While in most cases a proposal's score is a clear indicator of how much it is accepted, it will be hardly the case here. Indeed, we're talking about new user engagment here, and newcomers -who are the main target of this proposal- barely go to meta, learning how SE works and all. Disengaged users because of this trouble won't vote, either. This proposal unfortunately has to be voted by people who are not the target of this system, so you'll likely have to put yourself in the mindset of a new user to review this proposal effectively.
It does not mean your vote is not important. It means that you should perhaps not use this statistic alone as your reason to think the proposal could be useful or not. Alternative elements to judge this proposal could be checking how many new users come back and try to edit after having asked a bad question, their reaction, their ability to improve, etc.. Alas, I don't have access to such statistics, so it's impossible for me to know the current state of user engagment. We also cannot know the true effectiveness of the proposal until some tests are done, for instance with A/B group testing. So please be careful with that!
For a clearer differentiation in how the proposal is accepted vs its innate qualities, I have given a simple "yes, I agree with your proposal in general" answer you can also upvote/downvote as you wish. Downvoting it means that in overall you explicitly disagree with this proposal. Upvoting means you explicitly agree with it. The meaning of votes on the question itself here stays as usual and can also indicate your (dis)agreement. Remember to add your own answers/comments if you want to discuss some specific points!
What is the proposal?
In one sentence : When newcomers receive a series of downvotes on a question or answer, send them a "tutorial" notification to help them find the reasons they have been downvoted.
How does it look like?
Here comes my excellent drawing skills when making mockups, behold!
For people having trouble reading the picture, the text appears before and reads :
Help : You have received downvotes recently on "this question/answer" (hyperlink to the question/answer that received downvotes). You can check the comments under your question or the "tour" (link to the tour) and "help-center" (link to the help-center, page "how to ask a good question", or how to write a good answer for answers) page in order to know why it has been downvoted and how to improve it.
The text is a placeholder and can (I'd say even should!) be refined. I'm not a native English speaker, so wording is likely to be different, at the very least. But that should give you the gist of what to expect.
Who does it apply to?
It applies only to users who just registered an account and received their first X downvotes on the same question. The amount "X" of downvotes required to trigger this notification can be debated, but I'm setting for a big 3 downvotes for now. Also, the question should have a negative score for this to happen.
It happens only once per user. Once a new user receives this notification, it will never reappear again.
This is not retroactive : Existing users are not affected by this change. This also does not apply to established users, ie. high-score users on one site joining another SE website who are already starting at 100 score. By extension we could also consider not sending it if the user has managed to score enough points before witnessing this event (e.g. : 1 000 points like the established user privilege, I think? The page doesn't seem very up-to-date...).
What are the strengths of this proposal? Why do I make it?
- It helps solving an issue some new users have : Having access to resources as to why their question have been downvoted.
- There's currently no direct link between the score you lose and any help-center explanation. There's no dynamic, tutorial-like feedback explaining why you lost points, and it can lead to feeling frustration. It is currently a task for the reviewers to do, and as seen before, people are not exactly too kind to force that behavior.
- So instead of forcing the voter to do something they don't want to, we use the notification's red color to catch the attention of the user and bring some basic information. This on-top of being given when they really need it give an actual dynamic tutorial explaining the reasons behind downvotes.
- Plus, redundancy in teaching the basics to someone having troubles doesn't really hurt!
- This is entirely invisible to the reviewer. One of the key (and most protected) point of voting is that it is frictionless : A click and you're done. This system doesn't add any click to the voter, and in fact, doesn't impact them at all.
- It is anonymous : Another keypoint of not changing votes, the downvoters' identity is not revealed.
- This is also very lightweight to the user receiving the notification, since it only happens once and is not a screaming popup. It also (usually) happens when they receive comments, so the notification mark would often also be here anyway.
- My intuition tells me it's not too hard to make technically. We add a new message on specific, well defined triggers using an existing, normally well-tested system. The graphics don't change at all, so it's mostly code-stuff.
What are the potential weakness of this proposal as you see it?
Let's be thorough and transparent, there are some potential disadvantages to this system. I'm revealing you what my skills intuitively tell me, so you have all information to make an informed decision. Still, I wouldn't have made this proposal if the strengths didn't overcome the drawbacks from my viewpoint :
- Tutorial "sensory overload" : If there are too many elements displayed to the user at once, they risk getting confused. The proposal is supposed to be lightweight... But we never know!
- At most it tells "why" their question is downvoted. It doesn't directly tell "how" to solve it.
- This will not solve every problem : Some users will care and use the notification to improve themselves, others won't and keep asking/answering poorly.
- It might annoy... How do we call them already? Ah yes, sockpuppet accounts, ie. experienced users who create new accounts on top of their main one. It is indeed more information they don't really need if they are legit, allowed sockpuppets.
- I don't think there is already a system like this in place... But I have the memory of a goldfish and I don't recall having ever been in that specific, not so good situation (even for my admittedly could-be-improved first question). Remaking the same system could be a no-no.
Why are you not proposing this to upvotes too?
I'm raising this point because some (a lot of?) people, both on worldbuilding SE and meta's meta think that downvoting is "just" the opposite of upvoting, and therefore are close-enough that they should be treated the same way. As a more or less experienced... User Experience designer I heavily, but really heavily disagree with this.
I will try to keep it short as not to bother you too much : In game design (recall the voting system takes heavily from video-game systems), the process of giving rewards -like giving points- and punishments -like removing points- are treated differently : Rewards are usually self-explanatory in what the player (here user) should do next time. Indeed, they are informed they did well, so if they want to perform well next time, they have to do about the same kind of thing. In contrast, punishments happen when you did something wrong : There are improvements to be made. A good, well-designed game system tells you not only when you did something wrong, but also why, and better yet, how to improve. That's a key difference with rewards, which only need explanation if what you did to get rewarded is not obvious. Moreover, the process of telling you failed (to meet the reviewer's expectation here) is a double-edged sword : it can help someone improve as well as it can be discouraging, especially when you're new at something. Therefore it often has to be made more carefully, unlike rewards which can be given more freely with generally less negative consequences.
Besides the above point, it is to stay focused on one small change at a time. The more focused it is, the less likely people will refuse it just because they disagree with half of the proposal (namely the upvoting or downvoting part). If you believe it could see some purpose to reward new users with well-voted questions/answers, you could perhaps tell in another post how you envision it (more medals? Specific notification? Pop-up?...). I wouldn't personally mind upvoting a proposal like this.