Sometimes — most often with opinion-based or soft-questions — I see a question that I actually think is a good question but which does not fit on MSE. I will vote to close it, but other people will start down-voting it.

I don't necessarily think that down-voting a question is appropriate, since the question isn't necessarily poor-quality. In fact, sometimes I have the urge to simultaneously up-vote a question, but vote to close it.

It is the MSE equivalent of "good question, but that is beyond the scope of this class." Is this normal and acceptable?

  • $\begingroup$ If a Question has merit but is not presently in good form for Math.SE, it may be more encouraging to the OP to leave a Comment suggesting improvements (rather than up-voting) to show appreciation for their thoughts. Sometimes an "opinion-based" query (even a rant of sorts) will draw such comments from me on what objective issues can be answered with reasoned mathematical arguments. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Mar 21 '16 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ Stop voting to close on everything. I see questions on SO which literally have hundreds of up votes and tens of thousands of views and still get voted to close. $\endgroup$ – Stijn de Witt Mar 23 '16 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ @StijndeWitt "Stop voting to close on everything" Who is "voting to close on everything", whatever that may mean? $\endgroup$ – Did Mar 29 '16 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ @StijndeWitt: That's exactly why close voting and upvoting are separate privileges... popularity was, from the beginning, explicitly and thoroughly rejected as a measure of question topicality or suitability on SO and the entire SE network. Closed questions with hundreds of upvotes are the system working as intended, filtering out popularity. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Tuggy Mar 29 '16 at 19:19

Generally, one can up- and down-vote in (almost) whatever way one likes. Thus, if you feel like doing it, you should feel free to do it.

For the specific context, usually I would not do this as the idea is that up-votes encourage certain types of questions and there is no point in encouraging questions that are to be closed. Further, the high score of a question is sometimes brought up in discussions on the admissibility of questions. In a way you send a mixed signal.

However, I guess I can imagine circumstances where I would want to take the sting of a poor reception of a question by at least giving an up-vote. Especially, if this is explained in a comment, I can see it being helpful in some rare situations (say, somebody put a lot of effort in a question which however just comes out way "too broad").


Sometimes I am tempted to do this when a guy got a great exercise for homework, but didn't bother to search before posting. That is, the question is interesting, but poorly asked.

However, as I understand it, upvotes should be awarded to questions that follow the rules of MSE, which are not necessarily "interesting" (but if it is, perfect). Downvotes should be a signal for the author to change the question (this applies to answers as well), and voting to close if nothing is done to improve.

There are also questions which, though mathematically not very exciting, are asked well, and deserve both an upvote and a thorough answer.

Only my opinion (I guess not shared by everybody out there).


If the question might be more appropriate for another SE site, then it should be flagged to be migrated to that site.

If the question is too opinion-based or soft, then it is not a good question and either it should be edited to be more concrete, in which case you might leave a comment to that effect for the OP, or it should be removed, in which case you should vote to close it.

This is separate from whether you should up-vote it. Per the help page,

Voting up a question or answer signals to the rest of the community that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful, while voting down a post signals the opposite: that the post contains wrong information, is poorly researched, or fails to communicate information.

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    $\begingroup$ This assumes that there is some site where the question would fit, which is rarely the case. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 29 '16 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ An extremely small minority of closed questions are migration candidates; pretty much anything that gets closed as "unclear," "missing context," or "seeking personal advice," or either of too broad / opinion-based is not something that can or should be migrated elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Mar 29 '16 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers The OP excluded those from his query when he noted that they were good questions. $\endgroup$ – Jed Schaaf Mar 29 '16 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ The questions that the OP doesn't exclude are those which are off-topic because they are too opinion-based or soft. These are not good candidates for any SE site. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Mar 29 '16 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft I have updated my answer to address your comment. $\endgroup$ – Jed Schaaf Mar 30 '16 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers I have updated my answer to address our discussion. $\endgroup$ – Jed Schaaf Mar 30 '16 at 15:38

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