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There is a couple of (probable) improvements I would like to suggest for this fantastic site.

  1. Moving closed questions with a high number of up votes (for example $>10$) to a dedicated StackExchange site, where they would receive a single tag indicating the site where they come from (in this case, the tag would be Physics). There, the question would be alive and could receive new answers, points, etc, together with (highly voted) closed questions from the other StackExchange sites. That would be a solution for certain questions that very clearly interest us (this nobody can deny, and that's what upvotes are saying) like this one (incidentally, I have read one of the recommended papers in the first answer, and it has nearly changed my life for good, both as researcher and as physics student -which you never stop being- as well).
  2. Downvoters should be forced to leave an anonymous comment, otherwise the vote should only have a value of 0.2 points or similar. Only downvotes with an anonymous comment should have full consideration. That would improve the quality of bad answers, sure.

When a question/answer is really crap, it receives anyway a rainfall of downvotes (well, not always) whereas sometimes somebody drops a -1 with no explanations like a passing bird leaving an excrement, and the OP has no clue of what he/she could improve.

I received for example a downvote here. I don't give a damn as long as my reputation stays above a dozen of points so that I am able to post images, and also I am using an anonymous profile. But what I find annoying is not having the less clue of what could be wrong with the question...

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  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/1372/2451 and meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/1474/2451 $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Apr 21 '13 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ Mmm... I see this question of the unexplained downvotes has been posted many times. But this time what I propose is (i) forcing to anonymously comment together with the downvote, for the vote to have full 1.0 point value, (ii) possibility of keep on downvoting without comment but with less value. The goal is favouring comments together with the downvotes. $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 21 '13 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ There is too the other suggestion, of having a dedicated place for highly-valued closed questions from all StackExchange sites. It is clear that, although out of the scope, some closed questions are very interesting for us physicists that visit the site. $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 21 '13 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ stackexchange.com/questions ? $\endgroup$ – Joseph Weissman Apr 21 '13 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ @mephisto, every hour you should log the reputation of all users. You will then be able to deduce who is doing the down-voting, since down-voting decreases reputation. $\endgroup$ – Kenshin May 9 '13 at 7:04
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2 has been proposed in many different forms, many times. (See the "linked" sidebar here, Is there anyway we can require a person to write something to explain a downvote?, and https://meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=require+downvote+comment&submit=search)

Downvoters are urged to leave a comment. We cannot force them to. Votes are supposed to be private, so forcing a comment uncloaks this. And downvoting is integral to how the system works, so putting barriers will significantly reduce it's use (not what we want). Besides, sometimes others have left a comment that says what I want to say.

Reducing the penalty makes some sense, but in the end it's just 2 rep. Not a big deal -- you can earn a week's worth of downvotes back with a couple of answer votes. And reducing it from it's already-low value will mean that folks won't have any motivation to fix their posts.

About making it anonymous: This has been proposed before, and the answer does make a lot of sense

First, I don't think I should be required to justify my decisions to the world. Second, you can't force someone to type a meaninful comment, even if you force them to type a comment.

If I'm required to enter an anonymous comment I'll just type "this is an anonymous comment" or something.

Thing is, drive by downvotes aren't a large problem. You get them once or twice, and that's it. Making the system complicated to fix them creates issues. The 0.2


Now, regarding point 1: Interesting idea, but I doubt it would happen (it would be better if you asked on the mother meta, but again, I don't think it will gain any traction). As a platform, SE is ill suited for such questions, places like Quora are much better for such questions.

However, these questions can be salvaged: For example, the one you linked to could be modified to one with a community wiki answer containing a list. The fact that it's closed just prevents further answers, it doesn't prevent edits. Not entirely sure if this is allowed, but it's an idea. Other recommendation questions can be similarly fixed.

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    $\begingroup$ I would note that wikifying a question isn't a solution to whatever problem caused it to be closed. $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 21 '13 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky: No, it isn't. However, certain old, closed questions would benefit from being collected into a single answer wiki. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 21 '13 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm, perhaps we need dedicated migration paths to math.SE, academia.SE, scicomp.SE and Quora :P $\endgroup$ – user10851 Apr 22 '13 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite We don't do user-driven migrations to or from beta sites (and Quora ;)), but my 30-second look at the migration stats here tells me that a Physics->Math path isn't a terrible idea. You might want to kick off a separate meta discussion to see if other folks here agree. $\endgroup$ – Adam Lear Apr 22 '13 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @AnnaLear: Explain the Writers path on EL&U ;-). Yeah, our closing/flagging community usually knows when something belongs on Math. No harm adding it, though I personally don't see a big need either. (most closes here are mod-completed with a third or fourth vote as we don't have enough active CVers) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 23 '13 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth To be clear, I'm not lobbying for a migration path there. That's up to you folks. I'm just saying that if you guys did actually want it, we'd likely add it without any fuss. $\endgroup$ – Adam Lear Apr 23 '13 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ @AnnaLear: Yeah, I got that :) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 23 '13 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ The fact that so many users suggest some mechanism to favour commented downvotes, again and again, is at least an indication of something. And a comment like "This is a comment" would be wiped out from existence (together with its point) with a single clic from any moderator, so it is not a big problem. If I now post a question with the only text "This is a question." it will be closed in minutes, if not seconds. And if I do it again several times, my account will be suspended. The same would happen with such comments. I still think that would encourage constructive comments and discussions. $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Simply imagine that a user sees a relativity equation in my answers and identifies what (s)he thinks it is a wrong sign. (S)he drops a -1 but, because (s)he wants the downvote to be meaningful ("my goodness, it is a wrong sign!") (s)he leaves a comment that otherwise would not leave. Then I simply answer him/her that there are two signature conventions (+---) and (-+++) and I am probably using the other one (s)he is not familiar with, so (s)he not only learns something new, but also retires the downvote that had no sense. Now, tell me that this situation is not quite probable! $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Some beginning student can think: "What is that mess here? This QFT equations are wrong, where has the speed of light c gone?". Now, tell me that you think this hasn't happened a lot of times... $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Now, tell me that somebody that downvotes a post simply because (s)he thinks "there are many equations here, I want physics without maths" would dare posting that in a comment. Really, tell me here if you think that is probable. $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ Tell me that someone would seriously write "I don't understand the math in your post, but I downvote because I think you are arrogant"... Do you really think that is probable? $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ Tell me that you really think that you would see comments like "I downvoted because you are white/black/asian/european/american/male/female"... (Do you think that this is not happening now? - I would say that has little to do with the physics in the question/answer, but...) $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Just 0.? points for uncommented downvotes and 1.0 for commented ones, and a punishment for those who write something like "this is a comment asdflkjh". (There would be subjectivity in the moderators having to rule out that, but there is already in every closed question and it more or less works). $\endgroup$ – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephisto: Re: So many users: You forget that there are many, many more people who agree. They don't go around posting "the voting system is great" on meta because there's no point in doing so. However, the votes on the meta qs speak for themselves. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 23 '13 at 16:13

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