I wrote an answer to a question about temperature and dimensional analysis. I am skeptical about the motivations. I cannot see at the moment if it was not just a random downvote by someone having fun. However, if I have overlooked something an broken some vital law it would get appreciated if someone with a good eye for thermo could point that out to me.

If it is just because someone does not like the style of answer I can live with that. Thanks.

Link to answer below:

Why isn't temperature measured in units of energy?

EDIT: and another one... Unexplained. Must be a gift!

How is the dynamic equilibrium nature of fermi-dirac distribution of particles facilitated?


It's just one downvote. That is hardly reason to conclude that you have "broken some vital law" or any such thing. Perhaps someone just thought your answer was unclear.

If you find yourself getting 4 or 5 downvotes with no explanatory comments, then perhaps it's worth asking here.

  • $\begingroup$ Considering it's quite an old post I was surprised it got any attention. One person might have seen something and just been too lazy to say anything. If that's the case I would rather find out I write answers to improve my own understanding as much as to help someone else. $\endgroup$ – Magpie May 5 '13 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ It just happend again here: I upvoted this answer because I thought it is correct and I somehow liked it. But soon after somebody downvoted without saying what is wrong (!) and I am asking myself now, if there is an error I just dont see or if the downvote is not motivated by physics reasonings ... This kind of things ARE increasing and they are annoying and confusing for people who want to learn something from the answers given and because of these capricious downvotes (wrongly?) think there is something wrong with the post, even if it is not $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 12 '13 at 13:10

I agree with the question and disagree with the notion that spurious, capricious, not (by physics reasons) explained downvotes are just a "nonissue" here because

  1. Many people have noticed them recently and asked about them on meta, see for example this question. The number of capricious potentially not by physics reasons explainable downvotes HAS increased this year and can not be neglected.

  2. Capricious not explained downvotes on perfectly good sometimes even technical posts discourage new users or people who have not a large impenetrable self confidence from posting on the main page.

  3. Downvotes of from a physics point of view correct posts bias the general picture of the site concerning what is a correct and legitimate question or answer. Admittedly, the same is true for upvotes of wrong posts.

Leaving votes of any sign without comments is a somehow intended feature of the system, even though explaining the downvote by pointing out the error or what is otherwise wrong with the post such that it can be corrected is encouraged I think.

My advice for people who get such unexplained downvotes, is to ask on chat or meta a broader audience about what is wrong with the question or answer from a physics point of view. If anything is wrong with the post after all ...

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ These sites rely on crowdsourced evaluation. Crowdsouring always has spurious inputs---it's built in. You just count on the size of the voting audience to smooth over those details in time. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 7 '13 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Is nobody going to read the question? $\endgroup$ – Magpie May 8 '13 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Magpie now I have looked at the first, the second I will do later today. I am not the downvoter ... ;-) $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 8 '13 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee I am not sure if I correctly understand what you mean ... :-/. Do you say that there are spurious random non human triggered downvotes built into the software to hit posts from time to time at random? That would be really silly... Anyway, humans should not downvote stuff because they dislike the person who has written it, dislike the topic, dont understand the physics well enough, etc ... on a serious physics site I think. At least on the main page, on meta it is a different game. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 8 '13 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ I mean that humans make mistakes and misbehave. You can say "people shouldn't" all you want, but people will still do what they want, and you can't stop it and still retain the power of the crowd. Anything you do that can stop the crowd from misbehaving substitutes the judgement of those writing the rules for that of the crowd. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 8 '13 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee ah now I see what you mean. But should the content of this site not somehow in a reliable manner represent the best and most current knowledge the physics community has too? As I understand it physics is not just done by polling of a large crowd, there are objective mearures for what is deemed more correct (or reasonable for not yet settled cutting edge issues) from a physics point of view, as seen by the real world community of active mainstream physicists. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 8 '13 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ You leave judgement of questions up to random strangers. It's no wonder that challenging questions get downvoted by dumb people who want to feel better about themselves. $\endgroup$ – user11151 Jun 18 '13 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ @zurechtweisen exactly. And way too often, good advanced questions do not only get downvoted by people who have no clue about the physics topic the question is asking about ... they often even get closevoted by people who have obtained enough rep from answering easier questions but who are not knowledgeable enough to judge more technical or advanced theoretical topic questions ...:-( ! That is why I urgently need to get access to the close / reopen queues; in order to counteract these bad things a little bit at least ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 18 '13 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ @zurechtweisen there are now not only way too many not knowledgeable enough people who wrongly (from a physics point of view) judge questions and answers, not knowledgeable enough people have now even obtained enough power to moderate here :-/ $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 18 '13 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @zurechtweisen such a thing could never have happend at TP.SE, this site was run by physicists for physicists and the quality and reliability of the content was therefore much better. That is why it is more and more urgently needed, that some kind of a Physicsoverflow gets started somewhere, which is not dominated by non physicists $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 18 '13 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ Whoops, I mean @Zurechtweiser ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 18 '13 at 9:44

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