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When connecting on SO this morning, I was informed that one of my old answers got a downvote.

What happened was that the original question was incorrectly edited and the tag c++ was removed from the question, changing the author's original intent and making my answer suddenly off-topic. Then, I assume someone went by that question and saw my now-incorrect answer and "rightfully" downvoted it.

The downvoter is not to blame in this situation: he just saw a question with a c tag, saw an answer adressing the problem in c++ and downvoted it. I don't expect anybody to check a question's edit history before voting on it. Now the question original tags have been restored, but the "damage" is done.

It's really not a big deal and this -2 won't make my day any worse: I'm merely telling this story to provide some context to my request.

I know it was often requested that one might be able to see who downvotes to have a chance to explain or fix an answer. What I'm asking here is a bit different:

Wouldn't it be useful to be able to contact the last downvoter(s) on a question or an answer (using something like @[downvoters] or @[last-downvoter] perhaps) ?

I'm not suggesting that their identity be revealed, just that one has some way of contacting them or letting them now a fix was made to the question.

In such a situation, the "summoned" downvoter might chose to answer anonymously if he wishes so (to avoid revenge-downvotes) to give a chance to the poster to fix what was wrong.

I'm only suggesting that we allow anonymous comments on questions in response to the downvoted person's protest.

Having such a way of contacting a downvoter in my situation, the following could have happened:

  • The downvoter would just have not cared and dismissed my notification.
  • The downvoter might have looked closer at the question and saw his downvote was incorrect, cancelling it.
  • He might have given another explanation of why he downvoted, possibly anonymously, giving me a chance to fix or remove the answer.

What do you think about such a feature ?

share|improve this question
Please no. I don't care to be pinged each time I downvote something. Downvotes happen. You've probably identified the reason. Roll back the incorrect edit if you want and move on. – Bart Feb 8 '13 at 8:26
That would make the whole feature rather pointless and (I would assume) largely unused. – Bart Feb 8 '13 at 8:29
No matter how you're going to construct this, I think that ultimately the whole "justification for a downvote" idea is not going to work. Those who find a need to make their reasoning clear to you will already do so. And those who don't care, won't really care when pinged either. Not to mention the not-so-polite situations it might cause. I don't really see a need for it all. Just shrug it off. As is the case with sh*t, downvotes happen. ;) – Bart Feb 8 '13 at 8:36
Another day, another suggestion that points to the same problem: you won't know why they downvoted if they don't leave a comment and even if you fix the error no one really care. I totally support you - actually I have tried to support many similar proposal in the past. What I have learned however is that many user feel like they are entitled to never explain they downvote if they don't feel like it, nor that they should really care to see if someone actually fix the answer they downvoted (or shows they are plain wrong). So I belive that most people would just ignore the message. – SPArchaeologist Feb 8 '13 at 8:39
@SPArchaeologist: Well, that is sadly right I guess. Perhaps I'm overestimating the number of users that would care about removing or explaining their downvotes. – ereOn Feb 8 '13 at 8:42
@deadly: If the question or answer was fixed recently, I believe voters can already change their vote if they wish so. They might also be allowed to do so for a short amount of time whenever they got "pinged back" by the downvoted person. – ereOn Feb 8 '13 at 8:44
I like this idea, since in this case down voter is anonymous, and the poster can get the message across. Eventually what we want is quality posts and answers, and if some poster want to improve their posters after it has been down voted, this might help them identify the problem with it. It is not about reputation, but about the quality of post, and we should give every chance to help the poster identifies what is wrong with the post at a particular moment. – Krishnabhadra Feb 8 '13 at 8:57
I can envision receiving many @Downvoter You suck! messages. Don't want those. – Bo Persson Feb 8 '13 at 9:29
@BoPersson Report them and you will see that such people will start to... just disappear... And if they are of such nature, we would only do a favor to the comunity by nuking them. – SPArchaeologist Feb 8 '13 at 9:47
@SP - I have solved the problem by not leaving comments with by downvotes (unless I recognize the poster). Much easier. – Bo Persson Feb 8 '13 at 9:50
@SP - I see you haven't been on main SO that much. Things are different there. In my experience, a lot of people don't feel a need to improve, but prefer to take any problems out on the stupid downvoter. That's why we have anonymous votes. – Bo Persson Feb 8 '13 at 10:29
@BoPersson: I agree that most of the users will just never fix anything anyway. But what for the minority that does ? – ereOn Feb 8 '13 at 10:30
@ereon - I can just feel sorry for those. I did leave comment with downvotes for the first couple of months at SO, but found it not productive. My inbox was almost always full of "Is good too, stupid downvoter!" type messages. Didn't exactly encourage me to continue. Now I try to interact with people I believe is interested in hints on improving their posts, and avoid unknown posters and those that used to fill my inbox. – Bo Persson Feb 8 '13 at 10:41
Same experience with @BoPersson. Always explained my downvotes the first couple of months, but at some point I just got tired of the impolite (and often outright offensive) responses. – Yannis Feb 8 '13 at 10:56
@SPArchaeologist Yeah, right. I'm very well aware of the process, I've handled tons of offensive flags on Programmers and suspended quite a few jerks. That's not the point though, the point is that the vast majority of people that say they'd appreciate constructive criticism on their posts are lying. Blatantly. And that's a game I'm not interested in playing, even if it means that an extremely small minority of users will have a bad experience with a misplaced downvote (or two). – Yannis Feb 8 '13 at 11:21
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Your suggestion of a ping to @[downvoters] is not a good idea for the same reasons for any message that notifies multiple users: the potential for spam, and added noise.

This suggestion seems to be aimed at a very specific situation where a question is edited and an answerer wants a voter to change a vote on their answer. In other situations it would just be noise.

(As I pointed out in the comments, this wouldn't be very useful as the voter wouldn't be able to change their vote unless the answer was also edited. You did also suggest allowing this to happen in the comments.)

I am a little more ambivalent to your other suggestion of a ping to @[last-downvoter]. Mainly it seems to be of limited use but also has the potential for abuse as it can be used to badger down-voters into some response. If they're not good "citizens" anyway, they're unlikely to pay much attention so it would not help for situations outside this one.

share|improve this answer
I think you, and the other people in the comments indeed make a very good point that the feature could be a cause for too much noise and would only benefit to a minority. Thanks for your insight. – ereOn Feb 8 '13 at 16:45
accountability is a good thing. I've seen too many examples of new users with worthwhile posts getting slammed frivolously. – Dave Alperovich Sep 6 '13 at 16:25

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