Downvoting newbie user's questions

I found this post today. Yeah, I agree that this question has been asked many times before but isn't 9 downvotes for a new user a bit too intense? I think mass downvoting newbies will only harm the site long term (as per new long term users goes).

What I would suggest people to do is leave helpful comments and if OP isn't ready to fix their question, then only go for close vote rather than downvote if it's a new user.

Why? The meaning of downvote isn't something that a new user could understand without any comments pointing out what's wrong, and, the second reason would be that people are more likely to turn long term contributors if they have a good first experience where they feel welcomed.

Maybe there are reasons that I don't know on why it is a good idea to vote like this, if this is the case kindly explain why it would be as an answer.

• Why do you connect the downvotes to CURED? I myself never add a downvote after -4. I agree that piling on downvotes serves no purpose, but don't attribute that phenomenon to CURED users. Please be careful about pointing fingers at a rather small group of people. I think your question is otherwise worth considering, had you started with "I encountered this question.... blah, blah" May 17, 2021 at 19:02
• Hmm fair, I did it because I found the question from there. However, pointing fingers will not help. So I will remove that point May 17, 2021 at 19:04
• I voted to close the question, for one, because it has been duplicated dozens of times, in various forms. But I'm not out to humiliate askers. May 17, 2021 at 19:04
• I didn't mean this to be a question, I meant this to be a discussion(as shown with the tags)/ on something which happened because we should consider this event on how we proceed as a community. May 17, 2021 at 19:06
• @amWhy: There is a point, although I agree that it is a bit lost in the case of new users (not necessarily new accounts). The more downvotes are added, the faster a user account will go into rate limits and be blocked automatically. But yes, with a new user this isn't usually the intended outcome.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
May 17, 2021 at 20:16
• The downvotes here could also be because this is an elementary question. I have pointed out many times before that people often downvote because they think the OP misses a step that they definitely(in the eyes of the downvoter) ought to have seen earlier. This happens quite often and can skew elementary questions. The only way to prevent this occuring is to judge a question as a user who is only looking at the question's worth w.r.t site rules : on the FLIP side, we have questions that get upvoted only because users feel challenged, although they are PSQs. These come under the same bracket. May 17, 2021 at 22:03
• Maybe it would have been better if the question had been closed as a duplicate. No one has even suggested in the comments on it, a duplicate target. May 18, 2021 at 10:44
• Well, I was a new user at one point and I posted PSQs and I was digitally murdered for it. It was warranted. In a way I do support the tough love approach. I don't like the idea that the down-votee is totally clueless about the situation. May 19, 2021 at 14:30
• @GEdgar Even though downvotes in such cases don't decrease reputation, I don't think it has no effect besides upsetting the user. For example, questions whose score is below -3 gets hidden from the front page. Asaf mentioned above that it makes more likely for the downvoted user to trigger rate limits and get auto-blocked. Also if a question has a negative score and no answers, it will be automatically deleted after 30 days. Though we can still discuss if these effects are desirable when it comes to new users. May 20, 2021 at 17:12
• @user Downvotes are used to indicate that the question is not useful. What do you think : is every question useful? Are there better ways of saying a question is not useful than downvoting? Should a person not lose reputation for posting non-useful questions? Please be more precise in what you want to converse about, unless you don't wish to, in which case , each to their own. I want to converse since I disagree with you. May 24, 2021 at 9:12
• @TeresaLisbon I would never downvote a question just because it is a duplicate. We cannot require from a user (especially a new one) to spend hours searching the archive of MSE. Moreover it will appear that in some sense almost any question is a duplicate.
– user
May 24, 2021 at 9:59
• I'll often downvote and vote to close low effort questions simply because there are too many users that encourage low effort question behavior by answering them for quick points. The downvote signals that something is wrong and hopefully discourages the behavior. I don't like to do it though. May 24, 2021 at 13:42
• @TeresaLisbon I don't love downvoting newish users who ask these low effort questions because of the human impact, but I prioritize the health of MSE over the feelings of a user not acting in good faith at the end of the day. May 26, 2021 at 13:42
• @amWhy - to be honest, I think you're a little harsh in terms of down-votes, closing questions, deleting posts, etc. May 29, 2021 at 21:45

The short answer is that upvotes and downvotes are not primarily intended to be instructive for the OP - they're intended to be a signal to other readers as to whether the content is worth reading or not. If you would like to educate a new user as to how to use the site, you are, of course, free to leave a comment explaining how to improve their post.

To quote from the linked Q&A,

Downvotes are, first and foremost, a content rating system. Rather than being a way of communicating with the poster, they are a way of communicating to future readers that a question or answer is not interesting or useful. If someone wants to leave a comment to communicate with the poster, they can always do so, independent of the voting system.

Also, one of the basic principles of site moderation is to vote on content, not users. Avoiding downvoting or voting to close a new user's question is voting on users, not content.

• The principle that downvotes are about content, not users, is a good one. However, new users are likely to be unfamiliar with this, and see downvotes on their posts as a personal insult. Moreover, once the downvotes have reached a certain threshold, it is already clear to other readers that the post is low quality. What good does it do for a new user's post to be sitting at $9$ downvotes?
– Joe
May 31, 2021 at 19:52
• @Joe It's a little unclear to me how we prevent new users from taking downvotes personally. By that logic, we could never downvote any post from any new user no matter how bad. I do agree that pile-on downvotes seem a little excessive (since a score of, for example, -5 would signal that the content isn't useful just as well as -9 would), but I definitely don't agree that we should treat new users' posts any differently than we treat anyone else's (because that would be moderating users rather than content). May 31, 2021 at 19:57
• @Joe A case could maybe be made for discouraging downvoting a question beyond, say, -5 votes (to discourage pile-on downvotes), but that standard would obviously have to be applied uniformly (not just to new users). May 31, 2021 at 20:01
• I certainly have downvoted new users' posts. But that's when I think that the good that it does for the site in terms of filtering out bad content outweighs the discouragement that it might bring to that user. Also, I think it is sensible to treat new users differently. For instance, I might be forgiving if a new user for not using MathJax in their post, but I certainly wouldn't give as much leeway to an established user. I don't agree that voting should be based solely on the content of the post, even if that is an important aspect to it. But we can agree to disagree.
– Joe
May 31, 2021 at 20:04
• @Joe Personally, I generally don't downvote for formatting problems (unless it's so severe that it can't be fixed by editing and it renders the post unreadable, in which case it makes the question unclear). In general, if a problem can be fixed by another user editing the post, it's better to try to salvage the post than to downvote or vote to close. If the post's problems can't be fixed by anyone other than the OP editing, then downvoting and/or voting to close could be appropriate. Jun 2, 2021 at 13:56
• I get the sense that some people downvote because they think the question is "stupid" in the sense that the answer is obvious (to them) or that it is trivially answered by Googling or some other means. As a questioner in a new subject area though, this is problematic when I have tried and can't find the answer. More generally, there's the problem that downvotes are a noisy indicator of quality, but it only takes one or two before nobody will even look at your question anymore. Jul 9, 2021 at 17:59