This question Control start point of nested list was posted within minutes of the OP receiving an answer to this question Horizontal space in lists. Understandably, some of us (myself included) were annoyed at this, since I had explicitly mentioned in my answer to the first question that all the list parameters could be changed and pointed to both the enumitem documentation and the presence of other questions on the site (although without explicit links). The question then received a couple of downvotes.

Seamus correctly points out though, that the question itself is a reasonable one.

Thus, the downvotes are trying to correct the behaviour of the OP rather than being a reflection of the question content.

Although notice that the help popup on the downvote arrow explicitly states

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

So the question is, is this kind of downvoting reasonable, and if not, are there other ways to prod users to RTFM. (I suspect that comments aren't enough.)

1 Answer 1


Voting should reflect the content. There shouldn't be downvotes because of misbehavior of somebody. Other readers might not understand that, possibly, and it's against the quality by voting system. Just because we cannot vote on users, we shouldn't transfer that on content.

I suggest

  • commenting
  • editing, for quality reasons
  • adding links to related questions by the user, such as in this case
  • closing of questions, if meaningful

Like in this case, the last point could be meaningful if there's a very similar question because the OP just didn't deal with the earlier answers: edit/extend the earlier question if necessary and comment on it and vote to close the newer question, this would be an option.

However, no downvoting of a question just because there's been a problem with an earlier question.

  • 7
    The downvoting here isn't because of a problem with a previous question, it's the "I didn't bother to read the manual" aspect of the question (which falls into the "doesn't show any research effort" category.). Of course, that can apply to many questions, one supposes.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 16:15

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