Why is the Server Fault community so unfriendly? On other Stack Exchange sites, I get the feeling that people are actually trying to help you, but here I very often feel that its better to find a solution to my problem on my own than to ask any question, because you can get downvoted straight away without even comments. I studied IT and and spent years as IT professional and I really try hard to find a solution before I ask any question, but it seems that this is not good enough for Server Fault.

My last question (notably not my first question) attracted several downvotes and close votes before anyone bothered to explain what was wrong with it. Is the aim to create closed community and downvote anyone else ?

What's wrong with the Server Fault community?

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    Isn't the massive edit pointless since a) it completely changes the question and b) the question has been deleted by the author so that only a small # of people can possibly provide any suggestions. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 20:00
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    Please provide specific examples when talking about perceived behavior. Your question as worded frames yourself as a person with years of experience as an IT professional, yet in your discussion with Iain you switched tracks to "sadly I am not referring to this particular question. I just took a look at serverfault question list [...]. If that is the topic you want to discuss, your question should reflect it and provide examples of the behavior.
    – Andrew B
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 22:20
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    Trying to start an edit war when you're running for a moderator position is an astonishingly ill-advised thing to do, @Iain. If rumburak disagrees with my edit, he can roll it back himself.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 1:02
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    @Shog9: Care to elaborate why you consider this "ill-advised"? You massively changed the meaning and tone of the question, which is a reason for a rollback. Should I (as another candidate) consider this a threat? What would be the result if you act upon that threat? Also, why do you think it's acceptable to do this kind of edit to a meta post?
    – Sven
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 1:43
  • When I found it, @Sven, this question was quite poorly written. The grammar, spelling, etc. were not great, but most notably it didn't even reference the question that prompted it - which, having been deleted, would be hard to find for even trusted members of the site. Although it had attracted three answers, no one had tried to address even the more superficial problems; instead, folks were just making fun of them in the comments. So I edited it for presentation and to match the top-voted answer. Perhaps this was not what the author intended - but of course, he's free to correct if need-be.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 2:05
  • In regards to your other questions, see: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/in-defense-of-editing and blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/05/a-theory-of-moderation
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 2:08
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    @Shog9 Actually, your edit was quite confusing. Having not recognized that your edit put forth an example that the user was not originally offering, I've incorrectly critiqued the user for backtracking on their question's wording. It's ironic for this to be occurring in a meta discussion where some of us are trying to steer the user towards behaviors that yield useful feedback from us. The fact that the user has contradicted you without rolling back the edit suggests that you are wrong.
    – Andrew B
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 3:51
  • If you believe you have a better idea of what the intent was here, @Andrew, then go ahead and edit to clarify. Otherwise, wait for the author. I believe it is better now than it was, a readable question that can be answered for the benefit of the asker, which should be at least the initial goal.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 3:53
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    I must politely decline. That is not how this community moderates itself.
    – Andrew B
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 4:10
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    The massive edit is clearly invalid because OP said they were not asking specifically about their own question that was closed: Sadly I am not referring to this particular question. I just took a look at serverfault question list and on first 2 pages I can only see questions with 0 or downvoted. – rumburak 18 hours ago So why totally change the question into something they didn't intend? Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 6:01
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    There we go. I've edited the post to improve the grammar, as Shog9 said he wanted, but without completely destroying the meaning of the post, as the community and the Stack Exchange guidelines on editing seem to want. Problem solved. Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 13:58
  • Much better, @HopelessN00b.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 14:12

3 Answers 3


One thing that you - and everyone else who complains about downvotes - need to keep in mind is that the main purpose of votes is not to give feedback to the person who wrote the post. The main purpose is to tell everyone else who reads the post what the community thinks about it.

I keep an eye on a few other SE sites and it's interesting that on ALL of them, you see the exact same complaint:

Why is this site so unfriendly? On other SE sites people are more helpful.

Most recently, I was reading some posts on meta.EE, and they have a more-or-less concensus that they should downvote and vote to close crappy questions as quickly as possible.



There aren't many answers or comments yet, but it look like the EE.SE regulars think their harsh attitude is working:



My sentiments pretty much echo Ward's, but this was too long for a comment.

If you request honest feedback, the community has a good track record of being receptive to that. However, there is a fine difference between requesting feedback and complaining about it.

Typically, StackExchange communities with many low quality questions are painted as being "unfriendly" when not providing downvote feedback, but part of the reason why people don't is that it's a two way street: question askers tend to be very unfriendly when criticism is leveled on them. It only takes a few rounds of providing unrequested feedback and having someone blast you in response before you stop bothering, and I'm pretty sure I speak for many of us in this regard. At that point, you look for signs that the person wants or is capable of receiving constructive criticism instead.

In summary:

  • Less people appreciate receiving personalized feedback than you think. Those who do and express such tend to be overshadowed by the people who respond with zealous personal attacks.
  • As a general rule, expect the same effort and patience that you put into things.
    • The more effort you put into a question, the more likely it is that someone is going to explain to you why they're downvoting or vote-closing, even if they usually aren't inclined comment. I did this just a moment ago.
    • If you're honestly confused and ask for help in a non-defensive fashion, someone will provide it.

Basically, it's hard to provide personalized treatment when 1) so many people are ignoring the site guidelines, and 2) people who do get unsolicited feedback tend to not appreciate it anyway.

  • 5
    Also, if you decide to request feedback, don't be surprised when you get it, or become offended when receiving it. If, for example, you write a horrible question and ask why it's getting downvoted, I may notice and take that as an invitation to leave a comment about everything that's wrong with it... which has resulted in many a flag for me not being nice, which goes back to the point about why so few people bother leaving feedback. It's much more likely to cause drama than anything else. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 22:51
  • @HopelessN00b I think this goes back to "the effort you put in". If a person wants to avoid downvotes and it shows, they're going to get a more patient explanation. If low effort is put into the question and understanding why it was poorly received, expect merciless bullet points.
    – Andrew B
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 23:00
  • Also, it's sad that I've been here for awhile and still make the HomelessN00b typo.
    – Andrew B
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 23:05
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    What Andrew and HopelessN00b said. I've found that comments to improve questions are not always well received. People who reply with defensive, hostile, or angry comments in reply to constructive criticism discourage future constructive criticism. Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 5:36
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    There does seem to be a glut of visitors nowadays who would rather spend half a day arguing about why their incomprehensible question is fine as is, or that the site rules don't apply to them, than half an hour writin a good question in the first place or improving it after getting feedback.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 7:53
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    @RobM This is because we've become Yahoo Answers.
    – ewwhite
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 21:46
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    No argument there @ewwhite
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 22:28
  • This is a great answer. Not only does it inform. It induces empathy and understanding. I wish SO would add a "why the @#? did I get downvoted" button and have your text included in the answer. Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 21:08

Actually your question is a bit vague and lacks critical detail. Part 2 can be easily found in lots of places and even on Server Fault with a simple search and a bit of rummaging through the results.

The first part lacks critical detail.

  • How are you trying to connect from the client to ServerB:3306 via server A presumably?
  • Have you enabled routing on server A ?
  • Have you tried to connect from server A to Server B 3306 was it successful or not?
  • When you try to connect from the client to ServerB:3306 what error messages do you see ?
  • Have you tried using something like tcpdump to trace the connection through the network ?

People have just downvoted your question based on what they can see and that's not great.

Downvoting isn't an unfriendly action it's a reaction to poor quality.

You are way overreacting to this.

  • Sadly I am not referring to this particular question. I just took a look at serverfault question list and on first 2 pages I can only see questions with 0 or downvoted.
    – rumburak
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 11:36
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    Then you also see lots of poor quality questions. Quality is a real issue on Server Fault and people are dealing with it using the tools provided.
    – user9517
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 11:39
  • I cant imagine how downvoting can increase quality if there is no comment attached.
    – rumburak
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 11:41
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    This is an old discussion that has no real resolution other than to remind people that SE will not require people to comment when they downvote and the tooltips on the voting buttons are as good as it gets.
    – user9517
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 11:43

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