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I don't see any guidelines for down-votes. I thought that they should be reserved for answers that are wrong or misleading, not for correct answers that maybe aren't quite as good as others. Am I wrong?

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Nick gave the "closed form" answer. The longer version can be found in the help section: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/vote-down

When should I vote down?

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that is what I expected, but I wanted to confirm before I commented on down-votes. Maybe the "tour" page could link to this. \$\endgroup\$ – Mattman944 May 19 at 8:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mattman944 The best way to get more downvotes is to complain about getting downvotes. I think there's a site-wide meta answer recommending people not to reply to anyone asking about downvotes - nothing good can ever come from that. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe May 19 at 8:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pipe oops! I've been doing just that: When I post an answer that attracts downvotes and no comments, I tend to post a comment under it saying: "This answer is getting downvotes, which is democratically very fine, but I'd still love if someone could point out what's wrong with it", and have for the very dominant part been getting hugely constructive feedback. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller May 23 at 8:06
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The "closed form" guidelines for downvoting are in tooltips of the downvote buttons

for answers: "This answer is not useful"
for questions: "This question does not show research effort; it is unclear or not useful"

The downvoters are prompted to leave a comment explaining their reasons for downvote.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly, it is not obligatory to explain why the downvote is cast, which makes the downvote without comment in my eyes as unclear and lacking effort. \$\endgroup\$ – Huisman May 19 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree. Failing to comment or edit and correct is impolite and unprofessional and sometimes just lazy. \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 21 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree with @SunnyskyguyEE75. A comment should always be left. Would there ever be a way to make a comment mandatory with a downvote? As in it wouldn't register until a comment is left? \$\endgroup\$ – MCG May 22 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SunnyskyguyEE75 that's why I really only downvote either if there is enough discussion to show why (doesn't have to be my discussion) one would downvote, or if the question is effort-wise below the scale of me writing a comment politely asking the poster to do more research on their own. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller May 23 at 8:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ What if the downvote (in case of answers only) is only made valid if the accompanying comment is upvoted? Then, the downvote is 'validated' by someone else. \$\endgroup\$ – Huisman May 27 at 7:32
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When a question should be closed (and down-voted)

If it doesn't live up to the quality criteria described here:
https://electronics.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic
https://electronics.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask

This means that questions have to be specific, on-topic, narrow, reasonably researched/trouble-shooted in advance. And it has to be a question, not just a random statement.

Questions asking for recommendations of components, places to buy, tools, libraries and other off-site resources are off-topic.

Questions asking for help with homework must demonstrate research effort and be specific, with schematics, calculations or source code provided if needed.

Questions requiring readers to go through lots of off-site resources may be closed too, on case-to-case basis. Schematics, pictures and source code should be posted on-site, not through a link. Links to external datasheets are however fine and encouraged.

When a question is closed, it is first put "on hold", to give the OP a chance to fix it. After a while, the status automatically turns closed and then it may eventually get deleted.

When a question should be down-voted (but not closed)

If a question shouldn't be closed, but lacks in quality, it should be down-voted. This is a bit subjective but the purpose of down-voting is to encourage the OP to improve the post.

If some things are unclear or contradicting, if the question is sloppily formatted or hard to read for whatever reason. Etc. Things that make it bad, but not bad enough to warrant closing.

When an answer should be down-voted

Same quality criteria as for questions, if things are unclear. Technically incorrect or unhelpful answers should be down-voted.


It is polite but not required to:

  • Leave a comment when you down-vote. Constructively explain what you don't understand and what needs to be clarified or fixed. I would recommend to not write "I downvoted because...", since that only tends to create drama.
  • Re-visit a post you have down-voted and see if changes have been made to it, then undo the down-vote.
  • Delete any previous comment you have made if the problem you pointed out has been fixed, to reduce clutter.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Some people aren't following these, but my skin is getting thicker, it is bothering me less and less. I am also more likely to post a comment if I don't have a complete concise answer. Since, if I post a partial answer and later someone posts a complete answer, I may be penalized. \$\endgroup\$ – Mattman944 May 20 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like to get a notification when a post I've downvoted or commented on has been edited. Would simplify things. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe May 20 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The not leaving a comment has always bothered me. If I can improve a question or answer of mine, I'd rather someone left a comment as to why they downvoted it so it can be addressed or fixed. I always make sure to leave a comment whenever I cast a downvote, and will retract it if the issue is resolved (although if it takes too long sometimes I do tend to forget to revisit!) \$\endgroup\$ – MCG May 22 at 11:06

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