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Is it appropriate to up vote a question when it is neither appealing nor interesting to me, but has unnecessary down votes?

In other words, is it appropriate to up vote a question just for the purpose of removing down votes?

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It depends; do you think it appropriate to silence others' opinions? That is effectively what the activity you propose is.

A downvote expresses someone's opinion on a post; e.g. maybe they think a question doesn't show any research effort, is unclear, or is simply not useful.

Voting for the sole purpose of removing a downvote is quite directly acting to remove someone else's ability to voice their opinion. If you believe suppressing such opinions is appropriate... then I suppose upvoting to remove such a downvote would be appropriate. Otherwise, it's not appropriate.

(aside: there is a difference between "I upvoted to remove someone's opinion" and "I upvoted because I think this is a good question, although I wouldn't have paid enough attention to form that opinion if it wasn't downvoted")

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  • $\begingroup$ Finally, an argument against destroying the efficacy of others! All the other answers seemed to skirt around this fact. I tried, but you are much more eloquent then me :) $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Jun 27 '15 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Zach466920: It’s a specious argument: Hurkyl is in effect arguing in favor of silencing a specific kind of opinion. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Jul 3 '15 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ Can you explain how you came to that conclusion, @BrianM.Scott? I don't follow. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jul 3 '15 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott I join Najib in requesting more details. Especially the "aside" at the end makes this answer pretty balanced, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 3 '15 at 11:09
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In general I do not consider it as appropriate to cast votes only to balance other votes. However, I am of the opinion that it is reasonable to take the current score of the question into account when voting (not doing so makes the score depend a lot on visibility, which is not optimal in my opinion).

I am less likely to up-vote a post that is already at score +3 than I am to up-vote the same post at score 0 or score -1.

Put differently, I think it can be alright to be more generous with ones up-votes on posts that currently have a poor score. However, there should at least be some reason intrinsic to the post for the vote, too; just going around the site and balancing down-votes one does not understand or like is not a good thing to do though.

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In summary: No.

For, when a question is "neither appealing nor interesting", you'd best move on to some question you do like. Chances are you can contribute more to the community there. If the downvotes mystify you, you can always leave a comment stating something like "I don't understand the downvotes to this question." You might be missing something, or otherwise trigger an explanation of the downvoters, which in turn can help OP in improving their post.

In a more general situation, upvote based on the post. If you suspect the downvotes are caused by something missing from the post you can:

  • Leave a comment explaining this and asking the OP to clarify/expand;
  • Edit the question if you deem it sufficiently clear what OP meant to write.

The bottom line is, in my opinion, that if you dislike the symptom (the downvote), then you'd better invest in eliminating (or at least, identifying) the cause (the quality/clarity/... of the post) rather than just combating the symptom.

Your own upvotes are a disjoint consideration from the above. Although I might add that if you see an opportunity for an edit that would make the question upvote-worthy to you, by all means, edit it.

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    $\begingroup$ "The bottom line is, in my opinion, that if you dislike the symptom, then you'd better invest in eliminating (or at least, identifying) the cause rather than just combating the symptom": yes, please. And this applies to things other than downvotes too (eg. auto-deletion). $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jun 26 '15 at 9:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Najib: And other things like actual illnesses! It's a great piece of general purpose advice. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 26 '15 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe we should do a "All I need to know about life I learned on math.se" $\endgroup$ – quid Jun 26 '15 at 15:04
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If a question is in danger of being deleted due to a negative score, and if deletion of the question would result in deletion of an answer which you feel should remain on the site, then, yes, by all means, upvote the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that at this point, upvoting the answer should be sufficient. Unless the answer has a negative score, in which case it might not be clear why it is nice. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 26 '15 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf, the answer might have a negative score because people who don't like the question have downvoted the answer to make it easier to delete the question. (But, Asaf, you know this --- why do I have to explain it to you?) $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jun 26 '15 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: note the "If" :-) $\endgroup$ – quid Jun 26 '15 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is completely tangential to the question asked, removing all of the original presumptions and replacing them with ones that allow for a statement about autodeletion. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jun 26 '15 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ Gerry, I made this comment for the general reader who might not be familiar with how auto-deletions work and what can or cannot happen. @quid: if pigs are kosher, then my comment criticizes the answer! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 26 '15 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Lor, the question is "is it appropriate to up vote a question just for the purpose of removing down votes?" My answer speaks directly to that question. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jun 26 '15 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, @Gerry, but your purpose is not "removing down votes". Your purpose is "preventing deletion". I contend that this is a related, but still significantly different matter, which is fine to discuss on meta, but this question is not the place for it. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jun 26 '15 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Lor, an action can have more than one purpose. I get dressed so I can go to work, I go to work so I can make money, I make money so I can buy food, I buy food so I have the energy to participate in mathstackexchange,.... $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jun 26 '15 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ Upvoting this so that the undeletion posse gets its fair chance to recruit new members. Gerry, sorry about deleting this as a comment. It became collateral damage in the removal of Jonas' and Bill's tit-for-tat. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jun 26 '15 at 16:25
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Yes, it is perfectly appropriate to upvote a question in order to cancel a downvote.
The only function of votes is to provide information on the quality of the question.
Downvoting is a judgment on that quality and if one considers that a downvote is undeserved it is quite reasonable to correct this misinformation.

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    $\begingroup$ Rather, the consideration ought to be "whether an upvote is deserved", as Hurkyl excellently argued. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jun 28 '15 at 11:18

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