When someone's question gets closed as duplicate, off-topic, or similar, that's sad enough for them. We don't need to add insult to injury by also downvoting the question to give them a negative point score. Please stop.


Both of these are well-written questions. One happens to be off-topic, and the other a duplicate, but in both cases one can completely understand why the questioner wants to ask them here. Downvoting them as well as closing them is member-hostile and discourages people from using this SE. It's sufficent to just not upvote the question, and to close it.

  • 2
    This meta question however, seems to contain a proper research effort and is useful. Are people now down-voting a post that criticizes down-voting itself? Anyway, have my up-vote ;)
    – Tim
    Feb 2, 2019 at 15:03
  • Yah. OSS.SE is, frankly, one of the more hostile/critical SEs I participate in. At some point, I'll probably just drop off of here. Feb 3, 2019 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


Fundamentally, people can downvote how they choose to.

Downvotes are one's own to use as you see fit. As long as you're not falling afoul of voting fraud rules, there really is no policy on what you can and can't downvote. The only guidance is on the tooltip on the vote button:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

Certainly "not useful" could apply to off-topic questions; there's also an argument to be made that duplicate questions can show a lack of research effort. That's plenty of reason to downvote, if that's what people choose to do. Telling people how they should use their votes... doesn't go down well.

In other words: while excessive downvoting is kind of unnecessary, regular ole downvoting of off-topic/duplicate questions is pretty normal and nobody here is in a position to set rules for what can and can't be downvoted.

  • 1
    Furthermore, downvotes are sometimes made necessary by the mechanics of the site, for example to make questions eligible for Roomba-deletion. The appearance of negativity is a problem, but here on Open Source it's not nearly as big a problem as on other sites (e.g. what I see and do on Software Engineering).
    – amon
    Jan 13, 2019 at 7:53
  • I'm not setting rules, I'm asking people to be nice to questioners. You know, the way they've asked us to be per the new SE CoC. Jan 13, 2019 at 22:27
  • 3
    Downvoting isn't against the CoC, @JoshBerkus. Like I said - excessive downvoting is unnecessary, but normal voting patterns are just fine and a useful quality signal.
    – ArtOfCode
    Jan 13, 2019 at 22:29

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