I am new here, and I can't imagine why someone would just click to downvote a newby's question without bothering to comment on why, or even better, to offer refinements or suggestions or answers.

It feels like the 'experts' simply don't want new members.

To be fair, there are a number of people who do actually comment or suggest how I can change my questions or answers. I really appreciate that. In many of my posts I have learned something unexpected in the comments. That's what I think this community is supposed to be all about.

Drive-by upvotes don't worry me, but they, too, make me wish there was a comment explaining why.

I am not in a competition with anybody - just trying to learn. And of course with time and effort comes extra privileges. Somehow, I doubt downvoting will be one I ever use, though.

This is a definite learning experience, to be sure. I am definitely having to learn how to do my research. Adding StackExchange into the mix is the newest part for me.

In the end, my systems are humming along and will soon be communicating via TCP ports, with mated Arduinos on some to take analog readings and passing them on to the Pi3s by I2C.

Ultimately it will all end up on my hosting service just to display data on web pages that I can access from anywhere. I should be able to exert control, also. To get to their serverI will need to use special HTML pages containing formatted data since my hosting service won't allow me to open sockets.

Might even tweet some of the raw data. The twitter part is already set up (https://twitter.com/sd_solar) and is just waiting for me to wade through the Pi programming. Fortunately, most all I need to do will be in Python. And the Arduinos are easy.

It is all do-able. Just a matter of time.

For the record, I highly recommend the 32GB version of NOOBS. It is worth every penny. I bought just one, then for less than half the price bought another couple of 32GB SD cards to load after saving the raw image from the $20 card.

Anyway, I get the gist of what is said in these answers. Thank you all for commenting. Upvotes for everybody for the discussion.

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    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135/…
    – Ghanima Mod
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 22:09
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    and what about this question or this question, or this question or any other question that the title could have been googled with the first result being a stack overflow question asking the exact same thing. when you hover how the downvote button it says "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful", enough said
    – Memor-X
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 22:17
  • for a more local example, what about the questions like "what is the best blender to turn a Raspberry Pi into dust" or "how do i make my Raspberry Pi creamier?"
    – Memor-X
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 22:23
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    Pushing at other users for better responses tends to result in downvotes. The comments under this question (with deletions, which is pretty rare here) are waaay too pointy for the Pi site. I think you'll have an easier time of it if you shoot for a more neutrally academic tone. Completely eliminate person pronouns. Avoid any topic which is not the question asked or an answer given. If something bombs then it's no big deal - we play for imaginary internet points here.
    – goobering
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 1:15
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    Sometimes the ways of SE are dark and mysterious. People like weird things. Two of my highest scoring answers are throw-away things about what certain icons mean, and where a particular set of Pi-based doodles came from. Each answer took about 30 seconds to put together. Some of my lowest scoring answers took me multiple hours to put together, and include code samples, links to products and tutorials, and painstakingly detailed explanations of everything. When things don't go to plan, try to fix anything you can fix, ask everyone nicely if you fixed it well, then move swiftly on.
    – goobering
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


I initially migrated this question from here to Meta.SE in the hopes that exposure to "the bigger picture" there would help to alleviate any suspicion that you've been singled out here by anyone personally. Since it is sort of a perennial topic, I presumed that it would be closed as a duplicate of some pre-existing question (such as the one linked by Ghanima), and this would help to make clear that you're certainly not the only person to have felt this way, and that there are lots...and lots...and lots of discussion around addressing it already.

I also used to feel that downvotes were not really a productive mechanism, and that the first downvote should require a comment. However, I still use downvotes, so I can't deny seeing some merit in them, and while I usually will leave a comment if mine is the first, I don't always.

Requiring them for every downvote would be a bit ridiculous -- it wouldn't be any different than adding "great answer!" for every upvote and in addition, might start to seem nasty. Enough on that.

That means after the first one, most people aren't going to feel obliged to say anything. With regard to the first one, probably the first comment on the "migration rejected" dupe is a good place to start:

Imagine this: you comment, whenever you downvote. And many times, what you get in return is abuse - people ranting at you, swearing at you, possibly downvoting all your questions/answers. Question: how quickly do you stop commenting when downvoting?

This is a significant point that, despite my own misgivings about downvoting etc., can be made to fit very well with what is probably the core of my own philosophy regarding the ultimate purpose of similar SE mechanisms. Please do read my answer there, but TLDR: the major concern is about resources.

If a downvote is intended to indicate something a member of the community does not think is worthwhile (and consider Oded's second comment "downvotes are for the good of the site, not the individual who asked"), then turning those into deeper drains on the limited resources of the site by requiring an accompanying debate defeats the whole purpose. People who might otherwise be spending their time doing more positive things would end up wasting much of it with bickering, something this format, vs. traditional forums, helps to minimize.

Of course, helping someone understand why their question/answer isn't appreciated could still be regarded as a positive activity. But like any kind of problem solving, experience plays a big role here: People will shy away from things where they perceive an inevitable net loss, positivity wise, for their efforts.

Getting more specific, let's consider one of the questions I presume set this off:


There's a recently deleted answer there of yours most people can't see, but we both still can...anyway, I noticed the whole thing probably the day it was first posted, and saw it evolve, but decided to stay out of it (largely because of what I've already mentioned, that I consider my time a resource which I must manage).

However, I agree with the points made by others there, including the downvoters, that this is not a positive contribution to the site.

First, it seems very rhetorical; you aren't really asking if Samba is enabled, you're stating it as fact, then you end up answering it yourself. That's fine; quality self-answered questions are encouraged. Unfortunately, it isn't really composed well that way. Your answer seems more like a continuation of your question that wasn't really a question, and it's all just about proving that Samba is enabled by default on Raspbian.

Personally, I'm pretty sure it isn't, but TBH I don't care at all (which is another reason I did not get involved) because I am positive it isn't running on any of my pis. I don't use Samba because I have no use for Samba.

But let's presume it is, and that your original question was honestly what it ostensibly is: "Is it enabled, because it seems to be?". In that case, there's a simple and definitive stepwise way to determine this:

  1. What processes or services are required for Samba?

  2. How can it be determined if these are running?

  3. How can it be determined how they were started?

  4. If they were started by the init system, how can we check if this is enabled by default from, e.g., an unadulterated SD card image?

However, looking through the entire Q&A, IMO you did not attempt to tackle any of these steps. That's fine too -- so you don't understand this. No one understands everything, etc. But you seem to skip straight through the whole process of trying to learn anything. Keep in mind that part of the whole thing with the Q&A format, and what I mentioned before about the core of my own philosophy regarding use of resources here, is that it isn't hand-holding. On a traditional forum, someone might start something based on very flawed premises, then the thread takes an unexpected turn as various people point that out, and really you are into a potentially vast ball of yarn.

Not here. A major reason that SE has been so successful is that (as I try to explain in the "billionaire in a restaurant" Q&A) the people who in reality do the most push-comes-to-shove helping probably get burned out by the vast ball of yarn and appreciate something more focused, that makes it easier for them to manage their time and maximize the positive effects. Put another way: I know I'm long-winded, but I'm still not here to chat endlessly. Except when I'm in chat. Which is a separate place.

So, when I see something like that, I might, if I were going to say anything, say your methodology is seriously flawed and leave it at that. If you want to figure out how to do things properly, then you'll have to ask more questions, separately, yourself. This helps to create a sort of firewall against


I got a chuckle out of Cunningham's Law recently, because its something I used to exploit consciously pretty often, and in fact that's part of what got me into being what I hope and believe is an asset to the "online technical help" world. Done badly, it's just passive aggressive vampirism, but done well, I think it ultimately does lead to positive results not just for you but for a larger community.

How do you tell the difference? One of the barometers we have is of course:


Whatever your game is, if you start to notice this happening to you too much, time to take a step back and figure out why.

Figuring out why is not necessarily easy, particularly since no one is bound to explain it to you, but at least you have a clear indication that what you are doing is not being appreciated by the people around you.

So the real question is probably not "Why downvoting at all?" but "Why downvoting for this?". I've addressed that a bit here WRT some of your recent posts.

In the future, if you run into this problem again, ask about it here in the context of a specific post. Doing it in the Q&A itself probably isn't effective or appropriate, because that's not the actual topic of the Q&A.

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    Gotcha. Thanks for writing all that. Very thought-provoking. Every time I see you comment or write, @goldilocks, I learn something.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 7:58
  • I was going to post a question here asking if it's counter-productive to downvote a newbie's question. I feel that it is counter-productive; consider that most mammals nurture their young for some time after birth. And if that's not a compelling argument, I would hope empathy would be. Anyway... I'm posting this instead of another related question on the topic of downvoting, AND to say reading your answer has given me something to think about. But the real gem in your post is the reference to "Cunningham's Law"... SO TRUE!!!
    – Seamus
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 0:24
  • @Seamus "consider that most mammals nurture their young for some time after birth" -> Bah! Coddling! Are you sure nature is such a Disney show? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runt In all seriousness I think there is a general presumption that we are mostly adults here, regardless of our experience using the interwebs. Here's a classic dating back to usenet by Eric S. Raymond that might provide some historical insight into the culture and the background from which SO sprang.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 10:57
  • @goldilocks: Please don't get me wrong... I've been a fan of Raymond for years, and do get the attitude re "stupid questions". But: The "be nice" policies in SE now don't reflect the "Raymond-esque" attitude. SE policy v practice strikes me as a bit contradictory: one one hand, it's insisted that participants "be nice", but at the same time it's OK to downvote newbies anonymously. What's the difference if they both result in people feeling they have been shunned or excluded?
    – Seamus
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:07
  • Please don't take this as me being critical of the way SE forums (at least the RPi forum) are run... it's a balancing act. I've always liked Billie Martin's quote from the beer commercial, "Personally, I feel strongly both ways.", and that may fit this situation.
    – Seamus
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:09
  • @Seamus I totally agree the new policy (a good thing) is an explicit move away from the kind of attitude implicitly condoned by "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way" -- which I've handed links out to people after closing a question, and would again, because I don't think the inverse is true (that HTAQTSW is counter the new policy). I think the be nice policy is important, but a couple things to note about it: 1) It is as much aimed at "newbies" who get rude and inflamed because their question was (justifiably) closed, or because they are being (justifiably and politiely) criticised, etc.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:29
  • 2) There's no policy new or otherwise that says downvoting new comers should be discouraged, or that questions by them should not be closed, or that they are beyond reproach because they are ignorant children. Regarding #1, of all the people that have been suspended for behavioural violations (generally: seriously offensive language) here by me or another moderator during my 4 years+ as such (which maybe is in total a dozen or so suspensions), the great majority were people who were new to the site and reacted badly to criticism.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:29
  • In a few cases that might, of course, have been mitigated if the critics had been more polite, but most often it was totally unwarranted. I think what's important WRT niceness is that people distinguish reasonably dispassionate criticism and mechanisms like downvoting from actual rudeness or nastiness. I don't think the goal should be to foist the paranoia of the overly sensitive onto those who, as per above, are actively engaged in being helpful -- the latter group actually being by far the minority of members, number wise.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:29
  • BTW, part of the reason I feel that way about the paranoia is that I was very much that way when I first started using technical forums in the pre SO era, and I think the best thing to do is to make it plain that people need to get over it ASAP. Later I used to cringe at the thought that I was "sounding" (of course there's no real sound, which is part of why it is easy to take things the wrong way) exactly like people who I really felt hatred for years ago -- people who never-the-less helped me to learn.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:39
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    Imagine that you are a guest on David Letterman's talk show, and he asks you this: "So, @goldilocks, would you say that your philosophy on downvoting is aligned with Existentialism? And if so, do you feel that Camus' "Myth of Sisyphus" explains what motivates the cognoscenti to answer questions in this forum?
    – Seamus
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 13:28
  • <_< Of course and Probably... You know, what I think is worse than downvoting, morale and general health wise, is not voting. So, e.g., I have visted this site 1669 days, casting 5466 + votes and 366 - votes. While a certain (Scottish? Welsh? Irish?) philosopher @Seamus has visited 123 days, casting a modest 44 + votes and 1 - votes. You do the math! (Those are all publicly available stats, BTW).
    – goldilocks Mod
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 13:44
  • Letterman: "Whoops, sorry @goldilocks - the 'move to chat' popup has just appeared, so we'll have to end our discussion. But yes, perhaps we'll have Seamus on a show soon, and ask him to explain himself. Good night! (as Paul strikes up the band) Disclaimer: only humor, no sarcasm intended :)
    – Seamus
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:17

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