Is down voting open to scrutiny at any level?

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    Nope. Never. Sorry. – Dan Bron Jul 7 '15 at 1:11
  • To be clear - down-voting is always totally anonymous with no requirement at any level to explain the reason? – Dan Jul 7 '15 at 9:40
  • OK, I've been reading the related questions - it's all about the the language and the usage, no trouble! – Dan Jul 7 '15 at 9:53
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    I believe up- and downvoting is anonymous across all of StackExchange; not even moderators can see who has voted which way, and perhaps not many of the staff either. – choster Jul 7 '15 at 15:36
  • May I ask why you think it's important to know who the down voters are? Is it very different from needing to know who the up voters are? This has always fascinated me. – anongoodnurse Jul 7 '15 at 21:26
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    @medica While I agree hay voting, both up and down, should forever remain anonymous, and the identity of the downvoters is not relevant to the poster, the argument that upvotes and downvotes are perfectly symmetric & anything required or desired of one should immediately be demanded of the other has always rung a bit hollow for me. Upvotes say "this argument is correct; on point; I agree with it; it needn't be changed". What else could be said? Downvotes say "this argument is incorrect; it is off point; I disagree with it; it needs to be changed". Ok, fine: changed how? – Dan Bron Jul 7 '15 at 21:42
  • I think it is good that up- and down- voting are anonymous. It's all about language and usage after all. But I agree with @DanBron - whereas an up-vote needs no explanation, a down-vote does. What is it that you are down voting? A down vote without (anonymous) explanation is not constructive or helpful to anyone. – Dan Jul 7 '15 at 23:23
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    @DanBron - point taken, if that's really all the OP wants to know, but that's not usually the case. The OP most often wants to argue their point, not improve their answer, which is very tedious. Not everyone has to agree with an OP. If people have the right to anonymously agree, people have an equal right to anonymously disagree. There's nothing virtuous in demanding to know who the down voter is, and that mindset makes it next to impossible to comment on a down voted answer without being met with the OP's animus. Your argument overlooks this fact. – anongoodnurse Jul 8 '15 at 3:52
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    @Dan - neither is knowing the down voter's identity. You might want the down voter's reasons, but that's not what you asked for. And that, to me, is revealing. – anongoodnurse Jul 8 '15 at 3:54
  • @medica I agree with everything you're saying. My point is, I wish everyone who responded to the endless demands for non-anonymous downvotes advanced those arguments, rather than the spurious and easily-dismissed argument "well, why don't you ask for the identity of upvoters, then?". That's nothing more than a red herring, and because it's such an obvious red herring, I think it hurts the credibility of any valid and substantive arguments made thereafter. I wish we'd just do away with it altogether. – Dan Bron Jul 8 '15 at 6:11
  • @medica my OP did NOT ask for identity at all. My second, follow-up question was seeking clarification that I simply did not know (and asked about both identity AND providing reasons for your up/down vote). I have made it clear that I am entirely happy with anonymity. Why do you persist in using that uncontested argument as a shield to avoid explaining what good reasons there may be for not asking down voters to explain their actions? – Dan Jul 8 '15 at 6:41
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    @Dan Medica did offer (embedded in a larger context) reasons for not requiring (that is, systematically enforcing) downvoters to explain their actions. She said: "The OP most often wants to argue their point, not improve their answer, which is tedious" and "[Would] make it impossible to comment on a DVed answer without being met with the OP's animus" (the implication of the latter being "... even if I, the commentor, didn't personally doenvote, because systematically tying downvotes to comments makes it looks like every comment came from a downvoter"). – Dan Bron Jul 8 '15 at 7:09
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    @Dan Anyway, your question is perfectly logical and reasonable; it's legitimate. The exasperation you're hearing from us simply stems from the fact that you're not the first person to ask. This is a very, very common question (because it is logical, reasonable, and legitimate). It's been covered many, many times before. And the conclusion, the consensus, is that the pros of anonymous, comment-free downvotes outweigh the cons of permitting them. If you stick around long enough, my bet is you'll come to agree with that decision. I know I did. – Dan Bron Jul 8 '15 at 7:18
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    @Dan I think the point of contention here is permit vs require comments on posts you downvote. The system already permits this, of course, and I encourage you to exercise that choice frequently over the next month or two, say, to learn why the system doesn't require downvoters to comment. The short story is you'll find, in most cases, that the poster is willing to put enormous amounts of effort into anything except improving his post along whatever lines you suggest (read: he'll spend hours telling you why you're wrong, but not than minutes to edit his post). It's enervating. – Dan Bron Jul 9 '15 at 0:29
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    @Dan It would also be worth your while to go to Meta Stack Exchange and do a question search for people proposing this and related features. Each request has been declined (obviously, as we still don't have the feature), but the comments and answers explaining why not can be very enlightening. – Dan Bron Jul 9 '15 at 0:31

While the intent of the question may have been to ask about mandatory commenting on casting a downvote, it actually asks a different question to which an answer might be useful.

Yes. Downvoting is open to scrutiny but only to Community Managers† and Stack Exchange staff†. There is no reputation level which allows access to voter identity.

Moderators have some limited tools to examine vote patterns, but can’t see who cast which individual votes. Suspicious vote patterns are submitted to CMs for detailed investigation.

Voting is never truly anonymous, or rep lost with downvotes on answers which are subsequently deleted could never be refunded. There’s also a nightly job which examines voting and can invalidate certain votes (such as obvious revenge downvoting) automatically. The effect of revenge downvoting, and that it was done, can be seen by anyone; but only the auto job and CMs know who did it.

† Community Managers’ and staffers’ contributions on the site are identified with a diamond as if they were moderators (which they are) but they are not listed with the site-elected moderators. Further reading

  • My intent was to understand better how the site works. Thanks to your answer I do now. Fascinating. – Dan Jul 9 '15 at 6:52

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