Nobody said why they downvoted, which makes for a very negative experience for me.


I am trying to get the rep to be able to comment on others' questions, because I had a specific comment that I wanted to make. So it annoys me that this innocent question is decreasing my rep.

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    $\begingroup$ When I see this on meta, I follow your link and look at the question. It doesn't contain any question in its body and is simply a rant. By my usual standard, I downvoted it. The title does seem to contain a legitimate question, if it is in the question body, I'll probably withhold the downvote. Though I still think the question is off-topic. However, some off-topic questions on math.SE does attract a lot of upvotes. The morale of the story is make you question objective, self-contained and everyone will be happier. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2014 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for commenting! Do I need to restate the question, when it is in the title? It was not a rant, and I am mildly offended by such a characterization. It is not off-topic. The first example of a topic, given is: "Understanding mathematical concepts and theorems", and understanding what the applications of AoC are is one way to better understand AoC, which is a mathematical concept. Also, it says here that subjective questions are allowed: math.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2014 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ Whether it is a rant or off-topic are purely subjective judgements, everyone is entitled to have different opinions. You really should restate the question in your body and add more details/examples to demonstrate/illustrate your points. Subjective questions are fine, it is subjective questions w/o objective answers that cause problem. Always phrase your question in such a way to invite people to make objective statements. Independent of whether the question is off-topic or not on math.SE, I think your question has the potential to become a great question. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2014 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ @user: Yes, you need to restate the question. The title is for communicating to people who are reading a long list of questions and want to know which ones to open. The body is for communicating to people who are reading your question. A person who is reading your question expects the body to contain what you are trying to communicate, and there is no reason to expect that they still retain the contents of the title in their short-term memory, and even if they do, there is no reason to expect they think the title takes precedence over the body in regard to your intent. $\endgroup$
    – user14972
    Nov 27, 2014 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


One reason it may be attracting downvotes is that the actual question is not stated in the body of the question, but only in the title. This is frowned upon by many users.

Another reason is that you seem to be expressing your opinion rather strongly: "I'm not convinced that there are many (any?) practical results that require it." This doesn't sound like someone who wants to learn something knew; it comes across as almost like a challenge: "Spend time answering my question, or I win the argument and all my critics are wrong." So perhaps phrase this in a way that sounds like less of a challenge, and more of an earnest desire to learn something new. Like: "I haven't seen any practical results that require it, so I'd be especially interested in examples of this kind of thing. Conversely, I'd be interested in books/articles that argue that no such practical results exist."

Another issue is that you confound utility with practical necessity. An axiom can have theoretical utility without being essential to building bridges, if that makes sense. If it simplifies the theory without giving incorrect results about bridge stability, airplane speed limits, etc. then what's the harm? So I think you accidentally opened a philosophical can of worms. I'd suggest rewording the question in a way that is more philosophically cautious.

Yet another reason you may be getting downvotes is that I'm SURE this question has been discussed on this very site, or at least that similar questions have been. But your post contains no evidence that you bothered to look over similar questions before posting. Try to research questions as much as is practical before posting your own.

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    $\begingroup$ The first point as a (general) reason for downvotes annoys me - people should edit and improve, not downvote and ignore. In the words of Shog9 (and also Raff - it seems to be one of Raff's favourite quotes!) "The history of the Internet is littered with the corpses of communities that thought they could demand compliance from new members without showing them how. Editing is hands-on education for those willing to learn and a means of salvaging the efforts of those answering even when the asker never learns anything." $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Nov 27, 2014 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ I guess I did not come across properly, but in fact I was not the one conflating things, and I was not expressing opinion, just fact. I neglected that I am ignorant and open to being informed. I'm sure similar questions have been posted, but I am pretty sure this question hasn't been. I don't understand why it is necessary to repeat the question in the body (can't you see it at the top?), but it is good to know that it is expected by many. Is this official in some way? Otherwise it seems like a rather petty reason to downvote. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 4:16

Hovering over the downvote arrow gives the likely reasons:

enter image description here

I didn't find it useful or well-researched, so I downvoted. Now that I came across it again, "most important" is also primarily opinion-based, so I voted to close.

Good news: if the question gets deleted, the reputation lost to downvotes is restored.

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    $\begingroup$ Additionally, the body of the post contains no question, and sounds a lot like a rant. The actual question is just stated in the title. $\endgroup$
    – mrf
    Nov 26, 2014 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, the OP could just delete the question, without waiting for it to happen in a few days. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2014 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @AndresCaicedo They could then, but not anymore: the answer got an upvote. (And this blocks self-deletion even if the total score of the answer is zero or less.) $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Nov 26, 2014 at 22:52

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