In light of an argument here over an answer being downvoted (apparently multiple times) because it was 'complicated' to whoever downvoted, which I found to be the wrong reason to downvote, if there were reason to downvote. More lightly, it may be a good reason not to upvote, but not necessarily to downvote.

So, my first question: "Is the complexity of an answer a good reason to downvote?"

My second question: "What should I do if I think a seemingly good answer is too complicated for me?"

My third question: "What should I do if others think my answer is too complicated, especially when I believe it is a good answer?"

For the most part, my first question has an answer already, and the decision that appears to go for most is that complicated answers are acceptable, good for the community (but not necessarily the OP, which shouldn't hinder you from posting your answer), and good for future viewers of said answer/question.

Also, I realize that generalization of a problem may lead to greater complexity. Generally, I think a mix between a generalized answer and focused answer make a good bunch for a question.

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    $\begingroup$ The answer to your second question is, you should ask the person posting the answer to recommend some resources to get you up to where you can understand the answer. It would help to let the person know how far your mathematical education has come. The answer to your third question is, you should refer them to the previous discussions of the issue. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


I'm only going to touch on the first question.

Yes. Remember that voting is an individual decision. While the community at large may have no problem with there being more complicated answers to even simple questions, individual users are free to use their votes to indicate the usefulness of an answer to them.

You read that correctly.

The usefulness of an answer.

Check out the tooltip for the downvote button on answers:

This answer is not useful

While often used on incorrect answers, even a 100% correct answer is fair game for downvotes if the voter does not feel it is useful to them. Being too complicated could certainly make an answer "not useful" to an individual voter. As could being too terse. Too long winded. And myriad other possibilities.

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    $\begingroup$ It does fit the description of "not useful" in the user's own opinion, however it would be obnoxious and this answer strikes me as essentially saying "anything goes, voting is completely subjective" which I disagree with. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 2:32
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    $\begingroup$ @6005 What else is a vote but one user's opinion on a post? The alternative is trying to somehow control voting, which, beyond being somewhat Orwellian, is impossible without simply removing the ability to vote. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ @arjafi: I do not think it is Orwellian to put a please explain your downvote/upvote somewhere. That is technically possible without affecting voting anonymity / possibility. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JackD'Aurizio There's been nothing said here about explaining votes, only about "proper" usage of such. With this in mind it is Orwellian to try to institute a policy to invalidate the opinions of others. It is Orwellian to think that only "proper" opinions should be expressed. It is Orwellian to think that "proper" opinions can be separated from "improper" opinions. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ @arjafi: I agree on the general vision, but there actually are proper and improper opinions. If I have an health issue, I do not go to the grocery to ask for their opinions. In a similar manner, it is dangerous to give real power to eediots, even if there is no universal agreement about what an eediot is. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 3:11

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