This is more of a overall StackExchange question than anything else, but it springs to mind that users can downvote a question that has been closed.

Why is this the case? If a thread was closed for lack of information, the person who asked the question in the first place will either a) try to clarify or b) fail to clarify and just leave the question alone. Why should they continue to be punished with down votes while attempting to fix it (if that is the choice that they choose to make), as, when after they fix it, this will make the question seem less viable, and more likely to be unanswered, or delayed in the answer? Is there a specific reason for leaving it like this?

So, basically, my question is this: Why is it that a closed thread can continue to be downvoted even if it's legitimate, just needing tweaking by the question asker? And, if there's no specific reason, why keep it the way it is, as it may put off people with legitimate questions?

  • 1
    I don't find questions that are not on topic to be helpful. I am encouraged by the system to vote on questions I find helpful and not helpful. As for being punished, after their question was closed, voting on a question isn't punishment. The closing of a question isn't punishment. Voting on a question isn't personal, I am voting on the quality of the question or answer, when I issue a vote. Questions that are so outside of the scope of this website need to be indicated they will not be accepted by the community so they can be handled by the system automatically.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


Why is it that a closed thread can continue to be downvoted even if it's legitimate, just needing tweaking by the question asker?

I’m not 100 sure of the official reason, but you can also up-vote a question if it is closed as well. And you can down-vote an open question and accepted answer as well. Votes are opinions and nothing more. Closed questions don’t get more or less down-votes from what I see.

The other side of this equation is the logic that somehow an open and well regarded question/answer thread should only accept up-votes and block down-votes because, heck, people like the question right?

FWIW, most people who attempt to clarify a question after it being closed really do a horrible job and engage in the practice of “shouting louder” and repeating the same wrong note over again instead of rejiggering their question to be truly useful.

And, if there’s no specific reason, why keep it the way it is, as it may put off people with legitimate questions?

Kind of tired of the “Stack Exchange should stop doing this because it may scare people away…” mindset. Because if you spend one day here you can see that nothing scares people off from asking questions.

Good questions, bad questions, any kind of questions… People will ask them if they want. If someone has a question and they want it answered, they will post it here regardless of the way the reputation point system works. Heck, people already—without seeing down-voted closed questions—have this idea that Stack Exchange sites are a “tough crowd” as far as engaging the larger community goes.

And then past any of that, some people don’t care. If you had a drinking game based on how many people post a comment as an answer and preface it with “I don’t have enough rep so I am posting this as an answer…” you’d be hospitalized within an hour.

The reality is reputation points are the core of earning privileges on this site, but all those privileges do is give you more moderation/interaction control.

And in the case of closed questions that are down-voted, any user who is discouraged by that kind of behavior has little perspective on why their question might have been down-voted. If anything I have tons of serial “bad question askers” get down-voted and I don’t feel sorry for them in the least bit.

Asking tons of nonsense questions that are off-topic or inappropriate for the site helps nobody. They get upset and go away? Fine. Then the site is cleaner with better and more focused questions.

Which is all to say that if the goal of the Stack Exchange sites is to create quality content to attract quality content, I’m not going to lose sleep over some random bad question asker being discouraged and leaving the site. Let them leave.

They will be replaced by a dozen more bad question askers in the hours that follow. And if one of those horrible question askers actually understands the concept of constructive criticism and comes back in better shape to be a better community member later on? All the better.

But the idea that somehow there is a pig pile on a bad, closed question is really a victim fantasy; the biggest flow of down-votes I casually see to a bad question comes before closure and not after. Unless someone with more rep than me can statistically do some research into this? Now that would be interesting

  • I would like to see those statistics as well - the reason for me asking is that it popped into my mind that it might be a problem wherein the legitimate questioner gets down voted, but, as you have said (and I trust your commentary on this), this tends to be a vast minority. Also, I hope that my question didn't come off as insulting or negative - was not attempting to give Superuser a bad face, I was just generally curious. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 20:25

I can't address the policy issue of why this can be done, but I can think of a few reasons why somebody might do it.

  • If the question has extreme problems, people might downvote even after the question is on-hold. It's an indication that if the question is going to be salvaged, tweaks won't do it; a major overhaul is required, if it can be fixed at all.

  • Downvoting after closure could be to influence disposition of the question. The system automatically deletes closed questions after varying time periods based on votes, and the vote and acceptance status of any answers. If a user feels that a question is so bad that its tenure on the site should be minimized, they may downvote it to try to hasten its deletion.

So there are "constructive" reasons why people might downvote after closure. That said, I suspect that to whatever extent it is done, it's probably more an expression of opinion than a purposeful strategy.

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