We are inline with similar sized sites
There's an interesting chart there... but I draw issue at comparing P.SE to Stack Overflow. In particular, the size of the voting user base compared to the daily influx of questions can make most of the stuff on Stack Overflow get no votes at all (there's also a significant 'whine about down votes' and 'give sympathy up votes' (examples 1, 2, 3 (entirety of question in mouseover in case they are deleted)) culture on SO).
I wanted to see what similar sites to P.SE looked like - similar in terms of questions/day and overall size. This is what I came up with:
You will see that we are by no means the most down voting of the 30k or so question sites that I sampled (Gaming, Programmers, Electrical Engineering, Android Enthusiasts).
The question really is "what is EE doing right?" along with "what groups Gaming and AE together?"
The answer to this is likely the accessibility of the material to the 'common' person. The harder/less accessible the material, the more focused the site can be and clearly communicate that focus to people asking questions. Furthermore, the more difficult the material, the more natural it is for the person to have done the requite study of the problem before asking the question along with asking the question fully.
Judging from this, I would suggest that if we want to have fewer down voted questions, it is would be necessary to restrict our scope drastically such that we're closer to that of Theoretical CS or Server Fault in what is allowed or not and take fewer soft questions; requiring all the questions to be at the professional software architect level.
I'm not sure that would be the right thing to do.
Furthermore, there's the conception on other sites (Stack Overflow, I'm looking at you) that Programmers.SE is for questions without code or for getting opinions. One can reliably go and find belongs on P.SE type comments on Stack Overflow (data.SE) for questions that don't meet the desired quality. The questions get asked here, and down voted, and, well, that's what you see. I contend that it is impossible for P.SE to stop the problem as there are far too many with this misunderstanding of P.SE's scope on SO and the best we can do is close, down vote, and educate people who post here under those conceptions (and, again, that's a non-negligible portion of the ratio).
Changing the name won't help
One reoccurring theme that has popped up over the years is "maybe if we change the site's name people will post on topic questions?"
I'm pulling up the current newest questions page and listing all the questions with a negative score:
It is my contention that absolutely none of these would have been not asked if the site's name was SoftwareDevelopment.SE or SoftwareEngineering.SE. Every single question there would still have been asked. Very few of them had off topic votes. General topicality is not the problem with the questions (specific bits of 'tool recommendation' and 'career advice' still is).
We are long past the days of "what is your favorite comic" or "what should I name my cat" and the like. Those questions don't show up. Programmers is understood to be a site about software development processes.
The off topic questions that we get now are ones that very closely map to the topic of software engineering, but are issues that we are not qualified (as programmers) to answer. Career advice and legal being the two biggest ones. We also regularly get polling questions, but that isn't an issue with the site name, that is a misunderstanding of the Q&A format itself (and a failure to read the tour which shows what is on and off topic).
But there will always be people that suffer from the "herp derp oh look a textbox" syndrome, and no amount of renaming the site or amending the FAQ is going to fix that. -- Anna Lear