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We have a question on the main site titled What would it take to rename the planet? which is currently at:

  • 0 upvotes
  • 7 downvotes
  • 3 close votes (all as primarily opinion-based)
  • 0 explanationary comments
  • 0 answers

While I can agree that the question perhaps isn't an example suitable for the upcoming book The Best of Worldbuilding Q&A -- Two Years' Select Questions and Answers (just kidding), the question does state a goal and ask a specific question in relation to that goal. Still, the question is among our most heavily downvoted questions that are still around (we do have one question at +0/-8 votes, but that's it).

I have argued previously that we need downvotes, and I stand by that argument. However, they should ideally be constructive downvotes. A click on the downvote arrow and moving along to the next question doesn't help the asker improve, either the question or on the personal level.

Why is this question being downvoted so heavily?

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I was actually one of the first to downvote the question, as well as later voting to close it as opinion-based. I agree mostly with what Monica has to say in her answer though. $\endgroup$ – fi12 Apr 13 '16 at 1:07
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I hadn't seen the question before this meta post. In its present form it seems to be random, a little silly, and only loosely tied to worldbuilding. It seems to belong in a set like this:

  • What would it take to convince most people to rename Earth to X?
  • I think zebras should be called Ys; how would I get the English-speaking world to go along with that?
  • Most airplanes are painted white but purple is a much prettier color; how do we make that happen?

These questions all start from a personal opinion, which seems arbitrary and not very serious, and proceed to ask "how do we get people do that?". While there are real sociology and politics questions in the realm of changing popular opinion, questions like this don't seem to be about that.

If the question nonetheless showed some effort -- I've considered A, B, and C and see the following issues with each of them -- then I'd see it in a more-favorable light. It'd be even better if the OP acknowledged that the specific example is a little unconventional and then explained why he's asking it anyway -- maybe he chose it as an example of a broader class of question, or as a benign example to avoid a politically-charged question, or whatever. But this question doesn't do any of that.

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Puhh, sorry, this one got long, but please bear with me...

I think the question got downvoted mainly for the same reason, it got closed for half an hour ago. There are no ways to determine a correct answer. As it has been said here:

Because even though there are often multiple correct answers to a question, we do want to be able to evaluate the correctness of answers. If the question is a broad "so, what do you think I should do?" or "what's the best X" or the like, there's no way to do that. The Stack Exchange Q&A format works well precisely because it's Q&A -- not discussion threads.

I am sure you know that, as you yourself answered the above question as well. So, why exactly has this question been downvoted? I can only theorise (and haven't downvoted), but there are some possible reasons I can come up with:

The question is very short. While this does not necessarily mean a question is bad, on first glimpse, it provides the impression that the asker did not put a lot of thought into it. This, compared with the low reputation of the asker possibly leaves a casual reader of the question with a bad first impression.

Further, the questions starts with a rather unpopular statement. And the questions motive ("I think Blogosphere is a much more apt name for our planet."), is not explained any further.

The goal of the question as you called it reads:

What would it take to get 95% of the human race to agree with and formally recognize this blogosphere-shattering change?

This is a very random number. There is no way to ever prove an answer correct.

Further, the question is tagged . The tag description says:

[...] Answers to these questions should provide a yes or no answer with supporting information. [...]

"Yes or No."-Now, try to answer a question "What would it take?" with Yes or No. This is not possible (at least as far as my limited knowledge of (the english) language is concerned), meaning the question is mistagged and at least by definition of the tag unanswerable.

I suppose that some or some more of these traits are the reason for the downvotes.


This maybe a rather odd comparision, but another factor that could improve the likelyness of a passers-by to downvote is closely related to the broken windows theory. Let me explain:

The theory says:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

This might be a far fetched comparision that fails in detail, but what I am trying to say is, if a user sees a question that left him with a bad first impression and he then sees that the question has already been downvoted ever so often, he is more likely to press the button himself as well, as opposed to when he would be the first to vote and express his opinion.


You are absolutely right, when you say

A click on the downvote arrow and moving along to the next question doesn't help the asker improve, either the question or on the personal level.

But the maximum length for a comment is 600 characters, which is not much if you would like to give an extended explanation. And it might not even be possible, as some of the points stated above (like the reputation and question length) are not really somthing wrong or bad.

So probably, even though I do not share this attitude, those voters just could not be bothered as they weren't thinking the question would be salvageable.

But after all, this can only be said with certanity by the downvoters themselves.

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  • $\begingroup$ So you're saying that my failed question is not without redemption, but I should put more thought into it next time? $\endgroup$ – JesseTG Apr 10 '16 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ Hey, Jesse, nice to see you read my post! First of all, I do not think it is without redemption. But IMHO it needs some work. My suggestions would be, to put some more thought into a way to determine answer quality. How can you determine whether an answer can really persuade 95% of people and not 87 for example. Also, try and enclose on the solution. Think about a why and possible how's to limit the possible answers. Otherwise it will be difficult for an answer to be more than just an opinion. $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 - reinstate Monica Apr 10 '16 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ And review your Tags. As described, reality-check won't work here. Have a look at sience-based, that might possibly serve you better $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 - reinstate Monica Apr 10 '16 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ @JesseTG I downvoted, and I apparently at forgot to leave a reason. But I think T3 H40 does a good job of representing my reasons for downvoting. Sorry about that. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Apr 12 '16 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ @T3H40 Actually, I do not think science-based would serve his purposes. The tag description is; For questions that require answers based in hard science, not magic or pseudo-science, but do not require scientific citations. Consider alternatively the hard-science and reality-check tags. Avoid using this tag as the only tag on a question and I fail to see how changing the name of the Earth has to do with science. Perhaps some combination of language, law, and planets, but this even seems out of place. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Apr 13 '16 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ @T3H40 Perhaps if more interest is shown in this type of question we could create a new naming tag, though I have not seen any other questions that would fall into this category. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Apr 13 '16 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan yeah, I wasn't sure, that's why I said might possibly. It depends on what he wants to do. If he searches for some persuation strategy, some psychology basics might be useful. However, I agree that this is not the best tag to use $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 - reinstate Monica Apr 13 '16 at 17:10

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