I recently answered a question about the violin, my primary instrument.

This morning, I checked and saw that it had been down voted, presumably by the honorable Carl Witthoft, who to his credit, left a comment.

The content of the comment was basically, "Your writing style is annoying."

Ok, whatever. I mean, it'd be nice to know exactly what about it detriments the content. I actually enjoy that style of writing, and it's a bit hurtful to have my style generally dismissed as annoying.

And I have a semi-unique sense of humor, as Carl pointed out, evidenced by my username, so I did make a provision for the fact that, yeah, I'm a total geek.

The main thrust of this question is not for me to feel sorry for myself, and it's not situation specific.

In general, regardless of the style in question, is it acceptable to down vote a question simply because that writing style is irritating to you?

  • 1
    Both answers and questions of reasonable quality will get more up votes than down votes, which is what's really important. I've down voted popular content for my own reasons and others will continue to do the same. It's wise to re-assess what you've written in light of a down vote, but it's not worth getting worried about unless the overall score for a question or answer is negative, in which case there is probably a legitimate problem that is hard for you to understand. – Todd Wilcox Oct 4 '16 at 3:47

People can downvote, without comment even, for any reason they see fit. It is a privilege that is only granted after people have earned enough reputation that they can be assumed to understand how the site works, so they are given wide latitude. The general guidance is to downvote answers that give bad (false, misleading, dangerous) information or completely miss the point of the question. But it is really up to the discretion of the individual voter as to whether a poorly constructed answer is bad enough to warrant downvoting.

The key to handling this is to (try to) not take it too personally. I get the impression that you've done the sensible thing: considered your answer in light of the comment, and deemed that it is adequate. Just let the 2 pts. go.

  • Thank you for the answer. Reputation really doesn't mean anything for me. It's just a little like being shell-shocked to be told by a stranger on the internet -- initially in a single sentence -- that you're writing style is annoying. I appreciate your insight. – General Nuisance Sep 30 '16 at 16:23

Honestly, if the question fits the site and follows all the rules, I'd lean toward an upvote.

Then I'd edit the question for language to improve it (hey, that's 2 rep!)

If we downvote an inherently good question it would make the person less likely to ask another or participate in other ways. In addition, if they're submitting otherwise good content (which we can edit), we're potentially hurting the growth of the site.

And like I said, dat rep tho.


The short answer may probably be summed up as:

  1. People vote up and down for a whole variety of reasons, known only to them - we would assume that it is a reflection of their view as to whether the question/answer contributes to the community or not,
  2. Writing style - in and of itself - would not, in my book, merit a downvote if the content is sound,
  3. It costs nothing to be polite, especially if you want someone to do something (in this case: edit their post).

The help center offers some simple guidelines for how to avoid bad feeling between users - and how to deal with unpleasantries should they arise.

I've had a look at the original answer and I have to say that edits are an improvement. It might have lost some of the flair, but does a better job of answering the question - which, at the end of the day, is its purpose.

I find it helps to adopt a fairly neutral tone when answering here - much as your revised answer does. You can't ever be sure who will be reading your answer five years from now - it is meant to help not only the OP, but anyone else who has a similar problem - so I'd err on the side of caution, when choosing how to phrase. If your writing style irritates a reader, they aren't going to be receptive to the knowledge you are trying to pass along.

I can only echo what Dave has said about trying not to take it too personally. It is too easy, sometimes, to let a situation like this degenerate into outright hostility and we owe it to ourselves to resist the temptation.

  • Thank you for the insight and fair assessment. I don't like hostility. I don't think any of it exists, yet, but I can only be thankful that there are cooler heads on this site than my own. – General Nuisance Sep 30 '16 at 16:26

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