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https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/vote-down boils down to:

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

This is word-for-word exactly the same as the policy for the StackOverflow site.

Now, on SO this makes perfect sense, as we do not wish opinions in technical topics, it's all about facts, facts, facts.

What about IPS? I can think of very few possible answers to IPS questions that would be "clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect". "Correctness" is not a good metric here; IPS issues are per definition mostly a subjective thing.

This example shows where someone finds some answer (involving creating fake accounts on dating website) strongly objectionable, and another commenter linked said guideline along with, roughly, "opinions do not allow for down-votes".

So, following this line of thought, we end up with downvoting simply because a post is "sloppy, no-effort-expended". Fine, this aspect doesn't concern me as it is obviously good to get such answers to the bottom.

But what if I find an answer which I feel strongly about (for example, an answer suggesting to deceive, lie, ...) and which otherwise is non-sloppy and displays suitable effort. Am I allowed to down-vote?

If the answer is "no" (as per our current official guideline), then... "duh".

If the answer is "yes", should we reflect that in the voting guideline? How could the quoted part of the guideline be improved?

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  • One objective guideline for voting is whether answers back their claims up. See interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/182/… – user288 Aug 30 '17 at 14:04
  • Seems like you are saying that the answer is clearly incorrect... which would be in line with the guideline... – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Aug 30 '17 at 15:36
  • OMG YES YES YES YES YES!!!! Answers need to be evaluated on two things: their level of quality, and how appropriate they are to the question. In most cases, you can't judge the appropriateness of an answer - just because you think "oh, this makes sense" doesn't mean that it's the right answer for the OP. I only vote up if I can truly vouch for the answer, or I may have had similar experiences that I know work. It's why I have nearly no upvotes on answers. It's a bit of a "How invested are you" in this sort of thing. Same thing with downvotes. There's a reason why I have 150+ downvotes... – Zizouz212 Aug 30 '17 at 16:10
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    @Zizouz212... please remember to write answers, not comments. :) – Catija Aug 30 '17 at 18:58
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Ultimately, downvotes are at the discretion of the voter.

There's no way "correct" use of downvotes can (or should) be enforced.

I think the relevant part of the voting guidelines you cited is:

an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

If an answer is opinion-based, and you feel that that opinion is incorrect, it is up to you if you feel that this is sufficient reason to downvote. The "dangerous" part, if it comes into play, should make it an easier decision.

For example, suggesting that setting up hidden cameras to find who is stealing food is a a good idea is an opinion I disagree with. I may or may not downvote that. Suggesting dosing the food with laxatives is dangerous. Upon seeing that, I would certainly downvote.

That being said, I don't feel we need to provide any more details to the guidelines on downvotes. Regardless of what we put, there's nothing actionable that can be done for downvotes that you (or the community as a whole) feel are inappropriate.

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  • Thank you, those are nice examples as well. Note that I am not specifically asking to make the guideline more detailled; but about whether and how we should change it to make the "spirit" (that you and I seem to share) more clear and avoid it being able to be put up as a "shield" against any kind of voting that could happen. – AnoE Aug 30 '17 at 14:17
  • @AnoE Who would actually pay attention to that? Does anyone on the network actually vote 100% based on whether the information in the answer is "correct" or not? People will vote the way they want to vote. I've seen so many complaints on MSE asking for features that make it more difficult to down vote or requiring comments to down vote or whatever... I haven't yet seen one that makes a suggestion that is enforceable with our system of private voting. – Catija Aug 30 '17 at 15:19
  • @Catija, I am, of course, exaggerating in my post. Of course nobody will go to the (well hidden...) guideline and check if they are allowed to press that button. My point (of the question) is a) if there is a consensus on the topic, which, so far (2 answers and plenty of comments) seems to be the case and b) if we can (and whether we should) formulate that in the help section for newcomers, to show the spirit of the site. – AnoE Aug 30 '17 at 17:16
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The earlier answer by @Beofett is 100% correct in stating that downvoting is entirely at the discretion of the voter and the reason could be anything at all, with which we are not even concerned, for that matter.

The purpose of voting is to demonstrate community consensus opinion about the quality of a post and unlike close a question voting or delete an answer voting, which needs to be perfectly objective since it affects the future of a post, upvotes and downvotes merely reflect user opinion whether this is a good answer relative to the question.

If an answer that advocated a logically ineffective/ unsafe/ borderline illegal approach was somehow upvoted by 5 voters whose opinion 'agreed' with the writer, then it would be or should be downvoted by at least 10 persons who think it is bad advice, if not a sloppy answer as we would judge on other SE sites. So it ends up with a net score of -5 and hopefully sinks to the bottom of the list, and maybe doesn't get read by many...

which is what it deserves.

But if those people didn't downvote, it will reach +5 and give this site a poor reputation. Somebody may even think it is a good answer! What if someone acts on that bad advice?

We are not (me included) casting enough downvotes here, possibly out of an impulse 'not to be not nice' which is why the lowest scoring answers on many questions often stand at 0, -1 or -2. Take the lead from @NVZ who never hesitates to downvote or close-vote a bad post.

So we should go on and cast those downvotes, is what I say.

Stack Exchange has such a clear and simple downvoting policy that we are unlikely to improve an existing guideline. However, this is my suggestion to improve the downvoting guideline message, as requested by OP:

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an irrelevant or lazy post; obviously illogical or malicious statements; or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

If it is to be really be relevant to IPS.SE I should state it as:

downvotes are necessary to develop community consensus on quality of posts: don't hesitate to downvote and report bad advice and malicious answers.

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  • Could you suggest a sentence for that guideline (short - certainly not longer than the one we have already) which encapsulates what you wrote? – AnoE Aug 30 '17 at 17:17
  • Sorry to sound like I am being discouraging, @AnoE, but the point is that we don't need that sort of guideline for downvoting. Stack Exchange has such a clear and simple downvoting policy that we are unlikely to improve an existing guideline. However, this is my suggestion: Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, lazy post; obviously illogical, malicious or insincere statements; or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect. Now edited this into my answer. – English Student Aug 30 '17 at 19:00
  • Oh, don't worry, I'm pretty hard to discourage. It's also not that important of a topic, obviously. Also pretty obviously the policy right now is just the standard template for a new SE site. ;) I would simply find it cool to have something in there that fits the IPS mentality. – AnoE Aug 30 '17 at 19:21
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    If it should really be relevant to IPS.SE I should state it as downvotes are necessary to develop community consensus on quality of posts: don't hesitate to downvote bad advice and malicious answers @AnoE -- also edited that into my answer. – English Student Aug 30 '17 at 19:24
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    Nice! That second sentence of yours, downvotes are necessary for community consensus on quality of posts: don't hesitate to downvote bad advice and malicious answers would work great for me (together with removing the sentence I quoted in my question). Your first one ("...insincere...") would be too much detail (I feel we need less, not more). "bad" is inclusive of "lazy... little effort", and "malicious" is inclusive of "illegal etc. (objectively bad)" but also "morally/opinion-based bad". – AnoE Aug 30 '17 at 19:27
  • Thanks for the feedback, and glad to give you ideas, @AnoE – English Student Aug 30 '17 at 19:28

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