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My understanding is that when a question is downvoted, the downvoter should provide a comment explaining why they downvoted and same with close votes (unless it is obvious). I follow this practice and always explain my negative votes unless it is patently obvious what the problem is.

Nevertheless, on this SE in particular (I participate in about 10 different SEs) I notice that both I and other people frequently get downvoted or closed with no explanation. A typical example is my question earlier today (Can I run Linux on an Android table?)

(I also note in passing that on the first two pages of SU, there are 30 questions. Of these 30 questions, only a single one has an upvote, and one has a single downvote and the others all say zero. I don't want to start getting too meta on this, but I think to only award a single upvote to 30 questions, something is wrong here.)

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    If I gave you four reasons for my negative vote, would you accept my feedback, and actually improve your question? – Ramhound 9 mins ago – Ramhound Jan 21 '17 at 1:14
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    One reason some people don't leave comments is that some posters take any feedback as criticism, become argumentative, and even retaliate by downvoting posts of the voter. Voting is a form of feedback, but it also registers user opinion of the value of the post. So some voters are just expressing opinion rather than providing specific feedback. – fixer1234 Jan 21 '17 at 5:30
  • @fixer1234 Well, of course, and I have been on both sides of that. Sometimes there is an argument and sometimes the downvote is right and other times it is wrong. I have certainly reversed my downvotes on a few occasions when faced with a question fix or good counterargument. The point is that discussions are only possible if the comment arrives in the first place. – Tyler Durden Jan 21 '17 at 6:04
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    @TylerDurden - I always vote, then express my opinion or provide feedback, only if the user takes my opinion or feedback into consideration do I reverse my vote. I vote this way because it's to signal, that I believe there is a problem with the question or answer, because honestly I found it to be the only way that results in any short of action. I counted the number of negative you actually received across all your questions and answers, and I didn't use more then 2 hands, I would argue your making more out of a couple votes then you should be doing. – Ramhound Jan 21 '17 at 6:28
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My understanding is that when a question is downvoted, the downvoter should provide a comment explaining why they downvoted and same with close votes (unless it is obvious).

Your understanding is incorrect.

Downvoting:

Voting is anonymous (and rightly so).

There are many threads on meta.se discussing whether comments should be mandatory after voting and the answer has always been no.

Here is just one for you to read:

Encouraging people to explain downvotes

Close Voting:

With regards to close voting, each close vote has a reason already attached to it:

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enter image description here

An additional comment would not provide any additional information and is optional - except for the last choice (other) where, of course, a comment is mandatory.

However:

Having said all that, I often add a comment (without always downvoting) making suggestions as to how a question (or answer) may be improved. I also often do this when close voting.

This does not mean everybody else should be forced to do the same.

  • In my case the close vote was for off-topic, however, since my question is about using computer hardware and software, it would to all appearance be on topic. – Tyler Durden Jan 20 '17 at 21:40
  • Well I didn't VTC your question. It is certainly on topic - have an upvote :) – DavidPostill Jan 20 '17 at 21:43
  • @TylerDurden: The message says, “This question is not about computer hardware or software, within the scope defined in the help center.”  The help center says, “If you have a question … and it is not about … electronic devices, … except insofar as they interface with your computer … then you’re in the right place …!”  Tablets are “electronic devices” and are in a gray area: see this. Some people believe that all Android questions should go to Android Enthusiasts Stack Exchange. … (Cont’d) – Scott Jan 20 '17 at 22:21
  • (Cont’d) …  Other issues: (1) You haven’t shown any evidence that you’ve researched your question prior to posting it here. (2) You haven’t clarified your question in response to IronWilliamCash’s answer. (3) Maybe some people believe that your question demands such a detailed knowledge of Linux that it belongs on Unix & Linux Stack Exchange instead of Super User. – Scott Jan 20 '17 at 22:22
  • @Scott The community consensus is that tablet questions are allowed - as indicated by the highest voted answer in Please vote on proposed changes to our policy on tablet computers – DavidPostill Jan 20 '17 at 22:24
  • @DavidPostill: Well, I was explaining why somebody might have voted to close Tyler’s question as off-topic. Also, the wording at that post you linked to is a little wishy-washy.  Note the second paragraph, “tablet questions would be closely watched during the trial phase, to make sure that they are meeting our typical quality standards.”, which ties in to my second comment. – Scott Jan 20 '17 at 22:31
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Conventional wisdom holds that you can't force users to explain themselves, and trying to force it will just result in users typing "asdfasdfasdf" to fill a character limit (or otherwise typing nonsense real words to bypass an "arms race" filter that tries to block them from writing nonsense).

My understanding is that when a question is downvoted, the downvoter should provide a comment explaining why they downvoted and same with close votes (unless it is obvious). I follow this practice and always explain my negative votes unless it is patently obvious what the problem is.

It's perhaps a convention or a good idea, but it's far from required (and users who don't do so shouldn't be punished).

Nevertheless, on this SE in particular (I participate in about 10 different SEs) I notice that both I and other people frequently get downvoted or closed with no explanation. A typical example is my question earlier today (Can I run Linux on an Android table?)

...So? The closing action must provide an explanation of why the question was closed; the downvotes don't require such action. If your question gets closed, it's safe to assume that the downvotes have been cast for the same reason(s) it was closed.

I fail to see the issue you are having with this.

(I also note in passing that on the first two pages of SU, there are 30 questions. Of these 30 questions, only a single one has an upvote, and one has a single downvote and the others all say zero. I don't want to start getting too meta on this, but I think to only award a single upvote to 30 questions, something is wrong here.)

  • That's a very small sample size, and not a random sample; the front page most often has the newest questions -- why would you expect brand new questions to have upvotes at all, let alone several? No one's had a chance to look at them yet, except for the ones that get bumped to the frontpage because they've been edited or answered recently. For a better sampling, use data.stackexchange.com and look at questions that are at least a couple weeks old in terms of the time the question has existed.
  • A very significant minority (or perhaps even the majority) of questions asked on Super User are, in fact, bad. Less-experienced users of the site tend not to invest the time into their question that would be necessary to make it useful for other users after they solve their particular problem, by fleshing out the question with details of their environment; things they've tried; exact error messages; symptoms and the reasons they think those symptoms lead to particular diagnoses; and so on. They'd rather just ask in a casual forum style, "it's broke, halp!" -- expect these questions to get eventually closed/deleted.
    • It wouldn't surprise me at all if any arbitrary 30-question sampling of the front page of new/edited questions is mostly or completely crap. Good questions can be rather hard to come by sometimes.

For fun, I just accessed http://superuser.com and got the following results:

  • Cumulative total score of all questions on front page, subtracting negative votes and adding positive votes (for 48 questions): 130
  • 25 questions had a vote score of 0; of those, 80% were asked today
  • Only two questions had a negative vote score
  • 16 questions had a score of 2 or higher

So as you can see, it really depends on exactly when you access the site, as to which questions you will see on the front page and how good they'll be.

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    “If your question gets closed, it’s safe to assume that the downvotes have been cast for the same reason(s) it was closed.”  Either I’m misunderstanding you, or I have a quibble: When a question gets closed, only one reason is officially posted, but there might have been five different reasons. (Often when I vote to close a question, I see that three of the possible reasons already have received votes.) I believe that the system displays the most popular (highest-voted) reason, with a tie going to the last vote cast. – Scott Jan 20 '17 at 23:51
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    I go through the review queue multiple times a day, I am either voting on "I have this problem too" answers or I find extremely broad questions, majority of my votes are wasted on comments submitted as answers. My vote is the only way I have to signal the user that, no submitting commentary as an answer, will NOT be accepted here. Yahoo answers exist for those users, all due respect, to those users. I have found those users will simply disgree with me if I leave a comment, so give me a reason, I should comment and then be told "I am wrong". – Ramhound Jan 21 '17 at 0:57
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The usual response to this kind of question is that, sans comment, a downvote should be interpreted from the mouse-over text:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

Since your question seems clear and potentially useful (I have an android tablet, and I'd like to get to running Linux on it myself) - it may be that the downvoters thought that the question lacked research.

Don't be discouraged, though. If you get a good answer, voters tend to give more upvotes to the question as well, offsetting the downvotes that this sort of question may initially get.

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