I've been active on several different SE sites during the last years and I haven't seen any other community that's so fast with downvoting questions, especially without providing helpful comments.

I am all for strict rules and enforcing high quality content. But with a small site like AI that still needs to polish its numbers after over 400 days in beta we should be careful not to go over the top.

In case a question is definitely off-topic or not salvageable quality wise, it needs to be treated accordingly and it should be closed. But when I come here I am often greeted by several new questions with just a few views but the first downvotes already. No explanations are given and (the often new) visitors are left with a bad feeling and no idea what they did wrong. When I go over their questions it is sometimes difficult for me to understand why they have been downvoted. I don't feel like that's the right approach to grow the site and attract new members.

Am I on the right track or do you disagree? Is a strict (and maybe a little hostile) environment necessary to keep the quality high, at the cost of losing potential members who might create valuable content if we give them feedback and time to get accustomed to our community?

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    $\begingroup$ We probably do need to be better at leaving comments. But quick downvotes are good - if they deserve them. But yeah, leaving more comments would be good. $\endgroup$
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 21:00
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I have faced the same, when I joined stackoverflow. It's really worst feeling to get downvotes without any comments. At least downvoter should write the comments so that author can correct his question. $\endgroup$
    – Akhilesh
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


It is indeed a shame when a user comes in, asks a decent question, and gets silently downvoted. Even though the downvote mechanism itself isn't hostile - we vote on content, not people - people will feel frustrated when their posts receive negative feedback for reasons unclear. At the same time, downvotes are critical to quality control and we cannot control users' voting behavior (except in abusive situations like targeted voting).

Fortunately, even though we might not get an explanation from downvoters themselves, we can help new users understand what's going on. The First Posts review queue gives you the chance to provide users' first experience on our site. You can also monitor a list of new downvoted questions to check that the downvotes are justified and take all appropriate actions. Specifically, it's very helpful to edit and comment with a welcome and an explanation of how your adjustment will help their post's reception.

Side note for what it's worth: the Area 51 statistics are no longer as critical as their central position advertises them. The Area 51 system is pretty old and pending a reworking, even though it still gets the job done. The comments on this MSE answer are relevant, especially this one (excerpt: "The A51 metrics are spectacularly ill-suited for giving an accurate picture of a site's overall health") and this other one. It would still be nice to have higher stats, though.

In summary, quality control and welcomingness needn't be mutually exclusive. If we guide users and help adjust their posts, we can be inviting and high-quality at the same time!


This could easily be solved by requiring a comment for downvotes on new stacks or on new user questions.

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    $\begingroup$ I support this idea and almost never downvote without comment with an exception for already commented but not corrected posts. However, on StackOverflow meta my similar suggestion was downvoted more than 100 times before deleted $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 13:31

Well, I just got downvoted because I tried to make sense of a question that was somewhat unclear. And the person doing it left a comment saying that an answer to a bad question was still a wrong answer. This is exactly the kind of attitude that makes people leave this site.

There are a lot of questions from people who haven't got a clue about AI, and often express themselves not very clearly, as English is obviously not their first language. I am really taken aback by how unfriendly the community on here is, as most of these questions immediately get downvoted.

I don't know what the solution is, as even requiring a comment is not really solving this issue.

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't that a little over exaggeration..If you are talking of @pasaba por aqui then he clearly explained why he downvotd your question..He thought you were wrong..Infact there are lot of interpretations for ai and many of them are wrong...So promoting healthy criticism is nothing bad $\endgroup$
    – user9947
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ Great, thanks for this. I'll stop contributing to this site, then. Bye. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2018 at 8:10

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