The question Why isn't Eris considered a planet despite being the body of dominant mass? received three down votes in its first three hours, but with none of the down voters leaving any clues as to why, what the problem they perceive is, or how the post might be improved in their thinking.

Is this how a Stack Exchange site should work? Or should someone clue the OP in as to where they think the problem might lay?

I did not vote either way but I left a comment for the OP suggesting why I thought it might be happening, but I don't yet see a down-votable problem with the question myself, it's only a guess.

It's not actionable because I'm making behavioral estimations of the voters rather than actionable comments.


  1. Is this how a site should work? Or when we are pile-on down voting should at least someone clue the OP in as to what might be down-votable and how the post can be improved in their opinion?
  2. How close was my guess to the real reason(s)? Why are people down voting this question?
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for coming up with it. My other question on the length of day of celestial bodies was also downvoted one time, with no apparent reason. I think it is because of my criticism of the 2006 planet definition. Not just here but generally people seem to be hated for criticizing it. There seems to be more to it than just whether Pluto is a planet or not. $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 25 '20 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @user30007 It is also possible that there are issues that have been addressed in other questions and answers here and so your question might be perceived as "re-litigating" the same issue. Nonetheless comments should accompany at least some of the downvoting. We won't know until somebody steps up and says something actionable. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 25 '20 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ You're right but I have a strong feeling that I'm hated for the planethood case. A certain user on the stack exchange insulted me once for it and now I've poured oil into fire by stating that Eris must obviously still be a planet even if they stretch their definition. $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 25 '20 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @user30007 Since you feel that you've "poured oil into fire" and used a question post to push an agenda rather than to ask a question, I too will down vote. I'm glad we've figured out what's going oin. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 25 '20 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ It is a question on why Eris is excluded from planethood because if you stretch the definition so that Pluto wouldn't be a planet, then Eris obviously still must be a planet. I would say there is an agenda going on to not allow for any criticism of the 2006 definition which includes questions that may prove its weaknesses. Were you in Room 101 or something? $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 26 '20 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ @user30007 This is Stack Exchange, it's not a place for criticism. The internet is full of places to do that, but SE is narrowly focused on good answers to on-topic questions. It just is not the proper site to make arguments or post positions. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 26 '20 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ Others have also done that. $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 26 '20 at 7:40
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    $\begingroup$ @user30007 it's discouraged and people who keep doing it will get increasing levels pushback. It could be that SE can't provide you the level of contention that you'd like. There are plenty of other places to argue on the internet. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 26 '20 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ Mike G linked to this question in a comment to my meta question Can we make arguments that Pluto should be considered a planet off-topic?. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Jan 21 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ I suspected that I was one of those who downvoted without a comment. I was not. That is no longer the case. By the time user30007 had posted the question in question, I had had it up to here, and beyond, with that user. He or she had posted far too many questions and answers in extreme bad faith, so much so that I told the site to ban him or ban me. I should have downvoted the linked question at the time it was asked, sans comment. That "there are no bad questions" is fallacious. Some questions are asked in extremely bad faith. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Jan 21 at 11:47

If I was to guess why the downvoters downvoted, it's because user30007 is repeatedly bringing up the issue with little meaningful discussion coming of it and has garnered a bad reputation.
Examples of contributions criticising the IAU definition of a planet 1 2 3
It's a case of the boy who cried wolf. The user has repeatedly made an issue of it and now people are just ignoring and downvoting what they have to say.

This is in addition to the fact that some of the beliefs the user has are slightly controversial.

The 2006 definition is based on the big bang and evolution theory ("hydrostatic equilibirum" and that "Neptune forced Pluto's orbit") rather than Creation science. I'm sure that the orbits in our planetary system didn't change since Creation about 6,000 years ago. So the definition is evolution-biased. Dr Stern instead is speaking of tri-axial ellipsoids rather than "bodies in hydrostatic equilibirum". What a planet is and isn't is objective and not to be decided by democratic voting (and most of the IAU were anyway absent during the notorious voting)


Is this how the site should work? Probably not, but in this case, it's more based on context. If a user is believed to repeatedly ignore the feedback/answers provided, why should the other users be expected to engage with them constructively?

  • $\begingroup$ The stack exchange doesn't force a liberal point of view. There's nothing "controversial" on Creation science. It confirms Scripture the word of God. Of course my statement wasn't fully correct because Earth was created first and the other planets and stars on the fourth day. So our planetary system surely didn't change since the fourth day of Creation week essentially. $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 25 '20 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ @user30007 You have a right to believe that and associate with others who do, but this community is rather committed to concepts which can be tested by experiment or observation. $\endgroup$ – Mike G Feb 26 '20 at 2:15

I have now added a comment explaining my downvote. When I receive a downvote, I try to learn from it. That's easier if a reason is offered, but sometimes I don't get one. That's life.

This site is for learning and teaching, not for influencing opinion. The distinction between major, dwarf, and minor planets would be nice to clarify, but the people who could do so are unlikely to read a discussion here. The definition tag originally on this question hinted at such an agenda, which subsequent questions appeared to confirm. I hoped David Hammen's vehement yet learned comments here and answer here would put the matter to rest, but no such luck. These comments may not have helped.

I bear no malice toward user30007; I would like to see more posts from them on other topics. The physical properties and dynamical history of Eris are far more interesting to me than its size classification. Several scientists and science writers have expressed similar views about Pluto.

  • $\begingroup$ Mr Hammen obviously is a radical liberal who insulted me directly or indirectly some times and didn't try to lead a contructive debate on planethood any longer. $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 25 '20 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ @user30007 Sorry you had a negative interaction. If you seek extended debate, this site is not a good fit. $\endgroup$ – Mike G Feb 25 '20 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ @user30007 Stack Exchange is not for debating. As mentioned above, it's "...not for influencing opinion." $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 25 '20 at 23:39

I think there might be two possible reasons for the downvotes. I am, however, not a psychologist, so these are just my guesses.

  1. The topic has been discussed before often enough. Some people are "fed up" with discussions about the definition of a "Planet" and might think that this question has been answered before on SE or the information is easy to find elsewhere. In that case it would, of course, be better to point others to that answer. Either by linking to the duplicate or just writing a short answer.
  2. The tone of the question was seen as inappropriate. Formulations like "these guys" or "anti-Plutoers" might be seen as derogatory or as a personal attack. And instead of pointing that out or maybe suggesting an editing, people just gave a downvote.

In both cases, I would say, just downvoting the question without a clear reason is not how SE should operate and this is a symptom of lazy users. And therefore something one has to live with.

  • $\begingroup$ "These guys" was not meant to be insulting in any way. "Anti-Plutoers" is a name that the Eris discoverer, proud 2006-definition-proponent and self-proclaimed Pluto-demoter Michael Brown surely would love. He calls himself even worse on Twitter (I won't tell you). $\endgroup$ – user30007 Feb 25 '20 at 19:24

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