As a new user myself (just 22 days old), I feel as if the downvoting policy needs a major rejig.

I agree to the fact that downvotes must be anonymous - as if the person who is downvoting is known, then revenge downvoting may be rampant. But the point is when we come across new contributors who are unaware / don't know the policy of ChemSE, we have to try and make an inclusive environment for them as well.

In the Stack Overflow, I have seen that new users are taken through a good-enough tutorial while posting their first question. They ask the motivation of the user for the question, why he/she thinks it is relevant, what is his understanding of the question etc...

We need to introduce a similar culture in ChemSE also.

Whenever we are filling out the form to ask a question, we need to start subdividing as:

  1. Title
  2. The OP's question
  3. What are the underlying concepts and his understanding
  4. Why is he/she not able to solve the question and where is he/she stuck
  5. What could be the motivation of his/her/their problem (will use it for experiments, research, hypothesis etc.)
  6. Finally tagging and duplicate checking.

This will help reduce the number of downvotes and as a result bans, and also will create a major difference in the culture of ChemSE as we know that EVERY QUESTION has been indirectly scrutinised through this process.

I feel that this should not apply only for first-timers, but for every question.

This may have been raised before but it's high time it's raised again. What is the community's say on my opinion?

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  • $\begingroup$ chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2901/… Do refer this humorous but thought-provoking post by M. A. R. (I am ultimately sorry, I don't know your name!) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 13:42
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't think the title actually matches what you want to accomplish… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ He's just M.A.R. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


I agree it's healthy to revisit our standards, policies and methods once in a while. Notice the distinction: one issue is what should be deemed an acceptable question; another is how to handle a question deemed unacceptable or avoid that OPs post unacceptable questions (<<this the issue you address).

Downvoting is a permanent matter of contention at Chemistry SE. There is a long history on the topic. A search of meta will hit upon plenty to keep you busy.

Every site develops a "culture" of sorts. This site is reputed to be tough on newbies. This partly derives from ideals of avoiding repetitiveness (which I violate with this answer, of course). Re this I currently slack more but think the hive mind of the community does a fine job.

That aside, I don't know the philosophy of serial downvoters. They may want to enforce quality or reduce duplication, maybe something else. It is their call how they vote.

Your ideas might encourage quality and reduce time waste.You are absolutely right that it is better to allow newbies to avoid posting a poorly received post before the fact. Discussions on providing better guidance began long ago. BTW this is what I see when I open the new question page:

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If I understand correctly your answer suggests guiding the OP through a checklist (or a wizard of sorts?). There are links to help pages from the page shown above. Whether visitors who should click on them do is another question (evidently many don't). However, much of the introduction is hard-wired and controlled by staff, not mods. Some additional tinkering may be possible and worthwhile.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes. This is the thing I am looking for. If you look at the question publishing form in Stack Overflow, I think we can get more ideas as to how we can make question asking a better and a less harrowing experience. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ I am a firm believer that chem.SE is much more tolerant to the newcomers that other communities. I don't want to bad mouth other communities though but here's what happened recently in biology.SE: biology.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4368/… (cc @HarikrishnanM) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ @NilayGhosh thanks -I thought Chem SE was on the tough side. "Quality" is a broad topic. This site demonstrates that it's not trivial to set quality standards. Some are happy to address questions that are outright sloppy or that do not demonstrate careful prior analysis by the OP, perhaps duplicated, or derived from lower quality sources (whether textbooks or internet). Others will downvote or vote to put such questions on hold. ... $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ ... How to handle a newbie posting a question deemed to have some quality issues is another matter. That Biology SE example is complicated. It looks like it might have been poorly handled. Still, we are a community and we try to suggest standards of behavior, but some things cannot be controlled, like voting. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 9:43

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