I'm not sure if this is a trend on SciFi, but I know from experience on other Stack Exchange sites that users have a tendency of downvoting off-topic questions. While free downvotes on questions is good and all, I'm not quite sure this is what was intended.
Downvoting is a punitive measure that is simply unwarranted in a case such as an off-topic question. Slapping a downvote on a question (or answer, for that matter) does little to bring the question to the attention of moderators, as opposed to flagging a question. In the case of new users, the "off-topic" close will already be confusing and mass downvoting may seem like a personal attack, a sort of insult after injury.
While experienced Stack Exchange users understand that a downvote is, by no means, a personal attack, unexperienced users (and particularly first posters) do not know this. As far as I understand, downvoting is reserved for a question that "shows no research effort", is "unclear", or is "not useful". While I can understand how an off-topic question may show no research effort (i.e. someone didn't research the FAQ) or is not useful (off-topic questions rarely are), I was under the assumption that those qualifiers were reserved for questions that were on-topic.