I received a down vote on this question without any comment.

Can one help me to understand how this question could be improved?

I think that a moral and implicit policy of MO is that a comment should be added to every down vote.


3 Answers 3


A way to improve the question could be to mention in which context it arose, and why you ask the specific questions you asked. Generally, it is encouraged to present some context with the question, and not only a terse question.

From a stylistic point of view, as written it looks like a textbook exercise. Questions presented in this style are often not well-received.

Let me make very clear that I have no idea how hard or interesting the question is in its substance, All I want to point out is that votes based on the criterion "looks like a homework problem" (based on the style, not the content) do happen.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your interesting answer. I try to revise that question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 12:04
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    $\begingroup$ @AliTaghavi: Another hint, as silly as it may look like: you have spent 3400 points on bounties, leaving only 47. This makes you look like a new user, and new user's questions are in general less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt if there are shortcomings in the formulation, if they are written in bad English, if they look like textbook exercises, etc.. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl Thanks a lot for your comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer. Context and motivation help a lot! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25 at 21:00

Let me add some points to quid's nice answer on how to manage the situation of receiving down-votes without commenting.

  • The first principle is not to overreact. Note that down-votes could come from any source even from new users with low reputation and even from those who didn't get the main point of the question. Thus, all down-votes doesn't indicate that your question needs improvement!

  • Anyway if you feel uncomfortable about a down-vote without clear signaling, asking for an explanation is not a bad idea. Add a polite comment requesting extra explanations of the voter. It sometimes happens that your required explanation comes from another user which could guide you to the possible issue in your post.

  • If your question is somehow typical, reading similar questions could also help improving your post.

  • If these unreasonable voting without signaling happens frequently in your posts, bring the issue to the meta and if it doesn't resolve ask moderators to check the situation.

  • $\begingroup$ Downvotes cannot come from completely new users, as there is a reputation requirement for downvoting (150 as far as I recall). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft I know. I mean fairly new users. $\endgroup$
    – user74059
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ I slightly disagree with your second point. One should add a polite request for explanation, not a demand, even a polite one. Avoiding giving an aggressive image of oneself is highly recommended if one wants helpful responses. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @JoonasIlmavirta Thanks for reminding the grammatical point. I edited the word. My mother tongue is Hebrew and sometimes it happens that I use wrong English words. However, I believe it is a very nice habit of voters to add explanations for their down-votes. It is also a part of poster's (informal) rights to know why his post is receiving down-votes because sometimes a non-well thought negative vote may cause a change in the fate of the question, in the sense that it may misguide the other users to ignore the question or cast other inappropriate down votes. $\endgroup$
    – user74059
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that the original poster should be told what is wrong with the question. Sometimes this explanation comes as a box explaining why the question was put on hold, and sometimes that is enough. If more detailed feedback is necessary, it should be given as a comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 11:02

@AliTaghavi, you're very right that downvoting and removing questions without a comment is cowardly and immoral and often grossly abused.

There is nothing about mathematics that requires secrecy. MO should be about mathematics, hence up/down voting should be about mathematics and not about other issues as true or imaginary bad manners, etc. MO administration may treat those other issues but without affecting the mathematics on MO via down-votes and/or removing a question.

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    $\begingroup$ "It's interesting that the two participants that support secret down-voting are anonymous." --- not quite, these are accounts that have been deactivated and have therefore lost the original name, the screen name of one of these is actually cited (and is still active as a moderator on other sites) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Carlo, I stand corrected. I will remove the line about "anonymous." $\endgroup$
    – Wlod AA
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 4:51

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