On all of the other SOFU sites a downvote means The question is unclear or not useful. However, here on meta, a downvote has become a sign of I don't agree with the question, suggestion, feature request, bug, etc. being described in the question.

  • What does a downvote on Meta really mean?
  • What other reasons do people downvote on Meta?
  • Why is it okay for meta to redefine the meaning of the downvote? The tooltips and instructions are all the same here on meta.

Note: I'm not saying I disagree with the practice, just curious.

  • 6
    I'm surprised this Q wasn't downvoted into oblivion by the usual "irony" squad :)
    – DVK
    Commented Mar 22, 2010 at 2:05
  • I'm converting this question to a sofaq so we can use it as a reference when people ask about downvotes on meta.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 17:56
  • 10
    Awful practice, because it discourages people from asking questions that invite critical analysis. Not sure how it plays a positive role in the community building.
    – Evgeny
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 18:06
  • 8
    As I said before, this practice makes disagreeing with a proposition costly. It might be even impossible to use for new users who arguably have a voice too. It's a shame, really.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 18:26
  • 1
    @Evgeny "Discourages" may be too strong a word for "You might lose some rep on meta". Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 20:42
  • 4
    @Daniel Is "Discourages" too strong a word for "You might lose functionality on meta".
    – Locutus
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 21:05
  • @Qui-Gon Jinn I must admit I didn't understand your comment. Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 5:56
  • @Evgeny @MPelletier You could always create a "controversial" feature request as cw, if you just want to open a discussion but you're afraid of the downvotes. Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 5:57
  • 2
    @Daniel people who migrate an existing account from other site start with 100 rep that should give them the ability to downvote. if they lose any rep, not only do they lose rep, but they will lose functionality (the ability to downvote) I doubt anyone cares about a few points but when you restrict access, people start to get "Discouraged". If they create a CW, do the upvotes count too? If not, whats the incentive?
    – Locutus
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 12:44
  • 1
    @Qui-Gon-Jinn How hard is it to get 30 points on Meta? That would compensate as much as 15 downvotes on your posts. Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 13:15
  • 3
    @Daniel Thats something you would need to ask every new poster here on meta (ex MPelletier Evgeny).. oh wait they are already discouraged and not coming back.
    – Locutus
    Commented Apr 19, 2010 at 21:29
  • 1
    @Qui-Gon Jinn: @MPelletier and @Evgeny don't seem very discouraged lately: meta.stackoverflow.com/users/…, meta.stackoverflow.com/users/… Commented Apr 20, 2010 at 7:46
  • @Daniel I wasnt speaking literally.
    – Locutus
    Commented Apr 20, 2010 at 13:13
  • Related: How does Meta Stack Exchange work?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 4:03

3 Answers 3


Because S[OFU] are Q&A sites. Meta is actually a replacement for the UserVoice bug report/feature request site (with a bit of discussion thrown in...). The rules are different because Meta is... kinda misusing the SO engine.

And it's ok because we really do need a bug report / feature request / meta discussion site.

BTW: to the best of my knowledge, no one officially "changed" the meaning of a down-vote. Everyone has their own reasons for voting, it's a private matter, and you might well never know why you received an up- or down- vote unless they felt like telling you. The fact is, posts are allowed on Meta that normally aren't allowed on any of the other sites, and as a result you see voting behaviors that are rare elsewhere (but not unknown: check out votes on some of the more subjective posts on SO...)

  • 13
    We are above the SOFU rules, we are META
    – juan
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 17:58
  • 7
    @downvoter - Above? Wrong direction buddy. Meta is the gutter, the runoff, nay, the very effluent of stackoverflow. Nasty, but necessary...
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:00
  • 1
    Although, in the meta question that was referenced, he Jeff says "It seems that questions tagged "bug" or "feature" could be voted on and commented in a fashion very similar to what uservoice already offers." This implies that questions tagged with anything other than those (or feature-request given its more current popularity) should utilize the normal SO voting standards.
    – Nick
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:03
  • 2
    assuming this is correct, then maintaining a reputation score on META is moot. Downvoting discourages new ideas and thinking out of the box for fear your ideas arent popular and we digress right back to HS (Im a popular kid with great ideas and youre not). Its a great method on the other sites, but just doesnt work here.
    – Locutus
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:12
  • 1
    @DataPimp makes a good point.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:14
  • 1
    @Nick: Yeah, but that was a long time ago... habits have changed since then. Maybe a [feature-request] to update the text of the tooltips would be in order? It might already have been suggested though.
    – fretje
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:20
  • 8
    @DataPimp: what are you talking about? You realize that you don't actually lose anything tangible when your idea is down-voted, right? If your beef with down-voting is that you can't handle being told that folks don't care for your ideas, then voting isn't really the start of your problems...
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:25
  • 2
    @Shog9 C'mon was that really necessary? You have quite a bit of clout here and talking down to someone like that really is beneath you. Moving forward, you are missing my point, its not the downvote or even people that disagree with me. Its that they are tracked, whats the point? I also assume this is why people tend to side with (via comments or answers) Jeff or Jon because they know mass up votes will follow.
    – Locutus
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:34
  • 1
    @DataPimp: besides, if loosing rep through downvotes is such a big problem for you, then you could use CW...
    – perbert
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:36
  • @voyager if I was worried about loosing rep, do you think I would be here siding with the minority?
    – Locutus
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:44
  • 2
    What is this 'loosing rep'? rep wants to be free? or easy? Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 18:51
  • @DataPimp: was it necessary to call out a bogus theory? I thought so; was it necessary to essentially call us children for expressing our opinions? As for tracking reputation, I think most of us realize that it's fairly meaningless even on S[OFU]! The sites themselves use it as a rough measure of "trust" (participation, really) for controlling access to advanced tools, and beyond that it's just a game.
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 19:24
  • @shog9 If you believe I "essentially" called you a child, then I apologize, I will tread lighter. Personally, I dont look at how trustworthy someone perceives me as meaningless, but if you do, how about you share a few thousand rep points (ie bounty) my way? Put up or shut up.
    – Locutus
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 19:35
  • 1
    @DataPimp: and sorry if I came off a bit rough; I'm having a discussion elsewhere with someone who is being intentionally obtuse in what appears to be a misguided effort to avoid real discussion - if that's coming through here as well, I sincerely apologize. As for trustworthiness / rep... Post something I like, and I'll up-vote it: that's how the site usually works after all. ;-)
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 19:55
  • 2
    @DataPimp: check this out: meta.stackoverflow.com/… Terribly unpopular feature requests... But he can still post, still make suggestions, and certainly still does. Voting is irrelevant as far as it concerns the ability of a user to continue contributing to the site at a basic level.
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 21:33

It's the way the users of the SO sites measure the popularity of a feature-request using the SO engine. Jeff and the team do searches every now and then on feature-requests to help them determine what to implement next.


Why are people downvoting my question on Meta?

Simple, no reference to unicorns or even better still unicorns eating waffles.

  • 2
    and no freehand circles.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 18:41
  • 1
    You forgot to mention waffles eating unicorns!
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 21:08
  • 1
    While I do get, and like the joke it is not an answer.
    – Belinda
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 9:29
  • 1
    @Belinda it was a valid answer back when it was posted. Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 19:17

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