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When I complain about downvoting, it's usually when it's happening to me or to a question-asker who has a somewhat similar level of Japanese to me.

But this time, I've come across someone downvoting an answer to a question I have. I can't tell whether the answer is correct or not, but the logic in it seemed plausible enough. So someone thinks the answer's no good, but I don't know why. That's kind of unhelpful to me.

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You are not required to explain your downvotes, but we encourage you to. They provide feedback which is imortant for every community. The following are guidelines, not hard rules.

Downvotes on questions are for extreme cases. They are not a dislike button. Before you downvote, check if it can be fixed with a simple edit. If so, edit it.

Specifically, downvoting is not for:

  • Spam, non-answers etc. These should be flagged.
  • Good answers to bad questions. Edit the answer or leave a comment on it, or vote to close it.
  • Answers whose author you don't like, or if you simply don't like what it says (even though it's true).
  • Answers with smaller grammar or formatting issues. Edit them.
  • Answers that are just not helpful. These remain at 0/1 upvotes, while better answers rise to the top. Downvote answers that are positively harmful or misleading.

Explaining what's wrong helps in several ways:

  • People who find our page via google in search of an answer will know what's wrong with it; and that we're not a negative community.
  • Being told you're wrong still doesn't feel good, but at least now you know what you did wrong.
  • It helps the author to correct the answer. This is important especially for (a) native speakers who don't know exactly how we work because there's no Japanese localization; and (b) non-native speakers who might not realize they misinterpreted the sentence incorrectly.
  • We don't get people complaining here on meta ;)

However, explanations are not always necessary. If an answer is just plainly wrong bordering on nonsense, you don't have to waste your time to write a comment. It's hard to formalize, but you know it when you see it:

Q: What's the origin of the verb 滞る?

A: 滞り is in romaji todokoori or todocooli, as り is more like l not r. The last part was imported from the English cool/coolie. The first part means 胡鯔 sea lion. So at first it meant freeze-dried sea lion, or specifically their penises which are considered to be aphrodisiacs in some forms of traditional Chinese medicine (edit: source see wikipedia). Often there's been a shortage of these, so their distribution stagnated. Then it got turned into a verb, like トラブる or 料り→料る.

or

Q: What's the meaning of 確認というか念を押しとくが?

A: Just look it up on google translate, it's a great page that answers half of my own question! "

"While holding down or just in case of confirmation?"

Yes, not everybody is aware that machine translation sucks. If you've got some time, feel free to explain it, but you don't have to. At the very least, you should've realized the "translation" doesn't make sense even in the target language English.

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