The question might sound dumb at first, but I wonder about this every time I see downvotes. I just don't see the point of it.

Down-voting of answers is sometimes useful if the answer is clearly wrong and can not be extended/formatted/improved to clearly mark it as such.

But for questions, the situation is IMHO different. If it is badly worded/formatted/unclear, then you should either ask for more details in a comment or edit it and improve the formatting/wording. Down-voting doesn't help anyone, no need to punish the questioner (which might not know english well, be new to this site, ...).

If the question is "wrong" in way that can not be improved, then you should either vote for closing it or flag it, depending on the exact case. That allows to explicitly state why it should be closed (not a question, too localized, duplicate, ..).

And even if a user is learn-resistent and multiple of his questions are closed, whom does down-voting help? That user likely doesn't care about points then, you can't have negative points anyway.

So... what am I missing that would be a valid reason for downvoting questions? :)

3 Answers 3


Down-voting of answers is sometimes useful if the answer is clearly wrong and can not be extended/formatted/improved to clearly mark it as such.

So every question is "correct"? No question can ever be clearly wrong? All questions are sacred and perfect and can be redeemed in every possible situation?

I suggest you start with the guidance on the tooltip of the voting arrows:

This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear (click again to undo)


This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful (click again to undo)

See also http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/06/optimizing-for-pearls-not-sand/ and do read the related posts cited there as well.


Question askers may be new to the site and may not yet know how to ask questions, which can be answered well and which will benefit others in future.

How to make archive of drupal database is one that I recently down voted. The question while valid was written in a way which doesn't really add to the site. That particular person may find a solution to their problem, but because they are being very closed off to best practice and are being very narrow in their outlook the question doesn't make the site a richer resource for people looking for Drupal answers.

Need help with Block Caching this is another one. Down voting can help to educate in ways that helpful comments can't.

Down voting (especially with a reason) helps to educate users as to how to ask questions in a way which benefits both themselves and the site in general. In some cases it may discourage users from asking questions again. Hopefully those that do ask questions again will take the feedback on board.


I've decided that every time I am consciously asking myself while I'm working on a Drupal site how to accomplish something, I'm going to ask it on drupal.stackexchange.com. This is because I will forget the answer and here the questions are indexed so I'll have an easier time finding them again. Yesterday returning to a problem I had faced a month ago without remembering that I asked the question here, I started typing the question again, and, of course, my original question popped up while I was typing so I didn't ask it twice, nor did I realize until after I clicked it that I originally asked it. There is virtue in well indexed information such as this example demonstrates.

Nevertheless, I am using somebody's time since quite a few people will see that question. Am I being fair asking a lot of questions? Is it fair to ask a question about Drupal that I already know the answer to only to be answered by myself the next day? Yes, it should be considered fair because like on Stack Overflow I will eventually get very few of my question published. It's amazing how many questions I have that are answered either by Google linking to Stack Overflow or similar question popping up while I try to create a new one. Unfortunately, at this time my Drupal-centric questions don't lead here.

There are other benefits to Stack Exchange. I noticed several months ago I passed a certain threshold where none of my questions were being answered anymore on drupal.org's forums. This is because they, the questions, must have reached a level of complexity that only a small number of people could answer and then they would quickly fall to the bottom of the stack. On the other hand, on Stack Exchange people go out of there way to find an unanswered question.

There is no such thing as a bad question only questions asked badly. What does that mean? Let's examine this for a bit.

I have two years experience mucking around with Drupal in my spare time and before that I didn't even know what CSS was. How do I build the biggest and best Drupal website in the world?

This is a valid question. Those of us who use Drupal ask ourselves this question each and every day. Why shouldn't it be a valid question? The answer isn't getting a PhD in CSEE from MIT -- it's cooperation. It comes from everybody consolidating and indexing their knowledge not leaving it as 'an indiscriminate bolus'.

The question might not belong on drupal.stackexchange.com for a couple of reason. Mostly, no one person can answer this question. What they can do is ask several questions and fight about it. A bunch of us do know several things so hopefully someone will ask what would be the width of the side column of this best website ever. I got this one because it's easy, well, to me. The answer is 220px.

While the first question is too vague, the second about CSS, although pertinent, interferes with our indexing to stave off our 'indiscriminate bolus'. This last question will dilute the base of knowledge about Drupal. Like Pirsig's analytical knife we can describe the system in several different arbitrary ways. Nevertheless, we need to agree to stick to a taxonomy just for the sake of simplicity and organization. (The question what do you mean Pluto is not a planet doesn't belong here either.)

So far a question needs to meet two requirements to be appropriate. It can't be so vague that it is answered with other questions and it can't dilute the knowledge base of a particular topic defeating the purpose of indexing.

Still there isn't such a thing as a bad question, there are only poorly asked questions. What is a poorly asked question?

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