4

I have been on a number of stackexchange sites, and the level of down-voting (and reluctance to up-vote) on philosophy.SE is just bonkers. Recently I received a down-vote on an answer to a question asking for philosophy jokes. My answer quoted a joke and included a linked reference to the source. There was zero controversy or possible offensiveness in the joke. BOOM --- down-vote!

So anyway, the community here is so [BLEEP]-up that you get down-voted for a [BLEEP] joke* (in the context of a question that asked for jokes). Even an innocuous joke is apparently too controversial to avoid down-voting!

I am not too fussed about reputation on this site. I have plenty of rep on some other sites (mostly CrossValidated) and I recently started making some contributions. As someone coming across from other sites, it is demotivating when you contribute something as innocuous as a little joke you liked (again, in the context of a question that asked for jokes) and you still get a little (-2) red flag the next time you visit. I understand that not everyone will like the same jokes, and hence, some will not be up-voted. But honestly, down-voting a joke? What the [BLEEP] is wrong with people on this site? If this is the atmosphere here, is there any point continuing to contribute?

My question: What kind of atmosphere does the voting on this site create for new(ish) users who come across from other SE sites? Is this something that people on here think is normal?

Note: Whether the question asking for jokes is within the scope of this site is a separate question that has been raised here. To be clear, I posted an answer to the question, not the question itself.

Update: Due to attempts to side-track discussion, I have added [BLEEPS] to remove swear words in the original post. My view is that this detracts from getting the message across, but hopefully now it is possible to discuss the substance of the issue.

  • 2
    How are the comments and the answer to the linked meta question not sufficient for answering this one? You shouldn't answer subjective questions in the first place – Philip Klöcking Jun 5 '18 at 5:41
  • 2
    Is the use of the f-word really necessary for this post? It is explicitly against the rules ("Inappropriate language or attention. Avoid vulgar terms") and doesn't contribute to a constructive conversation. If you really wanted to have a conversation about the voting practices here, is using that word in a bunch of rhetorical questions for two paragraphs before stating your actual question really the best way to do it? – Not_Here Jun 6 '18 at 5:27
  • Personally, I think the f-word is very helpful in getting across the absurdity of down-voting a joke, and the dysfunctional aspects of this SE community. I don't think the post would but a faithful representation of the situation without it. Making a generic criticism of the SE community using a swear word does not seem beyond-the-pale to me. As to the linked question, my joke does not fall within any of the criteria mentioned for down-voting, so my query about the atmosphere on this site remains applicable. – Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '18 at 5:56
  • 3
    If you cannot faithfully represent a situation with normal language, you shouldn't be representing it in the first place (see [help/be-nice]), as linked before. There are no exceptions to Be Nice. – user2953 Jun 6 '18 at 6:18
  • I don't agree that a generic criticism of the SE community constitutes an absence of being "nice". The addition of swear words does not mean that a person is not being nice. – Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '18 at 6:50
  • Do you guys have any opinion at all on the substance of the issue raised here, or are you just interested in policing the post for bad language? – Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '18 at 6:57
  • 1
    We can discuss after you start behaving appropriately. Material not following Be Nice may be deleted. – user2953 Jun 7 '18 at 23:23
  • 1
    I have edited the post to remove the opportunity for side-tracking by users who do not wish to hear criticisms of the philosophy.SE community. It is now profanity free, but feel free to continue ignoring user concerns about the site, and down-voting other users who answer my question. – Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '18 at 0:11
  • 3
    Why even be upset about down-votes? Down-votes serves as criticism. Criticism is not bad, nor is it in any way offensive. Why be upset about them? – MichaelK Jun 8 '18 at 11:23
  • Criticism for what exactly? – Reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 8:03
  • 1
    i think part of the issue with "downvote insanity" is reputation based, broadly speaking. i just mean i think lots of my downvotes are user related, targeting me as unreliable, rather than my question as badly referenced or even wrong. especially given how often people do provide references: a really terrible habit btw. you wouldn't get away with it in academia, when you actually are asked to produced original work – user34654 Aug 31 '18 at 14:40
6

A useful comparison might be drawn with stackoverflow.

StackOverflow is about programming problems. People go there when they have questions about particular issues they're having with writing code, using particular libraries, understanding more unusual aspects VDEs and so on.

If you go on there asking how you format headers in Microsoft Word, your question will be removed and you will be pointed to SuperUser.

So it is with "who created the world" or "what's your best philosophy joke". To someone with zero understanding of the field, it might seem sufficiently related to be worth asking there. But it's not philosophy - it's general discussion.

  • 2
    Thanks for your answer. However, I note again that the original question was not mine. Your explanation would explain why the question would be down-voted, but would not explain why an on-point answer would be down-voted. – Reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 8:01
  • 1
    I think the fact that it is on-point should be enough, shouldn't it? Since StackExchange isn't for this kind of discussion, you shouldn't reward people for having them. – Paul Ross Jul 2 '18 at 8:14
  • Okay, so I guess I have my answer. Philosophy.SE is so openly hostile to contributors that it is a matter of principle to down-vote on-point answers to questions that are considered to be out-of-scope. And people see that as a practice worth defending on Meta. – Reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 8:41
  • 1
    @Ben: StackExchange in general (not only Philosophy.SE) has a purpose: creating a database of objectively answerable questions with objective answers, i.e. full of knowledge, not opinions, funny anecdotes, or advice (IPS and parenting are indeed borderline cases!). That is thus the only kind of contribution that should be upvoted and - in fact - remain a content of any StackExchange site at all. It is not about hostility to contributors, but pointing out that the contribution is out of place. The purpose is defined by StackExchange Inc. and not up to any community member to decide upon. – Philip Klöcking Jul 2 '18 at 9:39
  • With respect, that is disingenuous - it was community member(s) that cast the down-votes on the answers to this question, not SE Inc. There is nothing in the rules proffered by the latter agency that require users to down-vote answers to a question they judge to be out-of-scope. – Reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 9:43
  • @Ben: But it is an idea of StackExchange to give community members the power to take part in the furthering and shaping of the project through the means offered by this company. You blame community members for using these very means in accordance with the nature and purpose of the site. No, nobody is required to use the possibility of down-voting. But it is there. And every single user is entitled to use it as long as it is not unreasonably and systematically used ad hominem - for which there are automatic checks with notification and means to check manually. – Philip Klöcking Jul 2 '18 at 9:49
  • 2
    @Ben: Mind, the impact and role of down-votes is overestimated on this site not because of users using them - which is perfectly fine and up to them within the aforementioned limits - but because so few people are voting at all. If more people were active voters, these votes would average out much easier - or show problematic posts even more pointedly. – Philip Klöcking Jul 2 '18 at 9:53
  • I certainly agree with that - more up-votes would go a long way. – Reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 10:00
4

Allow me to set the context for this answer by recanting my experience on this site. Please take care not to misconstrue my attitude to any particular user.

My time here measures in mere weeks and most of my answers attracted critical comments from @FrankHubeny, one of which he down-voted (I suspect). I was in the process of replying to one such comment when I discovered that @PhilipKlöcking had deleted that particular answer - summarily, without explanation and within hours of me posting it.

So I can sympathize with your implied sentiment that new users may find this a somewhat hostile environment.

However, after edits to improve the quality of my answer, Frank removed the down-vote. And for some of my very average questions, I received some very good answers from Philip.

This is a community; that means there is a culture and individuals. There will be mistakes and there will be conventions not acceptable to everyone. The best a new user can do is endure it until they can change it.

My opinion, the atmosphere is appropriately Exacting.

  • 1
    For what it's worth, I have down-voted only three times since I joined (7 months ago) and up-voted 2498 times. Those three times happened early on when I was more inexperienced than I am now. I no longer down-vote. The main problem with down-voting is no one knows who is doing it. It also doesn't send a clear message. I don't remember the critical comments, but since you are a new user your initial posts may have appeared in the review queues which I follow. I try to edit new posts to show users they can edit and offer suggestions on how to improve the question so it doesn't get closed. – Frank Hubeny Jul 9 '18 at 12:01
  • @FrankHubeny and I found it constructive, as well as useful to help acclimatize to the community. Thanks. – christo183 Jul 9 '18 at 12:11
  • I'd like to add that this particular SE site isn't really newbie-friendly, but I think that it's mainly because the whole field isn't really newbie-friendly. Not that I've checked Physics SE or Mathematics SE (which both fields inherently contain many newbie questions), I consider SO to be a pioneer example of the matter - there are simply so many newbies in the field that the site has to get use to that. By the way, they don't always successfully manage that, and can often immediately close a question without any appropriate suggestion (which I never saw happen here). – Yechiam Weiss Jul 11 '18 at 10:21
0

Although I voted to close that particular question, I agree with you about down voting.

I have down voted 3 times since I’ve been here in the early weeks. Each time I also added a comment why I down voted to make sure it was not anonymous. However, I no longer down vote. Instead, I comment, flag or vote to close.

What I do is probably not normal behavior.

  • 2
    You know quite well from this meta question that down-voting has both a place and purpose in SE networks. Most users get some, but most of them also get many more upvotes. The world's not at an end by a down vote, walk on and enjoy life. – Philip Klöcking Jun 5 '18 at 5:48
  • @PhilipKlöcking I am aware that down voting is permitted here. I just don't do it. Because it is anonymous and there is no way to tell who down voted what, I want to make sure users know it was not me. – Frank Hubeny Jun 5 '18 at 5:50
  • 1
    @Philp: Since you are referring to that meta-question, can you please identify the criteria for down-voting in that answer that you think is applicable to my answer to the joke-question. If none apply, do you agree that such an answer should not be down-voted? If so, what does this say of the atmosphere of this SE site? – Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '18 at 5:58
  • 2
    This doesn't seem to answer the question. – user2953 Jun 6 '18 at 6:19
  • 1
    Contrary to Keelan's view, as the OP for the question, it is my view that this is the most helpful contribution that anyone has offered so far to address my question (a low bar, since no one else has given any answer). Thank-you Frank for your answer (+1). – Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '18 at 0:12
0

TL;DR They got hostile to you as a McDonalds frequent consumer can get hostile against a vegan. Unfortunately for you and me, that is something structurally related to StackExchange network as a private business (Edit just to clarify: not because the company encourages that actively, but allows it as a profitable behaviour that generates traffic), and nothing that can or should be changed from a business perspective.

Long explanation

Let me sympathize with your thought on this matter. I don't participate a lot on this site (philosophy), but this is a general issue in many SE sites. This happens continuously on this site and the best thing you can do is to not [BLEEPing] care.

A pity, but what I regularly find on this particular site is that there are many questions asking the same over, and over, and over... (one recurring topic is self-determination, while the other one involves debating with religious people). Those question topics are visited a lot, while questions regarding deeper topics (in particular, a request on understanding a specific point from a particular author, ...) are less visited and voted.

If you allow the comparison, it is like if philosophy itself was a restaurants zone and people was mostly eating @ McDonalds or Burger King. But this also happens in other sites! An example is StackOverflow where you'll find a lot of topics involving broken CSS/HTML/JS.

But then... how does this junk-food phenomenon stick to the topic? The same way a vegan is dismissed from a BBQ party. And now, you seem to be the vegan guy. Yes: it was a joke. Yes: it was off-topic (I'd rather downvote the question!!! perhaps the answer brings useful details regarding how to understand a joke in a relevant manner involving philo - it could be a useful answer indeed, even beyond the fact that it is about jokes). But the matter was not handled appropriately indeed.

Stackexchange is a private business, ultimately. This implies that generating traffic is their priority (which translates, directly or not, to advertising and related stuff) and, like other web 2.0 services, the equivalent of junk food has to be present. This means that you have to expect some low standard regarding social behaviors and, above everything else, low standard of intellectual needs (in the same way that videogames loosened their standards across decades to reach a broader population). That's the reason why there are no site-wide FAQs with commonly-asked questions (StackOverflow broke the rule because there was so much junk food and created their documentation section).

  • 2
    One thing I would like to put into perspective here (mind: I am not an employee of SE nor affiliated with them): SE is pretty generous regarding small communities. There are a number of very small beta sites that have been around that way for years and are not touched - deleted - because of a lack of profitability. Also, it is up to the community to decide about content and votes. And unfortunately, the community is very biased here towards stuff that really should not be part of any SE, but simply is "popular". That is not SE's fault. – Philip Klöcking Aug 7 '18 at 15:30
  • I understand. In the same way, it is the community who drives the need of junk food (both literally -in the outside world- and here in SE) and, since it generates traffic, such behaviour is never discouraged. I didn't intend to say SE (as a company) encouraged that actively, but with the exception of Documentation SO, it does passively, because is a known formula. – Luis Masuelli Aug 7 '18 at 15:46
-2

Don't use this site to philosophise.

StackExchange is not suitable for that. This is just a quick Q&A site. Your questions can be deleted and closed according to the criteria of the people with enough reputation to do so.

Freedom of speech or unbiased treatment are not taking into consideration to be a moderator.

If your goal is to gain medals and reputation to boost your ego and to let people know how intelligent you are I suggest you to talk about the Greek philosophers of stuff that is not particularly relevant to the times we are going through. Otherwise you can actually make people "think" and "ponder" by doing so which is not very well accepted in these networks.

  • 1
    Moderators have to comply with the rules of the site. You agreed to them as well when registering your account. If you cannot deal with them, it is not the fault of the site nor the moderators. – Philip Klöcking Jun 12 '18 at 14:44
  • @PhilipKlöcking I was just trying to help Ben understand how bad for philosophy this site actually is just to make him save time. I hope people who make the rules decide to change them in the future. – PbxMan Jun 12 '18 at 14:58
  • 1
    Your second paragraph - "Freedom of speech or unbiased treatment are not taking into consideration to be a moderator." - puts the lie to that claim. – Philip Klöcking Jun 12 '18 at 15:20
  • @PhilipKlöcking Not at all. My point is that if you don't know or you don't like what's being asked but the question is legitimate just let it be, ignore it, but don't take away the freedom to answer it to somebody who does. This Frank guy for instance. It's automatically voting down and asking to close questions because they don't fit with his criteria. According to your previous comments he has the right to do so in this network. It's OK I accepted it. I just believe this network could be better if things were done other way. – PbxMan Jun 12 '18 at 15:32
  • 1
    The rules I quote here are rules of the site. Again, you agreed to comply with these rules when you registered your account. Therefore, you should not be surprised or even upset when they are enforced. – Philip Klöcking Jun 12 '18 at 15:52
  • @PhilipKlöcking I'm not surprised not upset. I think you got the wrong idea. I'm just sharing my impressions with other users if that's not a problem. As I said before I can accept the channel as it is. – PbxMan Jun 12 '18 at 15:56

You must log in to answer this question.

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