I've noticed a few questions lately where the question was downvoted because the questioner didn't understand the physics behind his question.

  • This one for example: a question about exceeding light speed. It shows some research has been done, he found an equation and did some calculations, and he finds the result surprising. He just didn't account for relativity. This question has 3 downvotes.

In my opinion, this is not very welcoming. The answers do a good job of clearing up the questioner's misconception. Do we have to punish him for not getting everything right?


I think that one was unfairly downvoted, and at a guess I'd say it is because we have quite a few users who don't understand physics beyond the basics. Look at the spread of highly upvoted and downvoted answers - simple, common ones get more upvotes.

Overall, though, I don't think we are too harsh. It would be nice to see more upvotes, but in the main most of the downvotes I see are ones I would agree with.

We could, however, be better at communicating why a post from a new visitor has been downvoted. It is non-intuitive to a new member of the community.


IMHO it's about right on questions. I'd like to see more downvoting on answers without references or other forms of backup.


I think the introduction of the idea of being welcoming was long overdue and the delay allowed righteous and punitive patterns of behavior to crystalize in some people and in some areas of SE, but I welcome it wholeheartedly.

The more times and the more ways we remind people of the importance of being welcoming, and that we should pause a moment before reacting to new users, the better.

The nature of SE allows people to move freely between sites, so there isn't much one can do about silent, anonymous drive-by down-voting, as I've been reminded here about the related phenomenon of drive-by close-voting.

SE's "welcoming reminder" (for lack of a better term) mentions "asking for clarification, commenting, and answering" but conspicuously avoids mentioning voting. That's probably been thought through carefully, and I come to the same conclusion.

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There's probably no practical solution. SE schemes like weighting down-votes at 50% for new users until the first time they hit reputation=50 are impractical.

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Countering harsh down voting of new users with questions that appear to be good faith efforts by up voting, is all we've really got at the level of individual questions (the impact of leaving a "don't down vote" comment is unpredictable (example of such on similar +3/-4 voting)). Side effects of countering down votes with up votes are

  1. net increase in rep for the user
  2. one step towards the user getting "in trouble" for having too many down votes too soon.

Both of those have positive and negative aspects.

answer: Yes. People shouldn't do it, but some will. We can slow that down by continuing to spread the message. One way you can do that is by up voting the question here if you agree with it which is the quick way to answer a meta question in the affirmative.


I have been all over SE and don't ask the best of questions. I know for a fact that compared to other SE sites, Space.SE is fair and generous on voting. The people here are helpful in editing posts which in turn helps the new users get up votes. The suspension/ban system not controlled by moderators but by down votes on the other hand tend to have extreme time limits for minor offenses and can be more dynamic for all users.

  • $\begingroup$ So to Are we downvoting too much? would you say "yes, too much" or "no, it's about right" or "no, not enough"? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 30 '18 at 0:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I don't mind getting downvotes. I just don't like the double trouble. I don't think new users should ever get downvoted and I see a lot of downloading going on with new users. I don't downvote enough so I can't say. There is always the option not to vote at all. Should a person down votes as much as they up vote? If a person accumulates enough down votes on a certain amount of questions asked they have to wait 6 months so ask another question. If they get a down vote on the redemption question they have to wait another 6 months. New users are at the most risk of this happening to. $\endgroup$ – Muze Dec 30 '18 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ As a new user it takes about 5 bad questions I think and you're out for 6 months $\endgroup$ – Muze Dec 30 '18 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ That sounds like a compromise number and probably okay. If there are many new users per day, it can add up to a lot of bad questions quickly. Many SE sites are much busier than Space. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 30 '18 at 2:16
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh You can close a question without down voting. You can up vote a new users question and then close it to keep them safe from the double trouble $\endgroup$ – Muze Dec 30 '18 at 2:38

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