In SE sites other than SO, there is a less strict "policy". Less down-votes, easier to up-vote, more "caring" people.
There is a big upside for an SE site to being less strict:
- it promotes growth. Not displeasing users will make them come more often.
Also, there is a huge downside to it: Quality goes down.
Users that have no understanding of physics get easily voting rights, because most of their questions will get up-voted.
Then they ll proceed to up-vote any answer they see in a post since "it looked like the writer knows what he is talking about". As a consequence, actual scientists will be disheartened by the low quality and many of them will never come back, lowering quality even further.
The damage will be long lasting, or even worse, permanent.
I have even seen moderators that protect questions because of a 1 rep user posting a useless answer, without commenting on it and (seeing the answer had 0 score and the user had 1 rep) I assume he didn't down-vote either.
What makes you avoid casting a down-vote or commenting on a bad answer?
There is great content here, I am not implying the opposite. But there is also bad content, more than there should be and this is what bothers me.
Down-vote statistics are of no use since there are many factors that can't be quantified. E.g. we might be having a higher down-vote ratio than other SO, but then again we could be getting much more low quality answers.
Related 1: Pretty much the opposite of this "question", and perhaps my "question" could have been an answer there. However, I decided to post it as a question to encourage others to down-vote more.
Related 2: A good post on what should be done (more frequently) with bad answers.