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+33 votes

I'm a little confused about why often some new forum users, often those who write their first post, gets as  many down votes. I totally agree with the use of the downvotes when there are suggestions that you want to show an opinion about. When it's a purpose of showing if you think it is a good proposal that you agree with or a bad idea that should not be implemented on the site. But often new, perhaps not so skilled forum members gets downvoted, just because they have not "learned" everything yet. How do we think that a new person will dare to participate in discussions in the future if they get "crap" on their first entry. Many forum members are answering the posts in a very good and polite way, big credit to them. They are contributing to all forum members "education", all of them who don't dare to put up a post of their own. But please - there are no dumb questions, but more often many "I-know -it-all persons" Think before you hit the down vote button.

in Miscellaneous by Newtommon (2.9k points)
One vote up for you for bringing up this issue. :)
samehere , one vote up, for this important topic
Almost 3 years later and after stumbling upon this topic, I couldn't agree more. You deserve an up vote.  Thank you for bringing this up and choosing best answer which helped me to understand protocols on this Q and A. It is not a forum and I now understand that.

9 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

First off: You just got an upvote from me. There may be no stupid questions but there are a lot of lazy questions - questions where the person asking them has not done any research at all before asking it. Such questions may be problematic IMO. I will get back to why.

QA as a means of getting help on a specific topic within a specific area

A QA is a means of getting help within a specific area. In the case of a Project-GC QA, that area should be Project-GC - not questions about what your favorite cache is or what you think about the new virtual reward caches or who should be elected mayor in a particular town in Poland. All of the above are equally off-topic IMO if the topic is Project-GC.

Tone, treatment of newcomers and rules in social settings

It is always a prickly topic how to handle a community communication. There are many approaches to this. One issue in particular is how to handle newcomers who have yet to grasp the jargon and protocol. For a look at how this is done without gloves on, take a look at the Linux_kernel_mailing_list . Controversy has arisen multiple times over how harsh the tone can be there. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, has a reputation for speaking his mind and calling people idiots. That is not the tone one would wish here. There is, however, a tradeoff to be made. If nothing gets moderated or called out as off-topic or spam, other newcomers may have a hard time finding what they came to a QA about Project-GC for: Answers about how Project-GC works.

Consider this: If a child skips the line in a supermarket, would you let it? Would you let it bypass the social norm that a line to pay is? If yes, why? Would it not be better to educate a child in childhood about social norms? Isn't it more embarrasing to have to be taught basic social interaction principles in adulthood?

People are generally very socially aware animals. "Monkey see, monkey do". If everyone else a newcomer observes is behaving as if there are no rules, it is very much harder to get that newcomer to adhere to those rules as they have learned from example that noone else are obeying them. For a feeling of how that works, travel to a country where a red traffic light for a pedestrian is interpreted radically different by the locals from where you come from. Within a day, you do as the locals do, regardless of how the norms are where you come from. "When in Rome...".

When entering into a new social setting, the principle should be ear before mouth. If a social setting degenrates to everyone being all mouth and no ears, I would probably leave. If the mouthes you hear when you do this are spouting nonsense, slurs, etc, don't be surprised when the first word out of a newcomers mouth is also nonsense, slurs, etc.. "Monkey see (or hear)...".

Voting as a tool to separate the wheat from the chaff

Lacking moderation, the next best thing is to have the community itself decide on what is useful and what isnt. The box on the side of this QA says:

" [...] If you get a good answer, click the checkbox on the left to select it as the best answer.

Upvote answers or questions that have helped you. [...]"

The emphasis here is on upvoting that which is helpful. Conversely, if one was to downvote a question or answer, it should be because they found it unhelpful. For answers that could be because the person answering the topic misunderstood the question and was thus unhelpful in solving the problem at hand. For a topic it could be deemed unhelpful to ask off-topic questions which help to clutter up the QA for people seeking answers to a particular Project-GC related question.

It is not only those that post questions or answers who are users of a QA. I have consulted StackExchange literally thousands of times over the years for answers to questions I had, yet I have yet to post a single question of my own there. I simply search for an answer to my problem assuming that I am not the first to run into a variant of that problem, which is of course usually the case. A good QA should exhibit this quality: Asking the question yourself is usually unnessecary - someone else has already done that and got an answer.

Consider this: If there is a mechanism for helping others find help and to know which posts are worth reading and which aren't, shouldn't it be used?

Voting on topics with a non-question-like nature

Of course, nothing is ever that simple. In this "QA", there is also room for topic that aren't really questions in the sense of "how do I do that" or the like. That would be feature requests and bug reports to name a few. The topic in there are more along the lines of "I would like to see X" or "X is broken, here is how". The voting system does not make sense here per se. Of course one could impose the meaning "I would (or wouldn't) like that feature" and "Yes, X is broken. I would also like that fixed" (or "No, X is not broken"), but AFAIK, there is no established consensus on this.

To summarize: I upvoted this topic because I found it:

  1. Helpful to me (or anyone trying to figure out the rules and social protocol in here)
  2. Is about Project-GC (in particular, its QA)
  3. Novel (to my knowledge not addressed properly before)

There is a discussion on

  • How strict this QA should adhere to the traditional QA form of staying on topic about Q&A for that topic
  • What the votes should mean when they are about topics that aren't questions as such
  • How to treat newcomers. 

Apparently, this thread is the time and place for that discussion. These would be my 10 cents towards that discussion.

by Funky_Boris (9.7k points)
selected by Newtommon
Excellent response, one that both forum regulars and new posters could stand to read.

The same thing is true of the main forum on, and this has been often raised there.  The addition of the new users forum and the "How do I...?" forum helped to change the tone there.  Perhaps this forum could benefit from having a new forum for beginner users as well, in which the rule is that new users get the benefit of posting without risk of reprisal.
I'm surprised you have not received more up votes for this excellent answer.  Well, I added mine.  I like the way you wrote, "There may be no stupid questions but there are a lot of lazy questions" and I couldn't agree more.  I've already encountered a lot of 'lazy' questions since I started interacting on this Q&A.  It is frustrating that people do not use keyword search to find answers to their question.  But, I won't down vote out of frustration or annoyance.  I just comment or answer with helpful information or links to previously asked questions.  Thanks again for putting together this well written response.
+10 votes
I totally agree with this. Personally I would prefer for everyone only to be able to upvote, and not downvote. That would make the forum a bit friendlier too in my opinion. I don't see the use of the downvote anyway, but it has already brought some nasty remarks from people who got downvoted. So why not abolish the downvote completely?
by NLBokkie (3.0k points)
+8 votes
We also totally agree. When we first joined Project-GC and asked a few questions and answered a few, we were totally taken aback by negative votes we were given on what seemed very positive answers from us. At that point in time, we could have simply walked away (and perhaps some people do because they have been put off). But we stuck with the system, got used to it, loved it (apart from the down votes) and were very glad to renew our subscription at the end of the year, because there are so many amazingly positive things here at Project-GC. So we would sincerely support a suggestion to take away the down votes!
by GCZ Team (20.8k points)
An example to just show how negative the down vote system can be - look at the question asked by pinkunicorn on 5 December 2016 - whats-your-geocaching-target-2017? There are lots of positive votes on page 1, and up until very recently most of the answers on page 2 had 0 votes. But now someone ( or perhaps several someones?) has given a down vote to almost every answer on page 2!! Why? They are all positive answers, and worthy of up votes. We are tempted to go through the entire page, upvote them and get rid of those negatives! It would be better to get rid of the down votes altogether when this sort of thing can occur!
+4 votes

Really all my thanks for this post ... I am of the same opinion, there is no post superfluous or deplorable; And negative votes can be much more discouraging than they should!
I also had too many negative votes without understanding why really ... often my problem is to be able to translate correctly, to understand and to be understood ... I learned to put in two languages, but at what price of vote Negative!
I am favorable to canceled negative votes and more tolerance to help each other more positively

traduit par google du francais

Vraiment tous mes remerciements pour ce post ... je suis du méme avis, il n'y a pas de post superflu ou déplorable ; et les votes négatifs peuvent beaucoup plus décourager qu'ils ne devraient !

J'ai aussi eu beaucoup trop de votes négatifs sans comprendre pourquoi vraiment ... souvent mon probléme est de pouvoir traduire correctement, pour comprendre et etre compris ... j'ai appris a mettre en deux langue, mais à quel prix de vote négatif !

je suis favorable a annulé les votes négatifs et plus de tolérence pour s'entraider plus positivement

by Chup'a (11.2k points)
+4 votes
I agree with you on this. I choose not to down vote any users. Sometimes people need a polite reminding of why a question or answer is not significant, but this can be done in the form of a courteous comment.

I think we should all do are part in maintaining the growth of rate of users of the Community Support by not discouraging them from sharing their input.

Thanks for raising this topic.
by Potatonator (11.3k points)
+3 votes
I absolutely agree with you. My first steps here were also very hard. But now I must also have your criticism. Thanks, I will think again in the future before I vote or write!
by Sportsofa (2.3k points)
+2 votes

Thank you for bringing this topic up. I certainly agree that having the environment more welcoming would be nice, but there is problem there are quite no clear rules and the QA is often misinterpreted as "a forum", which makes it a huge mess. In the QA the good answers should get upvoted to the top, which is quite all the point of voting (except for the points), but it is probably turned off so the oldest answers stay above.

Unfortunately I am just a user and I don't have any super-privilege to do anything about that except of voting and commenting, which is not always well received. Also I always don't have a time to write extensive comments to every post here (either the questions do not make sense are for challenge checkers that are obsolete, or answers that are not answers or just comments 1, 2). That is causing only more confusion among all users.

The votes on both sides should be used with caution and I am trying hard. Disclaimer is that I gave out some of the down votes during these 3 years (certainly not all of them!). If I do downvote, it has a reason. I guess I also got my portion of downvotes, but my answers got also many upvotes so I hope they helped.

Quite on the side to the discussion for reference, there are other QAs have different or better rules for voting (limited upvotes per day, downvotes allowed only for if you have enough points) and points system (awarded for received upvotes and accept, rather than for the answer itself), which makes the site more balanced and more self-moderated (such as stackoverflow).

by Jakuje (Moderator) (113k points)
Thank you for this post. Now I've learned something new. I did not know there was such a clear difference between a forum and a QA. I am one of those who have messed it up, just because I didn't have the knowledge. I do believe that the up and down votes are for a reason other than they seem to be heading today. A few years ago, they were used more for proposals, good responses and so on, like you describe. Maybe it would be a good thing with clearer rules or information for their use. To politely refer to that a question has already been answered or on the other hand briefly write any form of short comment contribute to all the users "education", we are many members who reads the QA to learn and to get informed. But the extended use of down votes I've seen, especially to new people, makes me a bit concerned. I also believe that it prevents many from asking questions. And if no one asks the questions that others do not dare to ask - how can we all learn and become better?
The basic concept of QA is very briefly explained in the box on the right side of every site. But it is very hard to get people read or learn something. It is not a problem only here, but quite much everywhere on the internet.
The votes are used more, I would say probably because there is just more users than it was years ago (I don't have numbers, but it would be very interesting to compare).
All communities are about people, about more experienced users helping new ones, about patiently explaining and trying to understand on both sides. It is what we should all try here, but it is at most the job for the Moderators who should be some kind of authority.
I agree entirely with Jakuje on this one. This is not a forum, it's a community support system for project-gc. One of the primary purposes of it is to pool information about project-gc so that users are able to find answers and help regarding problems with project-gc.

Lately, it has taken a turn so that a lot of people seem to think of it as a geocaching forum. It is not. One such forum does exist, however. It is right here:

If you want to discuss geocaching in general (goals, experiences, ect.) that is where you go IMO.

The guide at the side of this page says to "Upvote answers or questions that have helped you.".Conversely, I reserve the right to downvote questions and answers that are plainly off-topic simply becacuse they are not about project-gc, unhelpful or even misleading.

I will concede that this might seem disheartening to receive a downvote, especially considering that you don't get feedback with that as to why. In any other forum, an admin would move off-topic posts to an off-topic category if deemed off-topic.

In the absense of strict moderators the best way IMO to _help_ other readers who try to sort the signal from the noise and find a usable answer is to upvote good threads and answers, and downvote bad ones.

There is, however, some confusion about what the number of votes on a suggestion thread means. Does it mean that the reader found the discussion about the topic illuminating or that they would like to see that suggestion implemented into project-gc? Perhaps both? Some clarifcation on that would perhaps be welcome :)
+2 votes
I fully agree.
It should be written at an upvote, a text to understand it better.
If one dan with its name behind it, one thinks better how one rehagiert to questions.
Excuse my English is so cruel.
Minos2003 from Belgium

Ich stimme voll und ganz zu.
Es sollte bei einer upvote, eine text geschrieben werden um es besser zu verstehen.
Wenn man dan mit seinem Namen dahinter steht überlegt man sich besser wie man auf Fragen rehagiert.
Entschuldigt das mein Englisch so Grausam ist.
Minos2003 aus Belgien
by Minos2003 (4.8k points)
0 votes
I totally agree with you! :)
by Bernike (1.1k points)