Why is the voting on Superuser so negative?

After looking around at other Exchange Sites, I've noticed this website is the harshest site to gain reputation. Perfectly good questions get down-voting way too often because that specific person feels like the OP is lacking the knowledge on what they are trying to ask and just need help. Or it doesn't blow your mind, or spark interest in any of you in some way, it's doubtful you'll up vote the question/answer. This is a mistake.

This will normally lead to that user to abandon the question or answer all together and probably never come back in my opinion

People that are dedicated to this site need to up-vote WAY more in my opinion, it will encourage growth, because the number of questions that get answered on this website should be much higher in my opinion.

Let me just be clear, I don't care about reputation myself, I think reputation is a way to entourage people to participate on the site. And this site does nothing of the sort. Thoughts?

  • 1
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:42
  • @Sickest - I only reward the best questions and answers with reputation. I personally, try to help everyone I can, most often I ask for clarification and don't recieve it. I don't find questions like this very helpful to a wide audience. Just because I vote doesn't mean I am doing it wrong.
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:43
  • 1
    One downvote that you think is unwarranted might be from an individual with tough standards or having a bad day. Multiple downvotes is the voice of the community, multiple people agree that there is a problem. Take a second look and if you still think they are unwarranted, post a comment, offset it with an upvote if you think it's warranted, and/or try to improve the post to solve the issue. But it actually cuts both ways. There are numerous idiotic questions, and generic answers that should barely qualify as a comment, that get absurd numbers of upvotes. It's not one-sided.
    – fixer1234
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 7:29
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    To sum up fixer's comment i have received 40 up votes from an answer that is literally a copy and paste of a Wikipedia article on where to find a key on a traditional keyboard. I think it's crazy honestly, and if I had a choice, I would reject those up votes. it's honestly ridiculous that a copy and paste of an article would be up voted so much
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 3:36
  • basically it is just bad karma Commented May 11, 2015 at 11:25
  • @Sickest - You may be interested to know that pretty much this exact question came up on Arqade a while back
    – Robotnik
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 5:29
  • This was brought to my attention in the span of a few weeks, when I kept seeing perfectly good questions being downvoted for no reason OVER AND OVER. I'm not active here as much as the rest of you, but the downvoting and the defensiveness to my question is clear how all of you think. Which is fine, maybe i'm completely wrong, maybe the people that agree with me aren't voicing their opinions, or maybe none of you looked at the bigger picture. Commented May 20, 2015 at 18:10

3 Answers 3


While there may be a bit of truth to what you're saying, it seems like you are making a sweeping generalization that isn't necessarily true of everyone.

This is a pretty large site, with a large community and lots of different viewpoints and philosophies. You seem to be making an uncited reference to one or more example questions where you found that it received too few upvotes or too many downvotes as some kind of an authoritative source supporting the thesis that everyone on SU is too harsh.

That's like going to a gas station in New York, getting ripped off by the cashier, then concluding that everyone who works a retail job in all of North America is trying to scam you.

The problem with this meta post is that it is not constructive. You aren't telling us what we, as a community, can do to solve this problem. You seem to be making a complaint. Unfortunately, a complaint that pertains to unmentioned, unquantifiable numbers of other people is not actionable. There may be 1, 2, or 1000 people on Super User who behave exactly as you describe, but unless we can (1) identify them; (2) reach them with a message; and (3) send "the right" message to make them either change their behavior or leave, we aren't going to get anything accomplished.

Part of it is just the nature of the beast. The way the topicality rules of Super User are worded, this site attracts a lot of actually bad questions. People read the site FAQ and jump to the conclusion that this is a help forum for computer problems. It's not.

Let me re-iterate a point that I've made in many other meta posts: the purpose of this site is not to help individuals asking questions. The person asking a question is no more or less important than the ten-thousand other people who are too shy (or don't feel confident enough in their English) to ask a question. If the querant is unable to form a question in a way that could possibly be useful to more than just themselves, it is entirely reasonable to expect that their question's vote status will be somewhere in the +3 to -3 range, and probably remain that way.

If you look at the questions with lots of upvotes, they tend to be widely applicable and impart knowledge or knowhow to large numbers of users. Querants who are unwilling to ask a question that expands the scope just a little, from the immediate "tech support" problem they're having, into a question that asks, give me a piece of knowledge, should be prepared to have their question's vote status set accordingly, and possibly closed if it's egregiously bad (poorly worded, hard to understand, rant-filled, etc.)

I don't think we're being too harsh when we're not upvoting, or actively downvoting, bad questions. The site has quality standards for a reason. If, however, you spot a question that you feel is actually of good quality, and is being unfairly downvoted for some minor reason, feel free to flag it for a moderator, and let them know. Better yet, edit the question to improve it, so that those visiting the question later will be inclined to upvote it.

  • 1
    I felt it was pretty obvious, we need to up vote more. Commented May 8, 2015 at 18:48
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    @Sickest - You should seek out questions that need improvement, make the require modifications so they are excellent detailed questions by talking with the author, otherwise they will never become those widely applicable questions. There are plently of users who will do that instead of just saying "we need to upvote more" which isn't really a constructive statement.
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:46
  • @allquixotic, you've highlighted your explanation of what the site isn't. Would there be value in linking to a just-as-simple statement clarifying your sense of the site's purpose, especially for those new to the rules? (I would find it helpful. Perhaps others would, too.) Commented May 26, 2015 at 21:04

On the whole most people are wanting to help. I have done ok building rep, I think. It shouldn't happen quickly. This is a meritocracy and like all meritocracies there is a subjective part. Some people are here for ego and satisfy themselves by putting others down (I have already seen that). I don't back down from that. I try to stay positive and let people know when their comments are 'not helping.' I also try to make sure I let people know when they are.

My question back to you, OP, is 'are you part of the problem or part of the solution?' You can certainly improve the community by one member even if that is all you do.

BTW, I also think it helps to vote up questions that you think have merit and make comments as to why you think they have value. I would not be opposed to requiring a comment with every down vote. I don't know who will go through it, but at least it forces people to think about it before they commit to it.



I get the same feeling as the OP. I would put this as a comment, but I don't have that ability yet.

The irony is that his question, that is articulate, to the point, and well explained, is now at -6. Yes, it is lacking specific examples and links. However, I thought the point of Stack Exchange.

My perception is useful $.02 because I'm still a relatively new Stack Exchange user and my reputation on Super User is substantially lower than on any other Stack Exchange I am a member of, and I don't think I'm that more active across all of them than Super User (though I am on some of them).

  • 2
    Voting is different on Meta. (It also doesn't affect your reputation, so it's not too big of a deal.) Now, about the question: The point of Stack Exchange isn't to help everyone who has a problem. It's to build and share knowledge. Therefore, we want questions and solutions to be applicable to a wider audience than just the OP. We also require evidence of research and effort - "professional and enthusiast" content.
    – Ben N
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 2:46
  • People don't agree with the question because it's missing specific examples despite asking for them.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 11:38

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