Not to make a general case from the treatment of just one question but it seems that mere support questions are not only having the majority here but the community is getting so used to this that a question like

What is Ubuntu's policy on keeping old kernels

are getting downvoted. As I see it this question is short, precise, absolutely fit for a technical Q&A site.

  • 2
    (check the question 14 days after) hmm... has 40 upvotes and 1 downvote... mmmm
    – Braiam
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 18:15
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    A complaint about ONE downvote on a question with >40 score gets 25 upvotes? That makes me wonder in what direction Meta AU is wandering, at least. Seriously, AU has no bigger problem than one downvote on one question? Wow. Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 22:32
  • 1
    BTW, people wondering when votes were cast check the timeline, notice that this meta post was just a bit after the question was asked.
    – Braiam
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


Yes, I'm worried about how some people vote.

This is not the first time I've commented on it but I've been noticing answerable, occasionally even interesting questions get a down-vote. No close reason. No comment. It makes me bodily angry because that isn't good enough.

If you down-vote and collectively fail to leave a reason why, you vandalise our community and help nobody.

I'm serious. An anonymous down-vote gets something out the way but there's still a person with a problem. They're either going to repost or, if the problem is that bad, they're going to stop using Ubuntu and swear us off as a bunch of elitist toolbags.

Oh but at least you got the question off the front page! Very well done. If that's your idea of good voting, I'd rather you left us and found a new hobby. Spitting on poor people and bludgeoning stray dogs is about as humane and is twice as useful.

The rest of us want to be the best Ubuntu support channel around and you're ruining it.

I'm not saying you can't vote down but a good critic will also communicate their problem. Not enough detail? Ask for it. Awful formatting? Tell the user to correct it. It takes seconds but goes a mile.

Is it too much effort to write a few words? Go away. You're not welcome here.

To get an idea of the scale of this problem, here's a Data.SE Query that shows open questions with downvotes but 0 comments.. Yeah, some users have taken it upon themselves to vandalise 1400 open questions without giving the slightest hint why.

In a case-by-case basis, Jorge is completely right. If you see something being needlessly abused, post if up here on meta and we'll try to fix it. That usually means people getting a wildly inflated score for a mediocre question but I'd rather than than let them linger at -1.

On a similar note, in September (though there were earlier experiments), I looked into our biggest down-voters. Most people think that voting is completely anonymous but how you vote is public data, it's just not linked to the posts.

Before I post it, I want to be clear that I don't neccessarily consider these users to be the same people I was addressing above. They're just people who have voted down, a lot. Most of that comes from hogging the review queue (which they do). Here's the query.

To all reading this: Look at your statistics on your own profile pages. If you have fewer comments than negative votes, you're probably doing something wrong. If that's because you're exasperated with the poor quality of new questions, spend some time frolicking in amongst the newly answered questions.

If you're thundering down thousands of negative votes with only a handful of positives perhaps it's time to see if you can chill out and find a better line to approach the site on.

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    In the vast majority of my down votes (on questions at least), I also issue a close vote because it's off topic (not about ubuntu, or a bug report/u+1 question) or a duplicate. Voting duplicate usually leaves a comment automatically, and I think the close votes speak directly for the downvote, but the close voting isn't really visible until it's actually closed. For -1 on answers, I almost always add a comment as well.
    – dobey
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 14:31
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    Until a few months ago, I was massively down voting old questions that was blatantly off-topic, poorly worded duplicates and unanswerable information-lacking abandoned questions (asked more than 1 year ago by 1 rep users that never came back). I thought this would help getting the site cleaner (by forcing them into automatic deletion), but I realized this simply wouldn't work, dozens of crappy question arise every day and additional information that could salvage many of them are never provided. So I stopped hunting and started to answer new questions and reviewing, especially flagging NAA. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 18:05
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    Maybe this should be common sense, but it would help if a small set of the most important rules was permanently visible for every user ("If you vote down try to add a comment to clarify why this is not a good question!") or if a down vote would open a popup that reminds to add a comment, at least the first time you use this function.
    – aldorado
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 10:49
  • now tell me this doesn't deserve down vote for the way it is written Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 12:49
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    @BЈовић It doesn't. It deserves an edit. And if you don't have the time for that, leave a comment explaining your problem with the post. Even "I don't understand what you're asking because of the formatting" is better than nothing. 10 seconds invested and now the user knows they need to fix their post.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 12:59
  • @aldorado the system already gives a user a popup when they downvote to leave a comment. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:03
  • I improved the query, was selecting questions with up votes data.stackexchange.com/ubuntu/query/149752/…
    – Braiam
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 15:27
  • @Braiam why should those be excluded?
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 15:34
  • Because it could be 1) a random dv 2) a vote before it was edited 3) there were comments before and then removed but the vote is still there... you know... votes that people don't go back and check when things are "fixed"
    – Braiam
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 15:37
  • @Braiam but they're all down votes without comments. That's what I'm highlighting. And if you go back and delete your criticism-in-comment, you probably remove your vote. I don't deny that your #3 might account for a few of those but it's not the standard. I just checked 20 consecutive questions (taken from the middle of the stack so they're not super-new, not super-old) and just one had deleted comments.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 17:19
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    Downvoting without commenting is not vandalism. There is such a thing as a stupid question, and as a wrong answer. Sometimes a close vote is all the indication that's useful. You should comment if you think that the post can be improved — otherwise, downvoting, voting/flagging to close if appropriate, and moving on is perfectly fine. Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 22:30
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    @Gilles We clearly disagree. My view is that by not commenting you're not letting somebody know why their post is substandard. That isn't a helpful because they then don't know how to fix it... Then it goes into the low quality review queue and some more people vote without commenting. Five people have spent a few minutes of time closing a problem that somebody has instead of helping. If the first person had just explained their problem, the post could have been improved and the OP's problem solved.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 23:08

Seems like a great question to me, so I answered it.

If you see weird dogpiling of a question or something like that just post here on meta; bringing issues like this up to the rest of the community is a good way of keeping the system in check.

(Also I learned something today about autocleaning kernels I didn't even know we did! So at the end of the day it's up to each of us to bring things up like this on meta when you see it.)


I strongly disagree with this stance, specially coming from a Moderator (my emphasis):

Is it too much effort to write a few words? Go away. You're not welcome here.

Sorry, but it is our right, our tiny-community-moderated right, written in the system as , to vote as we see fit, comment or no comment.

I understand that massive downvotings are detrimental to the spirit of the Stack (short of being a [Meta] Stack Overflow post where, well, votes are like candy).
One, two, downvotes are enough to raise the community alarms and make it look into it and try to fix/guide the mis-guided.

Yes, wrongfully or excessively downvoted posts are not ok. But we, less than 2k monkeys, also need guidance. Is there an injustice going on? Make your 2k+ Comment/Edit stand and push the Post up. If someone is learning the system, s/he'll take note of it and perform better next time (ie, commenting positively instead of only downvoting or snark-commenting).

After all, we are not Disneyland where everything is a "Win". "Losing" is part of the process.


Here's my two cents on how to remedy the destructive downvotes oli was talking about.

Question titles should be questions

I think we should radically force each question title to actually be a question.

Often I see good edits to a question that nevertheless fail to rephrase the title as a question. That is so frustrating. This is a QA site. Any question with a title like

  • Cannot install Ubuntu
  • I have lost my wifi after an upgrade

is just not helpful and should not be answered nor edited without also editing the title. One can imagine thousands of different questions, but by writing them down explicitly, the title becomes an indication of whether a question is too localized or too general.

Hard on the close vote trigger

Personally I think close votes should be used a lot more. Any question that just really is a hardware problem, or something too localized should be closed without hesitating. The system is flooded by poor 'I am desparate' questions and not all support should come from this site.


I have seen it from time to time that a mod says 'we are going to make this question the basis for future "does ubuntu phone support device x' questions." This helps the community to evaluate not only whether a question has been asked before, but also whether it was properly answered. I think we need more of that and more benefactors that offer their rep to get good answers update after a while. It would be a nice gesture of +20k users to give away almost a small amount of daily rep for the sake of the site.

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