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Consensus seems to be that comments addressing downvoters, or complaining about downvotes, or asking for explanation of downvotes, are useless:

@Downvoter sends a notification to all downvoters for your post
Is it ever appropriate to question a downvote?

Can we have one-flag deletion of comments on SO (not Meta), like we have/had for accept rate comments, that contain the word "downvote" in some form? "@downvoter", "why downvotes?", "please explain downvote", etc.

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brb, changing my username to downvoter just to screw this up. –  Yannis Apr 5 '13 at 19:21
    
That's only an issue if someone decided to flag an otherwise-meaningful comment that addressed someone with the handle "Downvoter", Yannis. How often is that likely to happen? It would be only minor collateral damage to what's generally supposed to be a transitory piece of information anyways. –  Josh Caswell Apr 5 '13 at 19:23
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@JoshCaswell: "How often is that likely to happen?" I don't know. But if your suggestion went through... I could do it right now to your comment without anything to stop me. This is way too susceptible to abuse. We don't have any one-flag deletion critera right now for comments. And that's good. –  Nicol Bolas Apr 6 '13 at 7:07
    
@NicolBolas: We do, in fact: meta.stackexchange.com/a/121226 and have in the past for the string "accept". –  Josh Caswell Apr 6 '13 at 7:28
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@JoshCaswell: Wow, that's even stupider than your idea and I wasn't sure that was possible. That's talking about a word that is in common usage, perfectly valid for use in any number of perfectly legitimate comments. Jesus Christ, the "delete all comments that I personally don't like" mentality on MSO is really out of hand. –  Nicol Bolas Apr 6 '13 at 7:35
    
@Nicol: Well, the discussion about whether these comments are worth keeping has been had, a few times. You're fuming in the wrong place for that part of it. My feature request is just to stop passing this one cleanup job to moderators, as we did when accept rate comments were common. –  Josh Caswell Apr 6 '13 at 7:45
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@JoshCaswell: This discussion is not about whether they are worth keeping. This discussion is about whether they are worth one vote deleting. That's an entirely different discussion. In my mind, giving random people one-vote-deletion power for anything, no matter how pernicious, is always a bad thing. –  Nicol Bolas Apr 6 '13 at 8:03
    
@NicolBolas: «This discussion is not about whether they are worth keeping.» Well, we agree there at least. –  Josh Caswell Apr 6 '13 at 8:10
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2 Answers 2

I don't see @downvoter comments as being so pervasive, or so disruptive, that we need insta-nuke abilities for them. If a particular comment is being disruptive it can be flagged and/or ignored and a mod can nuke it eventually.

This is in contrast to say, "why u haz 0% accept rate?!" comments that were getting completely out of hand in terms of volume, and were being highly disruptive to people asking questions, so adding the ability for non-mods to insta-nuke them helped a lot.

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They're 100% noise wherever they appear; if regular users can handle them without it having to be kicked up to the diamonds, why would we not do that? –  Josh Caswell Apr 5 '13 at 19:28
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@JoshCaswell They're not 100% noise. They are a way of signaling that the person is not aware of any problems with their post that would warrant a downvote, as opposed to someone who recognized why others would downvote and either disagrees with the downvote or intends to fix it. It is a way of opening up a discussion. That said, the most common results are either 1) no discussion ends up happening anyway or 2) a non-constructive discussion ensues. Option 3 of "a constructive discussion ensues" is possible, but much less common. –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 19:30
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@JoshCaswell As for "why would we not add this", we would not add it because it could potentially result in comments a mod wouldn't delete being deleted, possibly because an entirely constructive comment contains the word downvoter in it (say, this comment, for example). –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 19:31
    
@Servy: I think it's safe to say that the poster doesn't know what's wrong with their post without seeing that they are making that statement. If they saw there was a problem, they wouldn't have posted it. –  Chris Lively Apr 5 '13 at 19:32
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They are a waste of time...not a good chance the downvoter is still around after the downvote. –  staticx Apr 5 '13 at 19:33
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@ChrisLively No, I disagree. For example, there is a downvote on this post, but even without you commenting I could understand perfectly how someone could disagree with it and choose to downvote it. –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 19:33
    
«As for "why would we not add this", we would not add it because it could potentially result in comments a mod wouldn't delete being deleted,» See my reply to Yannis. –  Josh Caswell Apr 5 '13 at 19:33
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@0A0D Well, sometimes they are still around, if they're not, the next person to come along intending to downvote might explain, or someone who sees a problem with the post (even if they didn't downvote) could post a comment with a suggested improvement. –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 19:34
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@JoshCaswell Again, when proposing a feature the question is not, "why should this feature not be implemented", the question is, "why should this feature be implemented". The primary point of my answer is stating that it is not worth the time/effort to add it, because it's simply not a problem. Yes, the problems caused by implementing this would be small, but so would the benefits. The value added just isn't there. –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 19:36
    
@Servy: Downvotes on meta are fundamentally different than ones on SO. On meta a downvote indicates disagreement. On SO it might indicate disagreement or it might indicate that the solution/question is BS. Interestingly, I didn't downvote your suggestion here. I actually upvoted it because I agree with your premise; I just think your comment towards Josh afterwards is wrong. –  Chris Lively Apr 5 '13 at 19:42
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@ChrisLively the same general logic can apply to SO though. I've had posts that I knew were correct, but also knew that the answer was in some way controversial, or commonly misunderstood by others, and that it may get some downvotes despite being correct. It's not super common, but it happens. There is also the case where the author recognizes the error in the post only after the downvote (as a result of re-reading their post, the question, other answers, doing research, etc.) and fixes the post. At that point a correct post will have a downvote, but the author will still understand it. –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 19:46
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+1 - asking this question often encourages other helpful feedback, even if the original downvoter isn't around, e.g. "I didn't downvote, but you have incorrectly used Foo() inside a static Baz." –  Tim Medora Apr 5 '13 at 19:59
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I delete these comments all the time and flag them on places I can't delete them. They're almost always noise, and they're exclusively noise after someone's said something. –  Ben Brocka Apr 5 '13 at 20:07
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@Servy: I typically won't comment because then the answerer gets defensive. Rarely do they not get defensive. This isn't just my sentiment, it's others too. –  staticx Apr 5 '13 at 20:49
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@0A0D Yep, see this comment. It's quite common for discussions to result from such comments. They're often not constructive, but you asserted that they don't happen. –  Servy Apr 5 '13 at 20:51
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The focus of earlier discussions was direct communication with downvoters either by being able to @-notify them, or forcing them to leave comments. (Both of which have been soundly, repeatedly rejected.) Beware of the badness of those suggestions bleeding into @downvoter comment discussions.

Mere @downvoter comments can be bad, as Shog notes, but they can also be very good. There's a big difference between a downvoted post that's abandoned and one that suggests the poster wants to learn and improve. I'd hate to lose good, constructive @downvote comments like

@downvoter(s) Do you have any suggestions as to what I might want to consider changing?

just because some people make unproductive comments.

Just as making accept rate visible led to a scourge of "Why you no accept?!" comments, I worry that making @downvoter comments insta-deletable will lead to all of them being shot on sight regardless of how constructive they are.

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