I haven't been a member of Super User that long - but long enough to notice users (usually those with high rep) are very quick to vote down posts.

Although I can appreciate the FAQ's are in place to prevent certain types of behavior on the forums to keep it a friendly, informative and accurate resource, but I have seen at times questions being voted down for reasons only I can think of being the fact it's either

  1. Simple question (that maybe people think is a waste of a post)
  2. The question is poorly structured.

Point 2 I can appreciate more, you should take time to write the question providing information and at least good grammar and sense, but Point 1 - these forums are a place to get the help/suggestions needed even for simpler questions (That maybe others won't find so simple).

Any thoughts on this

  • 1
    It's not just high rep users downvoting. Plus, questions that don't belong are dealt the expected slew of downvotes to help quicken deletion
    – random Mod
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 21:46
  • 3
    I have no idea why people seem to think high rep users vote down questions (or answers). If it dosen't belong, i vote to close. If its salvageable, we try to salvage it. I'd much rather comment than downvote, and when i do downvote, i comment for why.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 4:05
  • 5
    Many of my downvotes are for when users didn't research, which is a requirement right on the tooltip of the downvote button: This question does not show any research effort, it is unclear or not useful. I've reverted these when users explained what they'd researched (i.e. tried it but failed). This is a site where experts answer questions, and we'd rather not explain the same basic things every tutorial on the web explains in the first paragraph. It's lazy and ultimately disrespectful towards answerers. If you don't take the 5 minutes to research, why should we, to answer your question?
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 6:13
  • 1
    Thinking about it, I really have to disagree with the second part. Not everyone speaks perfect English. People are never to blame for that. Bad grammar can always be fixed by editors. Lack of research can't.
    – slhck
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 8:26
  • 1
    those with high rep is rather ambigious/subjective. At what point does someone get considered high rep? High enough to have the vote down privilege (125 rep)?
    – Bob
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 9:41

2 Answers 2


users (usually those with high rep) are very quick to vote down posts.

Please provide numbers for that. Can you show us that high rep users are more involved in all of that than others? And even if they were, why is it a bad thing to vote down posts?

I ask again: Do you complain about posts getting downvoted for reasons that are explicitly mentioned?

Here are the two reasons you think people vote down posts for:

  • Simple question (that maybe people think is a waste of a post)
  • The question is poorly structured.

Simple questions are usually easily answered by just doing basic research. Doing a web search. Reading documentation. I can't stress enough how important this is. If you expect people to answer your question, they also expect you to help yourself first. This whole site is not about being your research assistant — it's about learning to solve problems yourself once you're stuck.

Downvoting questions that don't show research effort is even encouraged. Downvotes on questions don't "cost" any reputation since the community managers felt it was more important to downvote content that isn't a good fit.

See here for more: Optimizing For Pearls, Not Sand – Stack Exchange Blog

That’s why we’re determined to keep question quality high, even at the cost of refusing a little sand. It’s true that you can’t have Q&A without questions, but having the wrong sorts of questions is far more dangerous.

The fastest way to kill any Q&A site is to flood it with low-quality questions.

And that's why we downvote. Because it is – apart from closing and deleting questions – the only way for us to filter between the good and the bad. The interesting questions and the ones that can be answered by going on a 10-second Google adventure.

If I downvote, in most cases I'll leave a comment explaining why, unless it's completely obvious. And for you, as the OP, getting a downvote is not a personal stab in the face, but it should make you think if you really took time to ask a good question and research a little, or if it totally makes sense (or, if it complies to the FAQ). If you then find out that one of these reasons mentioned in the downvote hover tooltip apply to your question – what exactly would you be complaining about?

Granted, nobody likes to have their posts downvoted. Emphasis on their posts though, not them personally. We never vote on persons. We vote on content that we deem good or bad for the site we wish to make the most awesome Q&A site on the internet. And we'd like to keep it that way.

Therefore, your second argument doesn't count. If a question is poorly structured, it might attract downvotes. But before I downvote a post, I'd rather go ahead and fix it if it's salvageable. I've now edited almost 7000 posts. Not for the fun of it, but to help those who maybe have troubles expressing themselves to get better answers, or a better response altogether. It's easy for others to fix bad grammar, but it's impossible to compensate for no research effort being shown.

Of course, there's no point in bashing new users if they can't formulate a good question or do some basic research. But in order to keep the signal to noise ratio up on this site, voting is just something we have to do. All of us. You get 40 votes a day — have you ever used all of them? Do you blame other users for using features of the site? I mean, you could even cast 40 downvotes a day, and it'd be fine, given that they comply to the rules.

And that brings me back to the beginning: If you really think it's high-rep users who do this, then maybe only because they've understood the necessity and importance of voting, or engaging in the community altogether.

I really have to stress that again: Downvotes are not a personal thing. Just see them as an incentive to make your post better. This is also covered here: How do we get people to add more information to their question?


A good number of arguements for and against question downvotes being free are here, and i'd like to not re-visit these arguments.

Rather than that, i'd like to show what my voting patterns are like.

enter image description here

So, roughly I upvote 5 times as often as i downvote (and i sure as hell need to vote more)

However, the detailed statistics paint a slightly different picture.

enter image description here

86 of these 146 votes were for things that were deleted or closed.

On the other hand i have 240 moderator flags of which 228 are helpful, and 830 revisions (a good chunk of it might be retags, admittedly).

High rep users have better things to do than downvote everything!

A average session on SU involves scanning the front page for interesting things, looking at bounties, looking through the review tab (Cause the only way i can get flags is from answers that should be comments, and spammers.)

We do have things linked on the VTC chat page, but thats public and has been open for a while - and well, you're free to join in and ask why. Editing, closing, getting things merged and other janitorial things are done a lot more than downvotes. Downvotes are boring, I'd rather sort out a bad answer by posting a better answer, and bad questions through salvage or closure. In many cases we actually try our best to get the OP to adjust the question, or even get questions reviewed and reopened over meta.

I have no idea why people seem to think there's some kind of downvote cabal keeping people down. Post good answers (or good questions! I've been known to give bounties for questions i find useful), and get rep. Don't forget 1 upvote = 5 downvotes, so a solitary downvote means very little if the answer is good.

  • Roughly 2000 upvotes, 200 downvotes for me! :)
    – iglvzx
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 5:55
  • I have the same 10:1 ratio: 8k upvotes, 800 downvotes // @iglvzx
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 6:45
  • 2
    I downvote every fourth post. Do you want to stone me now?
    – slhck
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 7:00
  • 1
    Sarcasm aside - I don't feel down voting a post and then not giving a valid reason for the down vote is constructive for either the forum or the user in question.
    – PnP
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 20:39
  • There's two reasons i downvote. First is that the answer is lazy, and copypasted from somewhere, with no attempt to paraphrase - and i can undo it if someone takes the effort. The second is its harmful. In both cases, its entirely necessary for me to comment in order to fulfil my reasons for it, that is to say, getting better quality on the site.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 1:56

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