Very often a question will have more close votes than downvotes. When those with enough (3,000) reputation cast a close vote on a question, is it also worthwhile they downvote? (In fact, this also applies to people with any rep score who flag questions for review.)

The cast close vote description says:

When should I close a question?
Questions that are sufficiently off-topic, as outlined in the FAQ, should be closed by casting close votes. Questions that are sufficiently similar to older questions should be closed by casting close votes.

The vote down description says:

When should I vote down?
Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

The downvote tooltip says:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

Down voting questions doesn't cost you anything. If you think a question is bad enough to be to closed, does it also deserve a downvote too?

For example, a question asks for the definition of a word should be voted to be closed as general reference. It shows no research so gets a downvote.

Finally, the negative vote tally will sends a clear message for others to check if they should vote to close, and also to all other users to help them judge what makes a good question.

Or are there better reasons not to downvote when voting to close?

4 Answers 4


Closevoting and downvoting are two distinct though related matters. We closevote a question when it falls into one of the relevant categories. We downvote a question when it is poorly written. For example, a well-written question that is a duplicate should be closed but not downvoted. The author of the question may not have used the right key words or tags when searching for the question and should not be penalised with a drop in reputation. We should judge each case individually and bear in mind this difference before casting votes of either kind.

  • Good point about duplicates. What I particularly have in mind is those many general reference questions that show no research effort ("what does X mean?", "what's the difference between X and Y?") and are also closeable as general reference. The last such question has a comment with five upvotes saying check a dictionary, has no downvotes but was closed by five people (including you, as it happens! :) What about these?
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 14:03
  • Thanks! 2. My point is if it's bad enough for a close vote, why not a downvote? (for overlapping gen ref etc) Does a downvote seem somehow "worse" than a closevote? :)
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 15:54

Jasper's right, in my opinion. But I just want to raise one point: a well-researched and interesting question that is off-topic, as defined by the community at that moment, should be closed (perhaps migrated), but definitely shouldn't be downvoted. (Would the negative rep carry over to the new site?)

  • What about the last closed general reference question? It had the five close votes, but no downvotes. It's neither well-researched or particularly interesting.
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 14:07
  • 1
    @Hugo: 3 people thought it interesting enough to reply (all slightly differently); that you disagree (if you do) is a reason to ignore it, not to downvote. OP checked dictionaries, found the same definition for different words, and asked whether there was in fact a difference: again, enough research not to downvote (unless you are very demanding). But (in the opinion of 5 people), it could be answered by a general reference source, so was closed. I think it extremely important to distinguish between 'bad question' and 'question that doesn't fit here', while agreeing that some can be both. Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 14:37
  • OP checked dictionaries - really? Where did they say that? And isn't the fact that it can be checked by a general reference source (-> closevote) show there's not enough research (-> downvote)?
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 15:32
  • 1
    On migration down votes go away but up votes stay
    – user10893
    Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 15:22

You close to vote when a question doesn't suit an SE site for any of the reasons reported in the voting-to-close dialog box; you down-vote a question when it doesn't show any search effort, it is unclear, or it is not useful (as the tooltip says).

You could argue that if I ask a question that is off-topic, then I didn't show any search effort for looking which questions I can ask on that SE site. I think that down-voting in that case should be done if the user keeps asking the same (or similar) question, when the first time the question was closed.

To notice that voting to close a question as "too localized," and then down-voting it because it is not useful makes sense.

  • I agree. I'm thinking about those overlap cases, such as all those general reference questions that can be answered with a dictionary. Aren't they both off-topic (general reference -> closevote) and show no research effort (-> downvote)?
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 14:09
  • Generally speaking, yes. I would first see the other questions asked by the user, though. If the user keeps asking questions that could be answered looking the dictionary, and that don't report the user is having difficulties understanding what reported by the dictionary, then after X of those questions, I would consider down-voting. There is a difference between "What does house mean?" and "I read the definition given for the dictionary for [X], but I don't understand if it is correct to use it in the following sentence."
    – apaderno
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 14:31

Actually, two close reasons, "off topic," and "not a real question," already carry an automatic downvote. Someone who voted to close for either of those two reasons could also downvote, but that might be "piling on" (or seen as such).

There are two "no fault closes, "duplicate," and "too localized." Here, the question needs to be closed for the sake of the site, but that's not considered the fault of the user.

"Not constructive" is also a "no fault" close, for whatever reason, but IMHO should be treated the same as "not a real question."

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