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).

  • 4
    An up is to the answerer (hey, you get ten), a down is to the system (and you contribute two chips as well). Let not the answerers fret about what is not directed at them but go with the system.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 6:34
  • 2
    Rep is just a number. It is amazing how upset some people get over 2 measly points.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 16:26
  • 9
    @Ben: Given how quickly Susan picked up 13.7k, I'm sure she'd have no reason to care about the "measly points" lost to downvotes. Which is the same for me, but I feel exactly like her insofar as I too would love to learn the reason for every downvote. Although I admit my curiosity is usually motivated more by "nosiness" or wishing to defend myself, rather than a genuine desire to reflect on someone else's position and perhaps modify my own. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 17:57
  • 6
    I'm in total agreement with Susan here, and I'm fed up with a handful of people who consistently behave in the way she describes. Sometimes it drives me away from ELU entirely. And sometimes I worry that the moderators will get sick of me flagging exchanges like the one below as “rude or offensive.” Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 7:03
  • @BraddSzonye - the mods have been very helpful to me in this area, even threatening suspension to one commenter who was trying to intimidate me. If you haven't been contacted by the mods about your flagging, I'd guess it's because they don't have a problem with it. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 22:33
  • 4
    It was SO TEMPTING to anonymously down vote this post! But, I couldn't MAJOR +1. Great statement!
    – David M
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 21:19
  • 2
    @BraddSzonye - Yes you are a great flagger. I remember you criticizing almost everyone of my posts when I started the site. Then you would flag my comments to your comments. Good for you. I don't hold grudges. I don't dislike you either. Because I don't know you. And honestly you make the site better. I find you very socially interesting. Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    "Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved." -- That's what I saw when I downvoted this post. For some reason, I don't see any messaging when I upvote... Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 1:03
  • @PaulDraper - I see a message saying only, "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 7:17
  • @Susan, that is the title text, before downvoting. When you downvote, it suggests you explain. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 9:45
  • 3
    I've given up trying to get a comment from a down-voter but on the rare occasion I have gotten one, I appreciate the courage of the down-voter to share their thoughts. I may not agree with them or want to explain my answer but that can lead to a better-worded answer, a deleted answer if I was completely bone-headed about the question or at the very least, a meeting of minds which is what I just love about this site. The points are fun but the real value is the shared knowledge...literally from around the world. I think that the "old regulars" and "new regulars" are what make the site rock! Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:16
  • 3
    If I were to downvote this post, it would be because you’ve misused the terms “opposite sex” and “same sex”. Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 21:23

9 Answers 9


I had already upvoted this question before I got to my favorite two bullets of all:

  • look at criticism as helpful, and assume the same about anonymous downvotes
  • do not take it personally

When I get an anonymous downvote, I examine my answer objectively, rather than defensively, and then I try to improve the answer. More often than not, I can guess why the downvote may have come (perhaps I gave insufficient evidence to support a controversial stance, for example, or maybe I stated something too dogmatically when the language allows for variation).

Usually, I find a way to improve my answer. In the end, then, I am better off, and so is the site.

If I really can't find a way to make an improvement, I simply shrug it off.

  • 4
    If anyone can call me a hypocrite here, it's you. I am embarrassed now to think how defensive I was to a helpful comment you once made. I am so sorry. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 12:06
  • 5
    I don't even remember the comment. No apology needed. Everyone deserves the right for some time to go through a maturation process. Sometimes it's hard to see the difference between 'helpful' and 'critical' – at least initially.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    This is exactly how I react to anonymous down votes too. Sometimes I just can't figure out what I can improve, which is disappointing. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 18:23
  • 9
    I have mentioned elsewhere (possibly on one of your questions) that criticism exposes a genuine generation gap. Many of those who have been through the education system recently have been deliberately shielded from all criticism, whether justified or not, on the grounds that it would damage their self-esteem. Unsurprisingly, when in the real world (or even SE) someone offers criticism, this is interpreted as an attack rather than a way to improve. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 22:42
  • 2
    @TimLymington - you are right on. We should all be winners with perfect answers! Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 22:49

There is only a casual relationship between upvotes and answer quality in general. Glib, facile answers can garner scores of upvotes, while seriously thought-out, informed, articulate answers garner one or two — if that. Meanwhile, excellent answers accrue downvotes because they yank some invisible trigger that releases a momentary dart of malice from some of the more splenetic viewers.

We don't like to admit it, but reputation scoring in part represents a kind of popularity contest. Upvotes make one feel affirmed, liked, even worthy; downvotes make one feel slighted, snubbed, and at worst, found wanting—a one-click way of saying "You suck." The single downvote on my highest-scoring answer ever left me feeling slightly outraged.

Yet votes in both directions are probably to some degree meaningless, though I have explored one side and the other. I've garnered the highest rep scores from more or less facile answers, while what I feel are my best answers languish in the single digits.

It's all a game; deep down you must know this. If you want to win this game (as I did for two and a half years), you have to jump on answers quickly, give decent but not exhaustive answers, and it helps if you can be funny or charming (popular?) yet innocuous at the same time. Don't make people think too hard, and don't confuse them with a lot of complicated reasoning: Remember, you're playing to the TL;DR crowd.

The only question that remains is whether the game is worth the candle. I have decided it's not; you're still new enough that you may believe otherwise. Good luck to you. But I tell you this: On your deathbed, you're probably not going to look back on your life and feel it would have been complete if only you'd had a higher rep score on EL&U.


Really, how can you take this site seriously when people jump exuberantly to answer questions like this one yet ignore answers like this one.

  • 9
    Q's involving penes/orifices/functions/fluids/acts, etc. get far too much attention. It's puerile. Rep's not only a popularity contest; I'm not popular. I agree with your rules; it's why I'm no longer playing for rep. Many answers that have gotten me rep have been thrown off in a few minutes. This doesn't offend me; the answers in which I invest are the ones where I've learned the most; it's an investment in my love of learning. I do upvote answers that teach me. Given the truth of your post, my post isn't about the game; it's about how downvotes/commenters are attacked. Again: it's puerile. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 22:25
  • 1
    My only concern with down votes these days is when they bury good answers below a bunch of weak ones (which usually means nobody pays attention to them). Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 22:42
  • 7
    @Bradd - I have my SE set up so that answers are displayed in the order in which they were posted, not by the number votes they have received. (I think better-answers-to-the-top philosophy of SE, while well-intended, often doesn't work, because many late-but-darned-good answers stay near the bottom – simply because network traffic has subsided by the time those answers get posted.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 11:28
  • 1
    The circumstance you identify here is sometimes know as the bikeshed problem.
    – jscs
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 4:49
  • @J.R.: very well put. A not-so-random example. A very rare exception is when a question receives a lot of hits from Google searches. Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 9:40

The fact is the site would never work if you had to comment on a downvote. I create internal applications at my company that work sort-of-similar to SE and the ones that have less rules get used more.

  1. It would take too long. As most users might be OK with the time, it would keep them from looking at other things on the site. So you may feel that the purpose of the site is to give a detailed, great answer but to get a feel for what the population thinks you need the hits.

  2. This would be an upsetting process for some people. Some people (your personal/cultural beliefs) can't even downvote when they think someone is dead wrong. Making the border-line people comment would make them discontinue using the site.

  3. This SE site in particular is very political/interpersonal. Often times I see an answer upvoted that isn't really that great (or sometimes a bit wrong) because a person with a "good reputation" gave it. So if you leave a comment on a downvote you may be losing constituents for your next answer. There are many other SE sites that have a similar community but there are others where it doesn't matter as much (stackoverflow).

And to your point on people attacking you:

  1. Chill out. You don't know the other person's true reaction to your answer. For instance I disagree with @DavidM a lot because I think his answers are a bit pretentious. I hardly ever downvote his stuff because I don't downvote unless I think something is dead wrong, something is explained way too long, or if something is used that was already provided in an earlier answer. But I will comment to him on his snobbishness and it is all in good fun. He usually has a good answer even though I would never use said word.

  2. If you want to argue people will. I have to admit that I might press a commenter to have fun. Who doesn't? If you don't want to argue with people simply ignore it or give a brief explanation and let that be it. There are some people that I know I can leave them a comment and they will go off for an hour. I love the passion!

  3. It is a website. You are a smart person. Languages aren't set in stone. Your use may not be others. There are some answers highly upvoted that are dead wrong where I live. It is your choice to leave comments or not. I highly respect those that can take criticism, even when they think it is wrong. I will say that I have called out yourself and FumbleFingers before and you both responded intelligently. You may hate me for doing it, I don't know. It is all in fun to me.

  4. To go along with the last point. I am starting up writing again and have been using the site to get a feel for language changes and norms. If I feel that someone has good answers but not words I would normally see I like to challenge them. The way they respond gives me personally a good feeling of how relevant their answers/words would be to my writing. If I comment and they have nothing back, true or not, I believe they are point-pandering and I tend to not "accept" their answers. I don't know you but you have mentioned your background so I accept your usage in your area - I personally respect your answers and think that most are very good (although too long- haha). You would have gotten probably 20 more upvotes from me with shorter answers and lost tons from other people. FumbleFingers has called me out several times in comments and has commented on my comments. From his answers I would not gotten that level of detail on his grasp at word usage. He is a smart dude but more importantly open-minded, which brings in a trust factor on common usage.

  5. So everyone is different. Some people want controversy, some want none, some want to observe the bickering, some just want answers. I would rather have 10 comments on an answer than 10 upvotes. That is just me.

  6. Accept the downvotes. If your answer has an issue then change it. If it doesn't then who cares. I often have an answer that I feel is right that has 5 upvotes and 5 downvotes. I understand the downvotes sometimes (often from the same ghosts) and sometimes I don't. Some people may downvote to raise their answer - good for them. The only thing I don't like is when I spend a few minutes writing what I think is a good answer and it has NO VOTES. Useless. I beg for these to be downvoted.

Personally if I downvote something without comment it might be because they are using an answer that already exists before theirs. I don't feel like hearing how theirs is slightly different - so that conversation is played out. The others are obvious downvotes that are spammish or a comment. If I downvote a real answer then I leave a comment - BUT THAT IS JUST ME. And I am honest and most people on here don't like it (or me). I have lost countless hours of sleep thinking of the ELU people that have my name on their dartboads. But seriously you see I am pretty honest (and not diplomatic) and it results in less points. Very easy to see why a point driven site might discourage leaving comments right? Remember that gamification breeds this behavior.

I don't like researching things and I don't like using words that I wouldn't hear in conversation. Do I care that I get downvoted for this and lose points? Frankly, no. But leave a comment if you want to or a downvote - I like both.

  • 2
    Although they might sting initially, I try not to take downvotes personally, and I usually do try to look at what the other person is saying. My point is really that we should accept anonymous downvotes as part and parcel of being here. I must admit, though, that some of your comments have taken me by surprise and I reacted defensively. Others I think are hilarious. Two weeks can change a person's opinion considerably. That seems a good reason to chill. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 20:30
  • 4
    +1 for the first half of your answer but –2 for the second half. That kind of insensitive criticism and defensiveness is exactly why I don't feel comfortable offering constructive criticism or engaging with some users. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 22:52
  • @BraddSzonye - Would it be just a -2 if you were allowed more than one downvote? Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 22:56
  • 3
    That was just a nerdy way of saying that I was nodding along with the first half of the answer, but I strongly disagreed with the second half. It's exactly the sort of thing that came to mind when Susan mentioned people who are “nasty and entitled about it” – while there is wisdom in chilling out, that doesn't excuse abrasiveness at all. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 23:04
  • @BraddSzonye: To hell with people who can't take abrasiveness.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 19:12
  • 1
    I think it's a shame all this answer had was a single downvote (which I've just netted off with an upvote prior to commenting). Like Robusto, I've become somewhat disillusioned regarding the prospects of ELU ever becoming an "authoritative resource". And I think learners in particular are in danger of just ending up more confused than ever if they try to use this site instead of ELL. But I personally continue to benefit from comment interactions with the likes of you & David (much as I hate to lose arguments, I value gaining knowledge far more highly! :) Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 21:28
  • 1
    @Bradd: The "criticize/defend" comment style doesn't work for everyone, and it's obviously tiresome if it descends into dogged ping-pong. But I think the implications of Susan's comment at the head of this thread are that one can in fact learn to stand the heat in the kitchen (and maybe even end up cooking with gas! :) Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 21:49
  • 1
    @Robusto - I would bet that if we switched our accounts to post each others exact answers, you would have upticks while mine would be at 0. But that is why I like ELU. The social/psyche aspects is great. Just look at Brad. Many would think his answers are blunt-abrasive... and he doesn't like when people challenge him the same way. What is funny is that I am sure we could all kick back with a few beers and get along great - unless someone was giving out points for something. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 0:11
  • 3
    @RyeɃreḁd - points can ruin things. When I discovered this site (I love words & language, have for decades) I was excited to participate and get rep. I mentioned the site to my eldest, who said, "And when you get points, you get...?" He is right. The points are meaningless. Hence the aversion when people pout over 2 points, and my anger when I'm personally attacked over it. We are anonymous here. This is not real life, points aren't important. But that's not to say how we behave is unimportant. That, we carry into real life. Nasty here probably => nasty out there. Pout here = pout there. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 10:42
  • 1
    @Rye Please stop putting words in my mouth! Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 17:21
  • 1
    @Robusto A little occasional abrasiveness is inevitable in discourse, especially online, so of course we should strive to let it slide and nudge the conversation back toward civility. The vast majority of folks at ELU are good about this, polite and helpful and tolerant. Unfortunately, a few are not, and a very few behave as though diplomacy is something only for other people. I try to engage with them as little as possible on the main site, reserving my displeasure for Meta and moderation flags. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 18:16
  • 1
    Of course you realize I was trying to inject a little humor into all this.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 19:29
  • @Susan - I have to admit that I just wanted to leave an anonymous downvote when I read your question originally, just to give you a rise. I am positive that others are tempted by the same social fun. You have to think that probably 80% of your downvotes have more of a social implication than someone honestly downvoting based on question quality. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 22:47
  • Wait... Is Brad talking about me? Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 22:47
  • 1
    @Susan - I don't think I berate people. If you felt berated I am sorry. I am an honest person and who knows how this comes off to people on the internet. I certainly don't think you understand my intentions if you feel that I am one of the people berating you. I honestly don't understand this question now. You are on a site that is 100% based on others critiquing you but you don't want to see any comments? You should. But you do need to worry about points less and having more fun. Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 13:43

If posts were purely matters of opinion, or comments on controversial subjects like religion or politics, many up and down votes would require no explanation. They would simply indicate agreement or disagreement, and the reason would be obvious. Like if this was a political site and I said, "This country is doomed if the Democrats win the next election" or "... if the Republicans win ...", then I'd pretty much take it for granted that, absent further explanation, anyone who up-votes shares my political beliefs and anyone who down-votes takes the opposite position.

But on a site like this, if someone down-votes, what does it mean? You often have no clue what they are objecting to. Do they think your answer is flatly wrong? Incomplete? Correct but leaving out an important point? Basically correct but unclear? Completely correct but unnecessarily rude or condescending to the original poster? Etc.

That's why I consider anonymous down-votes to generally be unhelpful. If there is a flaw to my answer but I have no clue what that flaw is, I have no idea how to correct it. If you told me what was wrong with my answer, I might say, "Oh, good point, I hadn't thought of that". Or I might say, "No, I disagree, I stand by my original answer."

I certainly agree that there's no point getting your feelings hurt by down-votes. To date I have never had a bank turn me down for a loan because my vote total on ELU was too low. Nor do women swoon over men with high ELU votes. Okay, I admit, I am pleased to see my totals go up, but I have no idea why. On another Stack Exchange site -- Stackoverflow -- I once noticed that my highest-scoring answer was for a joke, while answers that (in my opinion) represented significant thought and insight often got just one or two votes.


When I say that if you down-vote without a comment, the poster doesn't know what you are objecting to ... let me add: And neither does any other reader.

Second afterthought: The idea of down-voting someone in retaliation for a down-vote from them to one of your posts ... Like, wow, this idea never even occurred to me. I'm glad that I'm not that petty. :-) Let's have a down-vote war!

  • 1
    Love your real life applications. If downvotes + comments were consistently handelled by the poster as you depicted (rationally), I would favor downvotes with comments. However, many people don't react well to them, so better to let go of the idea, I think. It doesn't help us to make better answers, but we will learn that with time; I did (though I've since learned my answers are too long '). Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 23:13
  • @Susan I'm not suggesting that there be some rule that down-votes must be accompanied by a comment. I'd just say that, in general, if you down-vote, you should give a comment to explain why.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 15:14
  • 2
    +1 for holding the differing viewpoint. I don't agree with it but it is a valid opinion.
    – MrHen
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 19:14
  • 3
    @mrhen Let's fight to the death!
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 20:55
  • 3
    @Jay: Arr! I shall downvote all of your posts!
    – MrHen
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 21:23
  • 1
    @Jay - interestingly, I didn't think that downvoting for revenge thing up. Your attitude is not sahred by all, however. This evening, I had three downvotes in a one minute span, two on questions that were long-buried. Someone had to have gone to my page, looked at answers and downvoted two. So, it happens, and given that I am far from alone, I'd guess it happens with frequency. What did I do? Nothing. Three months ago, I'd have tried to find out who it was. Now, it's just something that appeared in my "recent rep changes" list. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 7:27
  • @susan Sure. I'm not saying that I don't believe you when you say people have done it. :-) Just that, good-natured and naïve person that I am, that kind of silly pettiness just never occurred to me.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 13:29
  • Nicely said. I really want to post helpful, good answers. If someone downvotes without explaining why then I can't fix the problem, or indeed remove the answer if it's plain wrong.
    – djna
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 10:32

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).

This is probably the most productive attitude. The more I post content that can be rated, the less faith I have in John Q. Public's ability to help me improve my methods. My primary sources of improvement and constructive criticism come from self-analysis and a small group of dedicated contributors who are willing to be honest and discuss things candidly.

So here is a small list of pointers:

  • If someone posts an explanation of their downvote, engage them by asking for help in fixing your post. Usually it only takes a small modification to revoke the downvote. This signals that you listen and people are now much more likely to explain their disagreements.
  • If you disagree with someone, do so by asking for more information. Instead of, "this definition is completely wrong" ask, "can you edit in a reference to this definition?" This signals that the answer is unsourced or unreferenced without sounding overtly confrontational. This type of comment is most effective without an associated downvote.
  • If you get an anonymous downvote, post a link to it in chat and ask the regulars if they can spot a problem. They have often pointed out small errors in my posts and, mysteriously, the downvote is later removed after I fixed the problem.
  • Befriend (as best you can) the people you disagree with most. Their perspective is immensely more valuable than a bunch of people that constantly tell you things are okay.
  • Ignore (as best you can) people push conversations away from consensus. Some people will post endless comments nitpicking details forever. There is very little to learn from these conversations; the only reason to engage them is damage control.
  • Ignore people who constant make invalid assumptions about your opinions. They are foolish and are impossible to converse with.
  • Remember that points are just points; the reason we are here is to help people answer questions about the English language. Strive to help and the SE system will eventually reward you with points -- that is what it was created to do.
  • Don't get peeved by people who "abuse" the SE system to gain points as quickly as possible. If they help people, upvote them. If they post useless crap, downvote them. Let them run their race as long as they don't impede helping others.

These last two points, by the way, really help you relax on StackExchange.


I think downvoted reason is necessary especially for beginner like me. I would like to receive my downvoted happily if there is any reason behind it, because of what ? Because I can learn and know what's my fault so I can do better later.

In the other words, I don't care how many downvoted I got BUT I care to know about the reason. if the purpose of "Downvoted feature" is to give punishment why not giving the reason as well ? Punishment without the reason is useless since I never know what's is my fault and probably I will do the same thing again and again.

  • Keeping the guy who give a downvoted still anonymous = YES, I DO AGREE.
  • BUT Downvoted without any reason = LOOSER.

I request a feature "A textbox for giving reason" before someone giving their downvote (and keep this guy still anonymous).

  • 1
    This is a wonderful attitude towards downvotes. Your desire to learn is the perfect reason to comment. Unfortunately, people often complain loudly about downvotes, and reciprocate with revenge downvotes if the identity is assumed to be that of the commenter. Also, people often argue with commenters (who are making what they assume to be helpful comments.) In the end, it's often an unrewarding undertaking. Many people who are not losers downvote without comments, which are never anonymous. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 4:37
  • Thanks @medica . This is what I felt as beginner, I know downvote is nothing since it's just a virtual grade but sometimes it's a bit annoying without knowing the reason. Since Stackoverflow and the other products from Stackexchange is really strict, it's a good thing but unfortunately it's impossible to find about the reason behind downvote :D Hope this help. Just 2 my cents :)
    – mockie
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 16:20
  • Thank you for your input. It's welcome, and I wish everyone felt as you did. ') Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 0:24

Yeah, yeah, yeah... That's all very well, said and done but explain this to me. Why did this question receive three anonymous downvotes in a row, one after the other?

Batman vs. Maxwell Smart. Who said, "Good thinking, ...!" first?

I even posted a comment asking for an explanation. If I ask, it shows I want to know, that I care, that I'm receptive. No replies, no explanations. Nada. Instead I received NINE upvotes.

So, anonymous downvotes where's the logic? Three different people had qualms and misgivings about that question; or three people simply hated it; or the other two voters saw the first negative number and thought to themselves, "Oh, that's a terrible question" without actually reflecting and followed suit. And there's me staring at it, racking my tiny brains out.

How I deal with downvotes

  • One downvote. I ignore.
  • Two downvotes. Something's up.
  • Three. Something is definitely wrong.

But I didn't edit, I left a comment and a number of people seemed to agree with me.

Yesterday, I post a one line answer (rare occasion), but I do include an excerpt. Immediately—three upvotes. I think, "Bloody typical. Here I am, spending three days researching and formulating one detailed, watertight answer and it gets 4 upvotes. Today, two minutes finding a half-decent link/reference and swoosh! 3 upvotes. It's like Robusto says:

Don't make people think too hard, and don't confuse them with a lot of complicated reasoning: Remember, you're playing to the TL;DR crowd.

Now, that's a generalization, because lengthy answers and questions if well-written, (I acknowledge I'm not a wordsmith) will receive positive feedback, but there's still a lot of truth in his words.

But yesterday I receive a comment TELLING me what I need to do on my answer. This user needs to know that his comments (our second encounter) come across as being rude. Is this person trying to be helpful? Could well be, I know it's happened to me in the past that something I write is perceived as being arrogant or presumptuous, and that accusation catches me off-guard, every time. Luckily, it's not a frequent accusation. What's more, I know that tone is impossible to convey, but a should; could; perhaps; I wouldn't write... is easier to accept than a blunt Remove XX because.... And as I say one downvote, I should ignore but I add a brief edit note conceding the commenter's observation; I get my second downvote, and at that point, I delete.

Life's too short.

Here's an excellent example of a constructive criticism, this user didn't downvote anonymously but expressed her perplexions, and thoughtful observations. The poster, listened, agreed, and modified his post. Who benefited the most? The site did.

  • Constructive criticism is great. But commenters are not always kind; I stopped asking for explanations for downvotes long ago. Too often when I have left comments with downvotes, people have acted entitled ("prove it", etc.). Then there are people who downvote just because (one always downvoted every post I made for months.) It isn't worth it to me. Life really is too short. And votes mean little enough; it's nice when you get them, but sometimes really good answers (including some of yours that I remember) don't get the up votes they deserve. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 8:09
  • @medica comments can be very helpful, and whenever I have suggested improvements people have been mostly kind. I will also delete my suggestions/criticisms if it turns out I was wrong, which can happen too. But asking for clarification, 90% of the time has born its fruits.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 8:17
  • Please don't get me wrong, I think most comments are helpful. I just don't ask for them anymore, nor comment when I downvote. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 8:24
  • I agree with you and I still prefer constructive criticism - "I think you could .....", "What if you...", "I probably wouldn't...." etc. are perfect ways to introduce a suggestion. Then again, a downvote without any explanation makes me wonder whether the question/answer was considered so poor that one wouldn't waste their time explaining why the downvote. Or, who knows, even worse, the voter may have a grudge (or whatever) against a member and is simply downvoting them, not their writings.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 1:37

I get downvoted when I propose a perspective that is new to certain people, and which violates their established hypotheses.

But what do I care. I'm not here to gain votes, but to expose new ideas and techniques people need to be exposed to.

People familiar with my perspective would upvote me, but people not familiar with it probably think I'm full of myself.

I am happy and delighted when someone is enlightened by my answers, even if negatively.


If I have anything to add to this conversation it's this:

Commenting on posts is meant to be a means of requesting clarification, or providing your own clarification to a post. It should never be considered anything but optional.

If a post is well thought out, uses sources, and seems to have had some thought put into it, it warrants an up vote.

If the same conditions are true, but it has something wrong. It warrants no vote, or a down vote depending upon the situation. But, that same situation should usually deserve a comment, too. Mainly so others will know what is wrong, not just for the poster's benefit.

Update Susan has pointed out that I may not have explained myself so clearly. I'm not saying that the down vote and the comment are linked. I'm saying that the comment is probably more valuable than the down vote in this case. That, allowing (usually partially) incorrect information to go uncommented can mislead others who do not see why it is wrong. Or, perhaps you yourself are wrong, and will be disproven by the poster.

BUT you should not feel obligated to make a comment, but rather to know it might be valuable.

If a post is pure crap. A one-liner which showed no effort, research, and manages to get the answer wrong, too. Down vote and move on. In fact, these are typically the ONLY answers I ever down vote.

  • You contradict yourself here. You say a comment should never be considered anything but optional then go on to say [if an answer has] something wrong... that same situation should usually deserve a comment The point is to divorce comments from downvotes, because the reaction they elicit is often unpleasant. If everyone reacted to downvotes + comments rationally, unemotionally, this problem wouldn't exist. Twice in a few day span, I had a slightly critical comment rebutted with a quasi-obscene comment on penises (the post was non-sexual). That's my point. It's no longer worth it. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 23:34
  • 2
    @Susan I think I may not have made my point as clearly as I had hoped. My meaning was: in those situations, the reason you down voted it is precisely the reason it deserves a comment. Not that the two are specifically linked! As to people who react that way . . . I flag them.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 23:39
  • Ah. Thanks for the clarification. In an ideal world, I would agree with you. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 23:52

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