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Select from list of reasons when performing downvotes

I have never had much reason to post on this site - this has probably been debated before, as in this thead, but I feel that something must be done about the down-vote system, now. It is broken and counter-productive as it is implemented today.

The following problems exist and cannot be easily solved through moderation:

  • It is not mandatory to make a comment about a down vote.
  • You only lose 1 reputation point for a down vote, which means nothing. I think plenty of users earn around 50 reputation in a day. Meaning that they can in theory spam 50 anonymous down-votes per day, all over the site, without any notable losses.
  • People do "revenge votes" very frequently. They do this because they can down-vote anonymously, without any explanation given. But they can only do this if you left a comment explaining why their post was bad. So you get punished for leaving a comment. But if you were lazy and just down-voted without explanation, the current system rewards you, since you can't get revenge-voted back.
  • Because of all the above reasons, the current system encourages impolite, off-topic flame wars and immature behavior in general.

In essence, an anonymous down vote in the current system, without any comment left behind, could mean one of the following things:

  • "Your post is bad, but someone else has already made a comment explaining why, which I fully agree with."
  • "Your post is bad in some way, but I can't be bothered to tell you why, because I'm lazy."
  • "I don't like you."

I propose a change to the down-vote system so that it becomes similar to the vote-to-close system. When voting to close a post, you have to specify a reason why and it cannot be done anonymously.

What I would like to see is a system where you upon down-voting get a pop-up window, with a menu similar to vote-to-close, where you can either pick one of the reasons already posted by others, or if no such reason already exists, you are forced to type one. Possibly with a few default options such as "not a real question", "incorrect facts, citation needed" or whatever would be sensible default options.

If the users are forced to leave a comment, the down-vote system could remain anonymous, if that serves a purpose.

At the same time, the pointless -1 reputation hit can be removed as it fills no purpose.

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marked as duplicate by ЯegDwight, Diago, Time Traveling Bobby, Toon Krijthe, ChrisF Oct 24 '12 at 10:37

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.

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I've always been an advocate for required anonymous comments for downvotes (possibly with a set of options like the CV system). But SO/SE is set in its current ways - for better or worse. And it's not gonna change. –  Mysticial Oct 24 '12 at 8:56
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Already anonymous down votes. Why thank you, keep proving me right :) –  Lundin Oct 24 '12 at 8:56
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This adds unnecessary overhead to something that should be simple. An explanation was never required, nor will it ever be required. Part of the reason you've already explained in your post. If you leave a comment, you will be at risk of getting revenge downvoted. Now imagine the drama if that were required for every downvote. –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 24 '12 at 8:58
    
We can't even have a democratic debate about it? "No, go away" is not really a productive way to run an open community... –  Lundin Oct 24 '12 at 9:01
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Yes, there is the occasional revenge downvoting but overall, there is not nearly enough downvoting on this site. People upvote crap content like crazy. –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:01
    
This has been discussed a million times. The conclusion is that such a feature would add no value to the site, but would introduce drama and potentially incessant whining. You are free to leave a comment explaining why you've downvoted a post. What is the problem with this system? –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 24 '12 at 9:02
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@Lundin this has already been democratically debated many, many, many times over. All the arguments for and against have been made many times. Look for example in the "Related" section to the right. –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:02
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@Pekka Did you consider that if you were forced to leave a comment, and someone left a good comment about their down-vote, that would encourage others to down-vote for the same reason? –  Lundin Oct 24 '12 at 9:03
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@Lundin as said, that specific suggestion has been debated ad nauseam. The downsides of forcing people to comment on their downvotes really vastly overshadow any possible advantage. It would make quality control almost impossible. The encouragement effect you mention can also be achieved by a normal comment that is not enforced by the system. –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:04
    
I down voted your question because I don't like your proposal(I'll be watching for downvotes :) ). I think that using a popup window will reduce the number of votes for crappy questions or answers as it will be more work for something that should be simple(and this will reduce the site's quality overall). And if someone still wants to do some revenge voting they will still be able to do it, they will just flag everything as incorrect. –  Luksprog Oct 24 '12 at 9:05
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At first I thought "here is yet another daily request to force comments on downvotes or cancel the downvotes altogether" but then was tempted to read the whole post, just to understand my initial thought was correct. Sorry, but I can't see anything here that wasn't already said and discussed LOTS of times before. –  Shadow Wizard Oct 24 '12 at 9:05
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Also, I put it to you that revenge and unfair downvotes aren't really a problem globally. Everyone gets them from time to time, but apart from giving one a bad feeling (no matter how much rep you have), they do not damage the quality of the site. Adding a penalty to downvoting, however, would, on a huge scale. To get a feel for the issues we're dealing with, see for example The current review system encourages fake reviews; some people upvote everything rather than actually fixing problems –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:06
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"an anonymous down vote in the current system, without any comment left behind, could mean one of the following things: " Or it could mean what the tooltip for the downvote button ACTUALLY SAYS : "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful" / "This answer is not useful" –  AakashM Oct 24 '12 at 9:15
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Don't try to support feature requests with anecdotal evidence. Show us how this is a widespread problem (it isn't) and how your solution would fix it (which in this case, it wouldn't). And remember that an accepted answer is not a "correct" answer, it's just an answer that the OP thinks is most helpful to them. You'll still get upvotes if your answer is correct. –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 24 '12 at 9:16
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Also note that we have all been using the site for "quite some time", you are in no way special in this regard. If nobody else is experiencing this problem of revenge downvotes, have you considered that the common factor is you? –  meagar Oct 24 '12 at 15:52

1 Answer 1

The person who asked, (who asked because they don't know the topic too well), then accepted the incorrect answer, probably because they didn't trust my -1 marked one, which arrived too late to get all the upvotes that the incorrect answer had already gotten. And now every future visitor who reads that thread will learn how to program incorrect and how to write bugs

So you got one downvote. Or maybe a couple.

What is the problem?

The system is designed to offset revenge downvoting. If your answer is good, it is going to get upvoted over time by the community. I know getting downvoted unfairly and downvote-stalked sucks; I hate it, too. But it is still local damage at best, incredibly rare and not really important in the grand scheme of things, even if the accepted answer suggests something earth-shatteringly dumb.

Stack Overflow gets about 6,000 new questions every day. Look beyond your (however unpleasant) experience for a moment, and look at how this community is fighting to keep quality up, and how important a role downvoting plays for it. Any suggestion trying to address revenge downvoting will have to take these factors into consideration to be taken seriously.

Also, excessive downvoting from one user against the other is going to be caught by the serial voting script that runs every 24 hours.

share|improve this answer
    
This is an answer to a comment made by me, not to the suggestion I posted... –  Lundin Oct 24 '12 at 9:34
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@Lundin the suggestion you posted has already been posted a million times, and all arguments have been made a million times before. Repeating them yet again in here doesn't make any sense, I'd rather concentrate on the discussion we had above. –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:36
    
I see diverging forces in what you say: the importance of "the community" against the unfair treatment of "the individuals". The "quality" of answers against the diversity of users posting them. I know that this has been debated a gazzilion times, especially during the summer of love and what-not. But it's inevitable that downvotes are being questioned by newbies (and not so much by 47.3k users :-); it's inevitable that retaliation is being noticed and "suffered" by newbies. My take is that old users do not realise that the system has changed a lot (and more difficult/articulated) for newbies –  ElCid Oct 24 '12 at 9:41
    
@ElCid you make good points. Yeah, downvotes clearly don't hurt as much when you have plenty of rep, and that's easy to forget. However, I'm convinced that if your contributions are really good, the sting of a few occasional troll votes isn't going to matter against the upvotes you get from the community. I don't believe the system has changed that much in that regard. I'm open for arguments to the contrary but I put this to the test a while ago, starting with a 0-rep sock puppet and receiving very polite treatment overall. Of course I, as a veteran, know how to "play the game" but ... –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:43
    
@ElCid Your point is valid, just note that I am far from a newbie :) I just don't have a reason to hang around on meta SO, so I have no reputation here (...which leads to the topic of newbies getting down-votes just because they are newbies). –  Lundin Oct 24 '12 at 9:45
    
(cont'd) ... I didn't see any inherent bullying against me based on my rep score. –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:45
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@Lundin if you really believe you are getting downvoted here because you're a newbie and not because it's the millionth incarnation of a feature request that most people here are against, there really is no point in discussing any further. Important: meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#vote-differences –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:46
    
well it has changed a lot because there's now a FAQ and thousands of questions that you need to be aware of before posting, so you have to study more before asking. Personally I love (well...) to sort questions by votes and see the most down-voted ones, and how they still are after they're closed! Well, that has to be fixed, you will convene with me? Downvotes should also take into account the experience: you might take -10 to an "old" user, but doing so to a guy with 102 rep? Is that the same? –  ElCid Oct 24 '12 at 9:48
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@ElCid but what we are talking about here is unfair revenge downvoting. That's what the OP is about, and if you look at his profile you will see it has not damaged his reputation one bit. It's unpleasant, but has had zero impact on his score. And in general: just one upvote will offset five downvotes. If a user's reputation stays low because of downvotes, then they are getting so many of them that they are very likely doing something wrong. –  Pëkka Oct 24 '12 at 9:51

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