I know people questions are not clear, demanding etc etc...

It's the first question for most of them and they might even don't know how to use the stackexchange and just seeking help! i think stackexchange code of conduct is not really followed by some in Arduino stackexchange...

Is it because people want to get that "badge" related to down votes and just looking for something that is a bit wrong to press that down button?

  • 1
    Critic is the only badge related to downvotes and is awarded just once per user for the First down vote. It's been awarded 379 times on this stack. So it really does not explain downvoting... but downvotes do serve a function as Majenko's answer outlines. Whether this goal is achieved best by downvotes or something else has been discussed for year. Half of Stackexchange's meta is full of it...
    – Ghanima
    Jul 25, 2019 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


No, it's usually because those questions really are generally terrible. A step away from being closed, and two away from being deleted as gibberish.

Down-voting is a way of saying "This question is terrible. It needs work." but it's not so bad that it's worthy of closing as "unclear what you are asking".

Whether someone knows how to "use" Stack Exchange or not is no reason to ask questions like "I did this but it don't[sic] work. Here's my code". Wherever you ask a question it is surely just common courtesy to explain your problem clearly and succinctly. Here is no different to any other forum in that respect.

It may be possible, if you take the time and effort, to reformat the invariably "dumped on us" code and work out what his problem is (often the code is just gibberish), but most people just go "Nah, stuff you" and down-vote it as a bad question.

Another situation is where you have the same user asking basically the same question in different ways, where an answer has been given earlier and the new question is a slight modification of the original one as a kind of answer to the answer. Not strictly a duplicate, but still should really have been done as an edit to the first question.

Note that you can't go below 1 reputation - so down-votes to a new user really have no effect on the user. They only serve as an indication to those passing by that the question is probably not worth wasting your time reading.

  • 1
    yes they can't go below 1 rep but the down vote with comments like: "where's your code?" or "what's not working?" just gonna disappoint them. i think as you said: "most people just go "Nah, stuff you" and down-vote it as a bad question." is what actually happens to those questions. Jul 23, 2019 at 20:08
  • 1
    Another reason for downvotes is the common "Here is my code [link]" making people click through to another site to see the code (or images, or whatever). They can't be bothered to even include the code (even badly formatted) in the question. Downvote.
    – Majenko
    Jul 23, 2019 at 20:09
  • my point is; it's better to guide them to " post your code. use code tags" or "explain the problem clearly" etc and if the OP didn't do any of that then give the OP an down vote... Jul 23, 2019 at 20:12
  • 3
    Like newbie, I too feel that there is an undercurrent of negative voting. I've seen questions that I felt were reasonable - it could be argued that they were not great - but they weren't terrible - and yet they attracted negative votes. I've even seen an answer which seemed reasonable that had attracted 2 down votes (with no comments explaining why). Someone eventually posted a comment saying that a possible reason for the down votes was that they did not start their sentences with "capital letters". IMHO, there are some who may have forgotten what it is like to be starting from zero knowledge
    – GMc
    Jul 24, 2019 at 4:05

Stack Exchange is aware that it can be unfriendly to newbies, and indeed as I write this there is a message directly above where I am typing:

newbie is a new contributor. Be nice, and check out our Code of Conduct

I know very well that when you have a problem you want a quick solution and you don't really want to muck around reading about how to format your question, blah blah, you just want an answer.

However there are quite a few people here who are basically here just to help. Just as an example Edgar Bonet has asked one question but answered 745 at the time I write this. There are lots of other users like him, who look at the site every day and try hard to be helpful.

So sit back for a moment and imagine what it is like to try hard every day to help people with their Arduinos, and then see questions which are so poorly written it is almost impossible to help. I don't mean dumb questions (there aren't dumb questions) but just insultingly badly written questions. For example:

  • There is no obvious question, or even a question at all. Perhaps just a dump of an error message followed by the word "help!". Or, worse, just the comment that they "got an error" and "how do I fix it?".

  • The code is unreadable because the poster hasn't taken the time to find how to format it (ie. selecting it and pressing Ctrl+K). Not only that but after making their post, and seeing it look like gibberish on the screen, they don't make an effort to find out what is wrong, when something obviously is.

  • We are told there is an error but the error isn't actually quoted. As you know, compilers generate lots of error messages, so just being told "I got an error" is virtually a useless thing to say.

I've done a Meta post about How to ask a good question and I sort-of hope that newbies will read it. However judging by the sort of questions asked, I doubt that many do.

So, at the end, our regular users (the people who answer questions) can sometimes get a little terse when confronted with a question that seems to show that the poster hasn't really tried very hard to help him or herself to start with (such as searching for the solution before asking).

Is it because people want to get that "badge" related to down votes and just looking for something that is a bit wrong to press that down button?

No, I don't think people are motivated to get that badge. As Ghanima pointed out, the badge you are thinking of is "Critic". You only get that once, and I suppose the point of it is to encourage you to down-vote bad questions. I mean, if you don't tell someone that they have done something wrong (hopefully politely) then they will continue to do that wrong thing, won't they?

Your question is a good one -- it can be frustrating to be down-voted, but it also can be frustrating to see a really badly formatted and incomprehensible question. It would be great if everyone followed the Code of Conduct and also if people asking questions read How to ask a good question.

  • not just frustrating to newbies... I just had a question unceremoniously closed without voting by a moderator for being unclear. I've been around SO since before beta, and am in the top 0.06% of users, and I still dislike feeling like a victim of what I perceive to be incorrect, heavy-handed moderation. Aug 6, 2019 at 15:51
  • "Do you sleep yet?" is indeed a dump question ;)
    – Sim Son
    Aug 7, 2019 at 17:22

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