I have been lucky enough to have answers upvoted; from time to time I get downvotes without any comments that might explain them. Generally the ups outnumber the downs. Sometimes I can see where an answer might fall short, and (if I have not done so already) I amend or edit it. Sometimes I just plain can't see why someone gave me a negative result. How do more experienced users deal with this? Just move on?

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    Reading your recent negative-score answers, it seems some users don't appreciate users who are answering low-quality questions. It's a controversial topic to downvote okay-ish answers to low-quality questions, but that's all. You can either just move on, or avoid answering low-quality questions. – Andrew T. May 28 '18 at 6:48
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    Sometimes an answer is not supported at all or appears to be condescending, or even both. – Mari-Lou A May 28 '18 at 9:20
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    Blame Tim Post for the unexplained downvotes. It's always his fault. See for yourself! – NVZ May 29 '18 at 13:37
  • If yours isn't the only answer there, it might be someone voting to put in order the results the way they want them. – Mazura Jun 7 '18 at 0:30

There are many reasons posts get down voted and most of them you can't really do much about. If you've looked over your answer and feel it's clear, addresses the question being asked, is supported by credible sources, doesn't have any polarizing language, etc. then I would assume the down vote is for some reason other than post quality and let it go.

Here are a few of the things I imagine might be the cause of stray down votes...

  1. Someone is reading on their phone, and they went to scroll and fat fingered the down vote arrow without realizing it.
  2. Someone is having a bad day and spreading the misery to perfect strangers over the Internet makes them feel better for some weird reason.
  3. Someone thinks I down voted one of their posts and is getting some petty revenge.
  4. Someone's numerologist told them some number would mean good luck if it showed up and they're manipulating their reputation to make it happen and my post was just collateral damage.

There are so many reasons for unexplained down votes that have nothing to do with what you've written, so if you're happy with your answer don't let a single drive-by down voter cause you to second guess yourself. If you're getting multiple down votes, then take a closer look. Often there are clues in comments and other answers that might point to things in your answer that are contrary to what the community is thinking.

I will add that while I think you should review your answer if you're seeing some down-votes, I don't think they should cause you to change it if you're happy with it. You may want to tighten up phrasing that could be misinterpreted, or look for more supporting sources, but if the down-voters don't want to explain why, there's no use in speculating about it. Maybe the down-voter doesn't like posts that have contractions in them, or paragraphs with an odd number of sentences, who knows?

  • -1 Don't guess. And for none of the above reasons, honestly. – Kris May 31 '18 at 11:35
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    @Kris I never "guess" - if you don't want to say why, I'm going to feel free to make up my own reason that amuses me. – ColleenV May 31 '18 at 11:42

Since down votes seem to be so frequently accidental or otherwise irrelevant to the quality of the work being judged -- why not eliminate all down voting, and just allow up voting only?

Down voting is so negative and sometimes even aggressive or senseless, yucky. Especially when it's done anonymously.

A more positive venue might be really good for this place. Couldn't we at least try it for a period of time?

It seems that most of us are a bit lazy when it comes to up voting, which is usually fine, because it's no big loss. And some popular answers get lots of votes anyway, which sort of makes up for it.

But down voting encourages too much negativity for those who are more sensitive to that kind of thing. There will always be a few immature, grudge-holding, or overly-competitive people who would make a warped game of systematically 'abusing' someone they've taken a personal dislike to, with their only weapon: down-votes.

It just doesn't make sense to allow that sort of anonymous (therefore passive-aggressive) behavior at all. And it encourages such a negative, unpleasant, unfriendly environment -- which can't be that good for the site's general well-being.

I've been thinking about this (why not eliminate down-voting) for several weeks now, and I hope this is a good time to present the idea, in response to this very important question.

Consider eliminating down-voting as something which many of us might find produces a much more satisfactory experience on EL&U SE, while sparing us from asking these sorts of questions (i.e 'how to cope with it').

Rather than forcing us to cope with something so negative, it would be better to proactively fix the problem somehow. Maybe eliminating down-voting is the right answer after all.

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    I understand that there are deep theoretical reasons for supporting downvoting, which a proponent will probably be happy to provide in due course. Basically it has to do with increasing the spread between answers deemed good and answers deemed bad: a single conscientious voter can put two points of distance between an answer he or she approves of and an answer he or she disapproves of. Some site participants are adamant that downvoting (not deletion) is the appropriate response to a truly bad answer. And undeniably downvotes are a core element of the Stack Exchange rating procedure. ... – Sven Yargs May 30 '18 at 1:57
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    ... But to participate at this site, you don’t have to swear allegiance to SE’s downvoting system and promise to enforce it in the SE–approved way. In my heretical view, we should delete truly bad answers, ignore indifferent ones, and upvote good ones—which is why I sometimes vote to delete but never downvote. I agree with you that having the option to put space between better and worse answers by downvoting the worse ones instead of by upvoting the better ones probably depresses upvote totals at EL&U. I don’t know whether it has a similar effect at other SE sites. ... – Sven Yargs May 30 '18 at 1:57
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    ... Over the years, my answers have accumulated a boatload of downvotes. Sometimes those downvotes come with explanations; far more often they don’t. But explanations are overrated. When I post an answer, it’s because I think its content is interesting and potentially useful. I’m unlikely to change my mind on that point just because a downvoter deems my answer too long or tangential to the posted question or responsive to a substandard question. We all have our own reasons for frequenting this site; for frequent downvoters, wielding the disciplinary rod of the downvote may be one of them. – Sven Yargs May 30 '18 at 1:57
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    I guess you're new on SE? You could try your fight on eliminating downvote, but don't expect to win. – Andrew T. May 30 '18 at 4:02
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    Since up votes seem to be so frequently accidental or otherwise irrelevant to the quality of the work being judged -- why not eliminate all up voting, and just allow ... hmm... I'm not sure what would be left ;). Quite seriously though, upvotes are far more frequently misused (in terms of people who upvote poor posts) than downvotes. We need both kinds of votes to try to have any semblance of balance. – curiousdannii May 30 '18 at 7:12
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    Not my downvote, but what would you do if you saw three answers that were stuck at zero? Imagine seeing three answers identical to each other, posted by three separate individuals. What would you think? (cont'd) – Mari-Lou A May 30 '18 at 8:05
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    Now imagine that same page with three bad answers, factually incorrect, with spelling mistakes and clumsy writing but all sitting there with zero score. Users would be flagging these posts to the mods to get them deleted. The mods would be swarmed by requests, and spend most of their time checking and deleting bad answers. Now imagine the users who posted these bad answers that were deleted by the mods and posting on meta asking why their legitimate answers were deleted. In brief, your proposal could never work. – Mari-Lou A May 30 '18 at 8:07
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    However, discouraging anonymous downvotes by asking users to explain them could work, and would help users understand "why" their answers were downvoted. But that (in my mind sensible) proposal has been soundly rejected numerous times by TPTB in StackOverflow and Meta and on this same site. – Mari-Lou A May 30 '18 at 8:21
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    Without DVs this would be Yahoo Answers (even if YA does have DVs) - because it'd just be a bunch of yahoos pushing the, I agree! Free cookies for everybody! Yea! button. – Mazura Jun 7 '18 at 0:05
  • There is a way to fix the problem. It's just a shame no one has figured it out yet. – Bread Jun 7 '18 at 0:20
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    Down-votes are good when you feel like something is misleading or wrong - they can also occasionally be useful those times when you strongly feel that one answer is far and above better with the one you're down-voting vaguely off focus but generally ok with what it did say - generally I think a corrective comment is better in the second case. As long as a person sees the best answer near the top .. up-voting more than one answer that contributes helps encourage more language information - especially if the best answer can be elaborated on – Tom22 Jun 9 '18 at 22:19
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    But .. if someone goes out of their way to label an answer at the top "This is not a full answer but can be helpful in these situations" .. I don't see why people would vote it down unless what they said was untrue or that it was getting so many votes it really needed to be pushed down a bit. – Tom22 Jun 9 '18 at 22:20

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