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Encouraging people to explain down-votes
Allow users to leave an anonymous comment when voting

I have had four or five down-votes in the past few days on answers that I thought were helpful (and so did others, including the OP, in most cases). Of course none of the down-votes came with any comment to help me understand how I could improve my answer.

Since at least one of these questions had several less helpful or even completely wrong answers, and mine was the only answer on the page with a down-vote, I can't help but wonder if it isn't the quality of my answers but rather someone with a grudge or vendetta. So what I'd like to know is, how do I point these questions out so the administrators can look into this? I don't want to know the results or the identity of the down-voter(s). But at the very least if my suspicions are correct I would hope that vengeful down-voting is discouraged.

Yes, I understand that some of you are thinking, "Suck it up, whiner." I just want to point out that this is a recurring behavior that is severely limiting the positive experience I've enjoyed on this site for a long time.

Let me be frank: I do not give a rip about the reputation points. Hell, take 10 away for every down-vote. But make them pick from a list of common reasons or include a comment with the down-vote. All anonymous down-voting does is drive helpful people like me away from the site. I am more than happy taking constructive criticism, but I don't like getting burning bags of dog crap left on my porch by disgruntled peers. In spite of all the positives in this community, this negative aspect is very quickly becoming a deal-breaker for me. It's funny that I observe this behavior here on SO but not on dba.stackexchange. Perhaps I'm over-reacting and these people have legitimate problems with my answers. Just seems to be too many cases where I feel like I'm being targeted, and too many cases where it feels like it wouldn't have killed them to explain.

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marked as duplicate by Sathya, Lorem Ipsum, Wesley Murch, Gilles, The Unhandled Exception Feb 9 '12 at 12:07

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. –  Adam Davis Feb 9 '12 at 2:35
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-1 for blah blah blah. (is that what you had in mind?) –  Yannis Feb 9 '12 at 2:41
    
@Yannis yeah, something like that. That wasn't hard, right? –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:41
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@AaronBertrand To be perfectly honest, I avoid down vote comments. I used to write long comments, explaining everything and suggesting improvements, after about 50 jerk responses, I just gave up. Now I silently down vote and enjoy it - everywhere except P.SE, where for some weird reason people thought I'd be a good mod... –  Yannis Feb 9 '12 at 4:45
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@Yannis so it's you then! :-) –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:47
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The only thing that's obvious is that you posted a lot more answers than usual in the past several days. Sure, more posts attract more downvotes. You got 305 rep yesterday, the -2 got comped. If that single downvote makes you lose all enjoyment of getting +305 then you are in the wrong place. Voting is democratic here, the universe will never run out of the kind of morons that think Rick Santorum will be a good president. We can only outvote them. –  Uphill Luge Feb 9 '12 at 12:05
    
@Uphill, once again, maybe I'll bold it, the rep is not my issue. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 14:25
    
For anyone still lurking here, a quick update: it seems that a large number of the downvotes I was suspicious of (in fact all but one in the 24-hour period in question) have been removed. So I wasn't imagining things. I've had a few more since then and have flagged the one that seems most suspicious. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 12 '12 at 22:15
    
Can you please express uour opinion on marking question as duplicate at the following link: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/219750/… –  Revious Feb 5 at 19:53
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5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I like you a lot as an expert in my own arena, Aaron, but I have to disagree a bit on this.

To answer the first part of the Q, if you get a string of them you can always flag for moderator attention. It's not likely to do anything, but that's pretty much what you can do actively.

You can also wait for the heuristics to catch it. If it's just 1 or 2 it probably won't trip, but a longer string of DVs might.

As far as requiring comments on DVs, its been brought up a lot before. I understand where you're coming from because of the frustration, but you really are the exception. It's a lot less common for a true expert such as yourself to get meaningless downvotes than it is for someone who posts garbage. And the volume of garbage at this point means that throttling the response to that could cause a ton of other issues.

In short, random DVs are the cost of doing business. I have only asked a handful of questions and they have all been downvoted quite a bit because I, like you, am prone to leave a comment when something is wrong. This makes us targets for retribution.

That being said, you're about to get 500 rep points here in 23 hours as a token of my appreciation for your great work. Don't let the morons get you down, they are morons after all.

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excuse me, you're giving away 500 rep for that, in addition to 30 upvotes he's got? er, #ok –  Sathya Feb 9 '12 at 3:54
    
@Sathya - it's a token. He's a great resource for the site, especially for SQL Server where I personally am most active. I'll give him 500 bounties on a question a week if it makes him happy :) –  JNK Feb 9 '12 at 3:56
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There are lot of other valuable users who contribute a great deal. Why not line up rep for them too? Sorry you're setting up a wrong precedent here. Your rep, you're free to do whatever you want, but this is ridiculous. –  Sathya Feb 9 '12 at 3:58
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As you say, my rep my choice. The SQL folks are relatively tightly knit, and I'm showing Aaron my support. TBH I could care less what anyone else thinks about it. –  JNK Feb 9 '12 at 4:01
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You're free to ignore, I spoke out what I thought. There isn't much of a difference between what you're doing and a voting ring. –  Sathya Feb 9 '12 at 4:02
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I don't mind this guy. +500 as a token of appreciation is great. I once handed someone a +100 bounty for a short and sweet answer for leading me to a solution (because I had to accept my own for providing the solution itself). There are other users out there with far more egregious and suspicious rep activity than JNK and ourselves... –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 9 '12 at 4:05
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Thanks @BoltClock'saUnicorn - It's not like I'm being sneaky about this either. –  JNK Feb 9 '12 at 4:11
    
I appreciate the token JNK, but I hope I made it clear that my concern is not about the rep points at all. Just the pattern of anonymous down-voting and the ability for people to down-vote without any explanation. Hopefully you're right that this is just some isolated jerk and the heuristics will catch up with them, but I fail to see the point of allowing you to down-vote an answer (or a question, for that matter) without giving the poster some indication of why they question or answer was so bad. Especially in cases where you're the first/only down-vote. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:21
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@AaronBertrand - I understand you don't care about the rep, but I can't just go upvoting all your good answers because it'll get undone, so I did the next best thing. We can chat about this or something if you want, but I think there's value in allowing anonymous downvotes. A major portion of mine are unattributed and on total garbage questions, which I cast in the hopes of helping set off a question ban. –  JNK Feb 9 '12 at 4:31
    
I can see the value of this for questions a lot more than for answers. Questions are people looking for help. If they haven't done enough research, ask a question that could have easily been googled, or for which there are clearly duplicates on the site, then I understand. But when someone takes the time to answer a question and try to help someone solve a problem, I think they deserve a little more than a click. I'd rather simply not vote in either direction if I felt an answer was garbage but couldn't articulate why. Perhaps that in a way encourages bad questions, but that's my take. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:35
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I suspect that 99% of the down-votes I've case were on questions. When I see a problem with an answer, I am almost 100% more likely to make a comment about what I see and not down-vote, than the opposite. I think a couple of times I've commented, waited for it to be corrected, and down-voted when it was left up and continues to get up-votes. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:37
    
I just wanted to add that I always try to leave a comment whan I downvote, but surely there must be one or two that I've just downvoted and left. I follow both of your answers (@JNK'sMetAccount and @AaronBertrand) , since I'm learning a lot on SQL Server (where you are more active) and I'm far of being an expert. Hope you don't let this affect your future contribution to SO –  Lamak Feb 9 '12 at 13:11
    
@Lamak - I'll DV a Q without a comment all the time, normally on the same ones I VTC because they are basically garbage questions. Noone can be 100% consistent, though. I think Aaron does have a point about random single downvotes with no comments, but I don't know if there is a way to handle that without causing additional issues. –  JNK Feb 9 '12 at 13:40
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4 or 5 isn't a big number. For now I wouldn't worry about it.

If you get 10 in a day or something, that should be automatically caught. On the other hand, if you get a one or two per day for a couple weeks that are truly unexplainable, that could be someone trying to outsmart the system. If that happens, I would flag one of your affected posts for moderator attention, explaining the pattern you're seeing and asking if they can confirm whether anything seems amiss.

Anonymous voting is pretty important to how the site works. You'd get two outcomes without it: People wouldn't downvote out of fear of retaliation, and said retaliation would be easy and rampant. If you're posting good stuff the downvotes won't amount to anything at all in the grand scheme of things. With over 17k rep you really shouldn't be paying that much attention to individual downvotes -- out of everyone who's seen your posts there's got to be a few people who were clueless and misunderstood, or clicked the wrong button, or whatever else.

Your recent comments on the downvoted posts — demanding explanations, accusations of childishness, etc. — were certainly not the right way to go about it, and I've flagged them. If you react less strongly to something so trivial it would provide one less reason for someone to target you, if indeed they are.

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Just calling it like I see it - I find it lacks tact. It's funny that I haven't had any activity here on meta in a while and suddenly after I asked this question a couple of my other questions here suddenly got one down-vote each. Scandalous. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:23
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Downvotes on Meta mean disagreement, and posting attracts view to your profile and thus your other questions. –  Matthew Read Feb 9 '12 at 6:10
    
Yeah, I know. Just thought it was ironic. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 6:43
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@AaronBertrand it may be ironic but one rule of meta is, if you come here and say "Downvoters must comment", you'll be downvoted, because a lot of people vehemently disagree with that idea. –  The Unhandled Exception Feb 9 '12 at 12:11
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You have whole lot of substantially upvoted answers. So many that a quick look at your profile didn't show any candidates for what you are talking about. (links?) Overall, you are not suffering from downvotes.

We've been here, discussed that, and received the t-shirts. If the problem is jerks, asking them for comments won't fix anything. They'll pick comments at random from a list, or type whatever.

Really, there's nothing to be done about the occasional drive-by downvote except to learn to ignore it.

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Here is a recent example that piqued my interest. Really, someone went out of their way to down-vote my answer, but nobody else's? This down-vote happened after the accepted answer was marked and clearly had the most votes, and after just about all activity on the question had subsided. Yet there are at least a couple of answers that are definitively less helpful than mine, IMHO. stackoverflow.com/questions/9183965/… –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 4:28
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Yes, I understand that some of you are thinking, "Suck it up, whiner."

Yeah, something like that. I'm looking over your rep history over the last 3 months, and I see only 2 or maybe 3 downvotes (and one was rather understandable). I would hardly call this abuse.

Just like in real life, some people are pleasant or helpful, some are not. Some people are jerks and steal your newspaper or back into your car and don't tell you. Maybe the guy who downvoted you just didn't like your hair or your name. These things are unavoidable.

What you do have control over is your response when something like that happens. You can get upset about it and complain, make accusations or insults, or start a pity-party on meta. None of this is going to do anyone any good, and it can make you look bad (comments like this one for instance). This is hopefully not how you would act in a professional setting. In fact, getting visibly upset about downvotes is often what causes people to do so without commenting, or causes them to cast their own.

As someone who rarely gets downvotes on SO (queue ironic downvotes), I can relate to your shock and horror - but take it in stride. It's not a huge deal to get an occasional downvote, and this topic has been bludgeoned to death already.

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You've convinced me. I'm going to start down-voting arbitrarily and anonymously. Screw courtesy. This wasn't about a pity party, this was about letting the admins know there is behavior on the site that is pushing away and turning off valuable contributors. But I guess we shouldn't talk about it because it's been talked about before, and because the current design is what is intended, it must be the perfect design. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 6:55
    
I also think your math is suspect, unless you don't see the same reputation history that I do. Again, not that I'm counting points, just that there was a sudden burst of down-votes that I deemed suspect. –  Aaron Bertrand Feb 9 '12 at 6:57
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I don't know which point of your comment to address first... If you believe this is a serious issue, you can send in a flag or email the team directly - you probably know that by now. The anonymous downvote "problem" has been discussed to no end, but I didn't mean to imply that it cannot be discussed further, nor did I mean to imply that the design of life or SO is perfect. I can only say that your prevailing negative attitude towards others about this subject is turning me off to this community. I'm really feeling some acid in your tone. –  Wesley Murch Feb 9 '12 at 7:03
    
@AaronBertrand If a single user downvoted (or upvoted) many of your posts in a short time, the votes are automatically removed. It's a daily batch job, so check again after 24 hours. If you really have had many downvotes (“four or five” is not many), have you checked that they're still there? You give the impression of complaining about something which is not a big deal in the first place and may not even be real. –  Gilles Feb 9 '12 at 11:33
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Since at least one of these questions had several less helpful or even completely wrong answers, and mine was the only answer on the page with a down-vote, I can't help but wonder if it isn't the quality of my answers but rather someone with a grudge or vendetta.

Isn't it possible that people just disagree with you, or don't think as much of your answer as you do? Particularly in a case where there are several other answers that differ significantly from yours, it might be that others have a legitimately different view of what the right answer should be. Heck, your answer might even be wrong!

So what I'd like to know is, how do I point these questions out so the administrators can look into this?

Flag one of your downvoted answers if you're really concerned, and use the space provided to explain your issue to the moderators.

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