Are there any voting guidelines? I haven't found any in the FAQ.

Background is this question, downvote and comment by "user unknown". Basically it appears as if he downvoted my answer because he doesn't like the word "nachverfolgen" out of principle, implying there are no "intelligent" sentences to be formed with that word, and that "verfolgen" was a perfect substitute for all instances of "nachverfolgen".

My point, which he didn't answer yet, is that as long as a word is recognized as a proper German word, which a simple Duden/Google search confirms (my LMGTFY-reflexes are itching mightily here), he should not downvote my answer based on his mere dislike of that word. The word in question has been used by the user posting the question, and that user merely cited another person.

So what I'm saying is: Votes should be given according to the correctness and usefulness of the answer, not some purely personal like/dislike of the example sentence.

Is that correct or not?

  • 1
    Likely this is closely related: meta.german.stackexchange.com/questions/372/… - if we believed we had to fulfil a downvote-quota we might end up with downvoting good content.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 8:58
  • @Takkat: This is not at all related, nor am I asking for a downvote quote which you or somebody else has to fulfil. Your remark is offtopic, not constructive, and polemic. Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 20:12
  • @Hackworth: My vote wasn't given on a purely personal dislike of the example question (what makes you believe so?). Instead, I think it is just bad German. Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 21:36

4 Answers 4


Regarding your first question: The privilege descriptions say something:

And there are the tooltips of course...

Regarding your second question: I think you're right. I think downvotes should be used very sparingly. Promotion is better than demotion. Downvotes imo should be reserved for cases that are clearly wrong and misleading and can not be rectified by comments. So yeah, ultimately I think the downvote to your answer is not deserved.

On the other hand I stopped worrying about by my definition undeserved downvotes. In most instances where I received downvotes here I either don't think they are deserved or they haven't been taken back after I corrected the issue. But when you have a downvote out of a couple of upvotes it just isn't worth to think about it too much. We have all better things to do with our time. Someone always disagrees.

  • Exactly, there always gonna be people who disagree with you!
    – Gigili
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 16:11
  • @Gigili I doubt that.
    – k.stm
    Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 16:14
  • @K.Stm.: You mean you disagree?
    – Gigili
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 9:47
  • @Gigili Yes, thank you for explicating my joke. Nevertheless, I truly doubt that.
    – k.stm
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 9:49

There is only one effective voting guideline and it is already established:

"How to vote is the decision of the voter."

Everything else is just useless. You cannot prove the intention of a vote. You can argue about correctness to no end. How do you want to force someone to not downvote (or upvote) if you think (or whoever) that it is undeserved? You can't, so just leave it.

  • 1
    Of course you can't, but that isn't the point. If you don't establish a baseline, you could just just do away with that pesky voting altogether.
    – musiKk
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 18:39
  • I wouldn't have asked the question if I wasn't certain that it was the reason for the downvote, and I'm certain because the downvoter said as much himself.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 20:11
  • @musiKk, you cannot establish a baseline, that's the point. And yes, you can just do away with the pesky voting. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 7:59

I think the comments to both answers yours and Urs Reupke's imposingly show the enormous range of different meanings to - imho - even simple and clear issues.

Since there is a broad range you'll ever get some more or less unjustified votes, but in both direction. Lots of questions and answer have many upvotes and I really don't know what for the upvotes are made.

A voting guideline? Well, that'll hard to force through. But comparing with other SE site you'll see that we already have a user-friendly voting system on GLU, hence we have no reason to chance.

Well, if you want to have a helping hand, I would say:

  • Reserve upvotes for really good questions/answer. That is:
    • The question is clear, there is no doubt in the intention of the question.
    • The user made a research and it is reasonable that he couldn't find any satisfying answer.
    • An answer is thoroughly correct. Online links are often helpful ;)
      Side note: Personal thoughts, likely based on e.g. region dialects, should be clearly marked as notes.
  • Reserve downvotes for really bad questions/answer. That is:
    • The intention of the question is not clear. You're not able to improve the question.
    • You can give an answer, since there is a qualified result on page one on Google.
    • An answer is just wrong. None of the conjectures are reasonable or verifiable.
  • 1
    I disagree with the Google bit. Search results depend much on search terms. We can let anything appear on the first result page by using appropriate search terms or bury it on page 100 with a wrong search. In addition Google search results depend a lot on individual user settings. What comes up on page 1 for you may not show up at all on somebody elses search. A downvote would be quite unjust then.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 8:44
  • @Takkat Yup, sure. I agree. For instance: If you know the technical term you will find the answer, the one who don't know them won't find anything at all. But your instinctive feelings will tell you if your Google search was based on a higher knowledge than you can expect from OP or not. I've seen a lot of question where I just put the keywords from the question in Google and found the result in just a few seconds. That's what I'm referring to.
    – Em1
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 9:07

LMGTFY is on my side, too. To cite some aged discussions from general meta, here is a consideration to use downvotes to make an upvote on another answer shine alight by (attention! argumentam ad autoritatem) Jon Skeets answer to: Encouraging people to explain down-votes and the answer of shog9 .

Related: Downvoting penalty and costs: Should the weight of downvotes be increased? and here: Why do you cast downvotes on answers?

Am I downvoting too much, or are things really that bad?

Of course I present a slightly biased subset of discussions and answers, but you know you're free to read the other answers as well and search yourself for more discussions on that topic.

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