Highly related: What can we do about the deteriorating quality of questions?

This related question was asked over five years ago, and the situation has not improved. My perception is the opposite: A marked decrease in question quality all across the science based portions of the SE network since the decision was made to double the point value awarded to questions. This decision has encouraged people to write very low quality questions.

Bad questions will drive good answerers away.

I am on the verge of being driven away, in part due to the marked reduction in question quality, in part due to other bad technical decisions such as copyright, and in part due to the terrible treatment of SE moderators. I have noticed a drop-off in activity by other highly rated answerers. Doubling the bonus for asking questions is not the right answer.

The downvote penalty was not enough five years ago when the related question was asked, and now that minor penalty has been watered down even more. My modest proposal: Triple the penalty for downvotes.

  • $\begingroup$ I've appended the status-review tag in accordance with the new guidance from SE. This tag puts questions in a queue that they will see directly and address when they get to that queue item. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ Besides the difficult to prove premise that "things were better in the old days" is the premise that if that in fact were true, it's not the dearth of good questions, but only the (supposed) abundance of bad questions that will drive good answerers away. While you are an exceptional answerer, that exception also suggests you may not be a good model for other answerers. Are there others that can also confirm that they are not driven away by the lack of good answers but only by the number of not-good ones? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ This proposes a 3x bigger stick, but what can be proposed in the carrot department? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ The carrot was given away for free, @uhoh, when the points awarded for questions was doubled without any corresponding change in the downvote penalty. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ I see, so they put the cart before the horse by putting the carrot before the stick. Luckily they did not put the carrot before the horse or it would have just eaten it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 3:23

3 Answers 3


My impression is that a significant majority of low quality questions (across the network) are posted by 1 rep newbies. Since the downvote penalty has zero affect on their rep score, tripling it wouldn't make a difference.


As others have noted in the existing answers, I'm not sure this would have the effect you hope it would. If you see increasing the reward for question upvotes as a thing that encourages low-quality questions, then I'd say there may be something about the voting culture on Astronomy that needs to be looked at — are people up- and downvoting when appropriate?

Furthermore, this is definitely not something we're gonna be customizing per-site. As such, I'll it.

Our ongoing work on review queues is hopefully gonna be helpful in increasing question quality too, and making sure the low-quality posts get the help they need to get to the right place — so keep an eye on updates on that front.

  • $\begingroup$ side comment for other readers (not you specifically). To "...are people up- and downvoting when appropriate?" I think that people could up vote more often. I see so many questions with well-received answers where the only, lonely up vote on the question is mine. People should realize that a question that begets good answers is a great benefit to the site and deserves up votes. This will encourage more questions, which is the only way that more answers can be posted. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 5:03

My personal feeling is that down voting harder will not increase the number of the kind of questions that would cause question-answerers to stay and not leave. Angst begets angst.

I don't know about others, but I certainly don't self-censor out of a fear of getting down voted. Instead I first think about what questions will tend to lead to interesting answers, and then think about ways to write it so that it is not closed. That's just me; I'm not interested in getting more votes, rather I'm focused on providing opportunities for good and interesting answers to be posted.

Also see this answer to Should we use +5 instead of +10 if this becomes possible in the future? in Politics SE meta. All three answers there are some qualified form of "No, leave votes on questions at +10".

I think it would be great to work on finding more carrots, but I don't think a bigger stick is going to improve the frequency of answerer-retaining questions being asked.

I doubt there is any evidence that increasing the sting that each individual down voter can deliver has ever worked in another site, but if there was some it would be good to know about.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .