Over the last months and maybe years, I observed some tendency on this site of what I would call “hostile downvoting”. I see often questions which are not-too-badly written (sometimes even well-written), belong clearly to the realm of software engineering, but still get downvotes without any explanation. Often, they get not even a close vote (which could serve as a hint of what the downvoter thought what was wrong with the question).

To make this clear – I see no problem in downvotes without explanation for really crappy questions. Chances are high such questions are closed soon and so the OP get an information about why this happened. I talk about questions which are on-topic and can often be answered sensibly.

Another variant of this hostility are questions which are mostly fine, but in the last sentence the OP ask not only for an approach to solve their issue, but does a minor “rule violation”, for example by asking for external pointers. Such questions immediately get a downvote and close vote for being a “3rd party resource request”, with no further explanation. Often, they could be saved by a small edit, or by simply ignoring the fact there is one minor issue in there which does not make the whole thing a crap question.

If these were just singular, rare cases, I would not have put so much thought into it. However, given the frequency I think I have seen this behaviour, I guess there is a broader problem here, something which might be perceived as a "hostile voting culture".

To give you some examples:

Of course, you may find flaws in all of these examples, none of them is a “perfect question”, of course, but I hope they help to illustrate my point (and I am pretty sure I could quickly add more to this list, all of them from the last three weeks).

I guess some of these downvotes or close votes are

  • given in good faith, to keep the site free of too much crap

  • cast because the downvoters mistake the “downvote button” for a “I disagree” button

  • cast because others are following the bad example of earlier voters

Maybe the "no comment for downvotes culture" has also something to do with the new "Code of Conduct". An honest comment for a question one does not like is not easy to write for everyone in a manner which is perceived friendly enough to not violate the CoC. It is so much easier just to downvote without writing anything - that's always in line with the CoC, at least literally - but is it really? Or is it a quite subtile violation of the spirit of CoC, one which is not easy to prove?

So here is my point:

IMHO by trying to keep the site clean this way, we produce too much collateral damage. Shouldn't we try to change something here?

I think many of those not-too-bad questions could be saved by investing a little bit more time. Some ideas:

  • let us read questions more carefully

  • count to ten and sit on our fingers before hitting the downvote button

  • if the question is no blatantly off-topic, let us take more time to tell the OP what they could improve (and give them enough time to fix)

  • try to avoid to over-interpret the site’s rules and the precanned close reasons - and consider not to cast a close vote for every minor rule violation

  • don’t vote for closing everything immediately that looks a bit broad as “too broad” or “too opinionated” – some broad questions turn out to be answerable on a second thought (maybe in a broad manner, but still comprehensive).

  • after casting a downvote or close vote, take the time and come back later and see if the OP has fixed the issue, and if yes, consider to retract the downvote or close vote.

As mentioned by Amon in the latest moderator election questionnaire, the site shows a decreasing activity across multiple years, and Robert Harvey wrote “we may have gerrymandered the scope of this site a bit too much”. To me, these observations look like symptoms of the same disease – there is a part of our community that is way too fixated on searching for excuses for downvoting and closing a new question instead of searching ways to fix a saveable question or communicate problems.

The site renaming helped us to make the focus of the site more clear to sort out the really crappy questions quicker and to drive away the plz fix my code askers. I think now it is time we should stop to drive away people who understood the site’s scope well and just need a little bit help to get their question asked in a better way.

So finally, here is my question:

  • am I the only one who observes this and has a problem with this issue?

  • do you agree with my suggestions to improve the situation, or do you have additional or better ideas?

(and if you have a different opinion, I would be happy if you give an answer or leave a comment instead of just abusing the downvote button for saying "I disagree").

  • 3
    IMO and from experience this issue predates the changes in CoC.
    – user142543
    Mar 8, 2019 at 13:13
  • 5
    A footnote on decreasing activity: downvotes reached a peak in winter 2015-'16 and have a declining trend since, an effect that predates the renaming (late 2016) and the CoC (mid 2018). However, downvotes seem to have picked up again since the beginning of this year. I also share your observation that many questions receive baffling downvotes, despite being fairly trigger-happy myself. Drawing attention to the proper use of votes with a post like this might be the best approach to fix the problem, thank you :)
    – amon
    Mar 8, 2019 at 13:28
  • @amon: of course, you debunked my intention with this question ;-)
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 8, 2019 at 14:57
  • I think it tells a lot this question got 5 downvotes in between, but no comment or answer showing or explaning any disagreement ;-)
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 6, 2019 at 9:12
  • 3
    Just to be clear, nobody is obligated to explain their downvotes. Downvotes are anonymous by design, even if the question is borderline. Explaining downvotes compromises that anonymity, and my experience is that people have a tendency to argue with my explanations so I don't provide them anymore. Apr 8, 2019 at 22:03
  • @RobertHarvey: thanks for your clarification. I hope I made my point clear: I am not suggesting to make explanations for downvotes obligatory. I am suggesting to use this way of voting more deliberately, and to think twice about the potential harm which causes this to this site.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 9, 2019 at 5:05
  • ... using Amon's "calibration scale" figure, I am under the impression some community members here use a calibration scale where the red part takes 90%, the green 10% and the white part 0%.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 9, 2019 at 5:08
  • ... and about "arguing about explanations": my experience is, people tend to argue way less with me since I care more for writing explanations in a more constructive fashion, in a less patronizing tone.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 9, 2019 at 5:13
  • Stumbled on this a month late. I'm not confident enough to post it as an answer but I have a suspicion: a lot of SE.SE users are also stack overflow users. Over on SO, in popular tags, the load of garbage can be overwhelming. I hang out primarily on Javascript and Python, and they (possibly because of their use as teaching languages) tend to be worse than most. One gets in the habit of downvoting and/or VTC and/or VTD and on to the next one, a habit that can carry over into other SEs where the lower volume really doesn't justify such trigger-happiness. Apr 13, 2019 at 2:20
  • @JaredSmith: we have also a lot of garbage here on SE.SE (even after the renaming of the site), and lots of people here have surely developed a habit of downvoting and close-voting those crap questions - which is good. Unfortunately, a small group of guys seem to anonymously downvote and close-vote everything which has 1% crap in it, though 99% of the question is fine. And they refuse to discuss this matter by neither participating here in this meta thread, nor lifting their anonymity by commenting on the downvoted questions.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 13, 2019 at 4:30
  • .. so the only solution I currently see is to counter-upvote anything where I am under the impression the downvotes are unreasonable, until those guys get the message that their behaviour leads to the opposite of what they intend. This is not a good solution, as amon has described in his excellent answer, but probably the only thing we can do about it to make this site looking less hostile.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 13, 2019 at 4:34
  • Excuse my ignorance but, why questions can be downvoted? What's the purpose of having questions with negative votes? It's not like SE takes any benefit from having a collection of terrible or not good enough questions. Do they serve to any purpose?
    – Laiv
    May 16, 2019 at 8:19
  • @Laiv: not sure I understand your comment, but it seems to have a different focus than my question. If you seriously want to question the whole down- and upvoting system (which apparently made SE a very successful network), you should ask on Meta Stack Exchance.
    – Doc Brown
    May 16, 2019 at 10:04
  • @DocBrown the question was addressed to know if the problem of downvoting questions could be solved just by not allowing downvotes on questions. But I'm unaware of the advantages of downvotes on questions for StackExchange. Sure I'm missing a lot of things that are not evident at first glance.
    – Laiv
    May 16, 2019 at 10:19
  • @Laiv: I don't see downvoting as a problem in general on SE, quite the opposite, the downvote/upvote system is IMHO a good one. But I see abusage or misusage of the downvoting system as a problem, especially when people ask questions which are definitely on-topic. I am under the impression this happens way-too-in the SE.SE community. And when reading things like Rachel's profile description, it seems I am not alone with this observation.
    – Doc Brown
    May 16, 2019 at 11:54

5 Answers 5


I agree. Obviously you can't stop people down-voting questions they feel are bad, but given the low volume of votes questions get in general and how quickly they seem to get downvoted, its got to be some of our prolific users down-voting questions as they appear on the new questions page

I would suggest a different solution though. Upvote more questions.

  • 4
    I don't know if the solution is simply "upvote more questions". Adding an up vote to more questions doesn't prevent well written on-topic questions (but perhaps too broad or opinionated until properly edited) from being hidden from the people who can leave comments or make edits to help the question become good. Also, it's easy to spot a bad question and down vote. But depending on the question, if you don't have enough of a background in a topic, it may be hard to say if it's a good question worthy of an up vote. More up voting would be helpful, but I don't know if it's a solution.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Mar 9, 2019 at 16:57
  • This may not be a real solution, but it is probably the most direct and simple action we do to mitigate the problem.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 10, 2019 at 7:18
  • 5
    @Thomas I think we have to start upvoting the 'hard' questions. Otherwise Software Engineering == REST Apis and what are the best verbs to use. Which always gets upvoted and a million answers
    – Ewan
    Mar 10, 2019 at 9:14
  • 1
    @DocBrown after a week or so of upvoting every question regardless I think I've seen a definite improvement. The -1 marginally on topic ones go to 0 and get some answers, the completely bad ones get more than one downvote and go negative anyway, marginally good ones seem to pick up more upvotes after surviving the initial -1/0 phase and getting an answer. Obv not good to randomly upvote, but i think it shows that just upvoting more is a good thing
    – Ewan
    Mar 14, 2019 at 10:58
  • @Ewan: interesting. Maybe it is the best what we can do, since I am pretty sure we cannot really reach the part of the community which prefers this unhealthy voting / non-commenting style. Looking at the downvotes my question (as well as all the answers) got, and comparing them to the comments and answers here, I guess there are at least 3 guys around who really enjoy to to play this anonymous Bastard Operator From Hell game, and have interest in open communication.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 14, 2019 at 12:33
  • ... I meant "have no interest in open communication", sorry.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 14, 2019 at 19:21
  • 1
    I agree that the volume of votes is a big part of the problem, since more votes would balance out individual weird votes. However, indiscriminate upvoting is not the solution, please stop. While not every downvote might be proper, the use of downvotes in general is an important feedback and moderation tool. Do upvote liberally, but please don't give misleading feedback for bad questions out of a false sense of friendliness.
    – amon
    Mar 15, 2019 at 14:52
  • 1
    @amon dont worry i am already getting bored of it. But I do think we should be more liberal in our upvoting. You shouldnt need a reason to upvote a good faith question
    – Ewan
    Mar 15, 2019 at 15:10
  • @Ewan: "You shouldnt need a reason to upvote a good faith question" You should always need a reason to upvote a question. We don't live in a binary universe where every question which is not terrible is good. Mediocre questions exist, and not voting on them should be taken as a statement of their mediocrity. Liberally doling out upvotes regardless of content is really no better than liberally doling out downvotes. Make your votes matter by voting on content that needs them, not just because it's there. Mar 29, 2019 at 20:56
  • When I answer a question, I usually upvote it - a question which is worth an answer is in my eyes also worth an upvote (of course, there are exceptions, but they are rare). I am convinced that is better than just indiscriminated upvotes.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 4, 2019 at 11:55
  • @NicolBolas the problem is most, (if not all!) questions are downvoted. If the mediocre ones are the best questions you have, do you still not upvote them? How will you encourage more questions to be asked?
    – Ewan
    Apr 4, 2019 at 12:10
  • @Ewan: "the problem is most, (if not all!) questions are downvoted." Citation needed. "How will you encourage more questions to be asked?" Answers encourage more questions to be asked. That's far more effective than a score. Also, we don't seem to have a problem with too few questions being asked on this site. Apr 4, 2019 at 13:23
  • 1
    @NicolBolas check out the home page and you'll see all the questions have downvotes, no question has a score over 10.
    – Ewan
    Apr 4, 2019 at 13:27
  • 1
    @Ewan: there is obviously a small group of people here in the community who regularly downvote every question which is not 100% high quality and on-topic, and don't care for adding a comment. And they have no interest in a constructive discussion about their behaviour, as they even did not care to write something here in this thread. I guess they want to stay anonymous. So maybe your answer, though not popular, is correct: the only thing we can do to balance this (IMHO quite unsocial) behaviour is upvote more questions.
    – Doc Brown
    Apr 5, 2019 at 5:03
  • 1
    Gratuitous accepting of answers to make a statement doesn't really help your case. The checkmark is yours to do with what you wish, of course, but... Sheesh. May 16, 2019 at 17:37

Indiscriminate moderation actions are bad, more nuance is good. But this doesn't mean that we have a downvote epidemic at hand or that any kind of corrective action is currently required.

In this post, I explain my understanding of when which vote is applicable, and respond to some points raised on this question. It is intended to be suitable as a reference or introduction to sensible voting.

To put this answer and value system into perspective, it is my goal for this site to ensure a consistent stream of interesting, useful, and relevant Q&As about software engineering concepts and software design problems. It is not my goal to be helpful at all costs.

Does Software Engineering have a negativity problem?

Fig 1: Weekly upvotes (top, green) and downvotes (bottom, dark red) since start of 2015. Y-axis does not start at zero. Taken from site analytics.

No. Posts on Software Engineering generally receive multiple times more upvotes than downvotes. Downvotes saw a peak in the Winter 15/16 and have since seen a declining trend, with a slight resurgence in recent months.

When we look at recent questions, most questions have non-negative scores.

However, the above graph lumps all posts together. It is likely that questions see far less upvotes than answers, in particular taking into account Hot Network Questions which mostly benefit answers. The number of total votes also doesn't say anything about the number of votes per post. During the shown time period, the rate of questions has differed dramatically, which could mean that the same number of downvotes is now concentrated on fewer posts. At a glance, downvotes seem to be well correlated with the number of questions, though this would need a SEDE query for a proper analysis.

It is also indisputable that many questions receive baffling downvotes, without these directly leading to negative question scores. The effect is that the site does appear more reserved than enthusiastic.

My interpretation is that while this site generally has a mostly healthy approach to voting, that there does also exist a pattern of unwarranted downvotes. However, these are not terribly relevant in the large scheme of things.

Why moderation is necessary.

A free for all does not work, and would lead to an unattractive mess where valuable content is far and rare. A certain amount of curation and moderation is absolutely necessary.

This means we must curate questions to filter out those that do not meet the topicality or quality requirements of this site. The community is then free to spend its effort on the many non-bad questions we receive as well.

But this also means that we must not gerrymander our criteria until they are so narrow that no question would pass: a consistent stream of quality questions does not just require quality, it also requires questions in the first place.

Moderation actions are not just an inward-facing curation mechanism, but also outward-facing education: we are communicating community norms to askers and onlookers. Ideally, their future questions will be more in line with our norms. But this requires that their feedback is clear, friendly, and actionable.

Unfortunately, no action is also communication: that we don't care. In this sense, any feedback might be better than ignoring a question. Indeed, Stack Overflow data from 2014 “What happens to new users?” shows that both downvotes and upvotes have a similarly large positive effect on user retention, whereas no reaction is even worse than deleting their post.

On the proper use of votes.

Fig 2: Amon's vote calibration scale.

With our votes, we have a number of options available for moderation and curation.

At the most basic level, upvotes reward quality content. Upvotes send a signal that some post is on-topic, correct, well-researched, shows effort.

In contrast, downvotes signal low-quality content, for example when a post shows little effort or grossly misses the scope of the site.

When votes are wielded on principle, that indicates they might be wrong.

For example, minor faults in a question do not warrant downvotes. As illustrated in Fig 2, downvotes are best applied to the really bad stuff, not posts that aren't perfect. There's a large area on the quality axis where no action is needed (but beware of the “no action is also communication” problem discussed above). Instead, edits or comments might be more helpful.

Just like indiscriminate downvotes, indiscriminate upvotes are bad as well. The worst of these are pity upvotes to counter an existing downvote. Such votes sacrifice curation and moderation actions for a false sense of friendliness. Unless the post has downvotes that are clearly unwarranted, please do not vote in reaction to the current score. Vote from your own belief of whether the quality of the post's content warrants a particular vote. Note also that indiscriminate votes deny feedback to the OP.

Close votes/flags are the primary way of enforcing topicality. Not downvotes. When a post is unanswerable within the scope of this site – whether it is too broad or off topic – then closing the post should be the primary moderation action.

Downvotes are orthogonal to close votes. Whereas up- and downvotes are a statement about general quality, closing a question is a statement about topicality and answerability. It is perfectly normal that a good and upvote-worthy question is a bad fit for this site and should be closed, or that a question fits the scope and other formal requirements but shows really little effort and should be downvoted.

There is one unfortunate exception for downvotes: the site mechanics link question score with appearance of the question on the front page, and with eligibility for fast-delete.

  • In my perception, overall question quality has improved so that it is no longer necessary to proactively downvote bad questions to push them off the front page. We have so many questions that are fine, we don't need to spend our effort on hiding the few bad eggs.

  • The use case of downvoting really bad questions in order to fast-delete them is still valid. However, deletion is only appropriate for irredeemable questions, i.e. questions that are off topic and cannot be edited to become on topic. This likely applies to less than 15% of questions we receive.


Shaming. In the end, how someone wields their votes is down to their personal, subjective decision, and that is fine. The votes of other community members will balance things out eventually.

It is OK to discuss how votes are intended or can be used most effectively, but it is not OK to accuse individuals of voting the wrong way.

It's also generally impossible to attribute votes to the correct person. Occasionally, I've tried to help a poster understand what the problems with their question are, only to be accused of downvoting anyway. No! I'm trying to help fix the problems.

Requiring comments for downvotes. This is a recurring request on MSE and MSO, see Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are ideas suggesting such shot down? for a canonical discussion. While the system does encourage constructive comments after a downvote, a hard requirement would be damaging to the community. In particular, both comments and votes are legitimate moderation actions on their own.

  • Having to jump through extra hoops to place a downvote would discourage their use, thus deprive the community from a curation mechanism and the OP from a feedback mechanism.
  • Furthermore, non-anonymous comments would be a target for harassment (see “shaming” above), whereas anonymous downvotes would be a channel to harass the poster. Neither approach seems desirable.
  • There is no guarantee a comment would contain actionable advice rather than placeholder text to allow the downvote.

Indiscriminate voting. As discussed above, indiscriminate voting in either direction is problematic and does not serve the community.

  • Downvoting nearly everything doesn't provide actionable feedback to posters and distorts how others perceive the community norms. Downvoting due to site mechanic reasons only applies to a small fraction of posts, and cannot be used as a general justification. Please look at Fig 2 to recalibrate the voting scale.

  • Upvoting nearly everything makes legitimate curation and moderation activities more difficult, deprives posters of accurate feedback, and provides a false sense of friendliness. Please look at Fig 2 to recalibrate the voting scale.


While I don't think we have a huge voting problem, we do regularly see votes that are not aligned with community norms. Hopefully, this post helps to promote a healthy approach to voting.

I do agree with Ewan in that there are too few votes in general (this ties in to my moderator questionnaire discussion that slightly too few people are engaging in active community moderation). Perhaps we can use this discussion as motivation to vote more, with any kind of appropriate vote.

  • Thank you very much for this excellent answer, I think it gives me a lot of additional insights. Since your statistics shows we don't have a huge problem here, I guess it is just a small group of people in our community who has issues to understand that their indiscriminate downvotes to questions which don't really deserve them may trigger counter-upvotes, so this has the potential of making the voting system pointless. I definitely was not aware of such an effect before.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 15, 2019 at 20:37
  • "When we look at recent questions, most questions have non-negative scores" check out the actual votes though. 90% have a down and a.. some might say 'cancelling out', up
    – Ewan
    Apr 10, 2019 at 12:41
  • @Ewan Yes, see also the discussion below Thomas' answer. And subjectively, this has grown worse again since I wrote this answer. But I won't let a few people's grumpy voting habits detract from the fact that, in general, Software Engineering is far more positive than this discussion would make it seem. I therefore agree with your answer's conclusion: moar votes!
    – amon
    Apr 10, 2019 at 12:47
  • moar votes would def help, and I cant disagree with your agreeing with me! :) but I think the chart is misleading. if everyone got a down and close vote when they post their question and nothing else, we would still see thousands of upvotes on old 'hot' questions
    – Ewan
    Apr 10, 2019 at 12:50

I do agree that some questions are unnecessarily down voted, or at least unnecessarily down voted early.

The tooltip on the down vote reads:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

There are questions that fall into this category. But the questions like the ones that you point aren't don't seem to. They are well written, clear, and perhaps even useful. They just don't meet our community criteria for a good question.

The fast down voting is useful for getting the unsalvagable questions off the homepage. Coupled with votes to close and flags, can ensure that they are closed and/or deleted. But salvagable questions don't need that fast response. In fact, I'd argue that getting salvagable, but broad or opinionated questions that may be salvagable off the homepage hides them from people who can help get the questions into good shape.

I'd say that these questions should be closed, but I'd also recommend holding off down votes and leaving comments instead. If you don't have time to leave a comment, that's OK. But just leaving a down vote seems like an off-putting measure that hurts the asker and perhaps the community by ultimately hiding good questions.

  • 1
    I agree to all of what you wrote. However, any idea how to get more people act like this? I have no idea if these people who regularly and frequently cast those unappropriate votes ever care about what we discuss here on meta, or how we can reach them.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 9, 2019 at 21:00
  • 1
    .. I mean, looking at the last 12 hours, there were 6 questions asked which were all not obviously off-topic, some maybe a little bit broad. 5 of them got such unreasonable downvotes without a comment. What is wrong with the community here?
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 9, 2019 at 21:07
  • 1
    @DocBrown I'm not sure. I should probably take some opportunity to browse the site in a view other than the homepage (where down voted questions get hidden after a certain score, -3 I think) and Unanswered. Maybe see some of these questions and learn things. I'm hesitant to just start up voting things myself, though.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Mar 9, 2019 at 21:14
  • 1
    @DocBrown I'm not sure we are seeing the same site. I just looked at the recent questions page (30 most recent questions) and only found one Q with a commentless negative score where the downvotes seem unfounded (softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/388299/…). The vast majority of questions have a non-negative score. I don't think the “Programmers.SE is so negative” meme is still supported by the data.
    – amon
    Mar 9, 2019 at 23:03
  • @amon: I am talking about downvotes (with no explanations), not negative scores in total. Surely lots of these questions get also upvotes, because there are obviously enough people around here who have understood what the tooltip at the downvote button says. That mitigates the problem partially.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 10, 2019 at 7:11
  • .. for example this question softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/388320/… about how to design an undo functionailty: why did it get two uncommented dowvotes and no close votes? Similar pattern here: softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/388314/… - sure this is a broad question (it got no close vote for that reason), but 3 uncommented downvotes. Why? This is exactly the kind of self-moderation on this site I think which needs to be improved if we want to get more participation.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 10, 2019 at 7:28
  • ... more examples: softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/388313/… or this one softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/388290/… - yes, these may not be questions to win a "question-of-the-month" award. But someone here seems to be very trigger-happy with the downvote button, and way too lazy about writing a comment.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 10, 2019 at 7:38
  • 1
    @DocBrown Ok, I see your point. Downvotes vs score explains our different results. While those downvotes are not good, I don't think they are an epidemic problem either. The site had become much better in this regard. Re the first question you linked, that looks like a tool recommendation question at first glance (even receiving such an answer) although it actually is a design level question about an undo feature.
    – amon
    Mar 10, 2019 at 10:56
  • @amon: given the fact I did not have to invest much time to find all these examples, just look at the list of newest questions over the last few days, I am pretty convinced it is a problem here. However, I am not sure if there is just a small, isolated group of people here who produce these votes, or if this has become a real cultural problem of some following the lead of others. Or maybe I am just reacting a little bit hypersensitive?
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:19

Sorry, Doc, too many active voters see this site primarily as a curated list of beautiful questions, rather than primarily a community where people can ask for help. I don't see the voting patterns changing without some sort of change to disincentivize overzealous moderation.

For example, I think users' moderation privileges (downvoting, close voting, and commenting) should be suspended for a few days if a question they downvoted or voted to close is reopened. That way people would have to stop and think if the vote they are about to take is really aligned with the community as a whole.

  • 2
    Thanks for you answer, I actually started to become a little bit disappointed about the lack of more feedback to my question. I had expected more, especially from the ones who were suggested as new moderators. To your answer: I am not a fan of any punishment to downvoters, quite the opposite. But I would like to see more feedback why they downvote sometimes well-written questions. Maybe some "anonymous commenting feature" for explaining their reasons could help? Though I doubt such a feature request would get enough consent at SE.
    – Doc Brown
    Mar 12, 2019 at 14:17
  • The number of questions that get closed, reopened and then closed again on this site is vanishingly small. May 16, 2019 at 17:36
  • 1
    That's because the reopeners have no real power and have basically given up on moderation, if not left altogether. May 16, 2019 at 17:47

What about making votes a currency, rather than a privilege?

It is also possible to penalize casting votes badly, either way. Downvoting a question which doesn't end up deleted is a bad downvote. Upvoting a question which does end up deleted is a bad upvote.

With both proposed solutions, my intention is to make the casting of votes an action which carries a personal investment from the voter.

I perceive that there is a small minority of very highly rated users taking up the imaginary responsibility of "tidying up" this website. This is an extremely common phenomenon in virtually any forum-based online community. And thus these "gardeners" use moderation options liberally without much concern for their impact on the other users. People come to the site for information, not for a "well moderated" community.

The natural energy of these mega-users is an asset which is mostly put to good use on this platform. Yet, it is possible to improve the system further in order to tame those who are excessively zealous.

  • I think your assement is right, but your solution would just discourage any voting
    – Ewan
    Apr 4, 2019 at 12:11

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