sure, this has been discussed, (for example, here Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are ideas suggesting such negatively received?) but the reasons given about why it won’t work sound like a list of reasons that cops can’t stop shooting unarmed black people. It’s a bunch of excuses, from “it’ll never work” to “we can’t accommodate everyone” to “it will destroy everything this site is” and “It will remove the most important quality control we have” And those are all false. Plenty of sites operate without a downvote at all, and do fine in terms of content ranking and management. It sounds to me from reading the answer to that that the main reason is that “we don’t want to change it from how it’s always been.”

  3. Stop making downvotes anonymous— people would think about whether they really want to do that or not, and actually take accountability for their actions. Maybe get rid of downvotes altogether, and just leave upvotes as an option just like in the comments section. Lots of sites have done this for exactly these problematic reasons. Yes, this can lead to “revenge” downvoting and site harassment. But doesn’t that kind of sound like what I’m talking about here, to begin with? Except in this case those threatened by negativity would be the elite and privileged on the site, and we can’t have that. That kind of sounds like the only harassment tolerated is to those without much power or influence.

  4. Start what is basically a marketing campaign on the site to be kinder, to be more welcoming, to be more inclusive, and understand that not everyone is as experienced, as you might be, as educated, as you might be, as privileged as you might be, or even Neurotypical— and that everyone is welcome here. There should be a box about this on every single page of the site to remind people, to remind all of us, so that we can show up with our better angels rather than our frustrations and desire to punish others for not knowing what we think they should.

  5. Write big, clear reminders about being friendly and helpful and kind, and patient with new users and developers. There is currently NOTHING to that effect when answering or commenting on a question. Why is that such a big deal? Even just make it placeholder text in the text areas. How does that actually negatively affect you or the community other than the fact that it’s a change &emdash; and maybe you don’t like changes?

Make it even more obvious that users can report mean or inappropriate behavior, and subtract significant points from users who repeatedly get tagged with that.

Let's do this and make a difference here

I think that any or all of these solutions would make a huge difference in terms of civility, effectiveness, and enjoyment on the site. And improve Stack Overflow's elitist and "mean girl" reputation, which, as we all know, needs help and has for a long time. I know they’ve been discussed, and usually rejected. But maybe it’s time to reconsider them.

I hope that the administrators and moderators continue to take action on this because what's been done so far has worked some, but not nearly enough.

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    Most of your suggestions have been heavily discussed and soundly rejected as bad ideas. It would be a good idea to research your suggestions before making them. (Of course this comment is going to make me sound like a "mean girl", but I wonder how I'm supposed to inform you in a more polite way ─ or perhaps you would rather I did not inform you?)
    – kaya3
    Jun 9, 2023 at 0:28
  • Obviously they were not bad ideas because this is still a big problem. I find it interesting that that that this bothers you so much.
    – MaxRocket
    Jun 9, 2023 at 0:44
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    So your argument is: this is a problem, therefore whatever ideas might address it are good ideas. I suspect you can see the flaw in this reasoning.
    – kaya3
    Jun 9, 2023 at 0:44
  • 22
    If users are leaving rude comments, please flag them. If users are downvoting your posts, it says more about your posts than it does those users. Jun 9, 2023 at 0:55
  • 28
    To be honest, the fact that you reacted to downvotes and a comment explaining the problem with your question, by adding a section to your question accusing the downvoters of being "sensitive" and being "a creeper about it", really demonstrates why your suggestions don't work. The same people who take downvotes as a personal affront, also don't tend to take constructive criticism too well either. Also, would it have helped you be more polite if the edit page had a prominent infobox saying "it's not nice to call people creepers"? What would you have done if you could see the downvoters' names?
    – kaya3
    Jun 9, 2023 at 0:57
  • 2
    What is an L17659 engineer? Jun 9, 2023 at 1:11
  • 3
    What is CVS in this context? Jun 9, 2023 at 1:20
  • 19
    "Right now it doesn't seem there's a whole lot of penalties for people, being jerky, unpleasant, condescending, etc." What kind of penalty do you think would be appropriate for calling people "Stack Overflow Nazis" as you did in your comment? Jun 9, 2023 at 2:07
  • 7
    We welcome anyone that put effort into their questions/answers. Jun 9, 2023 at 2:08
  • 4
    To be clear: where you say "but that's OK because it is still a huge problem. For example, Could we please be a bit nicer to new users?", you understand that you are attempting to support this claim by linking meta discussion originally from 14 years, 8 months ago, i.e. when Stack Overflow was about a month and a half old and (AFAIK) Stack Exchange didn't exist yet? It might be worth considering that things (both user behaviour in general, and community understanding of how the site is supposed to work) have changed since then. Jun 9, 2023 at 6:22
  • I often wonder when using the SE network sites what the correct conduct is for interacting on the SE sites. Should be kind or should I be polite? Jun 9, 2023 at 8:37
  • 1
    Related: The Staging Ground ("an attempt at improving the first-time asker experience") Jun 9, 2023 at 16:49
  • 4
    Yup, there is still a problem of some people having so much 'attitude' and condescension on SO, as evidenced by this very question. You did not have to double down on it. Be the change you want to see, start by changing yourself, etc etc.
    – E_net4
    Jun 10, 2023 at 17:15
  • 3
    The reason for a downvote is right there in the tooltip when you hover over the button: "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful". Why should a downvoter have to provide more of a reason than that?
    – brhans
    Jun 11, 2023 at 18:36

4 Answers 4

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[Stack Overflow] still has so many people with a bad attitude

I agree. So does the overall Stack Exchange network.

For example, these sites have very many people who:

  • believe that they are entitled to personalized answers to questions;

  • imagine that the site should function like a discussion forum simply because of all the other places on the Internet that admit user-generated content, offer answers to questions, and function as discussion forums (neglecting counterexamples like, say, Wikipedia);

  • object strongly to "their" answers being edited to conform to policy and produce a properly curated library of high-quality answers; and

  • propose that downvotes on content are a personal attack, or that they require explanation, or that people are "being creepers" by anonymously downvoting (not that there is ever anything wrong with anonymously upvoting, mind; and not that there is anything wrong with the vastly greater volume of votes cast constantly on Reddit, for example).

I'm really impressed by how sensitive people are about this because it's obviously still an immense problem on the site.

I agree. It's rather impossible to rate the quality of content if people are going to not only object to attempts to use the built-in mechanism for doing so, but drag identity politics into the discussion while complaining. Sensitivity of this sort is a big problem.

Stack Overflow does not just exist for expert programmers. It is a resource that is mentioned in every intro to programming class or boot camps.

True, but this overlooks important details. Stack Overflow exists for enthusiasts - i.e., for people who are willing to put in effort, regardless of skill level. (We cannot possibly be held responsible for third parties "mentioning" us, or for what they suggest about how to use Stack Overflow. A lot of them are probably very wrong, but there's not really anything we can do about it.)

There are very specific forms of effort that Stack Overflow looks for when it comes to asking questions:

  • They should be one, specific question (not a request for help, and not a "work order" to follow steps in a homework assignment));

  • they should be researched, at least as far as checking for duplicates;

  • questions about the behaviour of code ("debugging questions") should first isolate the specific code and then show a proper minimal, reproducible example;

  • "how-to" questions should have a clear, precise specification (how is the input formatted? What does the output need to be? When we test the code, how can we know whether the result is correct?);

  • they must be on topic;

  • and they are expected to avoid subjectivity, ranting, invitation to discussion etc.

In other words, everything that one might expect, if the goal were to build an organized, searchable library of high-quality answers, and not a discussion forum.

We expect those things because that is, in fact, the goal.

Additionally, I am a programmer with several learning disabilities and processing deficits. I know, I'm not. The only one, there are thousands of us. And there are things that are more difficult for me or my fellow LD community members to understand than for neurotypical people.

Cool. Many people in the same position are successfully asking and answering questions on Stack Overflow. (For what it's worth, you write quite well overall; certainly nobody would expect that you have such learning disabilities or programming deficits without you mentioning it.)

On the other hand, a huge fraction of what people describe as the "attitude and condescension" of the Stack Overflow community... is directly attributable to a lot of users being neurodivergent in ways that cause them not to recognize their own attitude and condescension as such.

It is my experience over the last 11 years that literally NO ONE ever considers that that could be the case for a question that might seem obvious to or experience programmers or neurotypical programmers.

The issue here is that there is not a meaningful way to "consider" this. If there is something you don't understand in an answer, we are happy to try to clarify it. In general, answers are supposed to be written in a way that is appropriate to the question - that is, to people who can be expected to have the question. However, "please make this more understandable to people with XYZ learning disability" is not actionable, because it does not actually tell us what it is about the answer that makes it not understood.

(I am aware that many neurodivergent people - specifically, those with certain presentations of autism spectrum disorders - might e.g. struggle to understand metaphors. Answers on Stack Overflow often benefit from using analogies to explain a concept, but metaphors should usually be edited out or reworked in canonical Q&As. But that isn't simply a matter of being "inclusive" towards people with autism - it's a matter of writing clearly for everyone, in an encyclopedic, "no fun allowed" way.)

Here are a few ideas I think could make a big difference

The first two ideas here are really the same thing, and have been addressed countless times on Stack Overflow meta. Except for the idea of removing downvotes altogether. I need to emphasize: this is not a way to make things kind and inclusive. It brings its own kind of toxicity: an inability to provide proper feedback, and an inability to rate content properly. When everyone is a winner, nobody is.

I would like to emphasize here that downvotes on the main site are not used to mark a question as "too easy". Arbitrarily easy questions are permitted as long as they meet the above guidelines. Downvotes may indicate that a question is seen as not useful to the goal of building a high-quality reference library. However, the easy questions are often very important - which is why they generally were asked years ago, and ideally have a canonical version that is highly upvoted. For example.

As for the last idea, the site has already been through multiple iterations of it. For the most part, it doesn't help with getting unkind people to be kinder (especially, again, if they are neuroatypical; it just gives them rules like "prefix comments to new users with Welcome to Stack Overflow", without teaching them interpersonal skills). For the most part, it increases resentment in the community, as average users get blamed for not being "nice enough" to people who want the site to be something that it fundamentally is not and should not be.

"being jerky, unpleasant, condescending, etc." have never been acceptable on Stack Overflow. They are contrary to the current Code of Conduct just released; contrary to the previous one from 2019; and contrary to various forms of equivalent guidelines that we had before that.

If you see people acting contrary to the Code of Conduct, please flag it for moderator attention.

However, downvoting things without explanation is expected and explicitly tolerated conduct, by design, and this will not change. We have to "yuck your yum" because this is inherently a space for work (collaboratively building a library), not play (discussion).

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    Not to excessively nitpick on this otherwise excellent answer, but I don't like the idea of editing out analogies from answers just because they may not be helpful to some groups of people. That's true for virtually any way of explaining things. There are many different learning styles, and some things just "click" better for certain people. Therefore, analogies (that are reasonably presented and relevant, natch) should be left in posts, cleaned up if possible. Even if they don't help neuroatypical people, they may well help others. Offering multiple explanations to choose from is always best Jun 9, 2023 at 7:21
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    @CodyGray-onstrike I said to edit out metaphors. Generally they can either be replaced with analogies, or else they are just flowery (oops! a metaphor!) prose that can be simplified. Nothing wrong with analogies. Jun 9, 2023 at 7:23
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    I... OK. Everything I said remains true and valid for metaphors as well. Nothing wrong with a bit of flowery prose. Answers that are both clear and fun to read are the best answers. Jun 9, 2023 at 7:23
  • If I could, I would be giving two votes to this answer. Jun 9, 2023 at 8:08
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    @CodyGray-onstrike the argument is that "fun to read" can impede comprehension for some, and that if we are Serious About Inclusivity then we ought to be willing to sacrifice that. To me that's not really different from editing out, say, unnecessarily gendered language. Jun 9, 2023 at 8:16
  • Ok, thanks for the time put into this answer. A few things: (1) "Identity politics" was not brought into this. Those were, how did you say it... yes, metaphors that help describe the problem. :) (2) Thank you for saying that I write well, however, Learning Disabilities or neurodivergence don't have to have any effect on someone's ability to write or communicate, and are often misunderstood. (3) Agreed on the point that some people who are inadvertently jerks are lacking social skills, so yes. But not all of them.
    – MaxRocket
    Jun 9, 2023 at 19:26
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S.O. has not made this enough of a priority to make it extremely visible on every page that inclusiveness, welcoming, and helpfulness is the expected culture here and to remember that.


In fact, this post was downvoted within seconds of me publishing it


Sure, there are reasons that some posts would be down voted, but it shouldn't be used to hurt someone, to punish someone, to discourage someone, or to imply that they're basically stupid.

That has never been a blessed-from-on-high reason for downvoting. That is not what downvotes are intended to communicate. Downvotes are a content curation mechanism. Read the vote button tooltips if you want to know what the basic, encouraged reason(s) for downvoting are. Also Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are ideas suggesting such negatively received?.


Stack Overflow does not just exist for expert programmers. It is a resource that is mentioned in every intro to programming class or boot camps. People who haven't had decades of experience or are L17659 engineers should feel welcome here, too,

Yes. But see also What is the proper way to approach Stack Overflow as someone totally new to programming?, How to Ask, and https://stackoverflow.com/help/minimal-reproducible-example.


So I have started, including that in some of my questions and many times it gets "moderated" out, which I find kind of obnoxious and disrespectful, as well as exclusionary.

See https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/editing ("Why can people edit my posts?"). Anything that is not necessary to understand and answer the question is generally noise and should be removed out of consideration for everyone's time.


Maybe get rid of downvotes altogether, and just leave upvotes as an option just like in the comments section. Lots of sites have done this for exactly these problematic reasons.

No. Big time no. Downvotes are how we indicate that we think things are not useful. Downvotes are why a lot of not-useful content isn't clogging up your search results.

There should be a box about this on every single page of the site to remind people, to remind all of us, so that we can show up with our better angels rather than our frustrations and desire to punish others for not knowing what we think they should.

We're pretty close: Come Take a Look at our New Contributor Indicator!. Comment inputs and answer inputs point to the Code of Conduct for questions written by new contributors.

Make it even more obvious that users can report mean or inappropriate behavior, and subtract significant points from users who repeatedly get tagged with that.

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This is very short answer to get those points across, as they would probably drown in a longer, more elaborate answer, but I think they are at the core of understanding why SO is what it is:

The basic ideas are to de-incentivize bad behavior, and incentivize good behavior.

We do. It might not be the behaviours you want from this site, but it is the behaviour I want on this site.

Maybe get rid of downvotes altogether, and just leave upvotes as an option just like in the comments section. Lots of sites have done this for exactly these problematic reasons.

Yes, and that is exactly why SO is what it is (the super helpful goto place that every single programmer knows) and "lots of other sites" were left in the dust.

I am on SO because I need an answer to my programming problem. Civility, niceties, feeling welcome is an optional feature for me. If I get my programming solution from an uncivilized, rude, arrogant prick? I don't have to ever see them again. But my program will work. Goal achieved.

If your goal is to always be treated well, and optionally sometimes get a solution to your programming problem, our goals on this platform are not well aligned.

I find it funny whenever someone says "those unpaid volunteers that help me in their free time, they need to be held to higher standards!". Yeah. I mean. Those ungrateful people, right? Being allowed to bear gifts to strangers and then doing it the way they see fit.

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    On the point of some of us volunteer helpers being sometimes rude, I thought of that too, and can see the argument, but personally don't like that direction. Kindness and respect are part of our Code of Conduct, and I'm glad they are.
    – starball
    Jun 9, 2023 at 6:59
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    This very much misses the point that downvotes are not uncivil, non-nice, rude, or unwelcoming, which is probably the most important point here. Voting is a content-rating system. If anything, it's uncivil and rude to your fellow users not to downvote things that you think are unclear, unhelpful, irrelevant, and/or wrong. Jun 9, 2023 at 7:19
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    @CodyGray-onstrike I think you are well qualified to contribute an answer focusing on that specific aspect... but perhaps it isn't worth the effort, considering all the previous rounds of discussion. Jun 9, 2023 at 7:26
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    @starball I can only speak for the SE site (not SO) I moderate, but people that cast "rude" flags, about half the time don't mean "that's rude", they mean "that's a truth I find uncomfortable". It's like calling out a doctor telling you you are sick. Is that comforting? No. Is that a truth I need to hear from a doctor? Yes, that is the whole point why "doctors" are a thing that works. It's never comfortable to be told you made a mistake, but that is what 99% of SO is about. And for me, it works very well that way. I come here to be told where I made a mistake, so I can correct that.
    – nvoigt
    Jun 9, 2023 at 8:57
  • @nvoigt yeah. to clarify, I was talking about clear instances of people being categorically rude. it's entirely possible to tell someone they made a mistake without being categorically rude (which is what I'm against (I'm not a shining perfect example- I've stumbled before)).
    – starball
    Jun 9, 2023 at 9:00
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    @starball Well, I am not covering for people that are obviously rude. Nobody needs to call another user names. That is uncalled for. But nobody is entitled to more than "non-rudeness". And quite frankly, if the user solving my programming problem wants to call me a stupid idiot... that seems a small cost for a transaction that would cost me upwards of 200$ if I hired them for an hour. If I could pay all my bills at 200$ a slur, I would let people scream at me all day. Who cares.
    – nvoigt
    Jun 9, 2023 at 9:03
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    @nvoigt I see your point. It makes its own kind of solid sense. But: not everyone is like you, and that sense is not necessarily everyone's sensibility. (And "stupid idiot" is a clear no-no for the SE network).
    – starball
    Jun 9, 2023 at 9:06
  • This is both funny and a good reminder: "If I get my programming solution from an uncivilized, rude, arrogant prick? I don't have to ever see them again. But my program will work. Goal achieved." That said, it doesn't hurt to not be a prick when answering a question to "help" someone. Or maybe it does for some people. I dunno.
    – MaxRocket
    Jun 9, 2023 at 19:28
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    I won't charge you anywhere near $200 per insult. There are also volume discounts available. Contact me any time. :-) Jun 10, 2023 at 12:19
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    Price promise - I guarantee to meet, or undercut, @CodyGray-onstrike. In addition, I have a three-for-two offer on insults for the rest of this month! Buy now, using the promo-code 'whogivesatoss' for an exclusive, extra 25% off! Jun 11, 2023 at 13:13
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I would like to address some of the points of this post:

It seems that there is at least a small group, possibly a large group of people here who just love to downvote people.

We don't (at least not supposed to, with safeguards in place) vote on people: We vote on posts.

If a question is not researched, or is an obvious duplicate it will be rightfully downvoted.

That being said, the fact that questions are "free" to downvote sometimes attract downvotes for any imaginable reason: too short, too long, bad formatting, too simple and so on. While it is not recommended, it is not discouraged in any way. And I see how it might feel unwelcoming.

but it shouldn't be used to hurt someone, to punish someone, to discourage someone, or to imply that they're basically stupid.

It is not. Downvote on the post doesn't imply anything about author. Votes on post are to show post's quality, and shouldn't be taken personally.

Voting system with both up- and down-votes is essential on Q&A sites, as it shows helpfulness of answers. In the lack of downvotes how later users supposed to know if it's a helpful answer, or it's just plain wrong?

So I have started, including that in some of my questions and many times it gets "moderated" out, which I find kind of obnoxious and disrespectful, as well as exclusionary.

Stack Overflow is not a forum. And it is not only help desk, but also a knowledge base. And the second is arguably more important than the first: most of users have no accounts and use it in read-only mode.

Now, look at your question from perspective of later readers: is it in any way helpful for them to know that this particular OP has a learning disorder, glad to see us or thankful for help? This is the reason why everything not related to question itself is edited out.

  1. Require downvoters give a reason of at least say, 50 characters (enough to have a cogent explanation) to be written for each downvote. This would give the OP and understanding of exactly why their question was down vote it which would help improve their questions in the future.

There position is long discussed, and there is even a post addressing not only it, but also why such ideas are not well received: Why isn't it required to provide comments/feedback for downvotes, and why are proposals suggesting this so negatively received? If you expect us to change position, you need at least address the point described in this post.

  1. Stop making down votes anonymous—people would think about whether they really want to do that or not. Maybe get rid of downvotes altogether, and just leave upvotes as an option just like in the comments section. Lots of sites have done this for exactly these problematic reasons.

Lack of downvotes will kill the content rating system. And without it, the rate of filling site with unclear unhelpful garbage will increase even more. And this will lead to accelerated death of SO.

Please don't publish suggestion how to kill our beloved site faster.

  1. Start what is basically a marketing campaign on the site to be kinder, to be more welcoming, ...

I do not disagree.

It might be argued that the site has more pressing issues with inclusivity (like broken high-contrast theme, for example), but some more attention to promoting being nicer wouldn't hurt either.

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  • "some more attention to promoting being nicer wouldn't hurt too" Plus informing users about flagging posts and comments instead of replying back. Time and time again I've seen people complaining about years-old comments telling the OP to read a book, and often the reaction is to reply back in a comment or take a screenshot and air the dirt laundry on social media.
    – E_net4
    Jun 9, 2023 at 7:41
  • @E_net4isonstrike, good idea. Make some repeatable educating course "What to do if I see rudeness or bigotry" or at least reappearing notification "Don't forget to flag!". Consider filing suggestion about it after strike. I believe it might improve our situation.
    – markalex
    Jun 9, 2023 at 8:10
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum, is edit summary auto-generated, or are you doing it by hand?
    – markalex
    Jun 9, 2023 at 15:31
  • (Mostly autogenerated, using a combination of a macro keyboard and a (web) application. But also manually adjustment.) Jun 9, 2023 at 16:37
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum, thanks for help!
    – markalex
    Jun 9, 2023 at 16:38
  • I think people forget that, even if they don't think of it has one, Stack Overflow IS a community. There have been plenty of announcements and notes and posts about exciting things that are happening here "In the community," so I think that some degree of thinking about your "neighbors" reactions to your posts actually does belong here more than you were implying. <continued>
    – MaxRocket
    Jun 9, 2023 at 19:34
  • ... And I get why the things that aren't part of the question might be removed out but as someone with learning disabilities, I often get kind of given a hard time in the answers or the comments or the votes bc people think I'm being thick, so that's why I put a note in there. If you don't have disabilities, especialy cognitive ones, try putting yourself in someone plays who does and think about how many times a day there are variations of "slaps in the face" or things that aren't explained or work properly for you. So maybe I just don't want to get treated poorly again that day.
    – MaxRocket
    Jun 9, 2023 at 19:38
  • 1
    @MaxRocket, it's more of a professional/enthusiast community, not neighbors. With corresponding expectations. Everybody here is expected to do their best, to provide clear understandable answers. Unclear, condescending, incomplete answers are not welcome, and subject to downvoting or even moderation.
    – markalex
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:08
  • 1
    @MaxRocket, right now I have a feeling, that you just hide your desire to get free personal helpdesk behind your LD. But it is unreasonable to expect that every answer will be written specifically for you. It is expected that you do you due diligence, before asking a question, and after receiving an answer. If something is still unclear for you, you always can comment under answer to clarify it. Or even ask more narrow question.
    – markalex
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:08
  • 2
    "I think people forget that, even if they don't think of it has one, Stack Overflow IS a community." No, not at all. When I have worked on Stack Overflow, "community" has been forefront in my mind. That's why it's good when community members work together to identify the best versions of questions and close others as duplicates; edit questions and answers for clarity and professionalism; etc. That's also why it's bad when strangers come in without regard for existing community standards, and expect the existing community to conform to their own expectations. Jun 11, 2023 at 23:46

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