Mathematics Stack Exchange has a fundamentally unfriendly and unapproachable community. How could you change this culture?
Down votes are generally given to users that didn't understand a topic but may have asked a general and valid question that could be easily searchable from the web (but one that is not currently easily searchable)
Edit: Downvoting new user's questions - This is exactly what I refer to. In fact it appears my question (statement) is basically a subset of this question.
It is well known in my peer group (a top 20 programme in the world in Theoretical Physics and top 5 in the UK) that any questions that demonstrate a fundamental misgiving will be lambasted and it is very off-putting to students and new users.
Comparision to Stack Overflow In Stack Overflow, votes are given to well worded questions that haven't been previously asked, irrespective of the underlying misinterpretation of the subject matter.