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I was recently answering some questions and came up with a pretty decent idea. What if when you know your correct answer is un-rightfully down-voted you request a moderator to reset your score to 0?

I assume most users at times have had submitted answered that they know are correct and have even tested to prove they are the correct answer but people still down-vote them. Possibly a few people that don't understand or have unsportsmanlike competitiveness down-vote you; then others just ride the crowd and leave you with -2,-3, or worse score for a correct answer. I know the -2 reputation is not a big deal but I assume most do not have negative scores in their answer history. So how about if someone gets like -2, -3, or lower for a vote; and if they absolutely know it is a working solution they can put a request for some high-rep user or moderator to evaluate their answer and if they agree it should not be negative they have the power to reset the answers score back to zero.

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If you have 2 or 3 downvotes, you may want to reconsider whether or not your answer is actually correct. If you want more upvotes, address the concerns anyone leaves in comments by editing your post to make it better. –  jmort253 Jan 18 '13 at 1:44
@jmort253: That is why I said only when you have tested it and you are very sure it is right. –  Devon Bernard Jan 18 '13 at 1:45
The irony here is that this question is being downvoted so hard. –  Joe Z. Jan 18 '13 at 1:47
@JoeZeng, perhaps he should flag for a reset? I bet he knows it's a great suggestion! –  juanformoso Jan 18 '13 at 1:50
NO. Downvotes are how the community sorts content, and it's completely antithetical to the entire concept of voting if a moderator can swoop in and tell the community members "Sorry, no, your vote doesn't count today". Now, as always, the answer to downvotes is not caring about downvotes. They're imaginary internet points, and it takes 5 of them to offset a single upvote. Stop caring. Move along. Sometimes I wish everyone joining SE would have to agree to a "I WILL NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT DOWNVOTES" terms-of-service to post on Stack Exchange. –  meagar Jan 18 '13 at 1:57
People do occasionally ask for this via custom flags. I've yet to see a case where I would actually use such a feature. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 18 '13 at 2:55
There's a badge for that! –  dmckee Jan 18 '13 at 3:39
For more on the downsides of giving moderators tools to invalidate votes, see Shog9's very detailed answer here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/143951/… . He makes a good case that handing moderators capabilities like this, even for handling clear cases of voting fraud, might undermine the community's trust in the site. –  Brad Larson Jan 18 '13 at 4:04
@meagar I am, in fact, relatively new here. I am not new to the concept of downvote hate, though. –  Joe Z. Jan 18 '13 at 12:35
Hey, I know! Let's not. –  Jack Maney Jan 18 '13 at 19:39

5 Answers 5

A working solution is not always the correct solution. There are lots of ways to skin a cat. We tend to prefer the ones where we keep all our fingers.

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A general theme of moderation on Stack Overflow is, moderators don't judge the correctness of answers. This usually comes up around flagging answers - flags against questions saying, this is a bad answer almost always get declined. This is really the same thing in reverse - you're asking a moderator to rollback votes, and the only reasonable basis for that action would be if she believed the answer was correct, or more correct than the current downvotes would indicate.

Here's one moderator's (and Stack Exchange employee's) view of this (again, applied to flags):

Moderators aren't here to judge the correctness of answers. That's what the voting system is for, so the right way to handle those is to downvote, edit, or leave a comment.

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Votes are largely meant to convey individual opinion. So while an answer may be entirely technically correct, a user may be utterly justified in downvoting it. For example, imagine this scenario:

Question: How do I add 1 + 1 in PHP?


$result = (6-5) + (6-5); 

While this answer will indeed get you the right answer, it is an utterly terrible solution and should probably be downvoted.

In addition, it does not make sense for moderators to attempt to individually evaluate answers—moderators are not necessarily subject-area experts, and it would be unfair to reset scores in certain tags while not provide the same benefit to niche tags, not to mention that it would simply be infeasible due to the number of new posts on Stack Overflow every day.

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Alright, that makes sense; I am just saying it does not happen often but sometimes a right answer can be down-voted in spite. –  Devon Bernard Jan 18 '13 at 1:51
Will PHP optimize the common subexpression (6-5)? ;) –  fredoverflow Jan 18 '13 at 17:22

It might be hard for moderators to judge votes, since there are so many answers on SO and since it's difficult to judge whether an answer is good enough never to be downvoted.

It's nice that users can vote any way they want. Sometimes people downvote on the basis of comments, even though the answer is correct. Sometimes people downvote because they misunderstand an answer. That's just part of SO, and of user-voting in general.

The solution is to make your answers good enough that they get more upvotes than downvotes, and answer more questions so you'll get more upvotes.

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If your answer is being downvoted, that means there's a problem with it. Instead of asking for your downvoted answer to have its score reset, perhaps find and address the issue with the post instead.

Perhaps you missed something. Perhaps your solution simply doesn't work. Perhaps you should just delete your answer. No matter what the reason is, the community downvotes your answer if it isn't a good one.

Downvotes are not arbitrary on StackOverflow.

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but... but... he absolutely knows it is a working solution! –  juanformoso Jan 18 '13 at 1:46
I know a lot of the time it is because of a mistake. But this is only addressing when you know it is right. And competitive people down-vote so their answer in comparison looks better score-wise. –  Devon Bernard Jan 18 '13 at 1:47
@DevonBernard It is silly of you to say there is no problem with your post if it's being downvoted. Like I say, downvotes aren't arbitrary. –  Emrakul Jan 18 '13 at 1:47
@Telthien: It's also silly to think that a post that gets a downvote automatically has something wrong with it. Sometimes, people are stupid. Now granted, the proposed "solution" to this problem is wrongheaded, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. The community is not always right. –  Nicol Bolas Jan 18 '13 at 2:02
@DevonBernard Surely you must be aware of how utterly broken that statement is. Everything thinks they're absolutely right or they wouldn't post. How can you possibly think that you specifically are immune to being wrong? –  meagar Jan 18 '13 at 2:03
@NicolBolas I'll assume that, by automatic downvote, you mean immediate downvote, because otherwise your statement makes no sense. Each person has one vote. If three people review an answer and deem that there is any problem with the post, then statistically there must be a problem with a post. If two people review an answer and find an issue, then statistically there is very likely a problem with the post. Find me a post for which this is not true. I challenge thee. –  Emrakul Jan 18 '13 at 2:04
@meagar: I am not saying that; sometimes I make dumb mistakes in a post, everyone does. I am just saying on the rare instance you go through a lot of effort to write code to answer someones question and you even test it and everything and other people down-vote to look better. –  Devon Bernard Jan 18 '13 at 2:04
@DevonBernard Is there a particular post you have as an example? Because currently I can't find one. Also, you might want to check out this meta post (even though it's not really applicable in this case, as far as I can see). –  Emrakul Jan 18 '13 at 2:06
"I'll assume that, by automatic downvote, you mean immediate downvote, because otherwise your statement makes no sense." No, the phrase 'getting a downvote' is a distinct clause: the act that happens. I'm saying that this act (getting a downvote) does not "automatically" mean that your post is problematic. "statistically there must be a problem with a post" I don't agree; it means that 3 people downvoted it. How much you think it means there's a problem depends on how much you trust the SO community. And even then, there are outliers. –  Nicol Bolas Jan 18 '13 at 2:07
@DevonBernard Ahh. And you are, of course, aware of these dumb mistakes before you make them, right? You can always tell when you're absolutely correct and when you're making a dumb mistake? So of course we should trust you implicitly to undermine the entire voting system. Cannot you really not see the problem here with your reasoning? –  meagar Jan 18 '13 at 2:07
@NicolBolas If you don't trust the SO community to answer your question, and give you fair and balanced results, why do you ask questions and give answers here? –  Emrakul Jan 18 '13 at 2:07
@Telthien: I don't trust anything that I don't control to always do everything correctly. Thus, I don't automatically assume that an answer with a downvote or two is wrong. Nor do I assume that the highest voted answer is correct or the best by some measure. I've seen too many of both of these assumptions being incorrect. –  Nicol Bolas Jan 18 '13 at 2:09
@NicolBolas, @ Everyone else, I'll be in the Let's get philosophical chatroom to continue this discussion. Comments are not the place for extended discussion. –  Emrakul Jan 18 '13 at 2:10
There have been plenty of bad downvotes, some people make mistakes, some move too quick, some have an agenda, but your absolute statement that multiple downvotes means that an answer must have a problem with it is way off base. The majority is not always right. –  Lance Roberts Jan 18 '13 at 14:40
@LanceRoberts While I accept there are errors, I'm unsure it's the majority. –  Emrakul Jan 18 '13 at 15:17

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