Just a gentle reminder to all users/contributors here...

I have said this a number of times in comment on the main, but as basic netiquette, if a question post is worth your time to do the research for an answer, or even if answered based on personal knowledge, it is also worthy of your up-vote.

So....Why are we not up-voting posts more? Many new users find us unfriendly.

I think we have a culture issue here. When I look at other SE sites, the questions are supported by the community. Here, we often give the impression of being antagonistic out of sheer pique.

An up-vote should indicate whether the Q is "helpful".

If the question is not helpful and clear, then why answer?

Quid Pro Quo

  • 4
    I think it has been noted before that in comparison with other SE sites, we don't have a very good overall average in up-voted posts. Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 17:34
  • 1
    Closely related: Why the lack of voting on questions at ELU? and from 2012 Why are most new questions being downvoted?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 19:17
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    @Mari-LouA Yes...in the past I have had a heavy hand, but recently I am trying to reform my habits here. Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 19:27
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    I look at your profile and I see 4,067 upvotes but also 2,398 downvotes. Why have you, apparently, downvoted so often? If we want to encourage users to stick around, we should be upvoting questions from new contributors, especially if they show effort and a modicum of research. and upvoting answers that are not from a clique of users.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 19:27
  • 2
    Im gonna check, but I think most of my DVs are on answers, not Qs. Whatever. What can I say? I used to spend a lot of time here on the Queues back before the 3-vote rule when we were overwhelmed with off-topic Qs and LQ answers.. And up-voting new users was the point of my Q, right? So now I am asking for better treatment of new users... Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 19:38
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    I would just note that accepting the stated proposition commits one to accepting also its equivalent contrapositive proposition: If the question is not worth upvoting, it's not worth answering. Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 14:24
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    Related: How do we deter unexplained downvoting of newcomers’ questions?.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 21:04
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    Does the comment above imply that if you upvote a question, you should also try to answer it? If you can't answer it or at least have an inkling of the answer, how can you judge it a good question? “That of which we cannot speak, we must pass over in silence” ― Ludwig Wittgenstein
    – Zan700
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 21:31
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    This voting "problem" has caused me to go onto ELL instead of EL&U :(
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 13:04
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    @Zan700 Out of curiosity, is that a real question or an attempted "gotcha"? Tone is really hard to discern in comments. Either way, upvote = helpful, and I am sure you know that a question can be helpful to someone even if they don't know the answer to it. I don't have anyone to quote for that :)
    – mjjf
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 6:11
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    Quick note: I have gone to answering instead of asking, even though I wanted some answers to some of my english questions - basically I was afraid of them getting downvoted and closed
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 10:30
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    @DialFrost It's too bad that seems to be the experience of many. The answerers who are rude will have no one to be rude to if the askers no longer feel they can ask. So is the slow death of SE.
    – mjjf
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 13:41
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    @DialFrost Yes, I get that. I suspect that many of the Big K folk never ask questions because they fear the downvote. As someone else has mentioned, some of the most interesting and provocative questions are summarily closed for specious reasons. The closers and downvoters don't look past the "apparent" question.
    – Zan700
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 13:46
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    @Zan700 I don't think they fear the DV, but they fear a loss of personal reputation, in that they may come off as ignorant. Personally I think a interesting question is worth any number good answers (did I just paraphrase Shelley or Byron?...gonna have to check that) , as it will attract many good ideas... Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 18:08
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    I seem to be hearing a voice in my head. Whose is it? Ah yes. A country inn-keeper, I think, of the eighteenth or nineteenth century. There are not many customers; he has time to converse. There is a wildly anachronistic lap-top on the bar. "I tell 'ee, zur, if I sees a very poor question what ought not to be encouraged, and under it some answers from folks what ought to know better, why then, zur, I votes 'em down, I does! I votes 'em down!". You may be grateful that he was not some ancestor of Sam Weller. Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


If the question is worth answering, it is worth upvoting

No. The upvote has specific meaning attached, shown in a tooltip:

Tooltip on upvote

This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear

Any voter should be convinced that all three of those conditions must be met, and to their own standards of what classes as sufficient research, usefulness and clarity. Those standards will differ for each member of the community.

The fact that a particular person does not feel like awarding an upvote does not mean that they do not feel like answering. Even a question which is on-topic but not particularly interesting or not felt to be very useful to others might deserve an answer (if only to satisfy the algorithm that it has in fact been answered).

It is Not The Done Thing to insist that everyone follows a uniform standard.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 22:11

I assume that the OP's asking 'If the question is not helpful and clear, then why answer?' was intended as a rhetorical question, but there are, in fact, situations in which one may reasonably want to do that. In particular, if the question already has answers, and one thinks that these answers are wrong, and it seems unlikely that the question will be deleted, one may be concerned that future visitors to the page will be led astray by these wrong answers. One may in such a situation be eager to prevent that by posting what one believes to be the correct answer, even though one thinks that the question is trivial, uninteresting, badly formulated, etc., and so not deserving of an upvote.

The desire to prevent future visitors from being led astray by bad answers is so entirely independent of one's judgement of the question itself, that there would be no contradiction even between downvoting a question and answering it. In fact, it could be reasonable for somebody to vote to close a question before any answers are posted, in the hope that the question will disappear from the site, but then later, after it turns out that one's vote was unsuccessful and that the question is here to stay, want to make sure, for the benefit of future visitors to the page, that it gets (what one regards as) the best answer possible. (The preceding sentence is also a partial answer to the recently posed question about whether there is an inconsistency between voting to close a question and answer it.)

This answer is intended as a supplement (rather than an alternative) to the one already posted by Mr. Leach.

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    If so many people got the answer wrong, then doesn't that indicate that the question was not trivial?
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 23:42
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    @Laurel, yes, when there are indeed 'so many' of them. In the situations I have in mind there may, however, be only a few. In fact, one bad answer is sufficient to lead people astray in the absence of a better one. Somebody who is not a regular visitor to this site is likely to think that whatever answers are posted on a particular page are the best that can be given to the question.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 16:27

It rarely happens here, but I can think of questions on some sites that make faulty assumptions. In some rare cases, I’ve even seen questions that exist mainly for the sake of propaganda. The poster was clearly fishing for the answer they wanted, so they could accept it and link it elsewhere as an authoritative fact with a green checkmark (before mods got the power to thwart that kind of thing).

Or, sometimes, the question is not especially good or bad, but the top answer is very flawed.

I have sometimes felt it important to answer a question that I downvoted, in order to correct a false impression.

  • What is the likelihood of these situations? These are all good justifications for situations that are not very common, or at least not as common as the phenomenon of not upvoting a question that is answered.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 1:23
  • @Mitch The question asked, “If the question is not helpful and clear, then why answer?” Those are reasons I’ve had, not often.
    – Davislor
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 4:28
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    "Rarely"? Really? Almost every question that comes in here is based on a faulty assumption, usually one that's been planted in someone's mind by an ignorant school, class, teacher, or text. Or, just as likely, "a friend said, somebody mentioned, I saw on the web, ..." One can't correct everything, after all. Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 13:09

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