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I often see first posts (or posts from 1 rep users) downvoted.

Presumably 1 rep users are new, and haven't had time yet to learn the workings of the site. They also won't have certain privileges, such as the ability to comment or vote.
Not knowing how the SE platform works, such users might rightfully feel discouraged and leave after their first contribution gets downvoted within minutes.

I personally try to avoid downvoting first posts (I don't always succeed :P), even if it is an answer which should be a comment or a separate question, or a oneliner with just a few words and a link.
Instead I try to leave a comment letting them know how they can improve their post, or what they can do instead (e.g. post a new question).
However I sometimes feel like my efforts are in vain when the post in question gets downvoted anyway.

Should we make an exception to the usual downvote criteria for first posts which aren't obvious spam?
If yes, should we try and direct them to where they need to go, or places such as the tour or help center?

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  • $\begingroup$ Ignore reputation for a second and think about why voting exists, it's to separate quality content from poorly worded or vague questions, if after downvoting, the question isn't closed or fixed, you can always retract the vote. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Oct 10 '14 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ @iKlsR In that case I agree, but I'm not sure the message to new users is as easily ignored. Basically what I'm asking is: Should we go out of our way to make new users feel welcome, even if they have yet to learn the ways of the site, or should we treat them like any other user and hope they don't take it unkindly? $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Oct 10 '14 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, leave helpful comments where possible and ultimately, it's up to you to decide if a post merits a vote or not. However, adopting a don't downvote posts from new users strategy is a bad idea and in the long run it's our site and stats that will suffer. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Oct 10 '14 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ As a relatively new user, i could definitely see down-voting as discouraging; however i agree with iKsR that it shouldn't be a permanent policy, as situations vary case by case. You shouldn't restrict yourself by rules that can simply be a case by case situation. $\endgroup$ – Scalia Oct 14 '14 at 14:03
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We should be more careful when down voting first posts as questions. When a new user comes to the site with a question, no matter how simple, there should be some degree of welcoming.

Answers are a different proposition entirely. Any low quality answer can and should be down voted. For a new user add a comment explaining what is wrong with their answer; much like what happens with the "Low Quality Posts" review, there is a comment left as to what is wrong.

I personally down vote sparingly, only on posts that really are of no value. So adding a new user exception to when posts are down voted would not change much for me.

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I mostly agree with David, but I though I'd add a few more points.

Downvotes are a vital part of the site. Even through they can seem unfriendly, they are important for separating low quality content from useful information. So in general, I don't think new users should be given any special treatment other than a friendly welcome.

However, I think some consideration should be given where new users have no alternative to posting an answer. For example, I often see downvoted answers-which-should-be-comments posted by low rep users who don't have the privilege to comment yet.

I think this is one kind of post which doesn't really deserve downvotes, as the user has no other way to post a comment. Better to flag it so a mod can convert it if it's a useful comment, or delete it altogether.

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    $\begingroup$ Agreed, also just flag these and they will be dealt with accordingly. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Oct 16 '14 at 14:45

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