There has been significant interest in this topic, as shown by the number of related questions. Since new users come along regularly (such as myself), I don't think it's useless to review the downvote.
When I first joined EL&U, I was offended by downvotes without explanation. I thought it was rude, and unhelpful to me in forming better answers. I went to chat to inquire about it, and learned there were good reasons for anonymous downvotes. So I let it go. But several recent events have prompted me to take it up in meta. Among those events was this comment:
I'm not happy with people who won't explain their down votes. They may have a sound reason, but without knowing what it is, I think your answer fits the context that the OP set up. If the OP wants a word that has literal meaning, then he should say so himself by commenting here. +1 by the way, just to stick it in the eye of whoever down votes without explaining.
I don't like to downvote anonymously. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't work to my (or the poster's) benefit.
Ways (I've seen and/or experienced) to guarantee no one will ever explain their downvotes on your posts:
- Be nasty and entitled about it.
- Accept upvotes as proof of your intelligence, but downvotes as proof of the commenter's stupidity.
- Demand that a downvoter prove their POV.
- Immediately retaliate by downvoting that person's recent answers.
- Make a point of whining after every single downvote.
- Attack the downvoter personally in comments. Highlight your contempt with wit, which will gain upvotes for your complaining comment, further discouraging comments with downvotes.
- Use sexual innuendo to harass a downvoter who commented, especially if the downvoter is of the opposite sex (if they are the same sex, use a word that sounds like flaccid in your counter-comment; question their masculinity).
When I read previous meta questions about anonymous downvoting, I found these very good reasons to do so anonymously (these are quotes, so please don't call me out on an attitude):
- the primary purpose of voting is to rate posts. Explanations are not required.
- the site depends on quick-and-easy rating in order to collect enough data to properly sort posts.
- You don't have to explain your upvotes, why do you have to go to the bother of doing it for downvotes?
- Some authors get pissy about criticism and most of us would rather not spend our days arguing with someone over opinions.
- You can always ask in chat if you are particularly worried about the community response to one of your posts.
- Downvotes and comments are completely separate entities. They are not, and should not, be associated!
- I really enjoy being able to leave honest comments without worrying that they'll be justifiably interpreted as evidence that I've down-voted. I would not like to see the two systems linked.
- We already have problems with... revenge downvotes miscast to otherwise helpful and innocent bystanders (commenters on a post that has been downvoted will be assumed to be the downvoter).
- it clutters up comments, which are already cluttered.
- Sometimes downvoters don't comment because someone else addressed it already.
- Downvoting is a privilege one pays for and a responsibility that one takes.
- If you post good stuff it will get upvoted. If you can't handle a little anonymous criticism then the site honestly isn't for you. I look strongly at my downvotes and often either modify my question/answers or delete them entirely in view of my errors.
- the entire point of SO is that it's not about people... It's about the questions and answers only. So when people downvote, they downvote a question or an answer, and nothing else. Not you as a person.
It goes on and on.
I would love to learn the reason for every downvote I've gotten. After two weeks on this site, I learned to:
- look at criticism as helpful, and assume the same about anonymous downvotes (I have deleted answers with downvotes, or tried to improve them).
- realize people have reasons I'll never hear, but it doesn't make them evil, cowardly, lazy, or wrong.
- not take it personally.
- flag inappropriate downvoting (serial downvotes were a problem for me initially).
- not engage with a ghost.
- know that I will, by my nature, rub some people the wrong way. We're all human.
- earn respect as best I can (with high-quality answers), not demand it (esp. with low-quality answers).
- use chat; people are very kind there.
I'm posting this because I'm tired of commenting on my downvotes, then getting aggressively attacked. My comment is a courtesy I no longer want to extend (but will do so with users I trust).