For instance: How to install bind dns server and apache web server in ubuntu?.

There is certainly a lot of how-tos to be found for exactly this task, it looks like we are his first (and only) resource. I know that the mouse-over names this as one reason for downvoting, but I don't think it has been handled this way since I am aboard.

What got me thinking along these lines was a sentence from Eliah ("We actually need way more downvoting, not less.") in his answer to http://meta.askubuntu.com/questions/7179/could-we-add-a-delay-before-being-able-to-downvote-a-question.

Of course a downvote must/should be accompanied by a comment informing what the OP should do to improve the question.

  • 2
    I really couldn't resist searching to see if yours is a duplicate and found this. Also, while I usually leave a comment when downvoting (and I downvote a lot), it is completely optional. Downvoting without commenting is perfectly acceptable behavior. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 20:54
  • 3
    @TomBrossman even if downvoting without comment is acceptable in the most cases only a comment will tell the user what to improve. And duplicates are an entirely different species than the type of questions I was thinking of. :-))
    – guntbert
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 20:58
  • 3
    This is true of course. Explaining yourself in a comment helps the individual. Downvoting (and upvoting) benefit the entire site, so it is up to each user to decide how to allocate their time spent per-task. If the OP makes even the slightest effort or sounds frustrated I leave a comment. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 21:05

5 Answers 5


Of course!

The tooltip of down arrow (for questions) says, and I quote:

This question don't show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

We shouldn't extract all the information to OP's in comments, at very least they should make an effort: that they did investigate, or tried to fix, or at least made the question answerable without the furtherance or with just few comments to find out. The same apply to questions that are answerable without having to take a gun and pointing to OP's head to narrow down what the question is about! Those could be voted up!

Example of good questions that were interesting, and didn't need comments to make clear what the question is about... just look for them: https://askubuntu.com/questions?sort=votes

I don't say just downvote for the sake of it, but at least they know that several downvotes + 1 comment means that they should review what their peers are asking them to do (in the comment) and do it.

  • 2
    I personally not in favor of downvotting, If a similar question with answer is already existing, lest CLOSE or FLAG for duplicate that way the owner will be redirected to the right question, whereas downvoting does not help anything
    – Boris
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 11:36

Do not lightly downvote salvageable content or dupes, please!

Ever since we started this discussion here we can observe a significant increase in down voting. This is done far more often on questions than on answer, presumably because downvoting questions does not cost you any of your own reputation.

Some of the down votes are well thought and justified, but it is my feeling that this is far not always the case. We can see quite a few questions where downvotes were cast even before the OP had any chance to respond to comments or improve their questions.

Let me quote from the guidelines for downvoting in the Stackexchange network:

  • Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.
  • The up-vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

As we may develop our own voting guide for Ask Ubuntu it is my believe that we should not go too far off the Stackexchange Network practise.

If we simply used the tooltip ("This question don't show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.") as a guide we may prematurely vote down a question that will not fall into the categories "egregiously sloppy", "no-effort", or "extreme case". This will needlessly lead to confusion and irritation especially from new users. This may eventually lead to users not coming back, or not daring to ask again.

This is not what we want. We want to be a place open for new users. We therefore should help them to become better. This is to my strong believe better be done by

  1. Edit
  2. Ask for clarification
  3. vote to close if the question meets a close reason which can not be resolved from an edit.

Use your downvotes only on questions that are really not worth any effort. This will then show others that this question is not worth to be read. But keep in mind: this will also affect probably good answers on that question.

In case you still felt like having to downvote a question for lack of details, or otherwise inappropriate content: Please do come back to see if the question was edited to be able to revert your downvote. This sadly does not happen too often.

As per request here some examples of the last 30 days:

  • 1
    Can you add a few examples of questions that you believe were unreasonably downvoted? I think you may be on to something...in part. I have seen a couple questions, like this one, that only borderline deserve downvotes but have gotten many. For the most part, I haven't noticed a problem though. By prevailing network standards, we get a lot of posts that are not merely flawed, but deeply unanswerable or useless (but improvable!). Downvoting seems to be way more common on Stack Overflow than here. Why is the tooltip guide less authoritative than any other? Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 12:54
  • Well, this seems like an example of a recent, unreasonably downvoted question. Unless maybe it was edited extensively in the first 5 minutes after posting, and the downvote was within that window also. Which seems unlikely. I'd be pleased to see others ...some may even be so good that they deserve upvotes! Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 13:58
  • @EliahKagan All of the not deleted questions above deserve upvotes! Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 13:27

If there is no sign of research effort and the question is not useful to the community because of the lack of research effort, then feel free to downvote.

There are useful questions to the community that nevertheless do not show research effort. You can downvote those if you like, but never close them. Remember, there's no lower threshold for research needed for questions. We want to keep questions that are useful to the community open to the community. Here are some examples:

  • How do I install Steam on Ubuntu?
  • How can I change the clock in GNOME from 24 hour format to 12 hour format, or vice-versa?
  • How do I empty the trash folder?

If you feel that the questioner is being lazy, and you don't want to do the work of researching the answer for them, that's OK! Don't. Just leave the question open for members of the community who do want to contribute answers in this way.

We want answers to these questions on AskUbuntu, even if the answer is already elsewhere on the web, for many reasons.


I would caution that unless we know the person in real life, we really don't know if they've done any research or not. I say this not to be technical, but just to remind you that sometimes people just don't know... and in cases like that, leaving a comment (and waiting for a response) before taking an action such as down voting, is probably the best bet.

If the person has clearly not put in any effort when writing the question (for example, it is short and lacking any detail whatsoever), then I would suggest down voting (and I would highly recommend leaving a comment expressing why the question needed to be down voted, as otherwise you leave the OP none the wiser).

  • 6
    I would say that the fact if someone "IRL" did the research or not, is irrelevant. The problem is that the person does not show the research (the tooltip actually talks about "show" research even). The problem is that you will get a "did you try this/did you try that" commentdiscussion spam, and even if all the answers would be "I tried that allready, didn't work", the question is bad: it should've been in there.
    – Nanne
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 11:17
  • @Roland I think that someone think that your answer show no efforts :D
    – Lucio
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 2:21
  • @Lucio actually is "not useful" :P
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 3:27

For me "OP didn't put any research effort" means that we know that a similar question with answer is already existing.

Then lets vote for CLOSE (if you have the privilege) for duplicate question

that way the owner will be redirected to the right question.

Whereas downvoting does not help anything

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