German version

Die gesamte Meta-Anfrage bezieht sich auf folgende Frage, die ich vor einer Weile gestellt habe: Was ist der Unterschied zwischen "Frau" und "Gattin"?

Dort hat der Benutzer MHvM eine Antwort abgegeben, die sicherlich alles andere als perfekt ist. Er war mir allerdings als "New Contributor" angezeigt worden, also habe ich seine Antwort nicht abgewertet, sondern ihm einen Kommentar geschrieben, in dem ich ihm erklärt habe, warum ich seine Antwort für verbesserungswürdig halte.

Stand heute hat die Antwort mindestens vier Downvotes erhalten. MHvM war bei einer Reputation von 1 und hat also nichts verloren. Da er aber gleich auf seine erste Antwort ein so niederschmetterndes Feedback bekommen hat, denke ich mir: "Der kommt wohl nie wieder".

Da es hier schon mehrfach die Diskussion gab, wie wir offener gegenüber neuen Beantwortern sein können, frage ich mich: Hätte ich die Antwort ebenfalls downvoten sollen? Hätten die Kritiker sich zurückhalten sollen mit ihren Bewertungen? Was ist wichtiger, das klare Signalisieren einer nicht hilfreichen Antwort oder eine "Willkommenskultur" (man verzeihe mir die politische Wortwahl)?

English translation

This meta-question refers to a question I asked some time ago: Was ist der Unterschied zwischen "Frau" und "Gattin"?

User MHvM gave an answer that was far from perfect. Since it was indicated that he was a "New Contributor", I did not downvote the answer. Instead, I wrote a comment, explaining why I think that his answer needs improvement.

Until now, the answer has "earned" at least 4 downvotes. MHvM was at a reputation of 1, so I think he hasn’t lost any reputation. But considering the devastating feedback he got on his obviously first answer, I say to myself: "That guy won't show up anymore".

Because of the discussions we already had about being nice to newcomers, I want to ask: Would it have been better to downvote his answer? Should the critics have refrained from downvoting? What is more important: Showing that an answer is not helpful or a culture where new ones always feel welcomed?


In my experience, there are two types of “bad” answers:

  • Answers that more or less contain the right information, but where the poster struggles with grammar, language, technical terms, formatting,... With very little community effort, those posts can be edited into good and helpful answers and the poster made feel welcome and supported.
    In those cases, a downvote is imho not justified. Remember that the tool tip says “This answer is not useful.” In fact, after an edit they are often upvote-worthy.

  • Answers that are sloppy, speculative, or simply wrong. While it’s highly commendable and recommended to comment on those, ask for clarification or suggest improvements (provided it’s done in a supporting, welcoming and positive way), it’s still a bad answer and downvotes are justified.
    Downvotes are anonymous on purpose on all SE sites, but in such a case, explaining the reason can also a welcoming gesture.

Bottom line:
The voting system is not a tool to welcome new users, it’s a way of ranking answers for their helpfulness. We have enough other options to support new users, helping to make their posts upvote-worthy is maybe the most powerful one.

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