I asked two valid legit writing-related questions and they got sufficient downvotes to prevent me from asking any more questions.

Is this place usually so maliciously hostile?

Hope someone is capable of an honest accurate response.

With all the reputation hoops and voting restrictions here, I think the votes must be genuine. But I can't see what etiquette my question breached. Was it something as minuscule as using an apparently wrong "tag?"


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    Ahhh I got it now..... according to this and many other links I found you're all condescending ^$^%ers . It's a unique niche of the stackexchange formula quora.com/… May 14, 2017 at 8:38
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    What are you even talking about? I just tried to guide you to share your concern in the right place! - anyway, the question you linked here is honestly a low quality one (I haven't downvoted but I don't disagree with the ones did); as an example, take a moment and have a look at this question and compare it with yours.
    – Mr. Robot
    May 14, 2017 at 8:52
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    Hello, I do sympathise and getting unmotivated DVs does not help you understand where the problem lies. But if you take the time to look at what makes a question answerable, it basically boils down to research. If you can show that you have looked in one or more dictionary (sometimes even a simple definition can clear up misunderstandings) and explain in a line or two "why" you are confused, then users will generally be happy to answer and upvote your questions.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 14, 2017 at 10:00
  • 5
    Even old timers like me get DVs, nearly every time, and my questions are packed with context and info. You should put in a bit more effort though if you're really motivated. Otherwise, visit Yahoo! That site definitely seems friendlier, but the quality of their answers can be lacking. Swings and roundabouts...
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 14, 2017 at 10:02
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    You have two separate questions here (and none of them are about the English language). The answer to your first question is unfortunately yes; the answer to your second question is that you have put very little effort to make your (other) question clear, and wasted a lot of other people's time as a result. May 14, 2017 at 11:02
  • Actually your question "inspired by burglary intent" generated several pertinent comments, including one that was in effect an answer and another an explanation of the problem with your construction.
    – Xanne
    May 15, 2017 at 5:39
  • Your first question got a comment directing you to a carefully prepared list of resources and noted that the historical sources included had not been compiled, so that in effect the answer to your question was "no"--no jargon-by-the-century lists on the Internet. What more could you want from world-class experts volunteering their time and effort?
    – Xanne
    May 15, 2017 at 6:15
  • 2
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    @Upettydownvotingtrolls - as you can see, it is easier to collect downvotes than answers here. 10 downvotes just for asking a question on Meta!!! Great job guys!!!
    – user66974
    May 16, 2017 at 10:22
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    @Josh I downvoted this meta question because I disagreed with the premise stated in the first phrase (namely, that the questions asked on main were valid and legitimate), as well as the tone of the question.
    – Hellion
    May 16, 2017 at 14:52

3 Answers 3


English Language & Usage attracts many different types of participants, including hundreds of regular and semi-regular contributors who have accumulated enough reputation to be entitled to upvote or downvote answers. In my experience, it is impossible to know why a particular voter chose to upvote or downvote a particular question or answer. On a more general level, though, questions and answers that suffer from certain common shortcomings tend to receive poor marks at this site. The reason for this negative reception isn't that downvoters view newcomers' questions as so many unwelcome billy goats tramping across their bridge—although to a person unfamiliar with the site's standards, it might seem that way.

Assuming that you are Finn3gansMate, you have asked two questions on the main site: Is there some sort of database on the net for jargon of the different centuries? and "... inspired by burglary intent." Is "burglary intent" grammatically correct? As I write this, the first question has attracted 40 views and received 2 downvotes, and the second question has attracted 81 views and received 5 downvotes (some of which may have occurred in the past 14 hours, after you posted this Meta question asking whether English Language & Usage is full of downvoting trolls).

The body of your first question looks like this:

Any relevant websites would be much appreciated.

and the body of the second looks like this:

If not, I would love to hear some alternatives. It does not sound right.

These blocks of text provide practically no useful context for the questions you ask. Consequently, anyone interested in responding to either question must guess at what you are looking for—in the first case because you don't explain what you mean by jargon, and in the second because you don't provide a full sentence (or paragraph) containing the phrase that you ask about.

Besides their lack of context and the absence of any evidence of research on your part (two serious shortcomings at this site), your questions have particular drawbacks that undoubtedly contributed to the poor reception they received. In the case of the "database on the net for jargon of the different centuries" question, the problem is (as Chenmunka points out in a comment beneath the question) that you are making a request for resources—in effect, you are asking, "Where can I find X?" There is nothing inherently wrong with asking such questions, but they are off topic on EL&U's main site. To compensate for that policy, the site maintains an extensive list of resources as a page of EL&U Meta under the title What good reference works on English are available?

Regrettably, although that page includes a section on "Historical Resources," it doesn't include a list of resources dedicated to jargon through the centuries. I hope to add information on various reference works dedicated to slang published between 1665 and the present in three major categories: British slang, U.S. slang, and British regionalisms—but I'm not sure whether these would be of any use to you because I'm not sure what sort of jargon you are interested in.

Your "burglary intent" question verges on being so specific that it may be of no interest to future site visitors. One measure of a question's perceived value at this site is whether it has some likelihood of being useful to people other than the person who posted it. A student struggling to compose a particular sentence or paragraph in an essay for English class might very well benefit from having participants at this site proofread the passage—but no one else has any reason to look at that question or to care about the answer to it. For that reason, such questions are off topic here.

Your question about whether "burglary intent" is grammatically correct is framed as a simple yes/no question—though I gather that you are also interested in suggestions of alternative phrases that might convey the same meaning. But the term "burglary intent" is not at all common. A Google Books search returns eleven pages of matches for that wording, but the vast majority of them do not involve "burglary intent" as a set phrase. In fact, only two matches from the search results seem truly on point. From "California Official Reports: Review Granted Opinions Pamphlet," part 2 (2002) [combined snippets; quoted language not shown in snippet window]:

If he formed the requisite burglary intent while in the kitchen he is not guilty of burglary because he did not have that intent when he entered the kitchen. However, if with the requisite burglary intent formed in the kitchen he enters rooms other than the kitchen he is guilty of a separate burglary offense for each other room he enters, and if he returns to the kitchen with that intent he is then guilty of ...

And from Lisa Storm, Criminal Law By Storm:

Burglary Intent

Depending on the jurisdiction, the criminal intent element required for burglary it typically the general intent or knowingly to commit the criminal act, with the specific intent or purposely to commit a felony, a crime, or a felony, grand, or petty theft once inside the burglarized area. The Model Penal Code describes the criminal intent element as "purpose to commit a crime therein" (Model Penal Code 22.1(1)).

Example of a Case Lacking Burglary Intent

But even though the Google Books evidence for the phrase is exceedingly slight, if you had framed your question as something like "What is the normal wording used for the legal concept termed "burglary intent" in Lisa Storm's Criminal Law by Storm?" I (although probably not everyone at this site) would have considered the question legitimate and of possible interest to future site visitors.

Anyone coming to a new site for information or assistance needs to review the site's policies regarding how to ask questions that the site deems useful and on topic. Failing to do so puts the person's questions at risk of being downvoted as off topic or irrelevant to the site's mission and interests. I am truly sorry that you didn't obtain the answers you were hoping for when you posted your two questions at this site; but I hope you can see that part of the reason why things didn't work out well is that the questions you posted didn't meet the site's standards for appropriately expressed, on-topic questions.

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    +1 I'd just add that it takes time and experimentation for even the most perceptive person to figure out how act productively in a new environment. A downvote popped up yesterday on an answer I wrote two months after joining, and when I read that answer, I was embarrassed. It wasn't stupid or even wrong, but it didn't work, at all, in this setting. Maybe someday I'l edit and revive it, but it lies now in its pale mauve grave.
    – ab2
    May 15, 2017 at 3:54
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    +1 What would ELU do without Sven? You're a gem!
    – NVZ Mod
    May 15, 2017 at 9:53
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    I wish we could 'star' answers (or whatever it's called when you click to mark as favorite.) Love the answer; the question, not so much. May 16, 2017 at 1:26
  • Well, all good until Anyone coming to a new site for information or assistance needs to review the site's policies regarding how to ask questions that the site deems useful and on topic. In fact, this is the opposite of how ELU and ELU present themselves when a new user comes across them. The sites actual into page is worded and designed to encourage questions exactly without a "review [of] the site's policies regarding how to ask questions". Jun 8, 2017 at 16:50

In short, No.
But this deserves some explanation.

English actually should properly be called Advanced English. Because of the nature of the site there are rules to follow for a correct question. Not complying will create your situation.

Some pointers:
How much research is needed?

Maybe our sister site https://ell.stackexchange.com will suit you better though.

I hope you will find the motivation to pass this difficulty. We run on questions!

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    The OP's questions would be just as off-topic at ELL... neither site will suit them if that's the kind of questions they want to ask. May 15, 2017 at 12:28

The shortcomings of OP's original question notwithstanding, this site is plagued by anonymous downvotes, with no explanation given and no explanation other than pure malice possible.

  • To be fair, some posts are not even complete, grammatical or vaguely appropriate. Just visitors writing the first thing that pops into their heads, if we're lucky, or worse, rascist ramblings. But I do try to motivate a DV when I see the contribution is the net result of some effort and thought. But anonymous DVs are here to stay, it's the SE role model. If they're happy....
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 15, 2017 at 11:04
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    I'm downvoting this because the statement that no explanation beyond pure malice is possible is outright wrong. There, a downvote with an explanation. Does it sting less?
    – Dan Bron
    May 15, 2017 at 11:19
  • @DanBron I am not going there. May 15, 2017 at 11:38
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    Explanations don't need to be given because every single downvote already has a default explanation: what is in the downvote tool tip message! May 15, 2017 at 12:29
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    Sometimes when I downvote a post, I upvote a comment below that I agree with, so that's a sort of explanation. Here, I agree with Dan Bron and curiousdannii.
    – NVZ Mod
    May 17, 2017 at 10:58

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