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Let me start that I really, really want this community to succeed, and I wish I had more time to try to make it happen. I will try hard to not make this question look like a rant.

This is very related to DJMcMayhem's What can we do to attract more questions to the site?. In my answer there, Carpetsmoker asked for specific examples and Yesterday I came across the perfect such example. In summary, what I say there is that we:

Most of the questions' answers here are either :h something or a combination of functions that are again already documented.

Expecting that we can make a website out of Vim questions that cannot be answered with :h something is just wrong.

Why is that wrong? 90% of all posts on SO and SE sites can be answered with RTFM, but they still provide value. Why is that? Because they add a couple of points that the author of the answer added in his own words. There is value in the answer because someone searching for that answer may find the authors explanation easier than the one provided in the manual.

OK, that summarised, comes my example question: Append() to current line.

In that question it is obvious that the user is learning VimScript, and possibly struggling to understand the documentation. I saw that the answer to that (not mine, the other one) started with:

the documentation clearly states that (...)

Which was completely unneeded and rash of saying RTFM. A better (kinder) way to put that could be "If you look in :h append()" or something like that. Thanks to that I decided to answer and write something more approachable to a beginner.

I got my 15 points for that and I should be happy, right? Wrong, I'm not.

I cannot stand the fact that the question was downvoted. I mean, why it got downvoted? It is not a brilliant question alright, but it asks about a possible confusion between append() and A (which is documented as append). It is not a bad question either, it is a valid confusion.

Yes, a bunch of points on a website on the internet is something trivial but gaining those points encourages people to participate. There are people who participate badly in such a case but they are not a majority (and I digress here). And, in this specific case, we are demotivating someone who wants to learn VimScript. Someone who is likely to add some good questions based on how he interprets the documentation.

Therefore:

  • Why do we demotivate people in this way?
    (I'm not trying to point fingers though)
  • Or is it just an isolated case?
    (I have the impression that it isn't)
  • Can we do it differently?
    (Or more: do we want to do it differently?)

(P.S. Yes, the upvote is mine)

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    What makes you think that one downvote resulted in the user being scared off the site, or similarly demotivated? Or that new users in general are not returning to the site because of the treatment they receive? Right now your argument reads more to me as an attack on downvotes (and I'm not, per se, saying I disagree with it), rather than an attack on running people off. – user72 May 22 '17 at 20:23
  • Anecdotally, I gave up on contributing to this stackexchange after my first contribution because I had answer to a question deleted due to an overly strict (imo) interpretation of what it means to answer a question. My answer contradicted the premise of the user's question by providing a reason to counter it. In fact, most answers to the question (including the accepted answer) contradicted the question in answering it. Instead of providing useful feedback on what could be done to make my answer better, the owner of the accepted answer deleted mine. vi.stackexchange.com/a/15701/16894 – Kylos Aug 27 '18 at 20:59
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the documentation clearly states that (...)

Which was completely unneeded and rash of saying RTFM. A better (kinder) way to put that could be "If you look in :h append()" or something like that.

I fully agree that these sort of snide(-ish) remarks are unproductive. If you see something like this: edit it!

Other than that, there's not a whole lot anyone can do. The fact of the matter is, that a certain percentage of answers/comments will have snide remarks. It's up to the rest of us to fix that through edits.

If you see someone making such remarks on a consistent basis you could consider bringing this user to the moderator's attention by raising a flag on one of their posts; but as this site is fairly small, I'd like to think that the mods already have a pretty good idea of what's going on, and to the best of my knowledge such snide remarks aren't posted on a regular basis (we did have a user consistently adding remarks like that in the past, and the mods did take action on that).

I cannot stand the fact that the question was downvoted. I mean, why it got downvoted? It is not a brilliant question alright, but it asks about a possible confusion between append() and A (which is documented as append). It is not a bad question either, it is a valid confusion.

Can't tell as to why it's downvoted; all I can say is that "it wasn't me" :-)

However, what I can tell you is the general voting trend:

number of up/downvotes in the last six months

These are number of votes per week for the last six months. You'll notice that the upvotes massively outnumber the downvotes. The most we've had for a week were 17 downvotes, but the average is more like 6 per week.

I don't think that's a whole lot, and again, I don't really see a structural problem here. If anything, we may have too many upvotes.

Yes, a bunch of points on a website on the internet is something trivial but gaining those points encourages people to participate. There are people who participate badly in such a case but they are not a majority (and I digress here). And, in this specific case, we are demotivating someone who wants to learn VimScript. Someone who is likely to add some good questions based on how he interprets the documentation.

I could write a long post on how I feel the platform could be improved in this area, but the fact of the matter is that this is how the platform works, and nothing you or I say is likely to change that any time soon.

But as I mentioned above, we don't have all that many downvotes, and it's not a huge problem on this site specifically (it is on e.g. Stack Overflow).


So to summarize, I'm not really convinced this is a structural problem we have on this site. In my experience this site if pretty friendly. I think you may be reading too much in to one bad answer and a single downvote?

I'm completely willing to be convinced otherwise, and I'll keep an eye out for this in the coming days/weeks, but you'll have to come up with more/better examples than this.

Was this question treated "unfairly"? Not sure. As you mentioned yourself, it's not exactly a stellar question, and that answer wasn't great. But on the other hand, it does have a net score of "0" (and not below that), and it has two good answers. It could be a lot worse :-)

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