When I see answers like this - low-rep users with uncommented downvotes, I try to address them with a comment. It's my way of trying to gentle the slap in the face from the downvote. A downvote without a comment is fine for an experienced user, but it seems to me, from a citizenship standpoint, that it's the equivalent of saying, "Welcome to our site! EFF YOU!"

But obviously, I can't catch them all, and don't want to.

Is there some measure we can take to help keep us from driving away new users? I thought of a couple of things:

  • Require a comment on a downvote for a user with less than some threshold of rep and / or some threshold of membership duration
  • Instead of requiring a comment (which violates voting anonymity), could the system insert a comment directing the user to the FAQ or even an entry on "So, you've been downvoted, welcome to the site!" automatically?

I like RPG.SE, but it needs to stay the welcoming community it was when I found it or it risks becoming insular and just as bad as any other place on the net.

This does seem like an issue worthy of attention although I'm not sure there is a good answer. A FAQ would seem too general for most folks in that sort of situation to get much benefit from. And I wouldn't like to see the anonymity gone in general. However - an exception requiring a comment in this specific circumstance seems reasonable to me. – Gaxx Nov 20 '12 at 22:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

We are happy to say "Hey! With new users especially, please explain downvotes! It's nicer, and helps them improve when they don't know much about the site."

Do not expect any rules mandating that or any technical enforcement whatsoever of that. It won't happen.

There are plenty of pointers to the FAQ for new users, try opening a private browsing window or the like and approach the site like you're a new user. We can only scream the FAQ so loud - people that don't listen and answer anyway will probably pull some downvotes. We rely on the community to reach out to these new users and help them along.

So, could we add something like "With new users, please explain your downvotes!" to the FAQ or some other "charter" document? Could we add "unexplained downvotes on low-rep / new users answers" to the collection of objects that get reviewed? – gomad Nov 27 '12 at 22:11
Maybe and no respectively. We'll take a look at what's customary on the other sites and work something up. – mxyzplk Nov 28 '12 at 0:03

Personally I did not think the answer was worth a down vote and it was my question. In fact I up voted because Real Life experience for me, as a referee, would have trumped the RAW.


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