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Can it ever be justified in down voting a technically correct answer, or an answer with a minor error that can be corrected when brought to the attention of the person who answered the question. I reluctantly deleted an answer that was correct because it annoyed me seeing the down votes and felt quite angry when I was awarded a "peer pressure" badge.

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    $\begingroup$ There have been previous discussions. See some of the questions listed under "Related" on this page. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Apr 23 '16 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ This poses the question, "is it wrong to ask this if I want new feedback?" $\endgroup$ – jim Apr 23 '16 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ No, it's not wrong, so long as you have made yourself aware of all the old feedback, and summarize it in your question, and tell us why you think there may be something new to be said. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Apr 23 '16 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I do recall some user mentioning that they only downvote answers which they consider incorrect, like here or here. But in those cases this was only tangential issue. But I did not find discussion specifically about the issue whether correct answers should never be downvoted. (cont...) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 24 '16 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ (...cont) The only one which seems close to this which I found was: What if an answer is downvoted, but later corrected? (But maybe somebody who is better in searching or remembers such thread can come up with something.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 24 '16 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/6302/… asks about down-voting correct answers. meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/19913/… does, too. Also meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/21876/… and meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/18932/… and probably a few more. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Apr 24 '16 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ "Almost correct" is another way of saying "incorrect". $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Apr 24 '16 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ the implication being a minor typo was made, which can be brought to the attention of the person who can then correct it $\endgroup$ – jim Apr 24 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi Just to clarify, the formulation in the title was added by me. I tried to make the title better fit the question. (Feel free to improve the title if you have an idea.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 24 '16 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ I have downvoted correct answers that used much too sophisticated machinery for answers, or appealed to ideas way beyond the level of the person asking (based on context/guesstimation). $\endgroup$ – Cameron Williams Apr 24 '16 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes more advanced machinery is overkill, but it can also act as a stimulant to learn new things. Especially if the person asking the question seems enthusiastic about it. $\endgroup$ – mathreadler Apr 28 '16 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @CameronWilliams -- I do that, too, occasionally. But even "frowning upon" those kinds of answers earned me a pile of scorn and abuse here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/22914/… $\endgroup$ – bubba Apr 30 '16 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ Peer pressure is awarded for a score of $-3$ or lower. At this score, I doubt that your mistakes were minor, people here are not professional haters. $\endgroup$ – Alex M. May 3 '16 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ @bubba "a pile of scorn and abuse here" Really? Except if a massive amount of comments has been deleted since, the page does not feature what you say. $\endgroup$ – Did May 4 '16 at 6:35
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There are many possible reasons for down-voting that have nothing to do with correctness in a narrow sense, including:

  • DVer thinks the answer is too sloppy.
  • DVer thinks the answer is too terse.
  • DVer thinks the answer is redundant.
  • DVer thinks the answer is too clumsy.
  • DVer thinks the answer uses needlessly advanced tools.

Or, DVer thinks the question just should not be answered.

Thus, in short, yes it can be justified. Whether in some given case it is the best course of action is hard to tell in abstract, and opinions on that matter are quite mixed.

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    $\begingroup$ "[T]he question just should not be answered" - is this justification to down-vote an answer? Surely there should be some criticism of the answer itself, and not just the question? $\endgroup$ – Szmagpie Apr 23 '16 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Szmagpie: No, there is good reason. I have downvoted answers to obvious no-effort, homework questions in which a message should have been sent to the OP first. Doing this should (in theory) discourage this behavior. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Apr 23 '16 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ Some older discussion related to the point which @RonGordon made in his comment: Answering homework questions and downvoting $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 24 '16 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ @RonGordon While I agree that discouraging that behavior is reasonable, I do not down-vote answers to homework questions myself. (Of course, what an individual down-votes is a personal thing, which varies considerably between users, but I will explain why I do not think it's fair.) I think that such answers add value to the site for genuine users like myself who use it to learn mathematics at an undergraduate level but do not use it to cheat on homework. For example, I just stumbled upon this question (1/2) $\endgroup$ – Szmagpie Apr 24 '16 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ (2/2) (math.stackexchange.com/questions/1553001/…) via the "related" questions list. I tried to answer it myself, seemed like a nice problem that I should be able to do; then scrolled down to check my solution with the accepted answer. The answer was very well written out and well explained, and it was "useful" in that I could check my own answer. I gave it an upvote. Even though the question was poor (-3 votes), and looked like homework, down-voting the answer would be unreasonable in my honest opinion. $\endgroup$ – Szmagpie Apr 24 '16 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Szmagpie it seems nobody downvoted the linked to answer. Also nobody proposed that all answers to poor questions should be downvoted. Contrary to the impression one might get in face of the varied meta complaints, for the most part users make reasonable judgments when downvoting that factor in various criteria. Besides, it should be noted that the poor recepetion of that question was likely in no small part due to initial versions that were confusing. As is, the Q might even have "survived." $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 24 '16 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ My comment was: "Surely there should be some criticism of the answer itself, and not just the question?" My impression of Rod's reply (which opens with with the unambiguous disagreement "no, there is a good reason") is that he down-votes answers to poor quality questions without any criticism of the answer itself. My view is that this is not, on its own, a good reason to down-vote. $\endgroup$ – Szmagpie Apr 24 '16 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Szmagpie the comment says "I have downvoted answers [...]" not "I always downvote" not even "I downvote," which to me clearly suggests that it is a decision on a case by case basis, where the quality of the question is part of the decision process. The main scenario in practice are low-effort routine answers to even lower effort routine questions. To me it seems impossible to separate the evaluation of an answer completely from the question. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 24 '16 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ +1. Other possibilities: the answer doesn't really answer the question, or semi-answers it but mostly goes off on a crazy tangent, or answers it correctly but doesn't provide any justification, or . . . $\endgroup$ – ruakh Apr 24 '16 at 22:55
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$2+2=4$

This is a completely correct answer, there are no technical flaws in it whatsoever.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if I should upvote or downvote this. :-P $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 4 '16 at 6:06
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila We should put in a feature request for sideways voting. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft May 4 '16 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ Complex number voting system.... That sounds... complicated. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck May 4 '16 at 19:28
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You can downvote a person for using the number 3, because you hate 3

There are no rules on downvoting so long as one doesn't arbitrarily abuse the system. Then the mods might step in and remove rep powers, scold the user, etc. But it would take a lot for that to happen. I can go click a random question, downvote an answer, and it is completely within my rights. Why do you think there is a daily limit? Also, it /costs/ the user to downvote by one vote. So, not only is the user limited in their ability to make unjustified downvotes, but they also have to be willing to accept the same downvote. As a result, it's a fair system.

Plus, most answers aren't downvoted for no good reason. Now, I know that's cliche, but it's the norm to upvote a decent question/answer. So in the end, you're going to either be pushed off the site and answer/question BANNED due to "low quality posts" or you're going to make a decent trend towards gaining large quantities of reputation.

I think the theme of this question is a matter of site policy, not opinion. So, I'd like to make one final point. Moderators cannot feasibly monitor every piece of reputation. If they did, the site would be filled with messages involving people having to "justify" an up/down vote. The manpower necessary would be insane, asinine, and result in bogging down the site. Like I said at the beginning, only flat out blatant abuse is going to be seen and moderated.

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    $\begingroup$ Downvoted for using that damn number. $\endgroup$ – MJD May 4 '16 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ lol @MJD I see what you did there. <_< $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck May 4 '16 at 19:27
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(Too long for a comment):

@quid "DVer thinks the answer is too sloppy, DVer thinks the answer is too terse, DVer thinks the answer is redundant." These are subjective reasons. What I'd like is objective reasons.

""DVer thinks the answer uses needlessly advanced tools." Yet if you surf this site, others have suggested that (something along the lines) "advanced answers provide food for thought for the person who asked the question and for others".

As far as homework question's go, I've noticed that these questions have in many cases been edited to make the question more sensible. Shouldn't they have been rejected at this stage? Shouldn't homework questions be automatically reviewed and rejected (if necessary) before hand? As well, I've been criticised about answering questions where someone else has thought there wasn't enough effort. When I pointed out why I thought some effort had been made, these haven't been answered.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think there should always be objective reasons for downvotes? $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Apr 23 '16 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ Are you suggesting that people should down vote something because they feel like it, on a whim? It's ironic this question should be asked in a subject like mathematics, where the principal concept is about objectivity. $\endgroup$ – jim Apr 23 '16 at 18:44
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    $\begingroup$ If down voting is to be of any use, there should be objective reasons with constructive feedback. It affects the ratings of the person, which itself is of interest to people having confidence in their answers. $\endgroup$ – jim Apr 23 '16 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ Where did you get that idea? There is a long way from subjective to "on a whim". $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Apr 23 '16 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ "objective" to me implies logical argument that others will be reasonably influenced by $\endgroup$ – jim Apr 23 '16 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ And yet all your reasons for why objective reasons are needed are themselves subjective. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Apr 23 '16 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ 'These are subjective reasons.' Yes, note the tooltip says "useful" which is a subjective notion. What are reasons to upvote? They are not objective either I think. It is just not the case that up/down means "I checked this post and to the best of my knowledge it is correct/not correct." On "advanced tools": as I said opinions are mixed. On "review beforehand": there are some experiments on SO related to this AFAIK but there is just no mechanism in place (yet). $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 23 '16 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ You can ask around and try to understand why others vote in the direction they do, but it feels like you're pleading to "the community" to reconsider the votes you've been given/their voting style. I don't think this is productive. "The community" is quite heterogeneous; people rarely voice the reasoning behind any given vote they cast; unless you've made it on somebody's least/most favorite list, they often just vote and move on without (much of) a second thought. $\endgroup$ – pjs36 Apr 23 '16 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ I am suggesting that it is fair to the person who either asks the question or provides an answer that the "down vote" should be a consistent process. $\endgroup$ – jim Apr 23 '16 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @jim: does the same issue not apply to upvotes as well? $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Apr 24 '16 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ I say this time and again, "voting is arbitrary and capricious". There are exceptions, but this is in general. If you get feedback regarding downvotes, then consider yourself fortunate, fix and/pr ignore, whichever is appropriate, and move on. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Apr 24 '16 at 14:33

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