I understand the reason for up-voting a question. It is a good question and the results are likely to help someone in the future.

But what is the purpose of down-voting? If the question is bad, then it gets closed. Perhaps, after a comment from a seasoned user, the OP rewrites the question to better match the requirements of the site.

It seems people just down-vote questions they think are dumb. So the question ends up being in the negatives. Even if the question is rewritten, people do not change their down-votes.

It just seems to me that the need to down-vote a question really serves no purpose when users can vote to close a question.

Am I missing something here?

  • 4
    In addition to the possible reasons mentioned on tooltip when you hover over the downvote?
    – random Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 1:45
  • yes, in addition to them. As i stated in the question, the OP can update the question to meet the requirements, but the down-votes dont change.
    – Keltari
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 1:59
  • 6
    It's possible to think a question not useful, but not close it because it doesn't meet any close reasons
    – random Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 2:15
  • 2
    Since it's relevant here: On meta sites, down votes can also indicate disagreement with a question in some way.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 7:07
  • There are no "dumb" questions. There are "poorly formulated" or "poorly written" questions. Check for example this question. Everybody over the age 30 would probably know what the A: and B: drives are for, right? So the question may sound "dumb", but it does NOT matter, as long as you can ask it nicely. The 500+ up-votes the question has gotten is a fine proof of it.
    – TFM
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 8:32
  • 1
    meta.stackexchange.com/questions/90324/… entirely relevant to the discussion. To an extent, the current policy of free question downvotes is entirly to encourage a certain class of downvoting.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 9:24
  • Please read this blog post blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/06/optimizing-for-pearls-not-sand Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 10:41
  • Although I can't find the question anymore, I did edit a question that was down voted to -6, answered the question, and all of a sudden: close votes stopped, I got lots of upvotes, and many of the downvotes were removed! Downvoting is good if the question doesn't need closing, but still doesn't show any effort of trying. Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 4:13
  • "Even if the question is rewritten, people do not change their down-votes." See Concept of “conditional” downvotes? Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 17:48
  • @TFM don't you think the [question] you specified will qualify for This question does not show enough research effort to attract down-votes? I'm unable to see when the question was posted... Looks like it was edited in 2015
    – Prasanna
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 11:00

3 Answers 3


Questions like this are:

IN FAVOR of not closing it:

  • Specific
  • Answerable
  • Topical
  • Shows some cursory research, or at least tells me what they've tried (in this case, very little)
  • Shows specific command lines and the results of the command lines

BEGGING me to downvote it:

  • Shows little or no research about the command line options of the command being used (in this case, rpm)
  • Shows little understanding of package management
  • Generally indicative of a help vampire

I'm going to mercilessly downvote people who are help vampires that don't do research, even if I end up answering their question because it doesn't merit a close vote. Then again, I'd be more than happy to close it as a duplicate, because many questions which are asked by help vampires have been asked before.

Basically I just wanted to reinforce the point made by @random that not every question that shows poor research is necessarily asking to be closed (or even deleted, since keeping the question around will mean we can close similar questions as dupes).

You might also see a question asked about why rmdir won't delete a directory and gives the "error" message of "Directory not empty". If this hypothetical question were asked, I'd downvote it into oblivion, but I'd want to answer it, and have it remain on the site, as an indicator that yes, this is a terrible question showing no research or comprehension of English, but it's at least topical, and at least now that we've explained it here, we won't have to ever explain it to anyone again (just VTC duplicate for the next guy that asks it).


The reasons for why questions were down-voted, and why they were closed are hardly related. They don't trigger each other.

However, there might be several reasons for explaining the correlation between the down-votes a question may get, and why it may get closed.

A question is not close-voted just because of the bad quality. There's no such criteria for close votes. However, if the question is still unclear after editing, then it may get down-votes, and be closed as it's "not a real question" or "too localized", etc.


I tend to closevote over downvoting, personally.

However, you can undo a downvote when a question is edited, so if its a salvagable question, but horrible, I tend to augment my usual comments (you might want to include X) with a downvote. Its a 'try better' not a 'begone before I taunt you again!'.

If its not all that bad but dosen't belong here, its a closevote

If its bad, and may belong here, its a downvote.

If its just plain horrible AND offtopic, like a random rant, it gets both.

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