I asked a question here on meta stackoverflow, and I got a lot of downvotes. I looked at some other meta stackoverflow questions, and it seems like a lot of people who have genuine issues with the site that are having difficult resolving them just get downvoted. Wouldn't it be better to cut the downvoting system out, as it seems to just be scolding people for having issues? I mean, this is the place to ask....

Check out my thread: I can't post my question because of the "indentation"! How do I fix this?

There were three answers, and none of them resolved the issue. In the end, through comments, a user who really took his time to interact with me found that the reason I couldn't post code was because I had text zooming on in my browser. Who would have expected that?

It seems like a rare and unique issue that I wouldn't have resolved on my own, but I got five down votes.

I was talking to someone else in the comment thread, trying to be nice to him, and it ended up sounding like he was just yelling at me, saying things like: "cut the crap" and firing. I'm happy that the issue was resolved, but when I came back to check my inbox and found this guy's angry comment, it was really upsetting. I also noticed that there's no feature to ignore users from chatting with you or commenting on your questions. Wouldn't that be a great feature?

Moderator Note: Over fifty comment flags were generated due to this post alone. As removing even some of them would result in a horribly broken and impossible to follow conversation, I've removed all comments from this question and several answers. Comments should be professional and on topic - otherwise they will be removed.

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    You get downvotes simply because people don't agree with you. I don't agree that we should disable the downvote anywhere. Don't take it personally please. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:00
  • How are they useful, then? Jul 26, 2011 at 10:11
  • Because they mean "people don't agree with what you say" Jul 26, 2011 at 10:17
  • How do you not agree with a question? Does it make your stomach hurt? They're questions. If someone says: "I can't figure out why my computer doesn't start," you don't say: "That's a stupid question. I'm voting it down." If they say: "I don't understand why my uhm... why that doesn't work," you say: "Be more specific. I don't know what you're talking about." There's no place for disagreement. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:20
  • Also, that doesn't seem like a use at all. That doesn't help anyone accomplish anything. It's a statement that's totally extraneous to the conversation. It's wasted words. If we're having a discussion about: "Howcome my computer doesn't start?" Saying: "I don't like that question," doesn't contribute to the question or the answer. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:21
  • Sorry, I can't be any more clear than I already was. Take it or leave it, that's how things work in this site. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:23
  • I can appreciate that you're willing to try to hash things out with me. Can you try to help produce some semblance of clarity about why things work this way? It seems so histrionic. The initial issue was never resolved. The 'bug' tag was just removed. Then, I got over 20 downvotes, so I can't post an image to show people what's going on. In the meantime, I can't post code blocks, most of the time. It seems to be an intermittent fault. Rather than dealing with the issue, everyone's just having fun clicking the 'down' button. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:26
  • That's fine, Shadow. You're saying: "It doesn't have a practical use, but that's how it works." Which is a perfect reason to cut the feature. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:27
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    I never said "It doesn't have a practical use". It's used to indicate how many people agree or disagree with what you say. You can upload the image manually to free image hosting site like imgur.com and post link. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:32
  • because I'm not allowed to, and hacking the system is ridiculous. All you guys are going to do is spin your wheels and never come to an answer or do anything to improve the site, after all, and you're going to kick me in the teeth with down votes all the while. Telling me that it has a use is different from telling me that it has a practical use. That use is impractical. It doesn't do anything to aid the question or the answer. All it does is annoys people and tells people to continue to be annoying to the annoyed. So, you're saying 'it's useless'. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:41
  • OK, it's endless loop. I'm out of here - when you relax a bit feel free to come back and read the answers/comments again with the correct perspective. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:56
  • Okay, I'm back. Now watch this.... I'll highlight the inherent flaw in the system. I'm going to reward myself for what you have all deemed poor behavior with 15 downvotes and an account ban. I'll delete my question in a day or two, and I'll get a badge for it. Isn't that stupid? By the way, the person who banned my account is the same person who cursed at me, initially. Like I said, the ignore feature would be useful in more ways than one. It would prevent moderator abuse. Jul 26, 2011 at 16:13
  • Before I give myself desert, though, I'm going to say: anyone who posts this kind of question gets their account banned. I'm not the only one. A lot of people have complained about it. It would be cool if just one of them stayed open, but for some reason, the moderation team is hiding their skeletons. Thousands of people have had their accounts banned for the exact same reason and nobody is doing anything about it because doing so would mean taking away their precious power. Jul 26, 2011 at 16:15
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    OK, let's get one thing straight: "Won't" did not ban your account. If he had, you would not be able to comment right now. Nor did he activate the bad-question filter. That takes more than just one person. Nor is he physically beating you. That would require a working implementation of the POI (Punch Over Internet) protocol, which is currently too underspecified to work properly. He is indeed hiding a skeleton inside his body, but I'm told that's a common practice among humans.
    – mmyers
    Jul 26, 2011 at 19:32
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    At what point do you realise being new doesn't mean you know how the system should, or even does, work? Do new co-workers punch you in the ear and say you've been doing everything wrong on their first day on the job without even stepping off the train?
    – random
    Jul 26, 2011 at 22:14

4 Answers 4


You're right, it's not good that people downvote support issues, but some people think that because they're not having a problem, then no one has the right to have that problem. I've got a few bugs I haven't posted about because on certain types of problems, I've found that people don't want to hear about it. I'll take the hits for important feature requests, but what's the point when I'm trying to help SO iron out its bugs.

I can tell you that (as I'm one of the more downvoted people on Meta), you can still make 20k, it just takes a lot more posts to get there, but the upside from the upvotes, makes up for the downside of the downvotes in the long run.

Note: I just saw one of your profane deleted answers, so don't think that I think you're innocent in all this. I'm just putting out what I think about the general situation.

  • 1
    Why is it "not good"? How can downvotes be "good" or "bad"? Aren't they just expressions of other people's opinions? Maybe they don't think the question is clear or useful. Maybe they don't think there's enough information provided to diagnose or fix the problem. It doesn't have to mean that they disagree someone is having the problem. That seems a bit like a straw man argument. Jul 26, 2011 at 8:04
  • They're not good because I want to post a picture with my support request, but I can't do so because I have -5 on my initial post, -10 on this post, and -howevermuch everywhere else from spree downvoters. Jul 26, 2011 at 9:50
  • They're also not good because they cause many people to get even the right to ask questions removed from their accounts across stack exchange. Jul 26, 2011 at 9:50
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    Also, downvotes are bad because they're just senseless discouragement. They don't actually express anything. If someone thinks there isn't enough information, they say so clearly by saying: "There's not enough info. Please provide this info." Downvoting is just sadistic, and it translates no meaning whatsoever. Jul 26, 2011 at 9:52
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    Lance, keep in mind that we now have "auto ban" system in place - the OP here will probably get blocked from asking questions if he isn't blocked already. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:01
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    @Cody, A newbie asking for support shouldn't be downvoted even if he isn't providing enough information, he should be educated. I'm not making up a problem out of thin air, I've definitely seen this happen. Jul 26, 2011 at 14:48

s are downvoted if people disagree with them, but it's rare for questions to be downvoted -- SEDE shows 225 negative-scored support questions out of 5617 total, or about 4%. I'm not sure why yours did so poorly, other than that it was fairly inspecific until you edited it a few times ("it didn't work" doesn't help us much).

As for your ideas in this post, you're reacting to a single bad experience without thinking.

Wouldn't it be better to cut the downvoting system out

Voting is incredibly important; eliminating downvotes because one of your posts got downvoted is kind of insane

There were three answers, and none of them resolved the issue.

That's because your issue was unclear; those posts got you to edit your post to make it easier to debug

In the end, through comments, a user who really took his time to interact with me found that the reason I couldn't post code was because I had text zooming on in my browser.

That's the entire goal -- people posted ideas, you explained further, and somebody solved your problem

I also noticed that there's no feature to ignore users from chatting with you or commenting on your questions. Wouldn't that be a great feature?

Personally, I say no -- if a user is causing massive problems or annoying you repeatedly you should say something to a mod, but adding social networking stuff like "friend lists" and "ignored users" is completely orthogonal to the point of the site. In any case, the suggestion already exists and hasn't been flatly rejected yet, so it might happen. As for the particular comment you got, Won't tends to be short with people; he's right that 100 lines of code is excessive for a question, but the comment was unnecessarily rude. Don't worry about it

  • Michael, I wonder if feature requests ever pass, even if they are upvoted, because the 'ignore' feature request has huge upvote value, and it has for a long time. It hasn't gotten any attention, though. Rather than people stalking me and bothering me, they could ignore me if they don't like me. Then, I would just have to suffer without their help. It would be too bad for me because I wouldn't have their skillful answering to guide me, and it would be equally as discouraging as a downvote. Only, it wouldn't ignite tempers as the downvoting system is proven to. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:17
  • I can point you to post, after post, after post, after post where users have been upset about some high-ranking guy who's come through and harassed them. The moderator comes in (probably the same person who is being abusive in the first place), takes one look, jumps on the band wagon, and commits to taking away all of the affected user's privileges. Then, the user is permanently banned from asking questions. Case after case, let's call it a trend, but the 'community' ignores them. Really, all of these people count as the community. They have no say in the matter. They're muted. Jul 26, 2011 at 10:19
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    Yup. Obviously this site is not for you. Too bad. Fortunately, there are a lot of other unmoderated places on the Internet that you can hang out instead where absolutely anything goes. Sounds like you'd like that better. Jul 26, 2011 at 13:39
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    @千里ちゃん Err, what? Do you actually have specific examples of that happening? The odds of a moderator being the same as some other high-rep users are pretty low. Earning rep is not so easy that one would want to have two separate high-rep accounts.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 26, 2011 at 14:22
  • @anna, yes I have several examples. I have friends who have had the same issue with this site. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/67628/… is kind of an example. There are other examples that I have seen, but how am I supposed to show them when they've been closed and deleted? The moderators just cover their tracks after they abuse people. Jul 27, 2011 at 1:57
  • @anna, in fact, when I look for the names of people who have been banned for asking questions about suspensions on this site, I find that their user names don't even show up in search. They go to one site on Stack Exchange where users are a little obnoxious. They run into one user who is REALLY obnoxious (turns out it's a moderator at meta). Then they come here and complain, not knowing what to do, and they 15 obnoxious users. It's stressful enough to deal with one, now there are 15, and one is the guy who bothered them in the first place. We should have a higher standard. Jul 27, 2011 at 2:00
  • @anna, anyone who doesn't themselves have a conflict of interest can see that there is one and knows that that is wrong. People who do have a conflict of interest are going to act on it because that's the nature of people. So, you can expect them to automatically downvote, suspend, and then ban anyone who doesn't sit idly by while they abuse their authority by cursing at people. Jul 27, 2011 at 2:01
  • This is a bad answer because it doesn't include closed and locked threads. The external link manipulates statistics. 4% is a huge number, btw. @anna, How would you feel if I called you a bitch? Then, I called you crap? Then when you complained about it, you found I was the person you were filing the complaint with? And I said, "Oh, I never called you a bitch. Also, you should feel bad because you're too stupid to understand that I just meant you're fluff when I said you're crap." Then, I banned your account.... This is what happens to countless users. So, an ignore feature is required. Jul 27, 2011 at 2:18

There are good ideas, there are average ideas, and there are bad ideas.

Without a downvote, we cannot separate the average ideas from the bad ideas.

Also, please keep in mind that voting on meta is completely different than stack overflow. Your problem with the site was actually a problem with your computer and browser—not the site. Others were downvoting it because they couldn't duplicate your problem—so in essence they were shifting it lower on the scale of how bad a problem is for stackoverflow to address.

The highest voted issues get slightly more attention than the lowest voted issues. In a sense, the community triages the bugs, features, discussions, and support requests so that Stack Exchange, Inc can focus on those issues the most users find annoying.

So please don't take downvotes personally—it's not necessarily that your problem is "wrong"—it's just not as high a priority since it only affects one person.


Wouldn't it be better to cut the downvoting system out,

Definitely not. The down-voting system is to discourage people from just simply posting anything.

However, you are definitely right about something. There are too many people out there who are just plain impatient. Please, users, although you may know that the question is a duplicate, that it's been asked before, this new dude doesn't, so please show some patience.

Yes, and rude, impatient comments are definitely not part of the SE that should be.

I was talking to someone else in the comment thread, trying to be nice to him,and it ended up sounding like he was just yelling at me,

This has also happened to me.

I'd just like to say that, politeness really is quite a nice thing to have, and I would suggest patience and politeness when somebody is having a problem. It might be very very clear to you, but for him, it's clear as mud.


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