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Should downvoting be allowed on comments?

I see zero value in people being critical or sarcastic in their answers to questions. Why can't people simply accept the fact that we don't all have a Masters Degree in Computer Science, and that some of us are here to actually learn?

I'm tired of posting a question and people correcting my syntax, or simply telling me I shouldn't be doing what I'm asking about doing. It's sad that people feel the need to be so critical and sarcastic to less-experienced people.

I can -1 answers that are not constructive, etc., but I'd also really like a -1 on comments. There's no place for it.

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marked as duplicate by Yannis, GEOCHET, yoozer8, Rory, Toon Krijthe Oct 22 '12 at 18:34

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.

Examples please? – Yannis Oct 22 '12 at 17:12
By the way voting is different on meta. A downvote simply means that someone disagrees, not necessarily (no guarantees) that your question is unhelpful or of low quality. – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 22 '12 at 17:13
Also, if someone corrects your syntax then doesn't that mean it was incorrect? Do you not learn from that? – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 22 '12 at 17:14
"Don't do that" can be a perfectly valid answer, if it's explained. – Charles Oct 22 '12 at 17:15
Wait, you came for help, someone fixed something for you and you are upset? – GEOCHET Oct 22 '12 at 17:16
Regarding your last sentence, comments are second class citizens. They are not as important as questions/answers; therefore, it is by design that you cannot downvote them. For more infomration look up the many other questions that have been asked about downvoting comments. – Josh Mein Oct 22 '12 at 17:17
I'm sorry, but I don't see how "people correcting my syntax, or simply telling me I shouldn't be doing what I'm asking about doing" is at all sarcastic or overly critical. Sometimes, telling someone not to do something can be a helpful answer, and correcting syntax usually is. Beyond that, if someone is being rude on inappropriate in their tone, flag the comments or answers and we'll take a look at it. – Brad Larson Oct 22 '12 at 17:47
One of the big failures I see is stackoverflow allows rep to go into negative (not rep for a person but rep for a question). It should start at 0 and never go below that, it really turns people off. And this is why facebook doesnt have a "DOESNT LIKE" button. – JonH Oct 22 '12 at 17:47
@JonH ...and I'm guessing you find lots of useful content on Facebook by following what people "like", right? – Yannis Oct 22 '12 at 17:50
I would like Facebook a lot more if I could clearly mark the stuff I didn't like. – Shog9 Oct 22 '12 at 18:30
@YannisRizos - I dont have an account on fb - I am merely suggesting that people view that big old NEGATIVE sign -1, -100, -1000 as a big negative. I don't care what you mods think about it, it turns people off. You can sit here and tell me "...well down voting doesn't mean anything bad, it serves to tell you that we don't agree with you..." fine then say that just dont down vote me. Case in point I am not the first person to mention this - you guys have thousands of posts asking this same question. You can create all the help docs in the world - it won't fix this problem. – JonH Oct 22 '12 at 18:56
@JonH Get an account on FB, you'll soon understand why downvotes are valuable... Also: "you mods"? WTF? Did I somehow became a spokesperson for mods everywhere? – Yannis Oct 22 '12 at 19:01
@JonH: look at the title of this question - lots of folks don't like criticism. Whether that's in the form of a comment or a down-vote, the suggestion that there's a problem with something you wrote is likely to put you off a bit. Is that a good reason to be tactful, polite, and calm in your criticisms? Absolutely! Is it a reason to silence all negative feedback? No, not at all. The ultimate goal here is to help folks find the best questions and answers, and when there's a conflict that goal trumps the potential to hurt feelings every time. Otherwise... Well, there's always Facebook. – Shog9 Oct 22 '12 at 19:52
You don't. You post another comment criticizing it, @JonH. Be polite and constructive... – Shog9 Oct 22 '12 at 20:01
No, instead, you discovered a community of people who take their professions very seriously and have tried to correct your bad habits. The choice to take those efforts and turn them into something negative is entirely on you. – GEOCHET Oct 23 '12 at 15:32
up vote 17 down vote accepted

You can flag comments that you feel are sarcastic as "rude or offensive", "not constructive / off-topic" or even "too chatty", I really don't see the need for downvoting comments. If a comment is not helpful, it should be removed, not voted on.

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@Yannis... thank you very much for this clear, concise explanation that totally corrects my viewpoint. This is exactly the type of help we need at StackOverflow. You're correcting me without being rude, insulting my intelligence, or using sarcasm. It's very much appreciated. – Eric Belair Oct 23 '12 at 15:53

It's sad that people feel the need to be so critical and sarcastic to less-experienced people.

You're conflating two very different things here. Criticism - as long as it is constructive - is an important teaching tool. How would you feel, upon encountering a problem caused by the poor syntax or design decisions you've made, if you realized you'd exposed both of these problems in previous questions and no one had said anything?

If you're honestly here to learn, then do that - and accept criticism as an opportunity to do so.

Of course, if someone's just being rude and using your inexperience as an opportunity to beat you over the head with their own knowledge without actually sharing it... Then flag that. And then move on. The world is full of jerks, no need to let 'em get to you.

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I'm not saying there's anything wrong with constructive critism. There is a big difference between constructive criticism ("hey, i noticed you did it this way, but perhaps this might be better...") as opposed to being unnecessarily critical of a person's intelligence, using sarcastic words or explanations. If I ask a question, I'm going to read the answers so that I can find the best solution. Why should I waste my time reading something that's just meant to insult my intelligence and not help me find a solution? – Eric Belair Oct 22 '12 at 20:29
You shouldn't. Flag it and move on. – Shog9 Oct 22 '12 at 20:45
I have the impression that old, experienced users do not realize how the system has changed for new users. I give a related example: in the academia where I work, there has been an exponential amount of new papers written by wannabe professors. The quality of the peer reviews have been dramatically degrading, given the inexperience of the reviewers that are needed to judge so many papers. With so many new SO questions everyday, it becomes awful for the community to preserve some sort of balance in the feedback, and for new users who on average face a lower quality experience – ElCid Oct 22 '12 at 20:56

You could simply ignore things that are not helpful to you.

That would make the most sense.

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But why should I waste my time reading through answers or comments that are not constructive? Why should people with bad attitudes who want to degrade others intelligence be allowed to do so? – Eric Belair Oct 22 '12 at 20:25
Then don't read through them. Why are you so obsessed with feeding this drama? – GEOCHET Oct 22 '12 at 22:38
I think "obsessed" is a bit strong. I'm definitely not obsessed. Just disappointed in this community that was created to help one another. My point is that people are missing the purpose of why the creators of this community created it. – Eric Belair Oct 23 '12 at 11:51
And yet, it sure seems that the community is telling you that you missed the point and purpose of the site. – GEOCHET Oct 23 '12 at 12:01

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