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Recently I have seen an uptick in questions from new users that have clearly been asked without even performing a cursory search in the topic, which have nonetheless received upvotes in the two-digit range. Even though the upvotes are supposed to be reserved for questions that "show research effort". Am I missing something and these questions are really "researched" (according to the locally accepted definition), or do people really "abuse" the upvote function by upvoting these questions?

I have purposefully not included example questions to avoid singling out anybody, but can provide some of them if requested.

Note: I have seen and read a probably relevant question and its answers from 2015, and thus understand the motivation for letting such questions exist, but my question is specifically about the upvotes these, in my opinion poorly researched questions receive.

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    $\begingroup$ I have just noticed the "New contributor" marking below my avatar, but please note that I have been actively reading space.stackexchange.com for 4 years now. $\endgroup$ – zovits supports GoFundMonica Jan 17 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ Do note that, anecdotally, a lot of upvotes on trivially researchable questions come from people who are not regular users of the site, so you may not get very direct answers here. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jan 17 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not clear on what your main question is here; I've incorporated details here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 17 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh You are right, the very first raw version of my post was along the lines "Who in their right mind upvotes such an inane question, again?", and that got refined into what you see above. I admit this is more of a rant than a real question, but seen as a question it is about whether these upvotes are according to the site's policy and intent or contrary to it. In the latter case the community might decide to do something or not, while in the first case I must reframe my expectations and accept the status quo. $\endgroup$ – zovits supports GoFundMonica Jan 18 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for that. If you choose to do a big of de-ranting, leave me a ping and I can adjust the answer accordingly. If you feel there is something that is "according to the site's policy" it's best to add a link to that stated policy. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 18 at 14:17
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One solution is for those who are reviewing the "First Posts" queue (myself included) to be more diligent checking the posts of new users.

  • Search for duplicates, and close the question if it is such.

  • If you think there is a possibility of the post being improved, first add a comment about what is wrong and (if possible) a suggestion how to improve it. Say you're "Voting to put this question on hold" rather than "Voting to close". Then flag it to be closed. This leaves it up to the original poster to fix the question.

  • If the question is unlikely to be improved, close it with a comment why.

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I have probably up voted a few questions with low research where the OP is new to Stack Exchange in its entirety, the question seems a best effort for a first-time asker, and I have a hunch that the OP will improve once they get the hang of it. In these cases I have felt that the positive reinforcement of an up vote while they are in the single or low double digit reputation level is more likely to produce an improvement than a negative vote.

But I can't tell for sure if your question is about voting (not in the title) or about the "uptick" (not in the title) or about clarity and usefulness (not in the body).

Shall I vote to close as unclear and downvote you, or shall I leave this comment and this answer and wait a few days to see if you clarify? Which would you find to be more of a positive reinforcement?


I like getting users that are new to SE and seem to be on their way to making good use of the site up beyond 50, or even 100 reputation so they can access more features. I don't know how many others feel that way, but I've seen many people admit this in various metas. 50 is important because it allows commenting on other people's posts, and that really encourages more engagement and use of the site.

Here's a new user treating another new user the way they'd probably prefer to be treated themselves had they made a post in need of improvement. We may have gotten through getting downvoted a lot when we were starting in SE, but that doesn't necessarily mean we need to do the same to the next generation. Instead, let's try to make SE more welcoming than it has been in the past.

This is actually really easy to find on the internet. Try to google and research before posting a question, it saves time :).

68% dark energy 27% dark matter 5% ordinary matter

In 2015 the Planck satellite consortium released an analysis of data collected by the Planck satellite that showed this percentage break down of the universe’s mass/energy.

Ordinary matter: 4.9%

Dark Matter: 26.8%,

Dark Energy: 68.3%

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    $\begingroup$ If you just leave a comment I, as a new user, will assume you're toothless and ignore you. If I receive down-votes, or my question is closed I'll either give up, or I'll expend effort trying to improve my approach. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Jan 18 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ @JCRM myths of hoards of unruly new users threatening to destroy the site, the demonization of the outsider is the wrong way to go here, as is looking at interacting with your fellow users as a series of exchanges of teeth-showings. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 18 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't suggest demonising the newcomer, nor would I expect to interact in a series of tooth-showings, please don't misrepresent me. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Jan 18 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ If I receive a down vote with no explanation, then I have no idea how to improve and will likely quit the site $\endgroup$ – trampster Jan 20 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @trampster I'm glad that didn't happen then! It sounds like you agree (at least somewhat) with my answer here. I'm surprised it's received three down votes and no up votes, because it seems like it should be the best way to interact with new users to me. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 20 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ The answer you showed is actually a bad one. "This is actually really easy to find on the internet. Try to google and research before posting a question, it saves time :)." depending on how you read that, it can sound condescending. And it irrelevant fluff that should be removed or made way more neutral and remove the subtext. Furthermore, the answer doesn't incorporate any sources. this answer actually gives new users the wrong idea about what proper answers and questions should look like. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Jan 21 at 6:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome I haven't anything about it being a good answer or a bad answer. I've said that it is an example of "a new user treating another new user the way they'd probably prefer to be treated themselves." $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 21 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome The inclusion of the :) happy face is their way of ensuring that it be taken in a positive way. So no, it's really not condescending at face value, and it takes further steps to make sure it can not be interpreted that way. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 21 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh It is still an unnecessary side remark and can be belittling, even with that smiley. And while this might be how new users want to be treated, that is not how we should set their expectations. We do not want them to expect unsourced answers to bad questions, full of fluff and side remarks. By settings this expectation we set them up for failure later on, when it will hurt even more. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Jan 21 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome I'll give that some thought... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 21 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Just saying, I find what you are trying to do very commendable, even if I disagree on some points of how you are trying to do it ;) $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Jan 21 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome thanks, if there are any ways I'm missing, I'd love to hear about them! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 23 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh If I had the silver bullet I would happily share it. Unfortunately, achieving both goals - retaining new users and cleaning up subpar content without hurting feelings - at the same time is quite difficult, and I don't have the answer to it. I had typed up an answer, but it ended up being more a philosophical monologue then an actual answer with actionable advice :/ Unfortunately, even Meta is not really a good place to have that kind of discussion. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Jan 23 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ I think being nicer with newbies is a good strategy. Furthermore, investing more effort to fix newbie questions is also a good strategy. Not seeing the link to that question, I can't say more, but I think uhoh has right. Please don't become stack overflow! $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Jan 23 at 18:47

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