The only dumb question is the one that isnt asked.

Is downvoting questions constructive?

I came across this question today and it had a couple of downvotes before I answered it. This got me thinking.

The downvoters left no answers, nor any comments. They simply clicked the link to the question, read it (I assume), clicked the downvote icon, and finally left. I see this behavior very often on this site.

The question in the post is valid in every sense. It should not be closed as it meets all the requirements for a question on Superuser. It is not a duplicate (that I know of). It is on topic, as it pertains to computer hardware. It is crystal clear what he is asking. It isnt too broad or opinion based, as it has a clear and concise answer. It should not be flagged either. It isnt spam. It isnt rude or abusive. The question is not of low quality. Nor does it need moderator intervention.

While this question is not technically challenging, or complex, I believe it is an excellent question. Anyone who reads that question can clearly understand exactly what he is asking. Based on that question, I was able to give him a definitive answer that he was able to accept. Other people coming to the site can read that question, see the answer, and learn something new.

So why the downvotes? The only reason I can think of is that the downvoters assumed this question was "common knowledge." Is it common knowledge though? A user commented on the question with the wrong answer.

Sadly, these "driveby downvoters," as I like to call them, are not uncommon on this site - as well as others on SE.

What do downvotes on question accomplish? Assuming the question meets all the metrics of the site, nothing. Well nothing positive, at least. The poster of a downvoted question might be discouraged and remove the question. Also, the poster might be discouraged and not ask another question. Doing this doesnt help anyone. The purpose of a Q&A site is to provide answers to questions, which other can learn from. If there are no questions, there is no reason for this site. This goes double for the recent initiative to encourage and help new users.

Personally, I never downvote a question and I think it should be removed.

I want to point out that I dont have an issue with downvoting answers.

  • 2
    You made some very good points. However, my educated guess would be that the three people who issued downvotes feel that it shows a lack of research effort by the OP. Our community encourages a question's author to troubleshoot and/or research on their own prior to asking their question. Beyond that, this particular OP has a rather prominent history of posting questions with an obvious lack of troubleshooting or research. – Run5k Oct 10 at 16:01
  • @Run5k One could make the argument its hard to know what to search for if you dont know anything about it. And in the case of this particular user, even if he is known for a lack of research, then that should be a comment. His lack of effort should not be a reflection of the question itself. The same question could be asked by someone who knows nothing about computers. – Keltari Oct 10 at 16:28
  • @Run5k also, by downvoting this user for lack of effort, new users wont know that. all they will see is a user being downvoted for asking a simple question – Keltari Oct 10 at 16:31
  • 1
  • "And in the case of this particular user, even if he is known for a lack of research, then that should be a comment." You will find that many prominent Super User contributors have made similar comments to that OP over the years. Despite our best efforts, he remains very prolific at authoring questions that are unclear and/or display nominal research effort. – Run5k Oct 10 at 16:56
  • @Run5k I have never noticed it and I would say im fairly "prominent." and I still say it doesnt matter. – Keltari Oct 10 at 17:00
  • I think that we need to agree-to-disagree, good sir. I have definitely noticed it throughout the two years I have been active on a daily basis within the Super User realm. Personally, if I was faced with similar circumstances I would not devote the time and effort to posting a comment every time this particular user does that. It falls upon deaf ears. That being said, the potential duplicate that Mukubai referenced is probably a better environment for this discussion. – Run5k Oct 10 at 17:09
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    "His lack of effort should not be a reflection of the question itself." the downvote's tooltip disagrees with you: "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful" – Andrew T. Oct 11 at 4:16

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