I think, if AskUbuntu born to help all users, and I agree we can vote down to an answer, but, at least, the user that downgrade the answer, have to answer the question correctly.

  • i purged my meta post to this, because your answer was non-visible when I got to this. Having said this, I'd have not downvoted your answer, but would have commented to the effect of letting you know what my thoughts were about quality. Having said this, the other answer on the post that's been downvoted twice thus far gets my vote because it has HUGE quality issues. :P
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:21

4 Answers 4


It's their choice. They can be encouraged to do that, but nobody can force them to do that.

Here's what I've said before, and I'll say it again:

People vote their conscience, nothing more.

In this instance, the following was wrong (from my point of view) with this answer:

  • It was copy and paste from somewhere else.

  • It was unverified.

  • It appears that it was copyrighted material.

I am not a lawyer, so this is opinion, not legal advice/judgement.


I agree absolutely that Ask Ubuntu is about helping users. However helping users requires a level of quality control. If the user had tried following your answer, it would not have worked. Downvoting is about quality control. Poorly researched answers that do not work are the definition of those that should be downvoted.

In addition to this, you blatantly copied a solution from another site and neither cited it, tested it, nor understood what it was doing well enough to know that you needed to explain GRUB2's syntax for hard drives and partitions--which is different from the syntax the kernel uses.

I did not post an answer (yet), because I have a policy of not posting answers unless I can do a better job of answering the question than existing documentation. For this particular question I decided that an existing answer for another question would be the best solution for the user so I posted a link to it as a comment. If that doesn't work I will go back and write an answer on how to boot from the grub> prompt.

edit in response to request for clarification on why answer was wrong:

This is the solution you copied from Aaron Kelley's copyrighted blog.

At the grub prompt, issue these commands:

set root=(hdX,Y)
linux /vmlinuz root=/dev/sdZ ro
initrd /initrd.img

Your machine should boot up. Start a terminal and issue these commands:

sudo grub-install /dev/sdZ
sudo update-grub


However you forgot to copy or paraphrase a very important sentence before the copied portion (you did mention that they should replace Z, but without replacing X and Y the user wouldn't even get to that step).

Note that in the commands that follow, “X”, “Y”, and “Z” should be replaced with numbers/letters that represent your boot disk. (source)

If the user had tried your solution they would have gotten an error: no such disk as soon as they tried accessing root, which had been set as (hdX,Y) as shown in the following screenshot:


Notice the difference between the first time when I use your posted method and try ls / and when I do it the correct way.

Furthermore, the source material you copied from probably wouldn't have helped the user even if you had included the extra sentence about changing the variables. This is because GRUB uses a different naming convention for drives and partitions than the Linux kernel does (source). GRUB starts drive numbering from 0 while the kernel starts from a; GRUB starts partition numbering from 0 whereas the kernel starts from 1. So even if the user knew that their linux root partition was on sda5, trying (hda,5) wouldn't work, neither would (hd1,5). They would need to enter (hd0,4).

All of this said. If you had simply asked for clarification on these matters had you not understood them, you could have edited your answer and I would have removed the downvote and Ask Ubuntu would have had a usable answer. That's what Ask Ubuntu is about, usable answers--not cobbling together answers from googled sources that you don't understand. In alot of cases posting a cobbled together answer could cause the user to damage their system or lose data. This is why we downvote.

  • adempewolff, I will wait for your correct answer. Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:01
  • One more thing, can you prove to all of AskUbuntu community, that my answer is poor and not correct? Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:02
  • @Subv3rsion don't hold your breath. I've got a real good feeling that the existing answer I linked to will fix the user's problem real quick. And yes, I can prove your answer wrong. Would you prefer a screenshot or will text output do? Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:04
  • what you want ... Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:05
  • IIRC @adempewolff, I was directed to Wikipedia as the authoritative source, but after editing said source, it magically stopped being authoritative and sufficient proof. I'm mixing metaphors, but armchair quarterbacking with changing goalposts can be difficult to defend against! ;)
    – ish
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:11
  • 1
    @Subv3rsion I added the requested clarification on why your answer as not correct. Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:45

I think, if AskUbuntu born to help all users, and I agree we can vote down to an answer, but, at least, the user that downgrade the answer, must give the correct answer.

This is the famous notion that "you shouldn't complain if you can't do it yourself." Please consider the following examples:

  • Your municipal sewage system stops working because of some mistake made in the Department of Public Works (or similar). Your toilets are backing up, raw sewage is seeping out onto the streets, and your kids can't safely play outside. A small cholera epidemic is starting in your community. You call your elected officials, and they tell you that you have no right to complain, unless you know how to properly administer or repair municipal sewage systems yourself.

  • You bring home a new laptop and plug it in. A few hours later, your power adapter bursts into flames. You call tech support, and they tell you that you have no right to complain, unless you know how to design a power adapter that doesn't burst into flames.

  • You ask your doctor if the bone is broken. Your doctor says "no." Then you are injured far worse, because actually it was broken. You complain, and your doctor tells you that if you can't read x-rays, you have no right to insist that he can, just because he presented himself as knowing how when he gave you the answer.

You might not think people have treated you justly in these hypothetical scenarios. You might think that you can often know something is wrong or bad even if you cannot do that thing right yourself. You would be right about that.

A related objection that is sometimes raised, is to say that users who downvote should always leave comments.

It's often helpful for users to give comments when downvoting, but this is not required. One reason it's not required is so that downvoting can be anonymous, like upvoting. Occasional extremely judgmental responses on the part of users whose posts have been downvoted constitute proof that downvoting must be able to remain anonymous. Being required to answer the question when downvoting would eliminate that anonymity just as much as being required to post a comment.

Another reason why it may make sense to dowvote without leaving a comment is if what's wrong with the post would be obvious to anyone who has read the FAQ. Usually, in these situations, someone can know what's wrong with the post without being able to answer the question themselves.

Finally, in case there is any confusion, please note that voting here on meta doesn't mean the same thing it does on the main site. This meta question's downvotes indicate that people disagree with you, not that they think your meta question is bad or that you shouldn't have posted it. So the downvotes your meta question got don't mean the same thing as the downvotes your answer on main got.


I have thoughts on this part, and then I shall be done:

I think, if AskUbuntu born to help all users, and I agree we can vote down to an answer, but, at least, the user that downgrade the answer must give the correct answer.

(1) The user that downgrades the answer may downgrade on any criterion, including but not limited to the level of technical skill necessary to fix the problem, not enough details on the answer as to why certain steps were done in the order they're being done.
(2) While the user that downgrades your answer may agree your answer is correct, and therefore vote on quality control, that same user may not have the required information to explain it in greater detail to warrant an answer being posted.

All other statements made by other users to this meta question are also valid.

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