[Edit - I wish this were a hackneyed topic, but evidently it isn't. The topic is kill first don't answer later.]

See my comment under the question, if you please: Are these dangling participial phrases?

Why did this get down voted? It is always so unhelpful when a newcomer posts their first post only to get down voted without a comment as to why. This seems like a legit question to me.

[Edit next day] OK, granted "kill" is a tad hyperbolic. And, yes, this has been discussed to various degrees before. The phenomenon of slap-em with cold water and run away, leaving them clueless and adrift to figure out why they are wet, is not unique to ELU. Yet, to me, what I consider rude dowsing seems to happen here more often than elsewhere.

Why do we do this to a brand-new user?

Perhaps because of their lack of formatting skill? Although not atrocious but certainly readable, the post in question was clearly this user's first here.

I did not up or down vote initially but let it stand. Now that Cerberus has edited its format and layout, I've given it an up tick as have others, and it is gradually rising above water. So one might counter that "the system works as intended."

However, consider that "clueless" user:

  • He or she is interested enough in English to come here in the first place.
  • They take the time to write up a post (*). In this instance, more than passing thought is clearly involved.
  • They post with hopes of gaining more understanding ... then
  • WHAM the post gets a down vote - sometimes within minutes.
  • And (more often than not?) No helpful comment is left to guide the new user.

If if you are a thick-skinned new user, the net effect falls along the range of being left alone scratching your head, through discouragement, to just throwing your virtual hands up in the air and walking away from this place. Or, if you are not so thick-skinned, you might just jump out of the water for good because you worry we are shark riddled.

So PLEASE for all the newcomers' posts needing correction, guidance, {or even a reprimand (* for vagueness, etc. etc.)} when you down vote, say why, or better, suggest improvements.

Don't just leave them stranded not knowing what they did wrong. Well, you may say "it's too much effort to deal with all such posts by commenting too." Sure, it takes more time to comment. Consider, however, that you have taken the time in the first place to read the post - it only takes a second or two more to say what needs to be fixed. But most importantly doing so achieves two things:

  1. You educate and encourage a new user who might well stay and contribute
  2. You improve the overall usefulness and quality of the site.

And, again, to those who say "the down vote will send them the message," I say, well, sort of. You are sending them a message alright - but the message has no content.

(If you still feel that lousy posts by "clueless noobs" deserve an indoctrinate dose of cold water, then all I ask is: please never read any of my posts.)

  • @medica - I appreciate not being the only one concerned here. Thanks for the additional references - good work! Do you think these should be merged into a wiki / faq page? Sep 23, 2014 at 17:15
  • Widely recognized yes. Widely dealt with? Not yet as, of course, the issue seems intractable. Likely the reason it replicates ... searching for phenry ... Indeed, I recall some of these discussions. Sep 23, 2014 at 18:57
  • 'Killing a question' is closevoting, about which there is legitimate and continuing debate; downvoting is personal opinion, as was explained the last three times this was raised. And there's an easy way for you to make sure nobody who may diagree with you never reads any of your posts. Sep 27, 2014 at 23:02
  • This question is completely incomprehensible as it stands. What are you even complaining about? Sep 28, 2014 at 5:58
  • 1
    Actually, I don't know either. The post in question has gained four upvotes in contrast to a single downvote. And it passed the first-post review with no comment at all. The system appears to have worked here.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Sep 28, 2014 at 20:24
  • 1
    @GreenAsJade ... 'the system appears to have worked here' and please notice the answer from a user with rep pnts similar to my own? He not only clearly understood my 'completely incomprehensible' question as it stood, but got the deeper gist of it. Further, his answer is fully comprehensible to me and is appropriate, although it doesn't give any specific suggestions per se. I reread what I wrote and it is clear enough to me and with an answer I don't feel the need to explain further. (I am not complaining, btw.) This question will self destruct in 2 days. ... Sep 29, 2014 at 0:52
  • @TimLymington - that last parenthetical note was meant tongue in cheek. I have no problems with disagreement - the system works precisely because users preen it with clear judgement. What I am pointing out as many others have done elsewhere is the long-term use of self-defeating knee jerk down voting without useful comment. This problem the older experienced users just shrug off, but new users often may feel trampled by one of the biggest elephants in the SE room. (Oh well, such a waste of time going round and round, I'll delete this message in 2 days. Thanks for your time, seriously.) Sep 29, 2014 at 0:57
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    @AndrewLeach - I happened to have seen the progression. 1) Initial post (format a bit sloppy but not bad and certainly readable.) As I finished reading, 2) it was down voted - post had existed just a minute or two. Then, 3) user:Cerberus edited it. I (and I'm guessing he) up voted it, as did someone else. My OP above was about that first hit, which the OP would have experienced. Clearly the nuances of the definition "it worked" depend a great deal on who's on the receiving end of the works ... Sep 29, 2014 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


As a noob I'm just beginning to clue in that there seems to be a tension between maintaining quality standards and maintaining a friendly, welcoming atmosphere here. Perhaps the site's threshold for a "kill" needs to be raised or changed, or more subtleties need to be introduced into the voting-process. PS to Tim Lymington: your double-negative is not up to Bob Dylan's high standard, but it's implied advice to grow a thicker skin is well-taken...

  • 1
    I can't say you're wrong, but it's rather weakens your case. Oct 7, 2014 at 9:02
  • Ack! Such an obvious error! *=*performs melodramatic death-spiral*= Oct 7, 2014 at 13:17

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