What does the "not useful" downvote mean on philosophy.stackexchange?

Perhaps I'm not getting it. Seems like there's a broad consensus on what sort of questions we don't want to answer. Does that mean that they are not useful?

  • 1
    The mouseover reads "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." Is there something you don't understand about that? Also, what do you mean with "here"? Here compared to other SE sites, here on meta or here on SE?
    – user2953
    Jun 21, 2017 at 7:41
  • @Keelan very obviously, i think. i do not understand what is meant by "not useful"
    – user25714
    Jun 21, 2017 at 7:54
  • 1
    What is that you don't understand? A "not useful" downvote means that the question is not useful to the community or the person asking the question. You might use it for people copying their homework assignment here, for example.
    – user2953
    Jun 21, 2017 at 15:01
  • i'm not going to argue about whether i get the meaning of the term.
    – user25714
    Jun 21, 2017 at 16:38
  • 2
    You don't need to argue about it, can you just explain what your question is? As I read it now, it can be answered with a dictionary lookup of "useful", but I suppose that's not what you're looking for. In my previous comment I gave an example of a question that might be deemed "not useful". What would an answer to this question consist of?
    – user2953
    Jun 21, 2017 at 16:42
  • @Keelan i think one example may not be sufficient. maybe five important ones, and a general summing up of what these have in common
    – user25714
    Jun 21, 2017 at 16:44
  • e.g. i assume this question is "not useful". but if the answer is obvious, i'm not getting it
    – user25714
    Jun 22, 2017 at 19:36
  • @Keelan ohhh i think i got it? "not useful" applies to questions that the voter doesn't want to know the answer for?
    – user25714
    Jun 22, 2017 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


Seems to me that an un-useful question is one for which I or we do not want to know the answer.

This may be because:

  • it's a homework question
  • a lack of background on why you want to know the answer
  • a lack of background research on why anyone would
  • the question is about philosophy but has no interesting answer
  • the question is about philosophy but is not interesting as a question

The last two are a little problematic. When is a lack of an interesting answer the fault of the question? And how personal is the interest to a question?

However, the voting system, on this site, exists for reasons that include them.

  • why is this downvoted? i would very much like to know!! as i think it answers the question
    – user25714
    Jun 26, 2017 at 20:54

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