Occasionally, PPCG gets an off-topic post or two. Usually, these are closed fairly quickly, and the user is informed that this isn't what this site is about. The majority of the time, the user is posting here because they have misunderstood the point of the site, not because they want to deliberately spam the site.

However, recently, I've been noticing a trend in the voting patterns of said off-topic posts. Off topic posts are quickly getting downvoted, as well as closed. 1, 2, 3. These are all deleted, but have the vote scores -4, -3 and -5.

Sure these posts aren't a good or right fit for the site, but that doesn't mean they are worth a lot of downvotes, which can give a negative impression of the site towards the new users posting this off-topic content. I'm not saying we don't downvote spam posts, such as this, but posts that are unintentionally against our on-topic guidelines have no reason to be downvoted.

I'm proposing that we stop downvoting these off-topic posts into oblivion, and instead leave a single downvote and a comment explaining why the post isn't right for this site. What do you think?

  • \$\begingroup\$ If everyone leave a single downvote, the question will receive a lot of downvotes as well. Also 1 questions with less than -2 score can be deleted immediately, and 2 downvote is an indication that the question is off-topic, exactly what downvote is designed for. \$\endgroup\$
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Occasionally? I think you mean far too regularly! \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaggy
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 18:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Random read. \$\endgroup\$
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 3:08
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I have noticed far too often that questions about downvoting have been...downvoted \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 13:53
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ This question is downvoted into oblivion itself \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 10:40

3 Answers 3


posts that are unintentionally against our on-topic guidelines have no reason to be downvoted.

This is false; posts with a score of -4 or lower do not appear on the front page.

Making low quality content less visible than high quality content is pretty much why we cast downvotes in the first place, so this is reason enough to downvote unsalvagably off-topic posts.


In addition to what Dennis said, one of the reasons for downvoting is "...does not show any research effort". Not bothering to check if the site where the question is posted is appropriate for the question counts for no research effort.


A post being off-topic is enough of a reason for people to downvote it, as Dennis and Mego have already said. If you worry about the user feeling insulted, you can leave a comment explaining why you acted this way, to reassure the user you have objective, written reasons to do so. If the user is being reluctant to read the Tour page (big banner on top of the front page) and Help Center, then there's pretty much nothing we can do to further help them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @user202729 It is kind of misleading, yes, but not that misleading. The on-topic page is pretty clear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 10:18

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