As we all know, downvote is supposed to express that question is not useful. But not all posts that we have here are questions ; hence the question: what do downvotes do to a non-question ? What is the reasoning behind downvoting a post that is meant to report a bug of sorts ?

My stance is this: we already have a mechanism for reporting/closing questions that are off-topic, that are bug reports , or are not substantial enough. Downvoting only turns off users , especially new ones. It's same as shouting to a customer into face "GO AWAY!DELETE!DELETE!".

StackExchange network, it seems,has a huge problem and disconnection with high-rep users and new,average user. So here's my proposal: instead of "nuking" a bug-report or seeming non-question with downvotes , let's bump our "customer-service" up:

  • Comment on the question, asking for clarification. Let the user explain exactly what's the issue. In this example, we have what appears to be a bug report. The title itself doesn't have a clear sentence asking "How do I fix it?" but it's obvious it's implied
  • Communicate with the user if they're in the wrong place. Do you yell at customer who comes into your restaurant if they got wrong address ? Same thing here. There are users here ( without naming names ) who will spend time and time arguing in comments, while with lesser amount of effort you could be polite and tell the user "Hey, sorry, we don't take bug reports. Send them to Launchpad or GitHub - wherever the devs put this software".
  • Don't do mindless review. Yes, it's easy to click buttons - "delete this", "close that". Posts are human beings trying to reach out for help. So while you are in review queue , consider leaving a comment on a post, be a guide to users. Consider if you had 16th century teacher who only teaches for 45 minutes, explains nothing, and smacks you if anything is wrong without explaining why. I doubt most people like it.

In conclusion, this post isn't bashing on anyone in specific and not saying "stop downvoting everything". Main point here is this: instead of clicking buttons mindlessly, let's improve our communication with OP. There's no requests here, only invitation to discussion and making the experience of AskUbuntu better or everyone.

  • 2
    ...I have the feeling however that it is not so much the high rep user here, bashing new users. I have reason to believe it is more often the (other) relatively new user with a total contribution of 2,5 answer, trying to make himself believe he is important by bashing others. At the same time I believe many high rep users are relatively mild and more mature in how to motivate people in the right way. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 21:13
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    Well , i know a few high rep users who can be very strict in their judgement , but again - I'm not attacking anyone, that's not my purpose here. I want AskUbuntu to become a better site for every user Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 21:18
  • @Serg thanks for these thoughts! It's nice to see high rep users who don't want to blast new ones :-)
    – Bebs
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


I voted to close that one (as unclear) as I recall. It seemed to me that the OP wanted to ask a question but never got around to articulating what it was. I often request further information from those it seems don't know enough to provide it. Rant onHonestly sometimes it's like pulling teeth and sometimes you get the ones that continually edit their question not to add further information but to muddy the water by switching which version they say they are using. Truly frustrating behavior. Rant Off I believe that you are free to review my commenting/voting record. I try to be fair and often refer posters to the https://askubuntu.com/help/how-to-ask page. Be that as it may I have no doubt I've made mistakes over the past couple years. I try not to repeat them. It's rare for me to downvote a question and perhaps equally rare for me to upvote one as most questions have answers already and a quick search usually locates the answer.

Related: http://meta.askubuntu.com/questions/2008/down-voting-consequences?rq=1

  • Ah, thank you for the related post. It ties in what I am trying to request here. Gilles's answer notes votes are anonymous, so you should not have to reveal your identity when you downvote (meaning via comment). Well, instead of downvoting, comments would be preferred then. Gilles discusses downvotes on answers though, but i am more concerned with questions. As for that example example question, again, I am not calling out people who voted to close or downvoted it. It's just an example, so don't feel like I'm personally attacking you or anyone else in any way. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 21:30
  • @Serg I'm not taking you that way, just putting out what I try to do. I see no reason to delay a deserved close vote as if improvements are made the post will remain open. If not, so be it. I don't think we need thousands of unanswerable non-questions any more than we need thousands of unanswered questions. In my mind the answerable questions take precedence and priority. Be that as it may, I try to only downvote in cases where it's richly deserved.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 21:39

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