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This question, which inludes some nice trivia (i.e. is clearly researched), is clear, and could even prompt some interesting replies, got downvoted, with no explanation.

This question about defintions, which is against the rules, got 10 upvotes.

Either the site has a mutable set of rules or guides, and I haven't been made aware of them, or the majority of regular users are voting based on their personal perferences -- likely for the person who is posting.

I get that some questions are more interesting, and can't be instantly googled. Such as the questions I ask.

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Two things:

The question about the definition of "physical" is not, as far as I can tell, the undesirable kind of definition-question. We don't want philosophically irrelevant questions like "what is a philosopher", nor exceedingly narrow ones like "how is the exclusive disjunction defined". However, a question about a philosophical term with significant implications through e.g. metaphysics, ontology, philosophy of science, mind, etc. is fine, especially when it's still somewhat a point of contention.

That said, I don't think there was anything wrong with the question you posed. In fact, I think it's a nice question. But there's a bit of a popularity contest on stack exchange in general, where easily summarized "buzzword" questions will attract votes while relatively niche and obscure questions are passed over because people aren't that interested in the topic or just don't feel they understand the question. Your question, while good, is also a decidedly obscure one which most people will simply skip because they haven't the time or the interest to muse on it. This isn't very fun, but it's also inevitable when experts are few and far in between.

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  • hmm so definitional questions are ok if they have implications to understanding many philosophical problems. that's great, i shall remembet to include how important the term is, to philosophers, if ever asking a question about definitions. ps the faq should be updated :) – user25714 Apr 8 '17 at 18:50
  • @user3293056 can you clarify where exactly it says that they are not allowed. This was removed as a close reason some time ago already. – user2953 Apr 9 '17 at 5:39
  • @Keelan well in that case, it was some time ago that i saw that. Great :) – user25714 Apr 9 '17 at 5:53
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I'd like to add a few things to what commando already has mentioned.

Either the site has a mutable set of rules or guides, and I haven't been made aware of them, or the majority of regular users are voting based on their personal perferences -- likely for the person who is posting.

Yes, the rules are mutable (that's what we do here on meta), but that's more of a long-term process. Yes, the majority of regular users is voting based on their personal preferences. Voting is inherently personal and designed to be so. That's why it's a privilege, gained at a certain reputation level: you are trusted to know enough about the site to have an idea about what good posts are, but this "good" is not defined and voters are not machines following a set of predefined rules. However, without e.g. comments indicating personal grudges it would be jumping to conclusions to claim that the sole reasons for votes is the post's author.

That being said, your post has only received one downvote, which I think is negligible. Also, do you remember when you received that downvote? If it was on the first revision of your post, that would be understandable, wouldn't it? Anyway, don't worry about it. Everybody receives sporadic downvotes. When your posts are getting downvoted systematically, there is a detection system in place which will notify the moderators.

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