Before asking this question, I went through many questions asking about almost the same question I have. Most of them stated that a question which doesn't 'fit' in SE's policy are downvoted (Eg: A homework question with no attempt at all).

I recently asked a conceptual question on chemistry SE and the same on physics SE, because it was about thermodynamics and that topic fits well in both the subjects.

The votes on my question are quite different on different sites. I am surprised, is my question really appropriate or not?

Physics SE:

Chemistry SE:

I am not sad about the downvotes at all. But, I was wondering why there is difference. My question is good for physics SE and bad for chemistry SE?

Also, what type of questions should be downvoted?

Edit: My Chemistry SE question has +3/-3 votes.

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    $\begingroup$ Not supposed to cross post questions. Take care $\endgroup$
    – Archer
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 6:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Didn't know about it. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Iceberry
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Well, of your 11 posts on this site so far, this is the first and only one to be downvoted. [At the time of writing, it now has a +2/-3 score improvement] So, I hope you don't forget that the rest of your posts here are positively received! ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GaurangTandon Yep! That's quite true. I'm content with it. Thanks. :) $\endgroup$
    – Iceberry
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Hover over the tooltip. Downvotes are for posts that aren't useful to the community. That's subjective, and makes making rules for it impossible. Highly related, if not dupe (which means it's definitely a dupe and I'm waiting for someone to close vote): chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3166/… $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @GaurangTandon It was only one with negative score, not only downvoted. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron ah, right, I didn't check that. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 0:24

3 Answers 3


Just to repeat what the others have already said, which I agree with, a downvoted question is not necessarily bad. On the other side of the same coin, an upvoted question is not necessarily good, and upvoted and/or accepted answers can be bad or wrong.

It's been posted many times in many places, but it is part of the system. I think Martin is wrong in his answer regarding how voting isn't personal. It is a reflection of what you believe is good or bad content, and that depends on the person. Everyone has their preferred types of questions for the site, and for content they don't want to see, some people downvote, but the majority probably ignore it. For content they don't understand, whether it's a good or bad question, they probably ignore it. Don't worry about "homework" or "not homework", because graduate student homework occasionally gets posted here without much problem, though people wouldn't consider it homework. Some sites rarely or never downvote (like TeX and Academia). It's simply the current state of affairs here while we try and figure stuff out.

I suggest looking at some of the earliest questions on the site, from when it was in Area 51 and then in beta. Here is the current last page available. Some of these questions are quite good, some are not by any standard. Your question would probably have been better received several years ago.

  • $\begingroup$ Which answer of Martin are you referring to? $\endgroup$
    – Archer
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ It's linked in my answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding "an upvoted question is not necessarily good": also see Mysterious upvotes Apart from that, I also agree with this answer. I'd also like to add that: once a question gets downvoted, many viewers already turn on their mind to ignore it. The ones who do view it, probably downvote it even further. So, sometimes decent questions do get lost in the mix of bad quality questions. In such cases, @Divyanka, do feel free to bring up such questions in Chemistry Chat first, and feel free to discuss about it there :) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ Eh, I think what Martin meant by “not personal” was that upvotes/downvotes aren’t targeted at a person or intended to make them feel good/bad. But that’s not really the point here, anyway. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ I have always emphasised how I think voting is something highly subjective, and that I think that that's how it is supposed to be. It still is nothing personal, i.e. just like you state, you should be voting based on the content that is written, not based on the person who wrote it. (The latter sometimes happens and is often caught with the serial voting algorithm. Hence that is very much discouraged.) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answers and all the comments. That helped me understand this beautiful community little more :) $\endgroup$
    – Iceberry
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 15:02

I'll keep it short:

I don't think your question is homeworkish. You are confused about some thermodynamics concepts and it's absolutely okay to ask. I think it got downvoted because of lack of research effort. The difference (and proper interpretation of heat) is clearly explained in standard physical chemistry textbooks like "Elements of Physical Chemistry by Atkins'". You should have given them a read before asking.


Primary reasons for downvotes according for me are

  1. Close Vote question (Homework, unclear etc)
  2. I don't like this question downvote

The thing is here over CHEM SE we get a lot of homework questions with nearly zero effort put in. Your specific question looks like a borderline Homework question.Not enough to get closed but homeworkish.

The tolerance level for Homework here is very low because we get a lot of it. That's why I think your question got downvoted.
It's absolutely fine to ask questions on thermodynamics over here just keep it in mind to not to cross post.

Users use their downvotes to express what content they like or don't like and a lot of them don't like homework.

Downvoted questions may or may not be bad but definitely an indicator of what sort of content the community doesn't like.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I disagree that tolerance of homework is low; our policy is quite permissive, if you compare it to physics for example. You simply have to show your reasoning and you're good. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ Actually I more or less agree with this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 20:40

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