Some brand new Ubuntu users are posting some questions, being not yet familiar with AskUbuntu their question is not always very clear.

I understand that to downvote such question to close them.

But I would add a delay before being able to downvote a question of a new user. To let him the change to learn by our comments and edit his question.

Otherwise, it is pretty rude:

  • you want to try Ubuntu,
  • you have a problem using it
  • you ask a question
  • and few minutes after your question is downvoted

=> result for me would be to I would think that this Ubuntu community is not so friendly.

My proposal would be to have a delay of 2 days before being able to downvote a user with a reputation <50

Edit: I consider this question useful because I consider that encouraging new Ubuntu user is pretty important. Downvoting 1st question of new user few minutes after posting it is not so encouraging.

3 Answers 3


I don't quite agree with Eliah because I think there are two bigger real problems in our behaviour that I think you're touching on when users downvote based on quality:

A downvote without a comment is rude.

You can argue it anyway you like but if you just want to say "-1 don't like", that's possibly the least constructive criticism possible. It takes seconds to say "Can we have more detail about the make and model of your laptop?" and that instantly lets the OP know what they need to do to fix the problem.

This is something I've rallied for again and again but I don't think there ever will be a forced comment or reasoning system for negative votes. I'll just have to keep encouraging people to do it.

You also can't reliably say "It's not rude" because offence is something often more inferred than implied. We have strange customs here. A negative vote in the real world is a black mark and people don't like them... So don't be surprised when people get upset when you've voted against them haven't given them a reason. They're going to get upset.

There's no notification when a post is fixed.

So imagine we're looking at three reviewers going through the review queue. They sequentially hit our question. The first two downvote and move on. The third user spends two minutes fixing the question and marks it as okay.

The question now has -2 but it's fine. The two people who downvoted it aren't going to see this question on the review queue again. They didn't leave comments so there's no way to reason with them. They're not going to reverse their votes. The third user could knock it back to -1 but unless this is actually now a good question, that's not really the point of voting.

I do think that everybody who negatively votes on a post should get a notification when it is edited. This would also allow them to vote without fear of permanently condemning a question.

This does create a lot of notification noise though and that's something Stack Exchange (our creator and master) is keen to avoid.

But blocking downvotes is not the fix.

Downvotes exist to get bad posts out of the system and considering that 95% of spammers come in with sub-50 reputations, you'd be protecting them with this idea.

Things need to be voted on, people just need to be encouraged to vote in the right way.

I think the real problems lie in communication both between the system and the poster and the system and the reviewers. Ultimately these are both repairable but they do come at a cost that Stack Exchange has been unwilling to bare.


Downvotes do not in any way prevent people from improving their posts.

Downvotes have no effect on how easily a post may be edited.

And when a post is edited, this enables voters to change their votes. (They can also change them for a short time after casting them, to help people correct mistakes.)

Furthermore, a new user starts out with 1 reputation, and it can never go to 0 or become negative. So in this way downvoting already affects new users less. Even for users who have earned reputation, a downvote only decreases reputation by 2, while an upvote increases it by 5 (on questions) or 10 (on answers).

Downvoting is fundamentally not rude.

This is similar to how it is not inherently rude to express a disagreeing opinion, in ordinary discussion, or to politely object when someone gives wrong or dangerous advice.

In fact, downvoting is an alternative to rudeness. I think at least half of the rudeness I have seen on Ask Ubuntu appears to have been the result of people not realizing that they should downvote instead of saying something non-constructive.

In addition, the ability to both upvote and downvote new posts by new users is critically important to our ability to identify questions that are well-asked and can be answered, as well as those that have serious problems and need improvement or could possibly benefit from constructive comments, or from being put on hold.

Downvoting is important for both questions and answers, but it is even a little bit more important for questions. For answers, downvoters incur a -1 decrease in reputation to discourage inappropriate downvoting. For questions, there is no such "penalty," because it is important to encourage people to be willing to downvote questions.

If downvotes appear rude or intimidating to new users, that is a problem.

That could happen because of:

  • accompanying mean words. (For example, rude comments, which could be flagged and removed.)
  • in situations where it might be hard for a post's author to figure out people may think is wrong with their posts, the absence of any comments to explain. However, it is much better to have no comment at all than non-constructive, rude, or repetitious comments.
  • problems with the Ask Ubuntu interface. If people--especially newcomers--are having trouble using the system effectively, that's something we should work on improving.

But I think the primary reason why people feel bad when their posts are downvoted is that we are actually pathologically reluctant to downvote on this site, so the few downvotes we have are interpreted as extreme gestures. One example of mean behavior that sometimes results from not downvoting is when people threaten to downvote instead.

We actually need way more downvoting, not less.

This is a problem on some other Stack Exchange sites (though perhaps not Stack Overflow), but it is especially a problem here. Everybody on Stack Exchange is supposed to act respectfully and avoid meanness, but the Ubuntu culture is particularly serious about welcoming newcomers and accommodating people who might not have the experience to easily ask a good question (or post a good answer).

But by refraining from downvoting bad posts, we are actually hurting exactly those people, because without both upvoting and downvoting, the system cannot work as intended and bad questions cannot get the attention they need.

(There is a similar problem for answers: Bad answers and non-answers that aren't downvoted often appear above good answers and so-so answers. Also, when something that isn't an answer is posted as one, a negative score enables it to be deleted through delete votes cast by high reputation users.)

Although I don't agree with all the ideas suggested here, one of the several good things about that question is that it points out how our reluctance to downvote is harmful.

Closure can happen without downvotes, though.

Some (not all) bad questions can be closed. Downvoting does help this happen, because it helps raise awareness about how there is something wrong with them, which leads to people voting to close them.

But although a question that should be closed should often also be downvoted, this is not always the case and downvoting is in no way necessary for closure. People may downvote and vote to close for identical or similar reasons, but it's not hard to close a question that has a positive score.

It would be unusual, and probably a bad idea, for someone to downvote every question they ever flag or vote to close. For example, many questions that turn out to be duplicates of some other question nonetheless are clear, well-written, answerable, and show good research effort.

A note about meta.

Finally, please note that voting has a somewhat different meaning here on meta. For example, this meta question requests a change in the system that is not likely to be popular. To express disagreement, users may downvote this meta question. But that does not mean this meta question needs improvement or doesn't contribute positively to meta. (This is one of the reasons why votes on per-site metas don't increase or decrease anyone's reputation.)

Unfortunately, the tooltip text that appears when you hover your mouse arrow over the vote buttons on meta is exactly the same as on main. This does not fully reflect the way voting is used on meta, and is confusing.

Related: Help Center > What kind of behavior is expected of users?


I agree that it is necessary to downvote.

But about new comers,
I remember when I started on AskUbuntu, I received upvotes soon and it makes me wanted to contribute more and stay on Ubuntu.

In our specific case,
I bet that our new comer will not edit his question and not use AskUbuntu soon because he has been frustrated.

Knowing that the goal of AskUbuntu is to support users, I think that in this case we might missed the target.

Let a question with a score of 0 is good enougth for me to mark that the question is not so intersing (for new user)

For Ubuntu,
I think that it is key that the number of users grows comparing to Windows or Apple.
To get better participation of 3rd parties like ATI or any other hardware company.

  • 6
    That particular instance shows that that poster didn't try to improve the question but posted two more questions essentially the same as the first.
    – user25656
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 11:09
  • 4
    And that you received upvotes "soon" is nice. Others write long answers but don't receive upvotes or even any feedback from anyone. It's all part of life.
    – user25656
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 11:13
  • 1
    If new users' posts could be quickly upvoted but not quickly downvoted, lots of really bad posts would get skewed positive scores. Most people don't take it as a sign of respect to be systematically fooled into thinking they are doing a good thing when they aren't. The upvotes you received when you started on Ask Ubuntu probably told you (correctly) that you should keep doing what you were doing. Not a message we want to associate with bad posts! In our specific case, the user went on to ask the same thing a few times; this is unproductive but emphatically not "not us[ing] AskUbuntu". Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 12:21
  • @vasa1, the new user is askubuntu.com/users/184894/jayharte and so far I see only one question in his profile (I might be wrong). I still bet that this new user wont use AskUbuntu and simply Ubuntu for a while...
    – Boris
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 12:47
  • @Boris We closed the duplicates, and some were deleted. Also, the user used multiple accounts to post them (though that was almost certainly not intentional). But you should still be able to see this one and that one. " I still bet that this new user wont use AskUbuntu and simply Ubuntu for a while." You might want to expand this meta answer to explain why you believe that. Do you have any information about people who decided to leave the community over downvotes? Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 12:50
  • @Eliah, off course not, I have no easy way to search for users with a reputation <10 and only 1 question posted. But perhaps you are able to get such measure...
    – Boris
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 19:44
  • @Boris Why would it help to look for users with <10 reputation and only 1 question posted? If someone posts one question and never posts anything again, then even if their question was downvoted, it does not follow that they left because their question was downvoted. Similarly, lots of people post questions that are quickly upvoted and answered, and never come back. If we found that was more common, should we stop upvoting and answering new users' questions? Presumably there are other sources of information, like personal accounts of people who stopped using AU. That's what I'm talking about. Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 5:17
  • @Eliah I'm proposing a compromise in my new question meta.askubuntu.com/q/7212/32413
    – Boris
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 8:14
  • @vasa1 I'm proposing a compromise in my new question meta.askubuntu.com/q/7212/32413
    – Boris
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 8:15

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