This may be somewhat duplicate, but I think the issue still stands on its own compared to others.

I've noticed a depressing trend for new users, who often write poorly formed questions, having their questions downvoted without any explanation. These people are often used to simple forums where they just stick up a simple question and get a simple answer. Admittedly they should take the time to get their heads around how Stack Exchange works before posting, but often they don't know any better.

I agree that bad questions should be downvoted, but downvoting without an explanation is completely unconstructive, it doesn't help the user improve their questions because they have no understanding of why they were downvoted, and I imagine many simply feel ostracized for being new (which is not an uncommon phenomenon on the internet)

Is there anything we can do to get people to explain their downvote, or help the user improve their question?

I know this is a bit of a stretch, and that SE already asks you to justify your downvote, and that plenty of people already "do the right thing", but if there's anything more we can do to help defend new users from unconstructive downvoting then we should try and do it.

  • 8
    Set a good example and leave constructive comments wherever you can. And please, don't give pity upvotes.
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 10:52
  • Thanks @slhck, of course, I do my best, but I'm hoping we can think of a way to communicate the idea to others
    – CLockeWork
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 10:59
  • @CLockeWork the other thing to keep in mind is that the first time a new user asks a question, they're shown How to Ask. Oftentimes they skip right over it and disregard the advice. While I agree that it would be beneficial to explain why you're downvoting a question, users have already been given the opportunity to learn how to ask a good question that won't get downvoted.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 17:05
  • 4
    @nhinkle How to Ask is only mandatory on Stack Overflow. New users only see How to Answer. Maybe we could have this enabled though.
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 20:23
  • 4
    @slhck hm I didn't realize that, but did just confirm it in an incognito window. We should try to get that changed.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 20:50
  • How to Ask not being shown definitely needs to be changed, and I agree about the pity voting as well. A short comment and even help with editing should be enough of a pointer to the new user, but sometimes a question just begs to be downvoted, with reasons that should be obvious. Also, not a justification for not leaving comments by any means, but just want to note that negative votes do not have any effect on a new user's rep (since rep can't fall below 1). Psychological effect is another thing altogether of course.
    – Karan
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:15
  • Also see this answer and answers to the linked original, including the most highly upvoted one here.
    – Karan
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:37


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