I came across Prove that $\phi(x) = 2x^2$ : $\phi[-1,1] \to [0,1]$ has two fixed points from a new user. It's a question with several thoughts/attempts at methods of solving it and it had -2 votes when I came to it. I thought this was the kind of thing we'd want to encourage new people to do, not discourage...unless perhaps the downvotes came from the pre-LateX formatting? Even so, for a new user that doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Or am I missing something?

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    $\begingroup$ It looks like the question is now at a +2/-2 tally. I do not see any comments pointing to the user producing a low-quality post, so it is unclear what the original downvotes came from. Thank you for keeping an eye on it. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 23, 2021 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ This is deeply unfortunate, and there's actually been another down vote. I'm nobody to take any kind of guess, but often I've seen questions which are very elementary get downvoted because it's kind of obvious (to the downvoters) about what should have been done, than what was done. That attitude is reckless and harmful, but it seems to have been in force here : OP was taking the derivative and so on, but all answers mention that a mere application of the definition would have made the problem clear. The downvotes could be coming from thinking the OP was very loose in this regard. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2021 at 3:57
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    $\begingroup$ See, for example, this answer from the same OP that also has an attempt. There is a downvote, but see the comment : it points out about 3-4 avoidable errors. There's that fine line between an attempt with a lot of mistakes and a dishonest,loose attempt. Such an attempt can draw downvotes, since a dishonest attempt could be just an effort to merely make up context, which is dishonest, and you want to warn the OP about it. But on the whole,I don't think either of these are justified. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2021 at 4:03
  • $\begingroup$ Sometimes a downvote might be accidental (especially when during scroll on mobile device you touch the downvote arrow). It happened with one of my questions and later the downvoter confirmed this and reversed the downvote to an upvote. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Apr 24, 2021 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ Now, the question has 10 up votes and 4 downvotes. We can talk about the additional upvotes now. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2021 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ There doesn't seem to be an actual attempt at this problem. I think even putting the definition of a fixed point would help. Taking the derivative is a total nonsequitor. How this has 10 upvotes is perhaps a more interesting question. $\endgroup$
    – xxxxxxxxx
    Apr 24, 2021 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ @MorganRodgers Note that there was an attempt. Taking the derivative is a mistake, a non sequitur is something else. As for the comments above: down-votes are not supposed to be used to point out you find the question trivial (else we would be downvoting a lot of things.) I encourage anyone that may think this is what down-votes are for to review the site's guidelines. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 24, 2021 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ Sometimes a new user posts a bad question, people downvote it, then the OP makes edits the question accordingly. Is that not what happened here? $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2021 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @AdamRubinson A couple of small things : The user is not new (infrequent poster but still has over 25 questions) , and I'm actually not so sure the question was bad, looking at the first edit. It's not a duplicate, effort is present (even if misdirected) and MathJax , even if not wholly present, is present to sufficient degree that the question is understandable. I'm not sure this question deserved downvotes at all. But it certainly got 2 downvotes before climbing back up , and now the votes are overdupersuperlovelydovelyskewed! $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2021 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


Questions that have clear research efforts do occasionally get downvotes. I don't have much explanation for this other than the down-voters either did it on accident (as was suggested in the comments), or they just didn't like the question.

I have some personal experience with this. Perhaps it is the style of questions which I ask, but nearly every question I ask gets a certain amount of downvotes, regardless of how much effort I show. For example this post received a downvote, even though I clearly showed an effort to provide context and I did what I could to solve the problem. I figure that those who downvote questions like that decide that these questions are not useful or interesting.

If that's the case, I guess that every given question has a certain chance of getting downvotes based on the fact that a certain number of people are bound not to think it is interesting or useful. As it is, I don't see it as much of a problem for experienced users like myself, but it could be a deterrent to newer users.

If you hover your cursor over the downvote button, it says "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." Perhaps, if the rather subjective evaluation "not useful" were replaced with something less subjective it would fix this problem.

If the downvotes are unintentional, as in the case that @ParamanandSingh commented about, we might benefit from a change in the layout of the mobile version of the site. Of course that depends on whether or not these accidental downvotes are deemed a big enough problem by the powers that be.


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