This is more of a discussion than anything, but I'm seeing a bit of this lately:

  1. Downvotes without reason. It's your right to downvote, but remember, only downvote if the answer is bad, doesn't answer the question, and so on. And it's very helpful to leave a message when doing so, explaining the downvote.

    This is a social website, and people can't improve their questions/answers if they don't know why you didn't approve of their answer!

  2. Close votes without reason. Yes we get a few bad questions every week, some are atrocious, some are off topic, some are too broad, and so on. Some are new people. Help them!

    If you're voting to close, welcome them to the site, and explain why you've voted for their question to be closed. It's very discouraging for a new user to come on here, ask a question, and just get it closed off with no feedback. Always leave a comment if you think it'll help.

    You can also flag it if it's just spam and needs to go now, so we can have it brought to our attention. Similarly, with other (non-new users), they're here to stay, so help them if you feel their question is bad, off topic or similar - leave a little comment explaining why you're voting to close it.

This is a social site, let's be nice, friendly, and helpful to one another. Plus it's a New Year, a great time to start good new habits!

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It might be usefull to destinguish between "does not answer the question directly" and "answer is not helpfull to the question". and even then, this advice is not in line with privilege guidelin "egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect" (source: travel.stackexchange.com/privileges/vote-down) –  Jacco Jan 27 '13 at 15:07
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2 Answers 2

When it comes to new users I think that down- and close votes should be avoided altogether, even those accompanied by a comment. In these cases a comment should be enough. Stackexchange wants to be "different" from the more "classical" fora and mailing lists. However in one aspect they are carrying forward the good old tradition, namely the welcome of the newbies. In the classical communities they tend to get bashed by RTFM or alike. Here they get bashed with negative votes. Even if such votes are commented they are frustrating an do not really invite to stay. A comment and an explanation should be enough in the beginning. In the case of recidivists or experienced users it is different.

What makes it more difficult in this particular case, for new and not so new users is the lack of a clear editorial line, i.e. criteria of what is an acceptable question on this site and what is not. The opinions diverge, even among the moderators. This makes it more difficult for newcomers to find their way through the jungle. On the other hand I do not want to drag the moderators in the mud. They are doing a great job. Indeed, the site is tagged "beta", suggesting that there is still some learning and construction going on. Let's be indulgent!

Just a precision. I do no want to say that the questions of newbies should never be closed. I think the actual "first shoot then ask" policy should be avoided. It could be good to wait a day or more before closing.

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I'd agree with not downvoting (bashing) newbies - a comment is more useful and helpful. But I figure baby steps, I'm just happy if people start commenting more :) Thanks for not 'dragging us into the mud' ;) While I feel the mods in general do pretty well on the whole maintaining a common opinion, it's often with the help of experienced users in the Travel Chat that some of them get hashed out - as you say, it's still a young site. This means that with newer questions, sometimes opinions will differ - but that's why we have the community vote too - and why people's feedback is so important. Thanks! –  Mark Mayo Jan 3 '13 at 9:58
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The problem with not downvoting and close voting is that it sends a message to other new users that the post is okay and that they can do the same. Downvotes/close votes remove poor content from the main page, and they're used to rank answers from best to worst. Not using these tools skews those results. Also, you just delay the inevitable. Several posts later when user X gets his first downvote after you've let him post garbage, he'll still be pissed, and more so since his first 5 posts weren't downvoted; he'll just think someone is "out to get him". :) –  jmort253 Jan 5 '13 at 22:03
    
With that said, it's still a good idea to be as nice, welcoming, and constructive as possible in the comments. The human element is the most important. –  jmort253 Jan 5 '13 at 22:05
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A way to send a clearer message is with actual words. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 7:41
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Although I had my sins of down voting, I fully agree with staying away from the close and down vote button.

Or according to Stephen Fry in Wikipedia

If you're the kind of person who insists on this or that 'correct' use... abandon your pedantry as I did mine. Dive into the open flowing waters and leave the stagnant canals be... Above all, let there be pleasure!

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