I was reading the "Plea to downvoters" discussion and I have similar question.

I generally agree that a downvoter should explain what is wrong. Should (s)he also do if he just doesn't like the topic?

For example I watch news every day and am tired about deaths, murders, kills, car accidents so I hate everything that is tagged , etc.

I was sure this site is intended to allow me to if I consider question bad. But I'd read FAQ, about and other info pages long time ago, so I read them again:

On the About: there is nothing about voting on questions. There is "Good answers are voted up and rise to the top.". No definition of "good answer".

On the FAQ: How to ask -- nothing about voting on questions. On "Why is voting important": "Voting up a question or answer signals to the rest of the community that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful, while voting down a post signals the opposite: that the post contains wrong information, is poorly researched, or fails to communicate information." (emphasis mine). So theoretically I can vote down if the subject does not interest me.

Please explain, can (from ethical point of view) I vote question down if the topic is not interesting to me?

(I know I can ignore some tags)


I'm Grace Note. I'm a Community Manager for Stack Exchange.

At the end of the day, a vote represents the opinion of a user, to identify whether a question is useful or not useful in addition to points about clarity and research and whatnot. Voting is the tool for the community as a whole to judge posts. It is as much to identify when a question is poorly written as it is to identify that the problem being asked about... really isn't worth anyone's time. There are ultimately three states to a vote, though, and there's always the option to simply "not vote" when you think a question is not very helpful in your own analysis but figure that others may find it worthwhile or helpful when pursuing that route. Basically, if a post qualifies as "not interesting enough to upvote", you're valid to not vote on it instead to express the lack of interest, and a downvote is unnecessary unless you feel it is a negative to the site.

You're not downvoting just to express your opinion. You're downvoting to express your opinion on the validity of a topic to the community. Taking a personal voting grudge on, say, here because you loathe the country and everyone in it, that would be petty. You may still vote as such, as it is your opinion to give, but it's not a very healthy way to go about voting.

But if there was a subject matter on which you feel that dealing with questions about them is not useful to anyone in the community, then from that you could downvote against questions of that subject matter. This would be because, moreso than your personal hatred for the subject matter, you're voting because you don't believe the question to be valuable to anyone, which is inline with how one should be voting at all times. It shouldn't be "I don't like this", it should be "This isn't useful to the site". Typically, subjects that would get identified in this way usually end up being the subject of topicality discussions - if there's a community consensus that a particular subject is toxic to the site, then it makes sense to bar the subject.

I'm not fond of murder and the like either, though I personally stay out of news often just to not dwell on it. So I can understand your dislike of seeing those kinds of questions. However, I don't personally think it's a subject matter that's harmful to the community as a whole to discuss, so I don't feel that downvoting everything is healthy, neither to the community nor to you as a voter. There is a more applicable course of action for you, though - ignored tags. In your profile, there's a tab in the top right that says 'prefs', which you may use to identify one or more tags as "ignored tags". These will be greyed out when they show up or, if you mark the appropriately labelled "hide ignored tags" checkbox on the same page, hidden altogether from your view as you browse. Using this would let you navigate the site entirely without needing to acknowledge this subject matter, while not inhibiting the abilities of other users to partake in their own millings-about with the topic. It would also avoid the otherwise necessary viewing of such questions to begin with that downvoting would require.

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    Thank you for your answer, it's now all clear. I suggest to copy the text or some of its parts to the FAQ or other help site – Voitcus Aug 21 '13 at 15:16

I think it's wrong to downvote because it's a subject you don't find interesting. If it contains incorrect information, is trivial, can't be answered properly, these are all good reasons. But "Meh, I wish people would ask less about vikings and more about Mayans" is not a good reason to downvote, IMO.

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    In addition to this, think about why you wish people would ask less about vikings/etc. Is it really the topic, or is there some underlying problem with the questions in particular? If not, I'd refrain from voting. If there is a problem, not just the topic, then try to address that constructively. – Ben Brocka Aug 21 '13 at 14:10
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    I entirely agree - votes should not be a reflection of the popularity of topics, but of the quality and accuracy of the questions and answers. – user2590 Aug 22 '13 at 9:28

I tend to view my voting process as a balancing of interests. Is the question interesting? Is the question well researched? Is the question coherent? Is the question similar to other questions? Etc., etc., etc. Looking at the question through those different lenses I then weigh them against each other to decide how to vote. "The question is really well-researched, but the topic is boring." "The question seems super interesting, but it's barely readable." Ultimately, I tend to up vote questions far more often than I downvote questions. Additionally, I simply don't vote on a lot of questions. I guess by doing that I have subconsciously created an "abstain" category for myself.

I think, as Mark C. Wallace pointed out, it really is up to you. Personally, I think that a rule of downvoting questions just because you don't find the subject matter interesting is a bit harsh, but there is nothing that says you can't do that. A question could be well-researched, coherent, and unique, but you downvote it just because you don't find the topic interesting? That just doesn't square with me, but that's just me.


I believe that the answer is "yes". Questions that are of interest to many should outrank questions that are of interest to few.

We each get one vote, and we are absolutely sovreign in how we cast that vote. A "good" question is one you believe to be good. A "bad" question is one that you believe to be bad. No individual gets enough votes to make a significant difference in the outcome.

If you decide to vote purely on the basis of telepathic direction from your goldfish, that is just as valid as my votes. I don't believe that method will be as effective at creating the kind of H:SE that I want to participate in, but it is valid. The hope is that the influence of the community who loves history will be stronger than the inflence of your goldfish.

(Excellent question IMHO)

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    -1, questions can be interesting in absolute terms and, so, the fact that one is not interested in a particular topic doesn't necesarily imply that a downvote has to be cast. I, for example, vote up questions whose content I'm not interested to, but I appreciate how they are posed. – Aarão Xisto Salazar Aug 20 '13 at 21:28
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    @AarãoXistoSalazar That's exactly what I was asking. – Voitcus Aug 21 '13 at 7:14
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    I don't think that anything I've said disagrees with you @AarãoXistoSalazar. I can, and do, vote up questions that do not interest me, but are obviously well written, well researched, and a benefit to the site. But I feel very strongly that I don't have any right to judge your votes on the questions that you find interesting. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 21 '13 at 11:12
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    I have to agree with you there Mark. While I personally try to objectively judge if a question might be interesting to others it doesn't mean that I'm right to do so. Nor does it mean that someone who doesn't is wrong, or that my method is better. It's just the way I do things. It's fine to vote along the lines of your interests. – Kobunite Aug 21 '13 at 11:31

As a (relatively) new member of a site which I think offers much, I find the amount of downvoting by far the most disappointing thing about H:SE (though I don't think I have been downvoted myself yet).

I have no problem with downvoting anything which is offensive, nor an answer which provides false or misleading information, but the downvoting of questions which are unclear or poorly worded or which seem to be poorly researched or which don't interest someone is wrong.

Unclear / poorly worded / poorly researched questions have to be expected from newer members at times. Should we scare people off by downvoting them? Or should we help them to 'get it right', thereby encouraging their interest in history and their continued active participation.

There must be many occasions when someone wants to ask a question on an area or period of history with which he/she is not very familiar (hence the question!). In such cases, it can be difficult to phrase questions well, or to be clear. Some people might say 'Well, do some research before you ask a question'. Fair enough, but it's not always that easy, especially for someone who is developing an interest in history and / or who lacks research skills. As there is a lot of rubbish and false information on the internet which is not always easy to detect, it is hardly surprising that some questions contain false assumptions. Should we blame the questioner for falling victim to someone else's bad information?

If a question is bad, why not help the person with a useful comment as to what's wrong and ask them to fix it? I've noticed that a lot of members are doing that, but it seems that some aren't. If your helpful suggestion is ignored, then I guess there's a good case for downvoting in order to maintain standards.

In summary, give people a chance to 'get it right' before downvoting. Let's encourage people to explore history, not push them aside because they don't yet know how to construct a good question. Questions are the lifeblood of this site; without them, it will die.

  • I'm also relatively new to the site, and I do tend to downvote questions/answers that are unclear or poorly researched, although I try to add a comment to explain the reason for my vote. If the question/answer is edited and improved, I'll change my vote. The alternative seems to be the Vote to Close option, which I think is used far too readily on this site already. (It is much harder to get a question re-opened than to get someone to change their vote). – sempaiscuba Aug 31 '17 at 16:53

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