There is a lot of irritation and whining from newbies when their suggestions get downvoted because they don't understand that votes have a different meaning here.

This is unnecessary, and I'm absolutely sure is one of the contributing factors why some people turn away from Meta after first contact, and never return.

To fix this, when a user asks their first question here, it should be pointed out in big bold letters that voting follows different rules here than on the mother site.

Something like

Note that voting on Meta.stackoverflow.com works differently from the other Stack Exchange sites. Voting is used as an expression of agreement or disagreement on contributions here, rather than to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness. Do not be too concerned if you receive downvotes - it is possible that members of the community are simply disagreeing with what your contribution is suggesting.

  • 5
    +1 because I think this feature request should be fulfilled. Apr 15, 2011 at 10:55
  • 2
    I concur: -1, just because. ...only kidding. Your update obviously makes sense. Apr 15, 2011 at 10:56
  • 25
    Start by changing the tooltips on the voting arrows (even though no one reads them anyway). Apr 15, 2011 at 12:43
  • Nice, I didn't even know that... See @Cody Gray's comment
    – Lukas Eder
    May 24, 2011 at 11:56
  • In SO, I was AWARDED a downvote. Reason, I answered an EASY question. Is this ethical? Apr 19, 2013 at 19:03
  • @Anoop well, one could make the argument that answering such extremely basic questions encourages more, and is the wrong signal to give to an OP. I guess that line of thinking was what caused the vote.
    – Pekka
    Apr 19, 2013 at 19:24
  • In my first question I got 9 down votes and I was entirely confused.
    – mehdix
    Sep 10, 2014 at 12:07

3 Answers 3


Please note that the text has been changed as per August 4th 2013.

This was added to the FAQ here on meta.

Why are upvotes and downvotes here different?

Voting here works a bit differently from other Stack Exchange sites. On Meta Stack Overflow, voting is used to express agreement or disagreement, not to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness. Please don't be concerned if you receive downvotes – members of the community may simply disagree with your bug, feature request, support question, or the nature of the discussion.

  • 2
    Now to change the hover text...
    – user159834
    May 26, 2011 at 7:19
  • @wesley the hover text isn't wrong, though. This is in addition to that, as I see it. May 26, 2011 at 7:24
  • 6
    "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful" is what I get, which I suppose, could be used to express disagreement. I will admit that I find it a bit unfitting. The answer vote title is fine, I actually didn't even have it in mind.
    – user159834
    May 26, 2011 at 7:27
  • Would it be possible to also add an anchor so that one can link directly to this paragraph? E.g., meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#downvotes
    – jscs
    Jun 8, 2011 at 6:49
  • @mog I doubt that they're going to change the hover text to "I disagree with the question/answer"
    – user216620
    Apr 11, 2013 at 14:30
  • Does this mean that Meta discourages those who think differently? Does this mean, to get the rep that signifies how much the community values me, I must "get on the bandwagon" and do what others do? May 31, 2017 at 11:19

If important, then maybe the above note should be visible to everyone (including answerers and viewers/voters), not just question askers?

Because actually, I don't understand 100% either... For the described voting habit is surely true and makes sense. But is it true for as well? I often see downvotes of a discussion post that merely asks about something, without taking a specific stand on the matter. Could a downvote then apply to just its title, like for titles such as "Should we...?"

  • 6
    There's... various oddities in how people vote. It makes the most sense for bugs and feature-requests, as voting on them actually can have an impact. But discussion, often moreso on answers, is also a valid place where people use votes to agree or disagree with a particular side. This voting behavior even extends to support questions, which are less about any particular stance on a matter and tend to just describe "This is how things are". As such, whether we like it or not... many users will use it for all content.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 15, 2011 at 13:10

Why not put the note in the FAQ and point them to the FAQ (which isn't a bad thing to do).

Reading and understanding the FAQ should be like getting a drivers license. It takes some time, but it avoids lots of little accidents.


Another thing that could be done (and its already mentioned in a comment), is to change the hover text with the up and down vote button to "I Agree" and "I Disagree". Probably with some more explanation.

  • 7
    People don't read the FAQ. I think this should be shown somewhere in the process of asking or answering. It leads to too many unnecessary misunderstandings
    – Pekka
    Apr 15, 2011 at 10:58
  • 6
    @Pekka: Just, make sure, for the love of God, that it isn't a 'click-to-dismiss' carry on. Apr 15, 2011 at 10:59
  • @Mr. Agreed :) -
    – Pekka
    Apr 15, 2011 at 11:00

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