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Various posters have previously complained about the voting patterns on SuperUser and the standard response is that down votes are accorded to "poorly asked questions". Well, it would seem that "well-asked" questions are rarer than unicorn farts, because I literally have to search to find any questions on Super User that are upvoted. For example, this is current list of active questions:

 0  Make Ubuntu computers phone home for remote SSH
-2  How can get micro torrent working?
-2  How can i send an analog signal trough an hdmi port
 0  The print queue loads very slowly
 0  WMP 12 - .wmv video/audio freezes when pausing/unpausing. 
 0  Notepad++: is there any add-on or regex or macro to split long text
-1  The input line is too long
 0  Split a large file into small pieces
 0  How to diagnose computer fan refusing to spin?
 0  Command line to disable trackpad on Macbook Pro 15 w/ Touchbar
-1  I can't install hyper-v in win10,error 0x80070057,here is my cbs log file
 0  How to join multiple files in Notpad++
-1  High Latency of DirectX Graphics Kernel (dxgkrnl.sys)
 0  Windows 10 Installation - Missing required files and Blue Screens

Okay, so 95% of the questions asked "poorly asked" questions. Hello, this is web site for computer users, many of whom might be new to computers (duh) or new to a technology, who are asking questions. Requiring somebody to write PhD nobel-prize winning research paper, foot noted, peer reviewed, with help from their professor and character references before they get an upvote seems kind of like a steep threshhold to me.

I would add that NONE of the downvoters here have posted comments explaining why they are down voting the question, which is a violation of SE guidelines. The general practice seems to either ignore questions or downvote them, then not explain why the question is being downvoted. The guidance for downvotes is that they should be used when the question is "egregiously sloppy", which none of the above listed questions are. So, clearly we have a lot of downvotes occurring that are not only unexplained, but are against our own guidelines on the help page.

I counted the upvoted to downvoted questions for the most recent 150 questions and these were the results:

down    25   17%
up      38   25%
zero    87   58%
----------------
total  150  

Maybe we should self-examine a little and re-consider the policies for downvoting. When 95%+ of posts are not receiving upvotes, that is of concern, at least to me, because it creates a hostile climate for new users and sends the message that questions are unwelcome. To those who say, only "poorly asked" questions are unwelcome, I think when the downvote/ignore-to-upvote ratio is approximately 1-to-1, that does not really hold water. When only 5% of questions are receiving upvotes, that is a problem and indicates a policy-level problem.

In most classroom/learning environments (and yes SE is supposed be a learning environment) a common motto is "There are no stupid questions." But on SU the motto seems to be the reverse: "Every question is a stupid question."

I suggest a discussing policy changes to change that.

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    "NONE of the downvoters here have posted comments explaining why they are down voting the question, which is a violation of SE guidelines" which guideline would that be? – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 9:28
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    "For example, this is current list of active questions" Active questions is not a good way to see how good or bad questions are. If you look again right now you will see a question with 125 upvotes. – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 9:40
  • @DavidPostill Simply do a query and compute the ratio of upvotes and downvotes, If you are trying to argue that SU is a supportive community with a good upvote pattern, that is not really a tenable argument. The voting on this SE is overwhelmingly negative. – Tyler Durden Apr 22 '17 at 9:46
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    Perhaps we should all downvote this question because you didn't find the duplicate? (lack of research and all that) :) – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 9:53
  • "The voting on this SE is overwhelmingly negative" where is your query proving this assertion? Evidence please. – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 9:54
  • Possible duplicate: Negative up-vote/down-vote ratio: is it effective mentoring, or too harsh?. Not voting to close as my mod vote is binding. – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 9:56
  • "I think when the downvote/ignore-to-upvote ratio is 20-to-1 or whatever it is" the answers in that dupe question that are based on real queries show the exact opposite – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 9:59
  • @DavidPostill I have voted 70 times on SU. Of those 3 were downvotes and 67 were upvotes. What are your statistics? – Tyler Durden Apr 22 '17 at 13:17
  • @DavidPostill They show nothing of the kind. The 5:1 ratio in JourneyMan Geek's answer is for all votes which are mostly for ANSWERS, not questions. – Tyler Durden Apr 22 '17 at 13:18
  • @DavidPostill I updated my question with actual statistics and edited my question appropriately. The bottom line is that even with a 25:38:87 ratio of downvoted to upvoted to nonvoted questions, many new users encounter a hostile experience. – Tyler Durden Apr 22 '17 at 13:32
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    I have taken a look at 5 of your examples, one question was caused by hardware and was self-answered immediately. The analog signal question isn't clear, and being downvoted appropriately, the notepad question was closed for not being clear (so the author should clarify the question) I could go on but your examples all have ways they can be improved. Additionally, you are not required to explain your vote, so stop saying that's required. – Ramhound Apr 22 '17 at 15:35
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    @TylerDurden, this question received a lot of downvotes based on your premise. I've got to say, though, you've made an effort to document and quantify, and the question is pretty well written and entertaining. I won't weigh in on the content and conclusions, but I'm upvoting for effort and style. :-) BTW, just thank your lucky stars that unicorn farts are rare. If you've ever had the misfortune to smell one, you'll know what I mean. – fixer1234 Apr 22 '17 at 19:09
  • For the record, I'm in your camp Tyler. I also am not terribly worried over this right now. There are cycles to these things. Yes, I wish downvoters registered a reason for their actions, but I don't know that enforcing such an action wouldn't cause some other unforeseen and more problematic consequences. What I do instead is try to upvote more myself. If there will be trolls, I'd better be a blinkin' fairy. – music2myear Apr 24 '17 at 17:17
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    "The guidance for downvotes is that they should be used when the question is "egregiously sloppy", which none of the above listed questions are." You ignored the other reason listed for downvotes; the one that is probably the biggest cause of downvotes on new questions: "no-effort-expended post". Also, voting is PURPOSFULLY anonymous, and as such can't require an accompanying reason to be included. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Apr 24 '17 at 19:52
7

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Here's a snapshot of the semi-public site analytics page - you need to be a trusted user for full access. I've taken a snapshot from 21st april 2015 to 21st april 2017. It kind of shows something interesting. On a bad week, we have under 2k downvotes and the worst I've seen is 5k upvotes. Clearly, your statistics are off. (You can probably get the same data for other periods from clever SEDE queries but I'll leave that for someone else. ) On average though, we probably have a better proportion. Once again, I'll leave it to others to crunch the numbers, but the graph makes it pretty clear.

So, the whole premise of this question - that voting is overwhelmingly negative is incorrect. I'd prefer to comment but as voting is anonymous (even mods can't see them outside general trends) this is optional rather than compulsory.

Most SE sites are a balancing act. Good questions attract experts - and sometimes users. While we try to be welcoming - if we have a load of questions that don't quite cut the mustard, we lose the folks who actual generate value.

And while broad policy changes sound very grand, I don't see any detailed, actionable suggestions that balance out those two things. Sometimes we choose to answer or salvage. Sometimes its the downvote. Both approaches have their advantages, but I don't see what policy changes will help.

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    +1 for providing a nice graph that backs up my comments on the question :) – DavidPostill Apr 22 '17 at 10:09
  • I just found the public analytics page today :p – Journeyman Geek Apr 22 '17 at 10:20
  • Those upvotes are for ANSWERS not questions. Try doing the same query just for questions. I think this "answer" is a perfect example of the reality distortion zone that the elite users operate in on SU. – Tyler Durden Apr 22 '17 at 13:10
  • There's no query - its for the overall site and is available to users with high enough reputation. – Journeyman Geek Apr 22 '17 at 13:12
3

I ran some numbers on questions specifically.

This query (based on some of the work I did on a very similar question) counts the questions with negative, zero, and positive scores asked by users with less than a certain rep in the most recent period of a certain length. In the last 30 days, users with 100 rep or less posted 286 negatively-scored questions, 1350 zero-scored ones, and 493 positively-scored ones. Note that these results are skewed due to automatic deletion. Setting the maximum question age to 9 days (the wait on the quickest roomba task) shows 122 negative, 426 zero, and 92 positive. Upvoted questions from new users are not the most common, but they're not rare either.

This other query is very similar, but counts individual votes rather than questions' scores. On less-than-9-day-old questions by users of 100 rep or less, there were 158 upvotes and 232 downvotes cast. Downvoting is more common, but again, upvotes can be found as well.

A bit of data handling caution is advised when lowering the rep cutoff. If you set it to 1 (to get only new users), you're almost guaranteed to get purely downvotes, since users who received upvotes no longer have only 1 rep.

  • Nice query. Something to keep in mind is the review queues. The reviewers save the community from viewing some really low quality stuff. While not everyone downvotes these posts, I actually do, we are talking worst of the worst quality though (self-admitted comments submitted as answers) are the most common. – Ramhound Apr 24 '17 at 11:42

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