I've been seeing a pattern of behavior lately that's becoming a little worrying... It looks an awful lot like people are casting flags and close votes on questions and answers that they simply don't like, but as we should all be aware that's what downvotes are for.

I know this has been discussed to death on other meta sites in the network, but it looks like we may need to have this conversation here on Worldbuilding.


When you hate a question downvote it. If you really feel the question doesn't fit, find an appropriate close vote reason, if the question doesn't really match any of the existing reasons to close, don't shoehorn it, bring it to meta and let the community figure it out.

When you hate a answer downvote it. If you really feel the answer is not an answer flag it, but keep in mind that flags have specific meanings.

In short flags and close votes are not super downotes. They serve different purposes and are not interchangeable.

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    $\begingroup$ As you certainly have some specific examples of questions & answers in mind that got flagged/VTC'd for the wrong reasons that you state - could you please link to some of these? It would help your question a lot to have actual examples beyond the mere hypothetical :) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T May 17 '17 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T Upon reflection, what follows is just my humble opinion, hum ..... the questioner's assertion is correct and not so infrequent that it isn't all that easy to see it being done. The problem is SE wants a community moderation. The majority are not even going to participate. Of those that do participate, the majority are going to use the system correctly most of the time. Then comes the problem area. The Authoritarian group .... there is were the questioner is pointing you to. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya I am sorry but I'm not sure that I understand what you're trying to say / tell me. If you'd like to help me understand I'd be delighted if you could join me in the chat. Thank you in advance :) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T May 17 '17 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T I thought it better to avoid getting mired down in specific examples... People have a tendency to focus all there attention on the examples and miss the larger point. Also there's the meta effect... $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @apaul34208 well the issue is that without examples it is very hard for non-natives such as me to be sure what you mean, and thus blocks us from participating meaningfully^^ $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T May 17 '17 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya I think we may be talking about different issues. Yes there are some overzealous users who seem to closevote nearly everything, but this post has more to do with separating flags and close votes from downvotes. There's a lot of content that should be downvoted that's being closed and flagged instead. $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ Flagged: Super didn't like the question. (JK, I upvoted..) $\endgroup$ – FreeElk May 18 '17 at 19:09

Especially, please don't use flags to try to delete answers that are wrong answers. Downvote those (and consider helping to improve them). Use flags for things that don't even answer the question, or that are spam or abusive.

Close votes are for questions that should be closed, not questions you'd just rather not see. Close reasons include "too broad" and "primarily opinion-based", which have overlap with "don't like" for many folks, but be clear about what you're doing. I've continued past more than a few questions to which my reaction was along the lines of "meh, that's pretty sketchy, but it's competently-asked and not close-worthy".

I disagree, in a nuanced way, with what this answer says about downvotes. Guidance that says "downvote when X" does not logically imply "don't downvote when not X"; there's no "only" there. So yes, do downvote when a post is sloppy or very wrong -- but I think it's also ok to downvote something that passes that test yet is distasteful in some other way. Look, we've had questions that are on-topic but objectionable to some, for example questions about brutally killing or torturing people. The ones I recall were deemed on-topic, but that doesn't oblige me to want to encourage them. Similarly, a question might be fine but it attracts an answer that suggests something I consider repulsive -- I'd downvote that. (I can't think of an example off-hand. I don't actually downvote a lot here.)

But that's a special brand of "don't like". We shouldn't downvote a sound, well-argued answer just because we don't like it. (Fake examples: ew, I prefer my zombies to be fast not slow, or I don't like questions that assume FTL, or time-travel is inherently broken so why are you even asking that?) Let's remember that we're a large, diverse community with different tastes. Don't downvote just based on taste, but do downvote based on quality, and I don't see anything wrong with downvoting for strong repulsion.

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    $\begingroup$ I have seen High Reputation people that VtC flag a question because they think that question is, in this case I am thinking, creating a world for a single sex species, removing their "traditional" heterosexual relationships. I agree with the questioner, there are ... hum .... instances of using the flags and down votes to ... presumably achieve a personal goal. Can SE do anything about this? Probably just makes things worse :( it is just the price of being a community, being a newbie to the community. Being invisible and seeing who does what is probably the only thing that new people can do. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya it takes five users to close a question, so unless it's a widespread problem in the community, the problem you describe is self-correcting. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 17 '17 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ VtCing for the wrong reasons, may imply other problems ... wouldn't you say? $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya Have you seen it or is it just an hypothetical situation? $\endgroup$ – Vincent May 17 '17 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Vincent For the sake of peace and objectivity, deal with it as a hypothetical. I do not see anyway SE can do any more about it than our current Society can do anything about abuse/bullying. In the end, any and all new to SE will either leave or get to a level where the abuse/bullying stops because the person has attained a threshold of Rep and/or Experience here to not be affected by it. Again, the model here is a Community Moderation and that has a loop hole in it, people are human. It happens, there is no "safe" way to report it. Shut up and avoid it, is one way to deal with it. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya We can't agree on something that is hypothetical because a lot of details are unknown and this situation might never happen anyway. Also, by making false claims, you make the community look meaner than in reality. $\endgroup$ – Vincent May 17 '17 at 18:03

…simply don't like, but as we should all be aware that's what downvotes are for.


According to the docs,

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

It is not for “I dislike this”.

If you simply dislike it, read something else. If a question is on topic, not too broad, etc. but just bad, then downvote.

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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough, semantics win again... $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ "I dislike this" because "it's bad". I assumed people would make that connection, but I guess we all know what happens when we assume. $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ Also the help page isn't the only doc covering this area: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/130046/when-should-i-vote $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 2:05

Just a note: You are native English speaker. Many people here are not.

Thus, something that is clear, just sloppy, for you may be legitimately unclear for others. Something that is a poorly written answer for you, may look like gibberish and thus not an answer for others. It is hard to tell without specific examples. Please keep this in mind when judging how people vote and flag.

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    $\begingroup$ While everything you said is true, no seriously it is VERY TRUE, it does not negate the questioners concern. Just pointing that out. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya questioners concern might be valid or not, depending on specific examples. I agree that flag / VTC is not a superdownvote, but don't know if it is a problem, and how serious it is. And I hope that if someone sees clear (for him) question with unclear votes, he will edit it for clarity. Like it happened here for example. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '17 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ We are in agreement, with one exception, I see evidence of it often enough to feel certain it is not infrequent. There is no clear solution to the problem so .... it is just best to move on. Let me ask you a question, if there was a question being down voted and VtC'd by a 50K rep person with the reason being given translating to "homophobia" exactly what would you do about it? Yes you may be able to stop the VtC but that isn't solving the problem is it. (For the record, this was just a clear blatant instance) $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya That is an interesting claim. Can you link us to an example? $\endgroup$ – sphennings May 17 '17 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings, your question was inevitable and I do not know how to find it and even if I could, I would probably take a pass. In the end assume the question I asked was a "Thought Experiment" after all I messed up and should have presented the entire scenario as just that a thought experiment. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ If there is any promotion of, or excuses for real life discrimination, such post should be flagged as rude/abusive, that's for sure. Other actions may vary depending on specific post - it just might be off topic or poorly written, well deserving close and down vote. Or not. Can't tell without seeing it. Oh, and rude / abusive flag causes downvote anyway. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '17 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ But my question to you and @sphennings is if there was no dispute that the process was ... a flagrant violation of the intent and spirit of the system, what would you do to the person(s)? My guess is not a lot can be done, just try to undo as much as you can ... $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya example? If it's not happening then nothing for us to bother about. If it is happening, show one example. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '17 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ @molot I understand $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ I understand the caveat, but I doubt that what I'm seeing is really a language issue. It looks like more of a "I want this removed by any means necessary" issue... A poorly worded question or answer shouldn't necessarily be removed it should be edited. A wrong answer shouldn't even be removed, it's still an answer, it's just wrong. If a person's grasp of the language isn't good enough to tell they probably shouldn't be making moderation decisions to begin with. They should probably just drop a comment asking for clarification... $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ @apaul34208 despite being asked for examples 14 hours ago, you still did not produce even a single one, so no point in mentioning anything you are supposedly seeing. And if the question is worded so poorly that it is unclear what OP is asking, it should be put on hold to prevent people who think they understand from answering - in case they don't understand it the way OP meant it. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '17 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4927/… $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @apaul34208 if you don't want to talk about what you are seeing then OK - don't. Just don't. It is really easy to claim something is happening and then find excuses... but the burden of proof is on you. For me, you may make things up, or have some bias, or good faith that went wrong way, or something, but I don't see it happening, you don't want to show me it happens... no. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '17 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Judging from the 7 votes I'm not the only one seeing it... It's often better to discuss site issues without singling out specific posts/users. People very often can't see the forest from the trees. $\endgroup$ – apaul May 17 '17 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @apaul34208 people agree with general idea, but this does not prove that your accusations about this community, expressed more strongly in comments, are true. See votes on my comments and on yours. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '17 at 22:03

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