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  • Christian StackExcange seems to be a useful site.But the downvoting of good questions is destroying the "Big picture"

  • If you have two questions with a downvote,you can`t ask another question for days,a site like Mi Yodeya is much better on this.Where you get more then one chance to ask " A so called good question" And the questions there are on a much greater level then on this site.

  • And It`s not true,many good questions will get the downvote just because some have another view on theology.

  • The Christian StackExchange needs to change in order to bring "better questions to the table"

The question is: Why so many downvotes? Because of bad questions or maybe this site is not working the way It should?

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    Can you give some specific examples of "good questions" that have been downvoted? – bruised reed Feb 26 '16 at 22:23
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    I do agree that the auto-question banning script seems a little too heavy for my tastes, however, I do not think users should refrain from downvoting just because it may trigger the auto-ban script. – 3961 Feb 26 '16 at 22:55
  • It does seem like there is a minor community agreement that new users are not understanding the site well enough before making their first post: Do we have a question quality problem from new users lately? – 3961 Feb 26 '16 at 23:11
  • Apologies, I did not realize my previous comment was cut short. What I meant to say was: I have recently noticed very negative responses to questions which were, admittedly, not worded well or needed some focus, but still worthy topics that could be edited into valid questions. Often someone unfamiliar with the topic makes an assumption based on their limited knowledge and claims that a question is too broad or is subjective or, in one case, possibly not a serious question at all. I would suggest to everyone to not weigh in on a question's worth if you are not very familiar with the topic. – Joshua Mar 4 '16 at 12:24
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I do agree that the auto-question banning script seems a little too heavy for my tastes, however, I do not think users should refrain from downvoting just because it may trigger the auto-ban script. Perhaps we might be able to loosen the severity of the script's actions.

If it really is triggered after only two consecutive questions that are down voted and closed, then, yes, that is much too heavy. This site is difficult to get at first. You're gonna need more than two tries to get it right.

My recommendation to all new users who don't get it within two posts is that they go slow:

  • Make only one or two posts a day
  • Heed the feedback; contemplate on it
  • Work on making those posts better if you receive negative feedback
  • Read the meta posts that people link for you.
  • Read at least one meta post a day that is tagged .

If you're just swinging by and only expect to ask or answer just the one time, thanks for stopping by. If you're serious about contributing, then you need to get serious about the site policies. They weren't made up by some oppressive admin sitting by himself in his mom's basement. The community that writes the posts came up with them over the course of the last five years. They've been tested, scrutinized, pushed, adapted, and optimized by a hundred different users who want the site to generate high quality content. If you don't like some of the policies, you can make a meta post about it, but your participation on the main site must abide in those policies unless they are changed.

As far as voting goes, you should always feel compelled to vote, whether up or down. Not voting is only acceptable in my mind if you haven't read the post or if it is bad or wrong in some minor way, but not bad enough to down vote. Either way, if you have a specific problem with a post that prevents an up vote, you should comment on what that is. That's why the comments are there: to make the site better.

Every serious user of this site should have one unifying goal: To ensure that the site consistently generates useful, interesting, and high quality content. Being keenly aware of the policies detailed on meta, commenting, and voting are part of the process that ensures this.

  • My understanding is that the ban gets auto removed if those questions are improved. That's its purpose: to tell you to slow down and improve what you have already posted. – curiousdannii Feb 26 '16 at 23:43
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    @curiousdannii Let's face the facts: Most of these bad questions are unsalvageable. It's easier to tell them why and let them try again with a different question. Getting only two tries is simply not enough for this site. I think more like five is better, then you get a five day ban or something. If your next three are also bad, you get a perma-ban. You're either obstinate or stupid by that point. – 3961 Feb 26 '16 at 23:51
  • Do you know if the auto ban gets removed if the posts are self deleted? I think I've read something along those lines before. – curiousdannii Feb 27 '16 at 0:01
  • @curiousdannii I think I've read the exact opposite! Deletion of any kind doesn't help. – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 0:17
  • @curiousdannii The problem is that the auto-ban script C.SE uses is a recycled version they designed for SO. Fixing an SO coding question is like changing your oil. Difficult at first, but can learn in one go. Fixing a C.SE question is like an engine swap. Takes more than a few goes to get it down, and sometimes it's just better to get a new car. – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 0:18
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    It's probably worth making a feature-request post for loosening the autoban requirements. – El'endia Starman Feb 27 '16 at 0:39
  • @El'endiaStarman I think I need to know exactly what they are first, then I can give an exact feature-request change. But SE keeps the details quiet, right? – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 0:49
  • @fredsbend"They've been tested, scrutinized, pushed, adapted, and optimized by a hundred different users who want the site to generate high quality content. " If so,It`s impressiv how this site is not working out that well.Should be five bad questions ,then a warning.Then after seven bad in a row,you get banned for a week. – MHA Feb 27 '16 at 0:51
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    @MHA It is working out pretty well. It does consistently generate high value content that does consistently generate non-Stack Exchange originating traffic. What is not working out that great right now is new user acclimation and retention. As an acute problem, it won't harm the site. As a chronic problem, it will kill it eventually. The problem is acute right now and we are working to address it so that it doesn't spiral out of control into a chronic, systemic problem. – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 0:56
  • @MHA You're perspective as a new user is helpful, though, so please continue to give feedback. – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 0:59
  • @fredsbend: From what I've seen, the threshold is something like 2 questions with <= -3 score in a short period of time. I think you can still request it to be loosened even without knowing exactly what the criteria are. – El'endia Starman Feb 27 '16 at 0:59
  • @El'endiaStarman I think I shall than. This weekend, unless someone beats me to it. – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 1:00
  • @MHA By the way, I said the exact same thing, that the site is not doing well, when I first joined. It's only grown since. You can see in my first meta post three years ago how I struggled to see why stringent rules were in place. The short answer: they keep highly valuable content around and suppress or delete the junk. Lately, the problem is a higher noise to content ratio, where noise is stuff we don't want and content is stuff we do. – 3961 Feb 27 '16 at 1:05
  • Great post, love your last two paragraphs in particular. – bruised reed Feb 27 '16 at 2:05
  • If it's only downvotes that affect it, not closed questions, then maybe we could as a community try to limit our downvotes for new users. But if closed questions do matter then there probably isn't much we can or should do. – curiousdannii Feb 27 '16 at 3:55
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There are "good questions" (related to the topic of Christianity) and then there are "good questions that work well on Christianity.SE"...

These two groups are overlapping but different sets, and because of the nature of the site, the latter set is actually quite a bit smaller than the former set. Why is this so? Well, one of the main reasons is because we wish to avoid one of the problems you mention - people voting based on agreeing/disagreeing with the theological view expressed. Or even worse, questioning the validity of a particular viewpoint to be even represented on the site (This latter problem is talked about in the post Christianity.SE vs. Survivor).

So we wish to avoid the types of questions that will provoke such choices. We may not be able to do this entirely, because voting is anonymous and if people really want to vote according to their theological prejudices, we can't actually stop them. So the solution worked out in the formative period of the site, is to avoid what we call "truth questions". What is a truth question? A truth question is one that seeks to determine whether a particular doctrine is true (or whether a practice is valid) without addressing the fundamental question "according to who?". The problem these types of questions cause, are addressed in the post We can't handle the truth. That would seem to leave a whole heap of things off-topic to the disappointment of many people. However, we can simply avoid the vote-wars, by promoting an understanding of the site's culture that it exists to be descriptive not prescriptive. It exists not to say what is right or wrong, but merely to describe what (different kinds of) Christians believe (about what is right and wrong and many other things); and that does actually still leave a whole heap of stuff that can be asked about.

So what is a good question for Christianity.SE?

One of the first steps to writing a good question for Christianity.SE is to request a specific viewpoint appropriate to the question. Unfortunately, many new users don't seem to understand how critically important this is and write question after question that needs to be radically edited or closed.

That said, here are some posts that give more detail to this and other principles, while providing concrete examples as well: What makes a good focused question? & Types of questions that are within community guidelines.

What I've said so far has been about "good questions" that will fit this site, not about down-voting as such. If a question is not good for the site, you might think it will automatically attract down-votes, but this is not necessarily the case. The appropriate response for a question that is not a good fit, is a VTC (vote to close) and a comment explaining the problem with the question. It is preferred that these questions are closed asap because a) they can be reopened easily if and when the underlying problem is addressed & b) while they remain open in a form that doesn't work well for the site, they are highly likely to generate more content (in the form of answers) that is not a good fit for the site either.

When should we down-vote a question?

There is a pop-up description when you mouse-over the down-vote option next to a question that says:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

So while voting is anonymous and we can't enforce that people stick to those criteria, they should be the basis on which people decide to down-vote.

How a person determines whether a question is "not useful" is likely to be somewhat more subjective than the other options; but from my observations, most people down-vote not merely because they disagree with the theological ground of the question, but are more likely to do so if they make a judgment that the question is likely to be controversial without adequately addressing the particular viewpoint requested or they are asking a question of a particular viewpoint but are somehow misrepresenting the viewpoint in question (very common in "gotcha questions").

You should find it relatively easy to avoid down-votes if you follow the site's Guidelines toward a polite, academic tone.

Final word

If you are a new user and have managed to read through this post and the linked content in it, you may be wondering "why on earth is this all so complicated? Why can't I just ask a simple question?" To that, all I can say is that this site exists not to answer simple questions, but to be a persistent resource that provides expert answers for well-defined questions - it may not be what you are looking for.

That said, if you learn the ropes, you may find that there actually is a lot of content on the site that is useful to yourself (try searching under some of the tags that are more closely related to your area of interest) - having a good idea of what content is already on the site: will help inform what makes a good question; will help avoid wasted time writing duplicate questions; and will help to identify "gaps" in the site where it would be useful to ask questions.

Newcomers: Be patient. You will get there if you follow our direction. Keep trying.

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