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I received two downvotes for this answer. I'm not questioning the downvotes as everybody's free to do it. What I'm questioning is the fact that one of the votes was not accompanied by a comment stating a reason for it.

My opinion is that the private beta stage aims at giving a style to the site, so it's important to know what is missing or is deemed wrong in an answer: this is the only way to give a solid base to the site when public beta will start.

  • Condivido le perplessità sulla questione, ma, se puo' esserti d'aiuto, sono lieto di dirti che io ho ricevuto uno o più voti negativi su moltissime delle mie domande, se non quasi su tutte; mentre, sempre io, in questa fase non espresso alcun voto negativo. Cosa dire, non so; ma, forse, meglio un voto negativo oggi che uno domani. Chissa'. – Kyriakos Kyritsis Nov 19 '13 at 12:51
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  1. egreg, I personally have voted +1 because I saw in your answer some useful details and also a very good citation from the ISO recommendations.
    If I was to guess why your answer's been downvoted, I'd say that just the phrase "Separating thousands with periods is cause for ambiguities" might be perceived by some people as overstatement, since (a) we all are pretty used to see the numbers written exactly in this way (for example, in bank statements, and also MS Excel and Windows OS in general use period as a thousand separator for the Italian regional settings by default); (b) that was certainly not what the OP had asked about.
    The point about private beta is no longer applicable, since we've already gone public.

  2. KyriakosKyritsis, I've casted several down votes in the last few days and 3 of them were to your questions. I believe you are a very good thinker and you've made a lot of very interesting questions, which really helped to shape this site during the private beta. But along with that, several questions of yours were answerable just by looking it up on Treccani.it or in any (underline: any) grammar book. Now:

    • if there is no sign of effort from the OP, no explanation where this question comes from and why the OP hasn't googled it himself/herself, or if the OP has googled, why he/she is not satisfied with the findings, and
    • if there is no contradiction among dictionaries/grammars/translators, no double meaning, no regional specific usage

    ... then I certainly don't understand what else should be explained and why you are surprised by the down votes. I didn't comment on each of my own down votes because I believed that this discussion had covered the reasons precisely. And as I do now and will continue doing in the future, if I see a question, which is (or could be) answered with a single citation from a well-known source, so that writing a very short answer (formatting a citation, inserting a link, etc.) would take anybody longer than actually finding this answer, I'm going to upvote all the answers for such a question and to downvote immediately the question itself, - and no, such down vote would not deserve even a comment.

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    I would hardly consider MS Excel an authoritative source for typographical (in a general sense) matter. And from what I can recall, I've never used baseline periods as thousand separator. Have you? ;-) The question was “Why should I …?”, I answered that the OP shouldn't. – egreg Nov 19 '13 at 20:47
  • No, neither have I. :) This doesn't mean, though, that it's wrong or a cause for ambiguities. As to Excel (Windows OS, actually), I'd believe that the Microsoft Corporation has some references and guidelines for introducing every kind of regional standards. – I.M. Nov 19 '13 at 20:52
  • @I.M.: “I believe X has some references” is not exactly the strongest reference, is it? :-) – DaG Nov 19 '13 at 22:07
  • @DaG OK, you and egreg beat me because when I've tried now to find out what kind of sources the MS uses, I couldn't find any. :) They better have some very strong references, otherwise they'd face a lot of complaints and, maybe, even legal charges. But so far, the ISO guideline is the strongest reference I've seen. – I.M. Nov 20 '13 at 8:50
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Wow this got really long, here's a summary in case you are not willing to read my full answer.

tl;dr

  • egreg, I wouldn't worry. As a matter of fact you got feedback on the downvote and that's good. Other downvoters might just be agreeing with those critiques and that's completely legit.

  • Kyriakos, downvotes are not personal and they help the community. Use them whenever appropriate and try to ask yourself why your question was downvoted.


Full boring and extremely long answer

I agree that receiving a downvote with no comments is a frustrating experience.

As a personal policy, I always leave a comment together with my downvotes on answers, unless my opinion has already been expressed by someone else in the comments in a way I repute satisfying.

I think there's little benefit in downvoting and commenting Yes, I agree with the critiques, without adding anything new. My agreement is already expressed by my downvote, with no need for extra clutter under the post.

In the specific case you mentioned, I think this might be the case: someone explicitly disagreed with you in the comments, and someone else maybe just happened to agree with that person and just cast a second downvote.

My opinion is that the private beta stage aims at giving a style to the site, so it's important to know what is missing or is deemed wrong in an answer

I totally agree, and this is always true, not only in beta. But as a matter of fact you did get feedback about what was deemed wrong in your answer.

You shouldn't be worried that not every single downvote came with a comment, as the second person might just be agreeing with the existing critiques, which is legit.


I'd like to address Kyriakos's comment too, by saying that votes are not meant to be personal. He said

ho ricevuto uno o più voti negativi su moltissime delle mie domande, se non quasi su tutte
I got one or more downvotes on many - almost all - of my questions

First of all, you got a least one downvote on just 6 out of 40 questions you made. I don't have a mathematical definition of the almost all quantifier, but I'm pretty sure is not 15%.

Secondly, downvotes on questions are a different beast: they are much more common and encouraged w.r.t. downvotes on answer. For a start, they are for free, meaning that no reputation is lost for casting them. So it's completely normal for questions to be downvoted more often than answers: this is by design and well explained here: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/06/optimizing-for-pearls-not-sand/

Even I don't always comment on question downvotes, mostly because very often I cast a close vote together with the downvote.

Back to Kyriakos's comment, it looks you are taking downvotes personally, almost as an offense. You really shouldn't: downvotes are towards the post, not the person. I personally upvoted many questions of your, and downvoted some others.

Let's a couple of examples

  • https://italian.stackexchange.com/questions/1267/sono-gli-studenti-toscani-piu-bravi-di-quelli-italiani

    I downvoted this question - since I don't see a lot of research effort (not saying that you didn't research, just that it's not in the question) - and cast a close vote, since I think it's a terrible fit for a Q&A as it's primarily opinion based. I didn't leave a comment: my close vote speaks for itself and other people already expressed my opinion in the comments.

  • È obbligatorio usare la maiuscola dopo un punto interrogativo o esclamativo?

    This is by far the most controversial question of yours (and probably on the site), votes-wise: +3/-3. I didn't vote, but it's pretty obvious that while some people found the question interesting, some others thought the question was poorly expressed: questions should clearly explain the context, the poster's hypothesis about the usage and his perplexities about it, a part from show research effort This is clearly lacking here. Why do you have this question? Did you find counterexample to the 'rule' you are asking about? What have you read about it? Have you searched in a dictionary?

io in questa fase non ho espresso alcun voto negativo
I haven't cast any downvote at this stage (private beta, ndr)

Shame on you!1 Downvotes are good, if they are cast for a good reason. If you saw a bad question/answer and you didn't downvote it, you are not contributing to the site as you could!

Votes (up and down) are a powerful tool we have to use in order to make good content arise. Fear not!

If your question gets downvoted, ask yourself: What did I do wrong? and not Your downvote is not effective on me!. And if you don't understand why your question gets downvoted, you can always come here on meta and ask for the community's opinion.


[1]: this is ironic, before someone gets offended

  • Sorry, no. You don't address my point at all. We're still in private beta, aren't we? – egreg Nov 19 '13 at 18:09
  • @egreg What I'm questioning is the fact that one of the votes was not accompanied by a comment stating a reason for it. I think I pretty much answered that, didn't I? – Gabriele Petronella Nov 19 '13 at 18:09
  • No, you didn't touch the private beta question at all. I know what the voting mechanism works in the SE network, but this refers to public sites. – egreg Nov 19 '13 at 18:11
  • I added a brief note, but this is no different in beta (we are public now, by the way). You got feedback and that's what is important. – Gabriele Petronella Nov 19 '13 at 18:13
  • @egreg ok I polished my answer a little bit more. Hope it addresses your point. – Gabriele Petronella Nov 19 '13 at 18:20
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    @egreg and no, we are in public beta since yesterday night. – Gabriele Petronella Nov 19 '13 at 18:21
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The important thing is voting. Both voting up and down are essential to keep the site healthy -- they are our definition of what we like and do not like. This is to say, it's not really strange that you get downvotes, not expecting any equates to assuming that you always do everything right, that you always please everyone or at worst, leave them neutral.

You question the fact that some people do not leave comments and this is also fine. First of all, the only comments we want are constructive ones. Sometimes people do not have anything constructive to say. Also, as @Gabriele said in his answers, sometimes comments are redundant -- again, it's find not to repeat the same thing.

Finally, some or most people find it difficult to leave comments for fear of giving the wrong impression and getting caught in silly internet arguments. I can't really blame them.

My advice is: lascia perdere. Our system is basically rigged so if your post is decent, you will get a positive net reputation change from it, even if people downvote.

You can't always convince everyone, and everyone has a right of downvoting silently. Let's not make it more difficult for people to vote, it's not useful to the health of the site :-)

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    I repeat myself: I wanted to stress the fact that we were in private beta; I feel that this period should be used for helping everybody in making this site as useful as it can be, which means that just downvoting is useless. Being in public beta changes the situation, but not very much. – egreg Nov 22 '13 at 0:11
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    @egreg I don't really see why private beta should be different or how it invalidates my point. – Sklivvz Nov 22 '13 at 1:20

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