How can we encourage users to use Constructive Criticism? It seems that some of the users, encouraged or excused by the StackExchange rules are primarily focused on Destructive Criticism, which concentrates on saving resources and preserving purity of purpose.

How can we encourage the use of Constructive Criticism, what are the StackExchange rules in support of it, ie. what would be the argument for it?

How can we persuade users that are very quick to reach to Destructive Criticism to instead take a "wait and see" approach and give first a chance to someone to use Constructive Criticism as means of improving Questions and Answers on this site?

2 Answers 2


I found leading by example, the best way to go ahead with this.

Initially, users were very prompt at downvoting and closing off questions very fast, without a comment in DataScience SE too, which is very bad for a new site(It was, then.), cause it again takes the same number of reopen votes for reopening the question, after the OP has figured out what's wrong in their question and did the necessary edits.

So, an alternate approach is, first leave a friendly comment, like:

Welcome to <> SE. This question would most likely be closed cause < mention the reason properly and clearly >, and give the OP some time for revisiting the post, and properly edit it.

If the OP still doesn't edit/improve the post to fit into the community's policies, then by all means, go ahead and close it off.

Having said that, posts which are blatantly off-topic or which looks like copy-pasted homework or which displays significant lack of effort(like, basic error googling, etc), should be closed down.

However, don't expect all the users to be as constructive as you are. It will take time for them to see how good constructive criticism is, and how it is, thereby improving the site as a whole.

PS: Some OP's who were given time to improve their first posts, are now regular users in DataScience SE, and are giving the same welcoming and moderation treatment to their fellow users now. And a site which was supposed to be dead long back, is now close to graduation :).

So, the culture will catch up, but it has to start with a person or two.


I assume you put under Destructive Criticism every down vote or vote to close action.

Indeed being accustomed to Stack Exchange (SE) rules applying to mostly every site include a bias, which Shog9 did nicely resumes in his comment here:

You can't leave your memories at the door even if you wanted to, @Stijn. Instead, try to remember why we do things the way we do them elsewhere... And if you don't know, find out before you blindly repeat the rituals here.

The reasons to downvote a post are in the hovering tooltip:

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

They are pretty subjective and everyone is free to act on his/her personal feeling toward a post. Commenting to let the author know the concern is not mandatory, I do think it is constructive.

Next voting to close a question is actually an indication at least 5 users think there's a problem with this question. For too broad, which I assume is your main concern, that's because those users think it won't have a useful outcome.
Either because answering the question can't fit in the format of the site and would be better addressed in a blog post, or because it is not scoped enough and answers will start to pile until finding the gem answer within all will just hide it; Example here of something where after a while it's absolutely unpractical.

You may dislike it, but closing a question is already a constructive thing, enforcing the asker to search why the community think its question is not a good fit for the site.

Goal of SE sites is to build a knowledge base which should not fade off with time whereas possible. Questions asking for list of things are likely not give anything useful on long term, but Robert Cartaino explain it better than me in the first part of his answer here.

Stack Exchange works really well when you ask very specific questions about a problem you encountered in your day to day work — something that can be at least somewhat definitively answered as rankably "most correct."

So to get back to your exact question:

Leaving a comment explaining the reasons of a down vote or a close vote, specially at this time of 20 days old site, is a constructive behavior in my opinion as it helps discussing the concerns. That indeed save energy, as if the author doesn't like your opinion and don't review its question you won't have to get back periodically to check and finally cast your vote if nothing changed. Moreover when you comment the author can ping you after reviewing its post with @nickname to let you know a change has been made.

This had already happened, with the help of a meta question for guidance here

  • Actually that is incorrect assumption. Down vote or vote to close can be a constructive criticism in aggregate. It can also be destructive criticism when applied too early and without comment. It depends on context. A question that stays at 0 reputation for a week being down-voted and/or voted to close is a clear message. A question down-voted once in first hour after it was asked and then staying at -1 reputation is an attempt to sway opinion and can be destructive on borderline questions and constructive on spam for example. Context is important. Mar 20, 2017 at 12:51
  • As you didn't give any example of what you think is destructive, it's hard to answer on a specific topic. But yes, this may impact opinion, as a question updated an then gathering up votes will impact opinion also. You give me the feeling you do not trust people to make their self opinion at all, that's sad in my point of view.
    – Tensibai
    Mar 20, 2017 at 12:57
  • People generally follow influencers. If I was that kind of person, I could demonstrate for you that with a quick down-vote and articulate negative comment I can kill any question on the site, no matter how good it is. Mar 20, 2017 at 13:02
  • Maybe link to an actual example of when this did happen, here or elsewhere on a SE site ?
    – Tensibai
    Mar 20, 2017 at 13:04

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