I have seen many times people being down voted for doing something wrong.

For example posting an answer that really should have been a comment.

Or posting an answer in the style of a forum thread post, offering suggestions to a fix, or requesting more information, without actually answering the question.

I understand why this happens, but it concerns me when people with very low reputation points are down voted for these sorts of things without a comment explaining why.

Worse still (on another SE site) someone with 1 reputation point asked a question to which the only answer provided was a link to the lmgtfy.com site with there question as the search phrase. This is no better than telling someone to RTFM.

That example wasn't on this SE site but I have seen lmgtfy.com links here too.

I try whenever I see this sort of thing to add comments accordingly but what more can be done to be more welcoming to those still getting to grips with how these SE sites work?

  • 2
    I know this applies to all SE sites, but I particularly want to see the Ubuntu SE stand out as a good example of an SE site. Commented Sep 27, 2010 at 21:45
  • 2
    I think anyone that throws a lmgtfy link should get hit by the banhammah - that's just so nonconstructive. Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 14:31
  • @Marco. Explaining why it's not constructive first might change their behaviour. Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 10:49
  • 5
    I think a lot of newbies tend to post an answer requesting more info because they don't have the privilege to comment but still want to help out. This is a sad side effect of the privilege system. :(
    – Junkbot
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 1:24
  • Maybe a mentor program could help?
    – nanofarad
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 20:47
  • @ObsessiveFOSS: I like the idea, I will post follow up on that question. Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 22:32

2 Answers 2


I am doing my best to correct people as I see them, by either leaving a comment explaining how it works, or pointing people to the FAQ and the new user thread.

On the other hand I personally am being very brutal with my voting (46 downvotes) because we're in beta and I love the signal to noise ratio so far and I think this is an opportunity to set the standard for what a good SE should be like. I'm not even an expert and I run into wrong Ubuntu information on the internet everywhere, so I look at this site as a way to reverse the boat so people can love to use their computers with Ubuntu instead of being frustrated.

I think most people just are not used to SE and when we explain how it works people seem to correct themselves and enjoy the site and rock on.

Also, I think it's much easier to be tough early on and then ease up than it is to start allowing sloppy questions/answers and then try to clean it up after the fact. Also, I still think people think this is just another forum which can be confusing (there have been 2 horribly off-topic questions today for example).

Maybe we can say something in the FAQ that a downvote isn't something to take personally and to think of it as a nudge in the right direction.


I was in the process of writing a similar question then this surfaced as a duplicate. So this is a kind of "me too" answer with some constructive suggestions (though JCs answer may have burst my bubble a bit as its spot on). But i am looking at it from a slightly different angle.

Badly written and ambiguous questions are “par for the course” for a site like this and everyone does their best to police and edit them as well as flagging when inappropriate. This is especially true for new AU subscribers. I am relatively new here myself and I feel we should encourage those who are willing to answer questions or make constructive comments to give obvious “newbies” a break and be more helpful

I agree some are quick to down vote badly written questions without attempting to edit or seek clarity, get a better understanding of what they are looking for or comment that it is a possible duplicate without addition explanation. Keep in mind I am only talking about new subscribers to AU where it is obvious they are first time Ubuntu users. I am not naive, I do understand there are new subscribers who are experienced and revisit the site with a new user name and login etc.

Maybe it’s not the role of this site to encourage new Ubuntu users to “stay the course” and maybe we should just stick to answering the question presented. I am in no doubt you guys who have been around here a lot longer than I have tried and failed many things. I just think that during my short experience here there is a gap and that some of us can encourage others to be more helpful and lead by example. I have noted evidence of answers to “first time” questions being vague, mild abuse in comments short of calling the new OP stupid.

Some of my own thoughts are

  • Always, welcome new subscribers (who bother to complete a profile and give themselves a user name)
  • In the welcome comment or note maybe a provide a link to the “highest voted” question list, encourage them to browse there while waiting on their first answer. (a learning curve to encourage self research and expose them to well written questions and answers).
  • Prevent those under a certain Rep score from answering/commenting on a new subscriber’s first question.

If my answer makes the readers think a bit more about being more helpful to so called “newbies” then I have achieved an objective.

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