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... with the following option have any serious negative consequences?

Instead of downvoting to below zero, one could suggest a tag for the question that would identify it as a kind of question that the downvoter would like to avoid reading in future. Downvoting a particular question below zero doesn't do anything about future questions that are similar.

If the person who posted the question accepts the tag, then there is a solution for everybody. The only problem that I see is that there could be too many different tags for filtering out what people want to filter out, and that it might be inconvenient for people to include all tags to be avoided if they have to handle the task one at a time, with no assistance from software that can select reasonable estimates of appropriate defaults based on the user's past, recorded activity.

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    $\begingroup$ Having scores below zero has certain implications for the Question beyond what a corresponding downvoter "avoid[s] reading in [the] future." Questions with fairly negative scores can be more easily deleted, and external search engines like Google can use scoring to prioritize results for the wider Web community. Your proposal would be more compelling if the current functionality were directly addressed. The generation of custom tags for purpose of view filters has certain practical difficulties, but before analyzing these I'd want to be convinced of their potential utility. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Oct 25 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath "Your proposal would be more compelling if the current functionality were directly addressed." Could you be a bit more specific about what you have in mind? Let us suppose that somebody who wishes to post a question on Stack Exchange suspects that it will be poorly received by some readers, and wishes to make it less likely that people who would tend to downvote it below zero would see it. What can the writer of a question do to restrict access to it, or make access more inconvenient for some readers? Having a method for doing that would seem to be a win-win solution. $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 25 at 4:00
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    $\begingroup$ Bad questions deserve to be downvoted. Tags are meant for easy searching and/or viewing of content related to fields one is interested in, not for marking bad questions. I don't see the point of your proposal, to be very honest. $\endgroup$ – YiFan Oct 25 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ If somebody can create a good answer to a bad question, then the bad question might be of interest to people who might have themselves written it, and a good answer to that question may be very educational. On the other hand, if somebody attempts to create a good answer to a bad question, and fails, but also downvotes the question, and makes no efforts to respond to comments or improve the bad answer, then it would be better to delete the bad answer and upvote the bad question to compensate for the answer writer's misguided (although possibly sincere) effort and judgment. $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 25 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ @YiFan There could be a wide variety of reasons that a question is rated as "bad." For example, perhaps it is admirably clear, but that very clarity makes the potential answer writer frustrated by an inability to write an answer. Other questions, that are less clear or less interesting to the potential answer writer may be simply ignored, and it is well-known that some questions attract a wide audience and need to be "protected" from answer writers who don't already have reputation on Stack Exchange. What if, on some topics, the reputation requirement isn't enough to protect a question? $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 25 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ "it is admirably clear, but that very clarity makes the potential answer writer frustrated by an inability to write an answer". That does not make a bad answer, and as far as I know in reality no one down votes just because they don't know how to answer a question. That would be ridiculous. I also have no idea what you're trying to say about protected questions. The point of that is to protect against mass spam (from e.g. bots), which is decidedly not related to what we're discussing here. If you asked a question and it was downvoted, it is no fault of MSE, and there's no need to change. $\endgroup$ – YiFan Oct 26 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ @YiFan "as far as I know in reality no one down votes just because they don't know how to answer a question. That would be ridiculous." I recall reading that, upon learning about Russell's paradox from Russell, Frege's reaction was admirable. However, should I believe that Frege's reaction was merely routine, and the world is filled with people who would react as Frege did, and that any other reaction would be surprising and ridiculous? $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 26 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ I still don't know what you're trying to say, or why you brought up Russell. That isn't relevant at all to our discussion. My point previously was that no one on MSE downvotes because a question is "above their level". For proof, you just have to look around, which you clearly haven't. You should learn to stop blaming the system for your own badly posted, and hence heavily downvoted, questions. $\endgroup$ – YiFan Oct 26 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm bringing up Frege. It's Frege who didn't know how to answer Russell's question, or modify the system of Frege to resolve the flaw disclosed by Russell. If they had been able to communicate on Stack Exchange, any reaction from Frege of downvoting Russell's question would have been ridiculous, but in that case why was his actual reaction admirable? $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 26 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ I repeat, that isn't relevant at all to our discussion. $\endgroup$ – YiFan Oct 26 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ Based on the rating of negative five, the following is thought to be a bad question by some people. However, there's no comment on the question identifying anything in particular that explains a specific reason for a downvote, or suggests any remedy. I put a bounty of +100 on it. math.stackexchange.com/questions/3406295/… $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 26 at 3:51
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Instead of downvoting to below zero, one could suggest a tag for the question that would identify it as a kind of question that the downvoter would like to avoid reading in future. Downvoting a particular question below zero doesn't do anything about future questions that are similar.

Downvoting does not signify for me (nor for any of the other Community members AFAIK) that it is about a topic I'd "like to avoid reading in future." Rather it means that the Question "does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." So downvoting may well be done on Questions with topics which Readers are interested in.

So the suggested "tag for the question" would have to take on a magical quality in order to hide it from future downvoting. It would need to be chosen (created?) on the spot to serve a purpose quite orthogonal to the ordinary use of tags to promote searching, in order to prevent future downvoting on some distinct set of Questions. Curation of these magical tags would require a measure of psychic skill, both to discern what about a current Question is worth avoiding and to discern "future questions that are similar".

The Math.SE Community is active and diverse, and by the nature of StackExchange software, new Questions will be reviewed by a number of Readers familiar with the site's mission and standards. While hiding a Question from those disposed to its downvoting might seem to be a shortcut to success, it would actually short-circuit a key mechanism to elicit and curate high-value content for math learning at all levels.

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  • $\begingroup$ Rather it means that the Question "does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." --> The third case ("not useful") seems to be a kind of miscellaneous category that may include philosophical or ideological opposition to having people pursue the train of thought presented in the body of the question. I would be very interested in knowing the meanings of the downvotes in particular cases. I would like to know what is the proposed remedy indicated by a given downvote: more research? rewriting the question? $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 25 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ I have recently seen cases on Stack Exchange where there is a question that has been downvoted below zero, but an answer has a high positive rating that is increasing, and it seems that had the question not been posted, there would have been no occasion for the answer to have been written and posted. On SE Politics, it could have a simple (almost tribal) explanation. One side in a partisan divide gains reputation and the other side loses reputation, with viewers rallied based purely on traditional partisan commitments, rather than based on a non-partisan preference for accurate answers. $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 25 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, more research leading to rewriting (editing) the Question is frequently the proposed remedy. Of course it is impossible to address both the broad outlines of the purpose in downvoting and specific remedies without having an example to hand. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Oct 25 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ "more research" could be counter-productive if it involves a return to whatever resources the question writer was relying upon and that led to an unclear question or a question based on false premises. It could be a vast improvement to copy one or two sentences from a source known to and available to the downvoter, along with an entry in the index of the book pointing near those two sentences, and the author and title. $\endgroup$ – Ren Eh Daycart Oct 25 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ It is helpful to provide a citation ("an entry in the index of the book ... and the author and title"), but "the question writer" should be in a better position to supply this information even when "resources ... led to an unclear question or a question based on false premises." In fact these kinds of questions are welcome, and supplying a citation to whatever prompts them is helpful. Omitting citations from the Question invites guesswork for Readers. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Oct 26 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ @RenEhDaycart you are quite obviously misinterpreting the meaning of "not useful". That means things like a new answer duplicating what's already been said in another answer five years ago: such answers deserve to be downvoted. Also, MSE is not Politics SE, so it would serve you well to remember that. $\endgroup$ – YiFan Oct 26 at 3:11

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