I've notices that when the pointer hovers over the down-vote button there is a popup that says: "This question doesn't show any research effort; it is unclear,or not useful." Is that what down-voting a post is meant to indicate? Just curious.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that is what it is supposed to indicate. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenThomasHatton Note that, on this meta site, the way I've noticed it apparently being used, the way I sometimes use it myself, and I've seen several statements about it, is that a down-vote instead generally just means disagreement with what the post is saying. Conversely, an up-vote often means general agreement with the post. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnOmielan I was actually asking in regards to math.se since there seems to be some confusion among participants as to what the intent of the down-vote feature is. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ This wording is standard on many SE sites, and is necessarily a terse summary of what makes a Question "bad" (note that it simply negates the hover wording for upvote buttons). A more detailed set of guidelines is shown at How to Ask. What users consider useful (or adequate researching) is an opinion, but this is consistent with the theory of Community Moderation. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    May 22, 2019 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


This question comes up on many of the StackExchange sites; see for example here for example, which in turns references another site. The wording is fixed across sites, and is intended to provide a helpful reminder to someone thinking about up- or down-voting.

There has also been discussion in the past about changing the tooltip, particularly for Meta sites where up- and down-voting often carries a connotation of agreeing or disagreeing with a proposal; see here for example (that's a duplicate but I think has more useful discussion than the main question it links to).

So directly answering: an upvote on the main site should indicate that the question has made some effort (not necessarily research, depending on the site), or has value in some clearly definable way. A downvote, contrariwise, indicates that insufficient effort has been made in producing the question. On Meta, votes may in fact be indicating approval or disapproval instead, especially if the feature-request tag is present.

  • $\begingroup$ I got in trouble for downvoting questions by one person that could be sieved the same, and because output from code that had errors. I consider it crank behaviour, and the code I found out wasn't even written by them ( not to mention it got a debate going after I pointed out the wrong output). $\endgroup$
    – user645636
    Jun 12, 2019 at 16:44

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