We have had a lot of discussion here lately about how questions were getting underservedly downvoted. Most of it has been emotional hype and lots of assumptions, but precious little data on the fundamental assumption behind the complaints. In this question, I want to look at the real data, then discuss from there.

I took a recent snapshot of the titles and links to the most recently active 20 consecutive questions. I did that to avoid adding my own bias to the selection of questions. I don't know how statistically significant a sample of 20 is, but I think it's a good starting point. This is also tedius to do, so I quit at 20. Here are links to them so we can see them in one place as they move around in the active list:

1: How does my CPU know which clock speed to run at?
0 = +1 -1

2: Flow of holes in transistor?
7 = +7 -0

3: Help using MOSFET to switch on/off IC
6 = +6 -0

4: Connector name for angel eyes CCFL inverter
1 = +3 -2

5: Simple MOSFET switch question
2 = +2 -0

6: analog circuit to convert one resistance to another
1 = +1 -0

7: Continue output for a single pulse
0 = +0 -0

8: CAN bus bit timing with 16 MHz crystal
4 = +4 -0

9: Heat Sink for SOT223
4 = +4 -0

10: How to indicate a relay is activated?
0 = +0 -0

11: TinyOS interrupts handling
0 = +2 -2

12: Why are 10-pin DIP integrated circuits so uncommon?
6 = +7 -1

13: Impedance Control PCB design Help
-1 = +0 -1

14: Measuring Signal Strength with a RF Circuit
1 = +1 -0

15: Is paying extra for “Controlled Impedance” boards necessary?
6 = +6 -0

16: AC/DC Adapter for Camera Flash Mod
2 = +2 -0

17: PTC fuse resistance characteristic?
1 = +1 -0

18: Arduino sensors for x10
0 = +0 -0

19: simple audio amplifier
4 = +4 -0

20: High current, low voltage (~10v area) supply from standard 220v/10A outlet
0 = +1 -1

From this we can see there is only one question out of 20 that is negative, and 6/20 that received any downvotes at all. In the aggregate, there are 52 upvotes and 8 downvotes.

I can't say I agree with all the votes, probably nobody can. However, the point of voting is to get a average feel of the community, realizing there will be outlayers at both ends. If we didn't have different opinions, we wouldn't need to vote since any one person could just decide. It therefore seems the process is working well and there is no problem here once we look past the emotional hype at the real facts.

If you want to discuss the merits of votes or explain why you voted one way or another on a particular question in this list, please write a "answer". Let's keep this on topic limited only to the questions linked to above to avoid sample bias. If you want to talk about votes on a question not listed here, start another meta question.

So from this sample of questions, my conclusion is that the system is working quite well and there is no problem here to solve. We will always get whiners that complain about their question getting downvoted or closed, but we can't let those few give us the wrong impression of what is really going on. After all, there are bad questions, and those will get downvoted and closed. That's how the system is supposed to work, and it's working well and not running amock as some would have us believe.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I'll mention that there is a SQL interface to the SE database, and you can run queries against it. Here is an example query, showing "controversial" posts: data.stackexchange.com/electronics/query/466/… \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Mar 25, 2013 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ See this question with some real data and how to extract data effectively. \$\endgroup\$
    – MandoMando
    Mar 26, 2013 at 11:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ This data is merely a view of one moment, while there will happen a lot of voting on the questions after this since these are recently active ones. So really, this data isn't very meaningful, and we should get data from the sources of W5VO and MandoMando instead of grabbing something together ourselves. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17592
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:09

4 Answers 4


Your argument is statistically incorrect. Here are 20 more recent questions, along with upvotes/downvotes. (Taken at approx. 1:45 PM EST).

  1. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62461/part-recommendation-for-cheapest-1-8v-h-bridge-or-half-bridge (0, -2)
  2. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62460/hardware-platform-with-only-ethernet-and-power (+1, -1)
  3. How do I program a PIC12? (+1, 0)
  4. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62456/ultra-wideband-applications-and-cost (0, -1)
  5. How do you test condoms electronically? (+4, -7)
  6. RF Design: A Bluetooth Repeater (0, 0)
  7. Electron flow due to impedance? (+1, -1)
  8. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62445/resistance-wire-producing-no-heat (0, -3)
  9. transfer function of active filters (+1, 0)
  10. Can I make power consumption analysis much harder by temporarily disconnecting the power supply? (+1, 0)
  11. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62440/what-is-the-responsibility-of-the-department-power-quality (0, -4)
  12. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62436/no-display-on-162-lcd-on-proteus-simulation (0, -2)
  13. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62434/calculation-in-power-system (0, -3)
  14. Questions about reflowing a motherboard (+3, -1)
  15. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62423/camera-motion-detection (0, -3)
  16. DC-DC isolation for my car stereo... Where do I start? (+3, -1)
  17. Solenoid Driving Circuit (+4, 0)
  18. Nice three pronged plug for WS2811 LED strips? (0, 0)
  19. https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/62412/difference-beteen-8051-pic-and-avr-microcontroller (0, -3)
  20. I need help Building A Solid state Electro magnetic Mixer (0, 0)

Out of 20 questions, 13 have downvotes.

What does this mean? Nothing. Depending on the time of day, anyone can produce a list of 20 questions of which a (minority/majority) have downvotes.


I noticed the comment by @W5VO about the data explorer which I hadn't looked much before. Out of interest I wrote a query that returns the total questions posted versus down votes for every month the site has been in operation:


It calculates by calendar month, so the very last month displayed won't be complete apart from at the very end of the month.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That link doesn't seem to work. I got some gobbledygook code and a box labeld "graph" below that, but the box was empty. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2013 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop it does work here. Do you have JavaScript enabled / tried a different browser? i.stack.imgur.com/V3nL9.png \$\endgroup\$
    – user17592
    Mar 27, 2013 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's telling. The Month of March, 1106 questions, 1512 downvotes. Almost 1.5 per question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Apr 12, 2013 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby That doesn't tell much unless we compare it with other sites. Unfortunately, the query times out when I run it on StackOverflow. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 6, 2018 at 13:59

Let's just say the precious little data on the fundamental assumption behind the complaints point got pretty thoroughly owned by MandoMando's statistical data effort, albeit possibly after this post was made, to be fair to all parties.

More importantly, such a selective (time-of-day, or perhaps just when the conditions are right) data set as in this question indicates a clear bias towards proving the validity of a possibly (and in this case provably) flawed viewpoint. More useful would be an effort to actually help create a more inclusive community.

I've put in my share of downvotes, but with the courtesy of explaining (or upvoting a comment that explains) why a given question deserves a downvote or a close-vote.

Perhaps all that is needed is some effort to do this consistently, and we won't be having emotional hype and lots of assumptions. It's interesting when the actual data backs up the assumptions and puts paid to the self-justification.

"I am right because I say so" gets old pretty quick.


4: Connector name for angel eyes CCFL inverter

I downvoted this and left a comment because this guy dumped 4 large images on us, clearly without any attempt to edit, resize, or post-process appropriately for us at all. Each image was over 5 Mpix and together they make the browser scroll annoyingly slowly. This is not the kind of thing I want to see here regularly.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ First question with images on the site(it looks like), they try to give high detail images. I agree you should express your feedback, as you did, but downvoting seems excessive. They did the research for the question, they just did not meet your pedantic requirement. High res images do not mean, "Did not perform research; Question is unclear or not useful," do you really think those images cause it to not be useful/dont show research effort? I still believe you set too low of a standard for answers and a ridiculously high standard for questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 25, 2013 at 21:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: I used to just leave a comment whenever someone did this, and it was usually ignored. I don't think properly trimming and scaling images is a pedantic requirement any more than you expect people to properly trim any text they quote from elsewhere. We have a right to some respect. If it's too much of a mess to hand in as a homework assignment, it doesn't belong here either. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25, 2013 at 21:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: I can understand your objection to my high standard for questions, but I do not understand why you say I have a low standard for answers. Do you think I tend to answer sloppily? That I don't downvote other answers that you think are too sloppy? I'm really curious. I don't want to lightly slap someone in the face that is volunteering their free time to help unless it is downright wrong or misleading. Can you show examples of what you think I wrote poorly or should have downvoted? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25, 2013 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I have seen you react very negatively to a downvote. I have seen that you consider it has to be terrible for a downvote. The system already has the difference in asking questions and answering built in, upvotes on questions are only +5, upvotes on answers are +10. No, I in no way think your answers are poor, I should have been more clear about that. The only time I have taken issue is when you put in your answer why you think the question is poor in some way or another. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 25, 2013 at 21:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct, I have not given examples, I remember you being part of the crowd that takes downvotes seriously, do you need me to dredge up where you have written posts on meta about downvotes? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 25, 2013 at 22:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Kotuk: No, I thought you were saying I wasn't downvoting something enough or write stuff that should be downvoted. I do agree that downvotes on answers should be reserved for fairly serious problems, although that's largely what seems to happen. Answeres are people giving their free time, so I don't want to say "bad answer" lightly. Fortunately, bad answers are quite rare here. I thought you were trying to say they weren't and that I should be doing more about it. I see now that's not what you meant. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25, 2013 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mostly, my point is that upvotes are automatically twice as powerful on answers, this is how they add the reward for submitting your time to answer someone else, and you should not need a double standard when the site has already built in a much greater reward for answering. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 25, 2013 at 23:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with line of reasoning in this answer. I'm viewing the linked question on a computer with 512 MiB of RAM with 2 GHz Pentium 4 running Windows XP SP2. The computer is more than 10 years old and it loads that page perfectly. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Mar 26, 2013 at 10:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andre: I can see the page properly. Apparently SE has something in the HTML so that the browser resizes large images to 630 pixels wide. That then significantly slows down the browswer, which you notice when trying to scroll with any of the images on the screen. However, the real point is not even a bit of processing for proper presentation was done. Those images were simply dumped on us straight from the camera. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2013 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is, do you undo your downvote after they have fixed the issue? \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Apr 12, 2013 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passe: If they flag me, and I think they've done a sufficiently good job of cleaning up whatever the mess was, then yes. However, most of these morons didn't read the FAQ and don't put @<username> in the comment so often I don't find out that a change was made. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2013 at 12:54

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