I know how many questions are posted to this website per second. Some questions are repeated or even not clear. However, I experienced that some questions have already had a down vote and I see that these questions may be are interesting for other people recently or in the future. However, anyone who have eligibility to vote can choose down vote just because this question is not under their interest or maybe not clear for them! Some people also, just flag the question directly even without comment if this question is clear or have other problems asking the author to edit their questions. So, is that right? Is that part of user right to do so? Is there a way that this website can figure out this problem? Is it right to leave this under the personal opinion of the user? I mean I can up vote or down vote as I like!! But I think that shouldn't be happened.

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    $\begingroup$ No one should downvote just because it is not of interest to them. You seem to be placing a motive on the individuals who downvote but motivation is never clear unless the individuals provides a reason in a comment. But that rarely happens. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ I faced this more than one time without leaving even a comment lead me to delete my question many times. I even see other people do so. $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ I see many questions are downvote and the question is really an interesting. $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ The idea of website causes something like that. That is, if we cannot downvote unless we provide a reasonable reason that will be under review until it confirmed or not, then we can see this will reduce this problem. $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ A related question might be how much does upvoting or downvoting of questions even matter? I believe I recognize the existence of noise in the voting process and hence put little weight on small numbers of votes when deciding what questions to examine. Of course, data and experimentation may show otherwise. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ For example, I can downvote for your question and this will be counted without any problem!! So, I would like the website to look about this issue. $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand many people keep their questions for a long time despite a downvote. and even when closed they might try to get it reopened by editing it. I can see an OP could be discouraged when receiving a barrage of downvotes (3 to 5 shortly after posting). You may want to look at the many discussions here on Meta that talk about downvotes. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ The idea is to find a solution for this issue. $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ Even if people keep their questions, in the future they maybe unable to post a question if they put under hold!! $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ That is just happen. Someone down vote, why? This is a discussion question!! Where is the problem? Just because he/she doesn't like the question?!! $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ There is no rule for voting in the website. In my opinion it is a personal choice!! $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    May 2, 2017 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ I have 5 years of experience on Stackexchange and have seen many downvotes but only on some occasions have I seen users explain why they do it. I think users are entitled to express their views anonymously using the downvote. I don't do it very often myself. It does cost a reputation point to do it. I sometimes have had my own questions downvoted. I use to occasionally ask why. They don't answer but sometimes those wrongfully accused will tell you that they didn't do it. I feel like this discussion is very similar to many I participated in on Meta and even one that I asked. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Alice I seriously think you would benefit from looking at these other discussions. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ Here are some previous CV meta questions to help you out: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/…. cc/ @MichaelChernick. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Alice: I don't see any record of your questions on CV receiving down-votes or being deleted; does your comment perhaps refer to experiences on other Stack Exchange sites? $\endgroup$ May 3, 2017 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


I'm sorry for any new user who has been discouraged in genuine attempts to ask a question. I agree there's a problem with what appears to be an amount of fairly indiscriminate downvoting.

If you're posting the best question you can - and try to act on any feedback you do get - I'd encourage you to avoid deleting your questions (at least if they only get a couple of downvotes). At the same time, when composing a question, pay attention to some of the good questions on site and try to emulate their best features.

To respond to the title question first:

If a question is not of interest to you, you certainly shouldn't downvote it only on that basis. That's not the purpose of downvotes. The purpose of voting is outlined here:


which says in part:

Voting up a question or answer signals [...] that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful, while voting down a post signals the opposite

So the point of downvoting is to indicate questions that are useless, badly researched or of no interest to the community.

Some people may have difficulty in judging the difference between "not interesting to me" and "not interesting to the community" -- our site has a very disparate collection of topics across a huge variety of application areas, each with their own terminologies and favourite tools. If we each downvote whatever is not of direct interest to us personally, every post -- including the ones we would most cherish -- will be dowvoted to oblivion (quite literally -- posts that get enough downvotes get shown as a pale grey, making them difficult to read).

There are many kinds of questions I don't like (the endless post hoc probability questions, like "my girlfriend's birthday is on the same day as my cousin, what are the odds!!" for example, which seem endlessly popular), so I haven't tried to impose my low opinion of those questions without a clear indication from the community that we should treat them as duplicates.

However, we can't be sure what a person's motivation is for a downvote. Whether someone should downvote is different from whether they can; some people will abuse the downvote and mostly all we can do is ask them to try to follow our community norms (which are mostly to try to encourage better questions via comments, edits etc., whether or not a downvote is applied), in order that newer users can actually learn what the expectations are rather than simply be fried under a torrent of unexplained downvotes.

We have had an increase of downvoting in recent times, so this question represents a broader issue. I'd encourage those people who are downvoting a lot* to please - as a general rule - explain them**, especially to new users. They need guidance more than discouragement

* (a few of you have given more downvotes in a short time than I've awarded in my entire time on site ... approaching 7 years)

** there are exceptions; for example: 1) If it's already clear (from a closure message or another comment) what the problem is, then you don't need to repeat the explanation. 2) If the person you're downvoting regularly abuses people who point out problems, mistakes or the like (even if they turn out to be right!), they lose any expectation of having downvotes explained to them. 3) egregiously bad posts that fail on multiple grounds - ones beyond editing into shape - may merit a flat downvote, but even better is a vote to close (or a flag if you can't vote to close)

Now to address some other issues from the body of the post:

I know how many questions are posted to this website per second.

To Stack Overflow, sure. Here on CV? No; we might see 200 questions on some days, and at peak times a new question on average once every minute or two.

anyone who have eligibility to vote can choose down vote just because this question is not under their interest or maybe not clear for them!

Yes, they have that ability.

Some people also, just flag the question directly even without comment if this

I think flagging is not so much a problem, since it would then be reviewed by a number of high reputation users or by a moderator (depending on the particular flag generated)

Is it right to leave this under the personal opinion of the user?

The idea is to have some way to indicate better content. If users don't have the right to vote at all we may end up with a much worse problem than we currently have; it would certainly result in a very different kind of site. Similarly, a forced public vote encourages revenge voting from a particular subset of users -- generally the same ones I suggested don't deserve a comment above.

We need some way to control the increasingly heavy stream of very poor questions that hit the front page or the quality of the site degrades badly. Votes certainly form part of that management. At the same time we need to be able to teach people how to use the site ... and votes (certainly not in themselves) really don't work for that! They just don't -- a new user who hadn't yet found all the guidance on how to use the site properly - the stuff in the help and on meta and so forth - has no basis to even guess what the problem is.

Let me add a personal anecdote. After I had been using this site actively for quite some time (months of active answering), I received a downvote for what I thought was a reasonable answer. I queried it.

The person who downvoted (no longer active, more's the pity, since they were highly knowledgeable and a great explainer) was kind enough to come back and say what the problem was. The explanation was not exactly gentle - the exasperation came through loud and clear - but it was nevertheless correct; I was (ignorantly) doing the wrong thing, perhaps well past the time when I should have known better. I was very appreciative of the explanation and made sure to say so; and - perhaps more importantly - I tried to act on it. The explanation made all the difference, and it contributed to an improvement in the average value of my answers. A bare downvote would have done nothing but continue to baffle me, possibly for many months to come, while I would have continued ignorantly doing exactly the same thing.

How much harder then, for a user on their first day?

Criticism can be hard to take at times, but constructive, polite criticism should be valued. An explanatory comment can be helpful and constructive, but a bare vote can't.

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    $\begingroup$ (+1) Another reason to leave a comment when down-voting is to get feedback as to whether other users disagree with you or not. $\endgroup$ May 3, 2017 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ (+1) I try to leave a comment with every down vote or close vote if one has not already been made. I think all the regulars should try to do the same. $\endgroup$ May 4, 2017 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewDrury: I think the boilerplate that appears when a question's closed can often be enough; but a bare down-vote is almost always going to be perplexing, & perhaps sometimes discouraging to a new user. This q., for example, was down-voted while I was still writing a comment, & I can't imagine how the OP could have been expected to guess what might need improving. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2017 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed. I do think youre right that the boilerplate is often sufficient, i suppose i hope a human touch may encourage askers to actually improve the question. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2017 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Matthew I agree -- I try to add specific comments to the boilerplate (and usually do unless I think it's patently obvious from just the boilerplate) -- but if there's not already at least something to indicate at least the nature of the problem, a downvote is unlikely to be useful. Some judgement is needed as to whether the boilerplate will suffice -- often additional explanation is likely to help. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    May 10, 2017 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewDrury: Well, there are plenty of questions that are unmistakable duplicates or consist solely of a cut-&-paste of someone's homework - I rarely comment when voting to close these kinds. On the other hand it's very unusual that a question is such utter gibberish that the boilerplate "unclear what you're asking" text is in itself adequate guidance. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2017 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Scortchi You could just up-vote it back to 0. You didn't do it, why should you complain? $\endgroup$
    – SmallChess
    May 13, 2017 at 3:22
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    $\begingroup$ @SmallChess Perhaps because he understands the way we're supposed to do things better than most of us do. Strictly speaking we're not actually supposed to vote "to compensate" for the voting behavior of others, but only on the basis that the post itself merits an upvote or downvote. Instead the right thing to do is to highlight the problem behaviour (which he did). [That said, I think there's at least some scope for leeway when there seems to be highly counterproductive voting behavior.] ... if anything Scortchi's actions seem to be unimpeachable. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    May 13, 2017 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ @SmallChess: It's as Glen_b says: see When should I vote? & Is it reasonable to upvote in order to counter what I think is an unjustified downvote?. When someone down-votes a question, I'd rather they tell the OP the reason than just cancel out the down-vote myself (assuming I disagree with it). Perhaps the next user to come along will disagree & down-vote again - but there's no need for us to be so uncommunicative. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2017 at 11:33

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