I asked an OP to provide some context and research for their question (see below). I believed that it could have been answered by using basic resources. I did however think it might be a good question if the OP gave evidence of research and that the research had failed.

The OP agreed to do the research and return.

In the meantime, despite the brief conversation between me and the OP about this, people answered. Presumably they had seen the conversation and simply ignored it.


I down-voted someone for not waiting for the research promised by the OP. It seemed to me that this was a valid reason for down-voting.

Is it?

Note that a discussion ensued in comments. I have permission to refer to this from the other party involved. It is in this question. Contesting the palm” — looking for a definition and possible origin of this archaic phrase

Here is one of the arguments I used:

Suppose someone asked, "What does 'incomprehensible' mean and they didn't give any research or explain why it was difficult for them. Would you answer or would you vote to close because they should have used a dictionary? The OP could have looked up the same sources you did. If that still didn't make sense in their context then they would be justified in asking.

Is that a valid argument?


3 Answers 3


I down-voted someone for not waiting for the research promised by the OP. It seemed to me that this was a valid reason for down-voting. Is it?

You are using your down vote to try to shape the site into the site you want. That is often the way down votes are used. However, they are also used for petty or personal reasons.

Don't like someone's snide style? Down vote!

Don't like a user's incessant questions about minutiae in the works of Walt Whitman? Down vote!

Don't like a user's vulgar, misogynistic name? Down vote!

Don't like a user's religiosity and want to discourage religiosity on the site? Down vote!

Don't like that someone answered a question you thought was insufficiently researched? Down vote!

The reason users down vote are their own. They are often petty. But the down voter doesn't need to explain it, and they certainly don't need to ask the community for permission to use it whichever way they want. No one can control your down vote, and should not be able to unless it's so petty as to be harmful, like revenge down voting, etc. which can be detected and reversed. That doesn't mean that as a community, we don't wish for people to use their down vote more responsibly. Most of the members here favor reasonable, not frivolous, use of the down vote.

I agree with @Mari-Lou A's answer that your down vote was poorly cast. The answer is useful, researched, interesting, etc. and a good answer. Your down vote can then be called petty. You down voted someone because they didn't agree with/respect your decision to withhold answering until your demands were met. In spite of giving a good answer.

You want the community to side with this?

I don't think that's going to happen.


You chose a poor example to downvote that person's answer. That question wasn't a general knowledge one, where a simple dictionary research or a link to Wikipedia would have provided the answer. In those cases, and I've seen too many for my liking, I'd say vote to close the question for lack of research.

I wouldn't upvote the person who was first off their mark to answer an “easy question” besides if the answer is correct, why downvote it? It seems you're saying the answer is "wrong", when it isn't.

The only time I would suggesting upvoting the fastest draw-type answer is if the answerer is a newbie or a newcomer. An upvote is a friendly sign of encouragement, but some users may strongly disagree with me.

The newcomer's answer should still follow the basic SE criteria for a useful answer: support/backup, references, possibly a link, and have acceptable grammar, spelling and punctuation. We are an English language site after all.


In the comments on the answer you suggested should've been downvoted, I see you say this:

My motivation (in this sort of situation) is to get people to ask high quality questions. I'm not criticising your answer.

It seems straightforward to downvote questions if they are not good questions, but to downvote an answer because the question is not good doesn't seem appropriate.

I realize the EL&U site is approached as if it was a game, where a high score is the primary goal, but I don't think that even works when the game becomes more of a race: there's no timer to make sure all contestants have an equal chance.

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