• What are the most common reasons for downvoting a post on this site?
  • What can I do to avoid being downvoted, and what can I do to improve my already-downvoted post?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm glad someone finally got around to making one of these. Now I can down-vote and simply post a 'Welcome' message with a link ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Apr 14, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan There are pro-forma comments in the text below for you to use. You can always add a welcome onto them, but they add the explanation of the downvote. $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Apr 14, 2015 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


When science isn't science

Science and speculation aren't a good mix. When the two meet in one post, it's incredibly easy to speculate that something might be a good scientific theory. However, this may also attract downvotes: where science is required (such as the tag), we like to see hard, verifiable science, preferably with citations.

You can improve this by removing the speculation from your post. Make sure what you're claiming is science actually is science, not a mix of speculation and the stuff of popular science.

See also: HDE226868's answer to http://meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/1995/where-are-the-downvotes

Pro-forma comment: The scientific claims in this post appear to be wrong. Where science is required, we like to see *verifiable* science. You can improve this by making sure what you're claiming is science *actually is* science. See [Why was my post downvoted?](http://meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/1999) for more explanation.

Joking posts

Having humour is good, and we welcome it here - as long as it doesn't cloud your contributions. If you're thinking of posting a quick, jokey answer (or question), it may be better suited to a comment. For example, if the question asked is

How can I destroy the Earth with minimal effort?

then merely answering

Develop a new addicting game and let humanity wipe itself out.

is not a good answer. While the idea is something that others might appreciate, the answer space should be left for full answers. If you're prepared to justify and explain why your addicting game would wipe out humanity and how you might go about doing this, then we'd love to have that answer. If not, consider leaving a comment.

You can improve this by reining your humour in or explaining why it works. If you haven't posted yet, consider commenting.

Pro-forma comment: This answer appears to be a claim without justification. You can improve it by explaining *why* this idea would work. See [Why was my post downvoted?](http://meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/1999) for more explanation.

Lack of explanation

This is partly related to the last point. If you've written up an answer with a great idea of yours that answers the question perfectly, but you've still been downvoted, this might be why. When writing answers, it's good to consider how someone else will read it: someone without your knowledge of your idea. If the post might be unclear to them, or if you're in some doubt, consider adding more explanation.

Answers are great, but if we can't understand why they're answers, they're likely to get downvoted.

You can improve this by adding explanation to your post. If you're not sure what needs explaining, you can try leaving a comment on your own post for another user to respond to, or you can stop by in chat and ask for suggestions on how to improve the post.

Pro-forma comment: This post demonstrates a good idea, but needs expanding on. You can improve it by adding some explanation. See [Why was my post downvoted?](http://meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/1999) for more explanation.

Incorrect answers

Nobody likes admitting they're wrong. However, if another user thinks you've got something wrong in your post, they may have downvoted it. (They may also have left a comment explaining what was wrong, but it's not mandatory.)

Scientific answers are often the easiest to fix: you may have used the wrong theory or a wrong number somewhere. A quick edit should fix that. However, the nature of many of our questions means that answers can often seem wrong to some people and right to others. If it's only one downvote, let it go: if it's more then there may be a bigger problem in your post to fix.

You can improve this by correcting the errors in your post. Comment or ping someone in chat if you're not sure where they are.

There is no pro-forma comment for this. Comments on incorrect answers should be tailored to the inaccuracies of the answer.

Not answering the question

This is slightly more serious, as answers that don't actually answer the question can attract Not An Answer flags.

As this comment explains, many questions on this site are speculative and based in fiction. When you answer a question, you must take for granted the premises in the question. If the question says dragons exist, answering that the question is invalid because dragons don't exist is not a good answer. Instead, assume dragons do exist and reconsider your answer.

You can improve this by reconsidering your answer in the context of the question.

Pro-forma comment: This does not appear to answer the question. You should reconsider your answer, taking the ideas in the question to be valid and true. See [Why was my post downvoted?](http://meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/1999) for more explanation. (consider also casting a NAA flag).

If this post has not cleared up why your post was downvoted, it may just be One of Those Things. Voting on Stack Exchange is anonymous and personal; your votes are yours to do as you wish with, as are other people's. You can try leaving a comment on your post to ask for an explanation of the downvote, or you can try coming into chat to talk it over with some other users.

  • $\begingroup$ What about answers that are too broad and that talk about lots of stuff related to the question, but that don't directly naswer it? $\endgroup$ May 10, 2015 at 2:16
  • $\begingroup$ @IsmaelMiguel They come under the last section, not answering the question. $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    May 10, 2015 at 9:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ArtOfCode "you must take for granted the premises in the question" this seems like it could use some work. It isn't always so cut and dry. For instance, a reality-check typically asks for people to challenge the premise. Or in some cases the premise is based on a misconception of actual science. Or in some cases the premise is just really weak and could use some help... Challenging the premise is acceptable pretty much network wide, it may be a reason for an individual to downvote, but we should be cautious in telling people that it isn't acceptable or that it qualifies for flagging. $\endgroup$
    – apaul
    Jun 26, 2017 at 16:21

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