As of right now, the question How much time do you spend writing one page on average? has received zero up-votes and four down-votes.

Number of comments explaining the down-votes? Zero.

Personally, I thought it was a pretty good question; good enough that I gave it its first answer. While no one has yet come up with a flat number to give him, it doesn't mean that others can't learn something from the question and the answers it's received.

The description of voting down says that it should be done for questions that are:

an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post

which I just don't see as the case here. That four independent people thought that—none of whom could be bothered to leave a comment—strikes me as unlikely.

… … … …

The big problem, as I see it, is that if you don't explain why you're down-voting, others have to guess—and they may not guess correctly. For instance, my current theory is this particular question is unpopular because it's about tech writing.

… … … …

What do you think is actually going on here?

  • 1
    Yeah I was really baffled, the question (especially after the edits) is imnsho great. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 3:03
  • @Jakub - a good question for this site would meet the criteria set forth here: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 15:02
  • Oh, please, not again! You linked to the MSO discussion, so you should be aware, that you do not need to comment it for a reason. Too many revenge downvotes had happened. For the rest: read StrixVaria's answer. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 18:59
  • 1
    +1 for directly addressing an unclear and potentially emotional issue in a community-driven Q&A site. Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 10:11

7 Answers 7


I have voted to close this question, as it reads like a "getting to know you" poll. In the other SEs that I have participated in, we have chosen not to accept these types of questions, because the answer absolutely cannot be chosen. In the case of this question, how do you even choose to up- or down-vote any answer? The only criteria I can think of is the comprehensiveness of the why given by the respondents, and even that is pretty vague.

We link and link to Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, and that's because new people continuously need to be taught what kinds of questions encourage answers that can be objectively voted on. This one doesn't.

A question that gets the answers the original questioner was getting at could be formulated without being a "getting to know you" type of poll. It could be "Given the experience of writers working on technical writing, what kind of average time should I expect to spend on X number of words, which for me is a page? What kind of time breakdown is there between the initial draft and the re-work? What kind of deadline is reasonable for X number of words total? Why? What would change this criteria?" A question that carefully lays out specific criteria for an answer and encourages a good response would be helpful.

The existing question is absolutely not without rewriting. Just like all of my first drafts.

  • 1
    My question was within hours the most downvoted one on this website. Interesting is that in the top 3, there is currently a question titled "Do You Use Any Version Controlling Software/Methods As Writers?". Go figure. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 17:15
  • 1
    @Borek - personally I'm not a huge fan of that question either, but it does provide more initial information than your first version of the question is. In general I think we at Writers need to tighten up our standards for a good question quite a bit, but so far my attempts to mention this on Meta have been shot down.
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 17:22
  • BTW, your response is really informative. I often forget about the "RPG" nature of StackExchange sites - they are not only about questions and answers, but also having the answers, earning reputation etc. I personally think that it sometimes discourages interesting questions (or makes their authors to be very creative in wording them as you have demonstrated and I have failed at) but that's how things are. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 17:24
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    @Borek - it's not just about rep. It's about the very nature of "Question and Answer" versus "Forum." In fact if you want a forum experience ask on Writers "What writing forums should I visit for more interesting information" or some such. Rep exists merely to reward good Q&A behavior, it does not drive the goal of the site as such.
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 17:27
  • 2
    You're probably right I just often forget that this site is about Question & Answer, not Question & Answers (i.e. there should be the answer). BTW, I don't see how your wording could possibly lead to the answer either - maybe the most popular one but not the "correct" one. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 17:33

This is a Q&A site, not a forum. As such, survey questions are off-topic.

I didn't see the original question until it was brought up here in meta, but it's the sort of thing I'd absolutely close.


My guess is that people looked at the question and thought it's naive, that there is no way to tell how much time you spend on a page (they wrote "what is a page anyway") etc. so they downvoted because the tooltip says

"This question is unclear or not useful"

I was kind of upset at first when I saw how many downvotes my "great" question has received (we always think our questions are great, right?) but then I realized that there is usually a reason for people's actions. I've tried to fix the not so clear wording of the original question but I still think some people will be irritated by the mere idea that you can measure something as creative and non-deterministic as writing.

Thanks for your support Dori.


I down voted it. But I couldn't think of a comment that wasn't scathing, so I moved on.

How much time do you spend per page. Time. Time per page. I can bang out a page in ten minutes, or I can rip one from my psyche kicking and screaming over the course of an hour. And either one could be a jewel in need of little polish, or a turd fit only to be flushed.

So, what? Do I need to sit down and write for a few hours, checking the watch every time the page counter kicks over? I suppose this would necessitate writing in a word processor that actually counts pages, but I have access to such a thing even if I prefer not to use one. Then, after a suitable sample set, I should go to bed, sleep, then get up in the morning and edit the pages, carefully tracking my time.

And then I should average all these times, and post them so some other guy who who has a completely different process from mine, uses a different size font and an ergonomic Dvorak keyboard which he's using to write dense descriptive text with few paragraph breaks, can think, "Jesus! Satanicpuppy only spends 44.33337 minutes per page with edits and everything! I must be doing something wrong!"

So yea, down vote. People write at different speeds.

  • 1
    I read the question as a request for an average. But it's true that really famous writers write at different rates - some publish their first novels near the end of life after painfully extracting each word and image over decades and some crank out work so fast that they need pseudonyms for different works to keep people from wondering how they do it.
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 14:25

I open almost every question that runs through this site, and this one too - largely out of curiosity. Reading the content of the question, I immediately lost interest (tech writing is not my interest or experience) and began considering the question in terms of the type of content we want to see on Writers.SE.

While technical writing is different from other types, it is still writing, and it is still valid to Writers. The question itself may prompt responses that will vary wildly and potentially be very subjective to each person. But this is from a creative writing viewpoint.

Technical writing is very much a "documentation" style, and has many more rules concerning formatting and layout of content. Being incredibly structured in nature, is it not possible that most technical writers can and do measure their output based on time spent? And this time spent can be measured in pages?

  1. This type of meta Writers question should be resolved by the input of experienced technical writers
  2. This type of Writers question should be dealt with by the community wiki SE process

My 2c. YMMV.

  • 1
    As a note, the community wiki process isn't terribly well-loved necessarily for good reasons - it's confusing. See Meta.SO: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/67039/…
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 16:05
  • Does that mean it's not the process to use for Writers, or that we should clarify its intended usage? Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 17:27

I admit, I sort of want to earn the down-voter badge, but if I think a question is problematical, I'm likely to flag or ignore it.

  • 3
    Just wait until a question comes up that is technically not breaking any rules and is on topic, etc, but that has politics that really piss you off. A downvote is a very nice polite way of saying "this is not okay." And when you downvote questions, you don't lose any rep.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 0:04

I have not downvoted on that question, although when I first opened it that was what my first reaction was to do.

The reason that was my first reaction is because the criteria for downvoting are essentially up to the individual. The rules for how to spend your upvotes and downvotes are really more like guidelines.

As Borek said, the guideline is: "This question is unclear or not useful"

I initially found that question not to be useful. Who cares how much time it takes you to write? If you're obsessing over time spent, you're not writing, which is the important thing.

It's also important to say that I didn't vote precisely because it's a question about technical writing, which is not my area of expertise. Maybe time spent is an important metric for people involved in a technical writing field, like word count is for creative writers. Since I didn't know, I didn't vote.

But I'd say other creative writers probably had the same initial gut reaction that I did, and didn't give it a second thought.

  • As an addendum, after spending this much time thinking about the question, I realized it probably does deserve the +1 so I went back and gave it that.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 12:23
  • 1
    Interesting is that if your first thought was "Who cares how much time it takes you to write?", your initial reaction would be to downvote the question. I would also say "who cares" to many questions I read here but that's somehow not connected to the act of downvoting so there must be something irritating about that particular question. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 17:40
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    @Borek "who cares" implies "not useful" which is exactly what downvotes are intended for.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 18:24
  • 2
    @Dori "Who cares" means "not useful to the community". It wasn't "I don't care; let me downvote." It was "I don't think this matters to anyone; let me downvote." I understand the criteria.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 2:00

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