Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

It seems to me that down-voting is the one process in Stack Overflow that is not really subject to review. While many would argue that the current methods for managing down-votes are adequate, I do not feel that they competently ensure a checks-and-balances approach to the use of down-votes. The following arguments summarize why I think the current down-vote policy is not as effective as what reviewing could provide:

  1. There is no real check against down-voting a question regardless of the whether the down-vote was deserved. Any user can down-vote a post without explanation and without assessment.

  2. The -1 penalty for down-voting an answer may provide incentive to not recklessly down-vote, but having a reviewer apply a penalty for a unjust down-vote would seem far more appropriate. Additionally, this would allow answers that are obviously inappropriate to be down-voted without penalty to the reviewer.

While I believe the format of Stack Overflow should not be flippantly changed without due thought, I believe this issue is one of the few areas in which the topic of alternative solutions should at least be addressed. I know reviewing down-votes may be a hefty task (as they happen so frequently) but we certainly have the user base to accomplish such a task. What'cha think?

share|improve this question
Yup, anyone can downvote a question because that is what is needed to keep the signal-to-noise ratio up. Questions are removed from the homepage, so that others don't have to deal with a low-quality question after the first few downvotes. – Martijn Pieters Mar 17 '13 at 21:19
Votes are anonymous, and will remain so. We don't want retaliation against normal voting patterns. – Martijn Pieters Mar 17 '13 at 21:21
And how would you determine if a downvote is "unjust"? And don't say "the downvoter should leave a comment explaining the vote", because that won't go over well. (It has been discussed to death). – Bart Mar 17 '13 at 21:21
Did you review the many ways people have proposed downvoting should be addressed here on Meta first? We have discussed this to death in so many different ways already. – Martijn Pieters Mar 17 '13 at 21:22
But then, at the very least, isn't the SNR distorted by the -1 penalty for down-voting an answer? (as up-voting an answer is not subject to review or direct action) – Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Mar 17 '13 at 21:23
So much crud gets through and upvoted all the time that I think there should be some mechanism to curb undeserved upvotes instead... – Juhana Mar 17 '13 at 21:25
I am not exactly sure what you think this will accomplish. Voting both up/down are anonymous and there is no point to a review queue to monitor downvotes. Who will determine whether the votes are unjust? – bluefeet Mar 17 '13 at 21:28
@SirDigbyChickenCaesar Why though? What problem is there currently? And what proof do you have that it's a significant problem? – Bart Mar 17 '13 at 21:29
All other objections aside, this will never happen simply because reviews would never be able to keep up with the rate at which downvotes occur. We're struggling to make a noticeable impact on the close votes queue, and I imagine (I don't have statistics handy) that close votes are much less frequent than downvotes - if we can't even make progress on close votes, how are we going to keep up with the downvotes? This simply isn't feasible, even if it were desirable (which is clearly debatable). – Mac Mar 17 '13 at 21:31
@SirDigbyChickenCaesar: Questions on the other hand are not ranked by votes. They are ranked by newness (recent activity, just posted, etc.) and are visible on tons of pages. – Martijn Pieters Mar 17 '13 at 21:31
@SirDigbyChickenCaesar I think you are asking to add complexity to a problem that does not exist in the first place. Do you have any examples that can demonstrate a problem? – bluefeet Mar 17 '13 at 21:33
@SirDigbyChickenCaesar: and one of the reasons votes are anonymous is because we do not want retaliation. A review that penalizes downvotes is retaliation by another human, conducted anonymously or not. We have automated systems to keep abuse in check, normal votes are working fine, unless you can come up with counter proof, I do not see a problem with downvoting. – Martijn Pieters Mar 17 '13 at 21:35
Fun Fact: You can review a downvote by casting your own vote. If you agree with the downvote, add your own or do nothing. If you disagree with the downvote, nobody will stop you from casting an upvote to cancel out the downvote. – Mysticial Mar 17 '13 at 21:40
@Mysticial An upvote because you think it deserves an upvote, I hope. Keep in mind that upvotes have a higher weight (in rep) than downvotes. So sympathy upvotes are best avoided IMO. (Though I'm assuming you're not suggesting otherwise). – Bart Mar 17 '13 at 21:42
@Bart Well yeah. I wasn't recommending it - hence the "nobody will stop you". (Or rather nobody aside from a moderator can stop you from casting an upvote.) – Mysticial Mar 17 '13 at 21:48
up vote 11 down vote accepted

No, I see absolutely no need to add a review queue for downvotes.

Questions are not the same thing as answers. They are far more visibile, and unlike answers, we cannot make good questions float to the top by voting them up, like we can do with answers. Bad answers only pollute one page, the question page, but bad questions pollute tons of pages. All we can do is downvote and vote-to-close to keep bad quality questions off those pages.

Voting is also kept anonymous for a reason, and for questions, without penalty. If we were to review downvotes on questions, you would add the possibility of a penalty against downvotes back into the system, and we'd instantly loose this valuable tool to keep the signal-to-noise ratio at a decent level on Stack Overflow.

This is quite apart from the infeasibility of such a review system. Voting is enormously proficient on the Stack Exchange sites, it is a fundamental core feature. Votes are much more prevalent than closing votes, and we are already struggling to keep up with those in the review queue. It'd be neigh impossible to review each and every question downvote as well, and I doubt that we could even filter by minimum number of downvotes either.

Last but not least, you've failed to make a case as to wether or not there even is a problem. You have not given any statistics, examples or otherwise built a reasonable case that too many good questions are getting too many downvotes.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .