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I've made my fair share of controversial suggestions (one was a stupid joke) on meta regarding features of the site that have been around for a while unchanged, as I'm sure a great deal of users have.

One thing I've noticed on Meta is that a lot of feature requests that suggest changes to a feature that's existed for a while (or even a feature that's never existed despite multiple feature requests) are almost always declined.

One of the most prominent requests (that comes up time and time again) is forcing the user to leave a comment when downvoting. The reason for declining this is that the downvote is meant to be anonymous and that's how it's worked for the history of the site. Plus, we already encourage them with an orange popup that is never shown for users above 2000 rep anyways.

What frustrates me is that every time it's brought up, it's shot down. Absolutely no consideration is ever given. It's never revisited with new perspective to see if it would ever be relevant. I mean, it's never even tested on meta (where everything gets tested before shipment). How can content be legitimately shaped for success when most users downvote and leave it at that? Downvotes are obviously very discouraging for users, both new and old.

Other examples:

These are all extremely useful suggestions which are denied pretty much because either it conflicts with the way something's worked since the site launched or there is an alternative to it (never taking into account how long it takes to make the alternative possible).

The weirdest thing is this: the suggestions are usually received extremely well by the community, but never implemented. For a site that is supposed to be community-driven, I'd think much heavier consideration would be taken towards suggestions that the community says they would like.

So I'd simply like to know if we're just wasting our time with these kinds of suggestions. Will any suggestions that modify existing features that have gone unchanged for a while ever actually be considered?

I just wonder if people (admins, specifically) really are open to beneficial changes in the system, and willing to put away the fact that they've grown accustomed to one way.

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Yes, the community has a voice, but that doesn't mean they are the ones making the final decisions –  random Aug 23 '12 at 16:14
    
@random: Of course, and I totally respect that, but you'd think they wouldn't just be declined flat-out. Would it be so hard to implement the downvote-comment feature for a week on Meta? I dunno, I just think declining right off the bat isn't really conclusive, and testing would really give proper results. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:15
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@random you sound remarkably like the Prime Minister. –  Mr Lister Aug 23 '12 at 16:16
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@MrLister which? Just looking at heads of sovereign nations, there are over 30 sitting prime ministers in the world. –  Pops Aug 23 '12 at 16:22
    
@PopularDemand All of them. –  Mr Lister Aug 23 '12 at 16:23
    
Ha, ha. I was wondering if you were going to say that. @MrLister –  Pops Aug 23 '12 at 16:32
    
@MrLister Now that you mention it... lol –  Alenanno Aug 23 '12 at 16:33
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@random That's not really a dupe--that asks if you can request declined ones, this asks if they'll ever be considered. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:45
    
    
@random Should that answer my question? –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:49
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Downvotes are different on Meta. (I'm assuming you already know this, but I'm just pointing out that it's enough of a difference that it wouldn't be that useful to test out the downvote-comment feature here. Specifically, this question would have 158 downvote-required comments in addition to legitimate comments. NOISE) –  Jim Aug 23 '12 at 16:57
    
@Jim: Bah, never thought of that. :P It may still be workable, though. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:59
    
@Purmou With regards to the comments on downvotes, it is not merely shot down each and every time. It also comes with fairly well argued points on why such a feature is not realistic each time that question is asked. So it is not just dismissed without reason. –  Bart Aug 23 '12 at 17:01
    
Too bad you included private messages in that post... that makes it a -1 for me. Especially with all those help vampires PMs would be extraordinarily annoying. –  ThiefMaster Aug 23 '12 at 17:09
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@ThiefMaster: Edited--again, they are all just examples. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 17:12

3 Answers 3

I don't think you're giving the team enough credit here. I've never known them to do something purely because "that's how it's always been done." I suspect that in many cases where it seems like that's going on, it's only been done for so long because someone thought about the issue and designed the system to do it that way for a reason.

Confirmation bias may also be involved here. In many cases, the community wants something and the team agrees, and nobody pays much attention to the fact that those requests get implemented.

I'm not sure how to find a list of posts that have gone from declined to completed, but I know there are some out there.

To address the specific issue of requiring comments for downvotes: that absolutely has a reason other than "just 'cause." The reason is that it wouldn't be constructive. We can't prevent people from entering the comment "asldfjasklewfasjkefs"; it's unlikely that people are going to be convinced to change their minds in many cases, so arguing over downvotes would only waste the time of everyone involved; and some users would probably start to develop grudges.

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A good example is the undoing of up votes on comments. waffles came back three years after it had been declined (!) to complete it. –  Tim Stone Aug 23 '12 at 16:21
    
To the comment/downvote issue: why not canned comments, like when you vote to close? In general: It sure looks like "just 'cause" a lot of the time. Keep in mind I also said "because there are alternatives in place." The issue is that the alternatives take time to be usable. Like casting reopen votes if a close vote was wrongly cast or the post was updated quickly. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:21
    
Why would you want canned comments? If you want a change to be made, the burden of proving that it would be a useful change is on you. –  Pops Aug 23 '12 at 16:24
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@Purmou then we could make one of the canned comments "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful" or "This answer is not useful", as appropriate. In fact, just have that as the comment every time, to save effort. Or in fact, just not bother, since that's what a downvote means unless the downvoter... leaves a comment? –  AakashM Aug 23 '12 at 16:26
    
I don't really see what you mean there. What I know for a fact is that a downvote with no comment is a pretty hard blow, and people overreact before anything. Maybe if the downvoter had to select a reason for the downvote, the user would be more alert. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:33
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I guess you know this, but for the sake of explicitness, and for anyone who doesn't, my quoted text there is the tooltips for the downvote arrows. In the absence of a specific comment, those are all anyone should be interpreting as the reason for a downvote. It may be that the UI for the downvote-receiver could be improved in this respect. –  AakashM Aug 23 '12 at 16:40
    
@AakashM I was replying to Pop. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:44
    
@Purmou There certainly are cases where leaving a comment with your downvote could be helpful, but that doesn't mean the system should require it every time. This is getting bogged down in one specific case, though. The point is that the team doesn't just decline things without reason. The reasons may be controversial, but they're there. –  Pops Aug 23 '12 at 16:49

You may find this blog post by Jeff an interesting read: Listen to your community, but don't let them tell you what to do.

We do consider feature requests, but some just don't align with what we want to do or directions we want to go in. Regardless of how easy or difficult it would be to implement something, time spent implementing things just to test what would happen is time that's not spent on implementing something we actively want or believe will make a positive difference on our sites (or even just fixing bugs). There's an opportunity cost there.

The key to bringing up old requests is to present them in a different light. Every time I've seen the "require comments on downvotes" request, it's been the same thing, presented the same way. So it's declined every time for the exact same reasons.


As an aside, because I said I would...

Any way to send a personal message to another user?

http://msmvps.com/blogs/jon_skeet/archive/2012/08/22/stack-overflow-and-personal-emails.aspx

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+1 If you make a duplicate feature request, at the very least address the concerns raised in the previous request and take those away. If you don't do so, or are unable to do so, then there is no difference in your request and it can simply be declined. This burden is on the user making the request. –  Bart Aug 23 '12 at 17:23

You say that the "downvote-comment" feature is directly shot down. While I don't know each and every request about this feature, I've seen quite a few and they had something in common.

Every one of those requests stemmed from the fact that the OP was complaining about one of their questions being downvoted. There was no genuine reasoning behind those feature requests, rather they were just asking for the request because the downvote hurt. Or at least this is what it looked like to me.

But the fact is: some people already made the reasoning.

  • If you include the name -> retaliation.
  • If you make it anonymous -> abuse by writing nonsense stuff.

The best suggestion so far that I've seen was when someone suggested that the downvote would stay if the anonymous comment being proposed reached a certain threshold so that it was considered constructive. But that's not the perfect solution yet. What if the downvote is legitimate but the comment is not upvoted? Not to mention that like Popular Demand says, there's going to be discussion and so on.

By the way, theoretically, you know what a downvote means without reading a comment. They given for more or less the same reasons:

  • Is your post well-formatted?
  • Is it... rant?
  • Are you asking for too many things?
  • Did you made proper research before asking?
  • Is your question on topic for the site?
  • Are you answering the question?
  • Did you provide sources to backup your answer?
  • Is your answer simply wrong?
  • Is your answer providing just a link?

I could go on... And if you think some abuse is going on, email the Team. But I personally think that there are much more urgent feature requests that should be implemented.

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Think about it as the user, though. You get a downvote, but you honestly don't see what's wrong with the post. That's usually the case with the dupe feature requests. A user doesn't know why their post is bad quality. –  Purag Aug 23 '12 at 16:35
    
@Purmou I've found myself in that situation, you can ask in the comments and wait for someone to help you with it. But until there is a proper idea for it, I think it's going to stay this way. –  Alenanno Aug 23 '12 at 16:38

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