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The question Is a rocket landing on a ship on an ocean literally “something from Science Fiction”? received several down votes in rapid succession. Comments suggest that while it may not be off-topic (I just asked for one example) it's not a popular type of question.

It's likely that there is background and context to this that I'm not aware of, so some guidance as to how to avoid such a negative reaction in future question will be helpful!

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    FYI, I don't know if this is just due to the type of question. Your context also seems like it makes the question worse, IMO. Scott Manley was using a pretty vague figure of speech, and the question you've based on it just doesn't seem that interesting to the sci-fi/fantasy reader in me. Landing on the ocean isn't a particularly interesting sci-fi element IMO. – JMac Feb 19 at 0:11
  • @JMac Ah, "guilt by association" ;-) Okay. For the first nine minutes there was a screen shot of a rocket, ship and ocean, and that might have made things even worse. Okay that's certainly the kind of thing I can avoid in the future, thanks! – uhoh Feb 19 at 0:16
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    I would suspect that more than the 'landing on the ocean' part, the underlying sci-fi-ness that Manley is referring to is the 'SELF-landing' bit - regardless of location. Their rockets have self-landed on terra firma as well. As to downvoting - that's exactly what they are for. The community decides collectively whether a question is subjectively worthy or not. For my part - I downvote any harry-potter fan fiction I come across, because I think...well, that doesn't really matter. I do use tag filter to hide them so I'm not going out of my way to find and downvote but if I happen across it... – NKCampbell Feb 19 at 0:18
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    ...I'll downvote. But, I also recognize that many of those questions get dozens of upvotes - so the community values them on some level. That's why downvotes rather than closing outright is valuable (but - we do have close votes as well) – NKCampbell Feb 19 at 0:21
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    @uhoh I don't think "guilt by association" is how I would describe it. Just your framing of the question makes it seem like a pretty poor fit for the site to me. It doesn't seem very useful to a broader audience. – JMac Feb 19 at 1:29
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    @JMac Are "un-useful" questions really regularly and systematically down voted this much? (it's at -7) Here I think the strong reaction to this particular question is the association with that particular video and/or narrator. I think that guilt by association really does apply in this case, though I'm using the term loosely. – uhoh Feb 19 at 2:45
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    @uhoh My reaction was to the question and the quote you gave to put it in context. I personally didn't watch the video at all. I don't think the question itself was a good one, and the context you gave doesn't help. It seemed more like he's saying "this would have seemed like science fiction a decade ago"; not necessarily that science fiction with that exact thing exists or is common. – JMac Feb 19 at 2:53
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    I also don't really understand why you think it would be something personal about the video or youtuber. I've seen some of his videos before, and they seemed pretty good as far as I remember. Unless there's some drama I don't know about or something. – JMac Feb 19 at 2:55
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    @JMac - That was my initial concern, that the commentator wasn't referring to a specific science fiction work, just scifi in general (e.g. it seems futuristic and fantastical). – Valorum Feb 19 at 7:47
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    @uhoh Agreeing with the "this much" part. Seven people downvoting this question (which is not an especially problematic question in any way, even if it does eventually get deemed off-topic) and taking the score to -7 feels like a pile-on. I don't think such a reaction was called for. This was a question you asked in good faith, after all. – Astrid_Redfern Feb 19 at 21:46
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    @Astrid_Redfern Thanks, it's currently at -12/+5 votes. SciFi SE is a very friendly and helpful SE community and passionate about the site, and asking here has always been a positive experience. There just seems to be something specific about this question that bothers many users, and voting is a limited but correct way to express that. We should never take voting personally. Out of my 53 questions asked this is the only one with a negative score and there are only three others with zero. – uhoh Feb 20 at 1:43
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    @JMac - not useful to a broader audience - OP has 100k on Space.SE; any question they ask, I want the answer to. A broader audience, indeed. – Mazura Feb 20 at 23:56
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    @Mazura I'm not a fan of voting based on the person asking instead of the content of the question. I voted because I personally felt the question was a bad fit for the site and warranted a downvote. I've seen OP around on the network quite a bit, I know they've made plenty of great contributions to the network. It doesn't mean I won't objectively look at their questions based on what they are asking, just like I would any new (or experienced) user. – JMac Feb 21 at 0:04
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    @Mazura I don't understand a lot of your argument. "The user has 100k on Space" - so? We vote for questions not the user. "But a poor question isn't a close reason." - no one is saying it should be closed, it's on topic as it is. "Why are we still talking about it instead of just editing the title" - It would change the question being asked from 1 form of on topic to another, that's for the OP to do. "this user does not deserve to be treated like a 1rep" we should treat all users the same regardless of rep. – TheLethalCarrot Feb 21 at 9:20
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    @uhoh You're right, I was just replying to, what I felt were, some misconceptions in what Mazura has said above. – TheLethalCarrot Feb 21 at 9:25
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“Any” questions generally receive a few downvotes and there certainly is a group of users that don’t like them, myself included. The problem is whilst they were ruled to be on topic they are essentially a poor loophole to just being a list question which are off topic. These types of questions almost always receive several answers that are “yes, here’s one example” and bar downvoting and commenting there’s not really anything that can be done about that, especially if they hit the HNQ. To be honest it might be worth revisiting that policy at some point...

That doesn’t mean you can’t ask these questions at the moment though of course.

However, there is probably a better way forward: use the tag and ask a “First occurrence of X” question. Whilst these are still somewhat of a loophole list question they will have one correct answer and people are more likely not to post just anything, especially if what they know of is newer than something already posted. And in general these questions are actually quite well received, there was one on the HNQ just yesterday (probably still today) in fact.

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  • This is very helpful, I appreciate you taking the time to write it up. – uhoh Feb 19 at 11:42
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    Ugh. The 'history of' tag is loophole #2 for asking list questions – Valorum Feb 19 at 13:33
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    Ultimately, people are free to downvote without needing to provide any reasoning, so there is always that counter. – FuzzyBoots Feb 19 at 13:35
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    @Valorum Which is exactly what I said, at least with that though we have a set or criteria we could potentially flag an answer against. – TheLethalCarrot Feb 19 at 13:35
  • Just so you know, I consider "what was the first" type questions the moral equivalent of "any" questions. A lot of those old pulp magazines are lost forever, so we can never tell who "really" published an idea first. – Spencer Apr 24 at 14:21
  • @Spencer They are and are kind of a loophole to an any question but one with an objective answer. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 24 at 14:21

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