# Should a question be voted down for poor formatting or editing?

My question is, whether one should downvote a question just because he doesn't understand it or he finds the O.P's formatting or editing as poor.

I will like to reason something with my example.The place I live is 80% natural environment. Only recently there has been a craze to use smartphones,and that only after 20s. I never worked so badly on Internet, forgot even the basics of HTML and don't have time to learn it for I have lots of other things to concentrate as I am a student. But I am having lots of questions and doubts in my mind. Formatting and editing is my weak point especially when working with HTML. I am sure I will become an expert in future but currently my hands are cuffed and if I spend lots of time in these things I fear a dark future.

I basically came to this site to get answers to my question which are usually turned down in classrooms as being not specific to examinations which they call "I am not doing smart work". But I can't help as I am not able to remember things without understanding it but I have limited time.I have great expectations from this site but I am blind over here. So being anxious and worried for posts being voted down for the above mentioned reason as I had mentioned in first paragraph has become another waste of time for me. Either you can tell me honestly to abandon this site if I am not compatible for it, or you may like to find some solution.

• You seem to be assuming that formatting is the cause of the down votes. Why would you do that? Users started pitching in to help you with the formatting less than 10 minutes after you posted the question, and no one has written a comment about the formatting (positive or negative). – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jul 16 '16 at 20:15
• Votes are anonymous by design. There is no requirement for users to explain their vote - either positive or negative - and there are no rules what "should" be up- or downvoted. Of course the votes are supposed to reflect how "useful" or "well-researched" or just "good" a question is, but in the end they just reflect the individual opinions of the people who cast the votes, so I'm not exactly sure what kind of response you want to get to this meta post. – ACuriousMind Mod Jul 16 '16 at 20:25
• @dmckee voting down was done within 10 seconds,this obviously meant to me that no efforts was shown to understand my question. – Sikander Jul 16 '16 at 20:26
• @ACuriousMind you are correct.You may look at my question,it was just a matter of concept.I can utilize my whole day and surely I can get my answer all alone.For other who had a strong hold on it is a trivial thing and certainly not a standard question.But it dosent mean it is unworthy enough to be vote down to -3.Anyways coming to point I would say well researched question would have taken me lots of time may be one or two days.I dont have this much time.So I fear as everything shows that this site is just for research purpose and not clearing doubts.Is it so? – Sikander Jul 16 '16 at 20:53
• Your formatting suffers in two areas: (1) You don't put spaces after periods. This is just wrong in English and any language that uses the period. (2) You don't put spaces between paragraphs. You press the <Enter> key occasionally, but note that the result doesn't look right. You just need to press <Enter> twice and that will produce a paragraph break. Breaking paragraphs with neither a blank line (as works best on this site) nor indentation (as you often see in books) is also just wrong in any language that uses paragraphs. Learning these simple rules will make your posts much, much better. – user10851 Jul 16 '16 at 21:57
• @Sikander maybe downvoting within 10 seconds also means you did something fundamentally wrong. Not giving sources, not giving enough content, not showing any effort and the like - they can all be spotted within seconds. Not that I'm saying that this was the case, but it might be a reason people downvote a question within seconds. – Sanya Jul 17 '16 at 16:41

You should care about formatting your posts to the point where they are easily legible by everyone, but for a different reason: it will make it easier for you to get answers, and it will improve the quality of the answers you do get. Why? because every second that a potential answerer spends being annoyed by poor formatting is one less second of them thinking about the physics, and one second closer to them deciding to simply leave the post aside and going to find another one. Having a question that is correctly formatted, easy to read, and which clearly conveys the heart of the question, is the number one fix to getting better answers.

If a question is formatted so badly that it takes a lot of effort to even begin to understand what it's saying, then some people can and do get annoyed enough that they'll downvote before leaving. This is allowed for the same reasons that there is no requirement for anyone to explain their posts, because it promotes uninhibited voting based on the usefulness of the question, and it helps clear, interesting, useful questions float to the top. A question with terrible formatting is less clear and less useful, so it is right that it does not get to the top. That said, if the post has minor formatting problems, a lot of times the response is simply for users to jump in and help with the formatting to help the 'real' question shine better; the cases where this doesn't happen are often because the post is so muddled that we can't even tell what the user means to ask in the first place. Want to see some examples? Take our recent prolific editors and see their recent edits (profile > activity > all actions > revisions). You'll find a lot of people jumping at posts that have issues and fixing them instead of downvoting them.

In your specific case, there are two very clear things you can do that will make your posts more readable by a very wide margin:

• Adding a space after every punctuation. In English, all forms of punctuation used in text (. , ! ? ) : ;) are directly followed by whitespace. Skipping that whitespace (as in e.g.skipping the whitespace,like this) is visually very jarring, stops the visual flow, and takes attention away from your message.

• Correct use of paragraph breaks. Paragraphs need to be of an appropriate length (roughly two to four sentences) and they need to be separated by a blank line in the source text to display correctly. Skipping this blank line produces paragraphs which are joined together (either as a single paragraph or as two immediately contiguous ones) which produce a 'wall of text' that's very hard to digest.

As an example of how this looks like when it is done incorrectly, consider the following text:

This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong
and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.
This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong
and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.


which renders as

This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.
This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.

Note that there are three white spaces after the end of the first paragraph, which cause the joined-but-malformed paragraphs. Instead, you need to introduce a blank line between paragraphs,

This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong
and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.

This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong
and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.


which renders as

This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.

This is some sample text to display how wrong paragraphing can look wrong and detract from your answer, and how the fix is actually very simple.

and this is miles easier to read for most English speakers, particularly with longer paragraphs.

Both are easy to implement and they will visibly improve the quality of your posts; all you need is discipline in implementing them consistently. This might take some effort, but you need to accept that we all spend effort here to produce the best-crafted questions and answers that we can, and you need to match the effort you put into your questions to the effort you expect answerers to spend on their responses, both in terms of content and in terms of formatting and readability.

• I understand but in mobile phone I am not able to appreciate what you said. In mobile phone it looks like a trivial thing. Also, I have seen users with wrong formatting but it wasn't an obstruction in my readability and understanding of their questions rather it was incorrect usage of words or the users inaability to properly explain the question for he had already constructed a model of that question in his mind and the other users can't guess where is he really facing the problem. Anyways, I would consider -3 votes as injustice as it compares it to homework like question which it wasn't. – Sikander Jul 18 '16 at 1:48