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I'm not sure if this is the right place to post, but a question of mine initially had several answers. Then some people aggressively downvoted the answers, apparently because they didn't like the question (as explained in comments), and now the answers are gone.

Is this the policy on this site? I thought if a question is a bad fit, it is marked as such, not the answers getting downvoted.

Someone commented

Answering questions that don't meet our standards encourages users to continue to post sub-par questions because they know that despite the fact that their contributions don't meet the standards, they'll get an answer anyway. Also note that if the answer has a positive score, the question will not be automatically deleted by the roomba. Answering off-topic/low-quality questions encourages low-quality contributions and brings down the quality level of the site.

So if the community decides a questions is bad, its answers are downvoted? Also what's roomba?

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  • roomba's a cordless robot vacuum cleaner in real life ... Jan 24 '18 at 7:22
  • Roomba is the automated system that deletes inactive and closed questions for example
    – JAD
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:24
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    Very relevant post, it does not address this specifically, but it is definitely mixed in with the question and various answers - interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2403/…
    – Jesse
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:24
  • interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/roomba should explain about the roomba :)
    – Mithical
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:28
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    Hey, all... please remember that it's generally only feature requests that get downvotes for disagreement. If you think this is a good subject for discussion, upvote the question. If you think it's a bad subject for discussion, downvote. Save disagreement votes for the answers.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jan 24 '18 at 16:12
  • @Catija Rightly said. I've been wanting to say that. There's been a flood of downvotes on meta questions these days. It actually discourages people from asking on meta.
    – NVZ
    Jan 25 '18 at 7:25
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Bad questions usually fit into one of the following categories:

  • Poorly constructed (not enough information to clarify what's being asked)
  • Too broad
  • Not on topic for IPS

When anyone answers one of these types of questions, their answers tend to fall into one of the corresponding categories:

  • Not helpful (doesn't actually help the OP because we can't tell what they're really wanting in the first place)
  • Too broad (a ranged answer for a ranged question)
  • Not an interpersonal solution

It's really not the answerers fault for the lack of information. However, I don't think we gain any benefit on-site from abstaining down-voting a low quality answer just because it's in response to a low quality question. That's part of learning on this community. If you can't write a quality answer to a question as provided, you likely shouldn't try to answer it.

By my own experience, I'm inclined to believe that everything I've said so far accounts for the majority of cases.

On the other hand, if the problem is really that people are just downvoting out of frustration that people are answering a cruddy question (but the answer is still pretty solid), that's a shame, and I don't think we should be doing that.

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    Re: if the problem is really that people are just downvoting out of frustration that people are answering a cruddy question (but the answer is still pretty solid), that's a shame, and I don't think we should be doing that. +10
    – NVZ
    Jan 25 '18 at 19:27
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I was the one that started that.

It was a very bad attempt at getting some attention from some of the users that do have close vote privileges but look like they're jumping on every question as soon as they're asked to answer them

Basically, I wanted to do something to get their attention and get a sense of community going here. To me, at that moment, it looked like there were two completely different communities on IPS, one answering questions as soon as they come up without regard for whether it's a good question or not, the other trying to get this to be a quality site.

Don't worry, you're not the only one that thinks this was a bad idea, I do realize it was a bad one myself now too. So, there's some better guidelines on how to reach out here: How to get a better sense of community going?. Like Jesse commented, a very interesting read, I'd really like you to read it through and if you feel like contributing, if you have any other ideas, please feel very free to put them there :)


Note: It still IS a bad idea to answer questions that don't meet the site's guidelines (off-topic, too broad, opinion based, if it should be closed, it should be closed, it's a low quality question that you do not jump on to answer).

The point of the comment was to point this out to those people writing answers. That it went pretty bad is my fault, I'm too impulsive perhaps. But when a question is answered, it doesn't really provide an incentive to an OP to better their question. As proof, have a meta:

Also, take a look at how many questions are currently on hold. Many of them have 1 or 2 answers, some even have 5 or 6. Others even have accepted answers. Now, try and find one where the OP provided us with information to improve the question/edited their question themselves.


If answers are getting upvotes this will encourage users to just keep jumping on every question they find, because hey, it does give you some reputation! There's an excellent answer on that same meta on how we need more high-quality questions for those people to answer, so that need disappears. I fully agree with that.

As for the downvoting, I don't think that's necessarily bad. The answer might not answer the question, might not be about Interpersonal Skills (which makes it not an answer on this site), is being way too liberal on interpreting the situation, or problems like that. EmC provided a better approach to the whole thing here though.

I'll put a small part here:

Personally, I'd comment and possibly vote on these answers. I often just don't vote at all, as I prefer to downvote answers on their own merits, rather than the quality of the question, though how you use your votes is up to you. If the answer was hasty and there was critical information missing from the question, there must be something not considered in the answer (else why close the question?). E.g, "The OP never specified this was their goal. Please note that the question has been placed on hold since you answered - you should consider removing it until after they improve it to give sufficient detail about what they want to accomplish, as it may invalidate your answer and attract downvotes."

Personally, I'll keep this in mind. If there's answers to questions that are put on-hold, I won't be slapping a stock comment on them anymore.

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    I don't think it was such a bad idea... some of the answerers responding constructively, and it was certainly effective in alerting people that there was a problem. If some people get annoyed at you for educating people... well, I'm rolling with it ;). Seriously, don't let a couple disgruntled users stop you from attempting to educate users and up the quality on the site.
    – Mithical
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:52
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    @ArwenUndómiel I disagree, if you want to educate the users then use the system already put in place even if it isn't working, Tinkeringbell seems to be aware, but I don't think we should be looking at it through a rose coloured lens. Voting up and down has a different meaning and by abusing that system to accomplish a different goal, you risk users looking at what they could have done to improve the answer rather than realizing they should not have done it at all which is the opposite of education.
    – Jesse
    Jan 24 '18 at 9:10
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    @ArwenUndómiel Stock comments plus a downvote make it sound like Official Moderation Business... and it's not. You're free to downvote answers as you wish, but it's misleading to copy-paste the same comment on all of them as if you speak for the site (which seems to be part of OP's confusion here).
    – Em C
    Jan 25 '18 at 11:50

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