I'm kinda new to stackexchange, but I'm constantly seeing people downvoting questions. More than a half questions are downvoted right from the start. I personally think that asking a question requires courage, and every question deserves an answer, even the dull ones. Right now the engine does not require any reputation diminishing for downvoting, this clearly leads to mass-downvoting. The majority of questions though are decent enough to be asked.

Could the engine be changed in a way when downvoting a question will take down the downvoter's reputation, or at least the name of a genius could be seen ?

  • 5
    The irony of this meta question also being downvoted doesn't escape me...
    – Nathan C
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 13:27
  • 10
    While noble, courage does not merit an upvote.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 14:10
  • 2
    despair.com/cluelessness.html is the sentiment when a search engine gives an instant answer with less effort than posting the question on SF.
    – HBruijn
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 14:48
  • 5
    though are decent enough to be asked - [citation needed]
    – Zoredache
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 17:07
  • 4
    "or at least the name of a genius could be seen ?" - any genius? Because I think it'd be cool if every downvote included a popup that said "TheCleaner thanks you for exercising your vote!" I think this feature-request should be approved. :)
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 17:17
  • 2
    If you can easily google the answer, you deserver a downvote. If you clearly have no interest in making it easy for your audience to understand your question (for example this post from DBA dba.stackexchange.com/questions/84281/sql-server-records-clean) You deserve a downvote. This isn't a classroom, and if you think posting a question on an anonymous forum requires courage... I beg you to reconsider drookie / Osama.
    – Reaces
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 10:59

5 Answers 5


It used to cost the person who down voted a question 1 fake internet point. It was determined that this was sufficient to stop people from down voting questions that really needed it so for questions, it's now free to down vote.

The only guidance available for down voting is in the tooltip

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

What you see is community members exercising their privilege, using the tools they have available, to try to enforce quality. Quality is a real issue on Server Fault, we need so much more of it.

every question deserves an answer, even the dull ones.

92% of all questions on SF have a written answer and pretty much all questions get answers even if the answer is your 'question is not a good fit' or 'is so poorly written/presented/vague as to be unanswerable'.

  • 5
    I'd like to amend that by saying that quite a few of the questions that get voted down, closed or remain unanswered still get comments, many of them potentially helpful or providing a new insight.
    – HBruijn
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 14:45

Your question is worded in such a way that I think you don't understand the point of downvoting questions.

On the main site downvotes indicate that a question does not meet the community's standards.
This could be for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The question is unclear: We can't figure out what they're trying to ask.
  • The question shows no troubleshooting: "Here's an error. Fix it for me!" questions.
  • The question shows no research effort: The answer is in the man page or first Google result.

(Poor questions along the lines of the above are also often closed.)

The amount of "courage" required to post a question is not relevant to the quality of the question, which is what you're supposed to consider when voting (up or down).

On this Meta site downvotes generally mean "I do not agree with your position or assessment".

Could the engine be changed in a way when downvoting a question will take down the downvoter's reputation, or at least the name of a genius could be seen?

Simply put, No. To both questions.

The system used to deduct one reputation point for downvoting questions.
This was removed quite some time ago in order to encourage people to downvote bad questions without fearing for their precious reputation points. Yes, this means questions get a lot more downvotes than they did before that change was implemented. It is presumed that people aren't just downvoting "because it's free" but are actually honestly assessing the questions.

Voting on Stack Exchange sites is anonymous, and that policy/design choice is unlikely to ever be changed. Exposing who voted which way on what questions will result in the site devolving into a screaming match about how "Joe User hates me and you can tell because he downvotes all of my questions!"
The only way to avoid that situation is for voting to remain anonymous.

  • Don't you think all of this is looking like the stackexchange is pretending to become some sort of wikipedia, instead of just being the help community ?
    – drookie
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 9:58
  • 2
    @drookie In a way, yes. It is indeed a goal to help the person asking the question, but more than that, SE's goal is to foster very high-quality questions and high-quality answers that can serve as a reference for future people that run into similar issues and arrive here from various search engines. The downvote mechanism helps clean up poor-quality questions so that they don't water down the high-quality questions with crap.
    – EEAA
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 14:46
  • 3
    @drookie I think this looks like Server Fault wants to be exactly what Stack Exchange sites are supposed to be: A repository for high-quality questions and thorough well-explained answers. I'm one of the "nice" guys around here, and I'll be blunt: I don't care if I crush someone's precious feelings when I downvote or close a bad question. We have extensive information on writing good questions. I don't think it's too much to ask that people help us help them.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 16:37

Downvotes happen. Its a fact of life, and the least one can do is try to get used to it. Complaining about it can be counterproductive at times. Its not personal

You might want to reconsider what you're asking. Ask not why you got downvoted. Ask... how you could turn up the awesomeness of your question up to 11.

SF has a professional system administrator leaning, and with most of SE, people love good, well documented, mysteries.

Ask yourself these questions

  • Have I documented what I have tried?
  • Do I have the necessary information on my system for someone to work out what's wrong?
  • Have I done my research?
  • Is this question on scope for the site - that is to say, is this a problem that a professional system administrator would face, and something that belongs on SF rather than on SO (for programming questions), or SU (for general computer questions)
  • Am I expecting the answer to be handed to me without showing any effort at all? (bad bad bad)

Consider these things, and you should turn your question from an unloved sad urchin kicked in the gutter of downvotes into the prom queen


Funny, I was just looking at the main page, saw three bad questions upvoted and couldn't help wonder who the [expletive] was upvoting them.

The "majority" (or at least a good number) of questions get downvoted because the community members who vote feel they are either not useful or lazy, an assement I personally agree with.

Having said that, Server Fault has a different scope than other Stack Exchange sites, and because of that we have certain standards and expectations that don't exist elsewhere on the Stack Exchange network. This does mean that a lot of questions which might be decent enough on their own, are not useful on this site, because of our scope of professional systems administration, and hence, get downvoted.

In any event, general questions about the engine in general (which applies to all sites) should go to the Stack Exchange meta site, not here. But I can guarantee you they won't like this idea of your either, as there was a rep hit for downvoting questions once upon a time, but it was deliberately removed.

  • 1
    It's going to take a while to get used to seeing a ♦ after your name... Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 20:53

To expand on Iain's comments, the voting scheme is purely defined by the overall community and isn't directly controlled by Stack Exchange or the moderators. Questions that violate our FAQ (including questions not asked in professional capacity or show little effort in self-research) are prone to be downvoted and eventually closed by votes by the community.

I understand the downvoting can be intimidating, but it encourages good questions to rise to the top which is what we need. The amount of people coming from other communities and posting here about their development environments or using software that no professional would even dream of using (I'm looking at you, WAMP) is quite staggering, so seasoned community members are snuffing them out more quickly to discourage others from posting those here where they're more suited for a different site.

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