At some point I had a question about the workings of the bash shift command. I did not find the question / answer on this website, so I looked up the answer and posted my learnings as self answered question.

For some reason this question attracts downvotes and I do not understand why. I get it is a question for which it is not hard to find the answer. But it was hard to find the answer on this site, so I tried to remedy that. As I understand it "Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases". So what can I do? Can I improve the question? Should I ask for it's removal? Should I just keep it and accept the bad rep?

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    I haven't (yet) voted on the question, but the thought that goes through my head when reading the current version is: "just try it and see?" -- which could be enough justification for a "low effort " downvote.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 18:29
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    I get that. That is what I did. What I am not sure about is whether or not such questions are (or should be) welcome on this community?
    – pjvleeuwen
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 18:31
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    The tooltip for the vote-down button says "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful", and the question certainly does not show any research effort, notwithstanding that since it's self-answered you did actually research it. It is difficult to find a balance between what goes in the question and in the answer in those cases. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


Keep it and accept the bad reputation and good reputation that will come.

I think the question would be bad without your answer (because of lack of research effort) but it's at least decent with the answer (where your real research effort is indeed shown). In one of my questions (on Super User) I added a note:

Note I already know the answer (I think). I'm posting it below. The question is for future reference.

This disarmed possible downvoters. Users do not always read answers; or they (we) don't always notice if a question is self answered.

Another reason would be asking a question where the right answer is "too obvious". I can imagine someone thinks it's obvious $# behaves the way it does. I personally don't find the answer to your question too obvious; and even if I did, my action would rather be "not to upvote" than "downvote".

  • Thanks Kamil for sharing your considerations. Also for your tip. I added a similar note inviting people to express their considerations here when/before casting a downvote. I used the blockquote for lack of anything better. How did you create the grey box thingy you use in your answer? (I have still too low rep to use the edit button)
    – pjvleeuwen
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 21:32
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    @PaulvanLeeuwen It's a blockquote of the same type, with >. The color is different because Meta has its own color scheme. Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 21:39
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    @PaulvanLeeuwen you can view source of a post using the URL like https://unix.meta.stackexchange.com/posts/5047/revisions (where 5047 is the post ID you can get from share link under the post), and clicking source there.
    – Ruslan
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 9:36

You shouldn't care too much about votes, especially if they are not accompanied by comments (N.B. negative comments typically correlate with downvotes but don't really imply who actually downvoted).

Especially new users tend to overrate votes and to interpret upvotes as trophies and downvotes as something personal. Simply don't. (I've seen users who were upset by downvotes and demanded justifications for them - this is not how voting works.). Yes, upvotes give a much better feeling, but be assured, good posts will eventually get upvotes. Conversely, a low score on the long run might simply indicate that the according post isn't quite "exciting".

  • Thanks for your advice. I guess you are right about the throphy / personal slight thing. But for me it is more than that. I believe SO(&co) can be a very nice community if we take the guidelines in the code of conduct and the downvote privilege description seriously. Originally I got a comment along the line of "what, was reading the man pages too much effort?". That was clearly not in line with the code of conduct (the code actually mentions this concrete example).Point is that such comment you can flag, but just downvotes because how "exciting" it is is as unwelcoming, but hard to respond to
    – pjvleeuwen
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 20:33
  • Basically, why I posted this meta question is because I strive to write stuff that improves this site. If I make it a bad / worst place, then I embrace the downvote. But I am not sure the current downvotes mean it is a bad addition to the site. So basically my question remains on the qualitative feedback on the linked post: can or should it be improved? Does it add value to this site or is it clutter and is this site slightly better if we just remove it?
    – pjvleeuwen
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 20:40
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    @PaulvanLeeuwen Straight answer: Your posts are good enough. Trying to polish them might even spoil them. I would, though, remove any references to votes, thanks etc. I know that this also catches many new users by surprise who want to be polite community citizens, but the reason is very simple: all of that is indexed by search engines, and less clutter gives better hits. Since SE is a knowledge base, this is an important point. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 9:37

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