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I propose a change to the question view that makes it clear which users are downvoting an answer while supplying their own. Here is a UI mockup to illustrate my idea:

This simple fix would highlight users who are gaming the system by downvoting answers just to increase the odds of their answer being upvoted.

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(+1) considered harmful! – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 16:43
-1 simply because I don't agree. Voting is anonymous. Just because you also answer a question doesn't make your vote less anonymous. If there needs to be some back-end check to look for abusive voting patterns, that will accomplish the same thing. – Robert Cartaino Sep 8 '09 at 16:46
I would rather increase the reputation lose in downvote. Currently is 1 rep point. Probably 2 would do. – OscarRyz Sep 8 '09 at 17:08
@Oscar Reyes, 5 or even 10 point reputation loss would probably not be enough to stop strategic downvoting. See Point 2 at: The point is that quickly nocking down the top answer will increase your odds of being upvoted and therefore dramatically increase the amount of points you could potentially gain. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:30
@novatrust: While we're aware that this could be a problem, nobody has come forth with sufficient evidence to suggest this is actually occurring with any regularity. If you have such evidence, please post it. Seriously, many of us have suspected that that problem exists, but without the data to back up suspicions, it's all speculation. – ベレアー アダム Sep 8 '09 at 17:36
A pox on that wretched blog post! For all of the assertions made therein, codexon managed only a passable level of reputation, and did not appear to resort to underhanded means as a substitute for quality. If two answers are so similar, so interchangeable, or so fundamentally subjective that a single vote can mean the difference between one or the other garnering a lion's share of the up-votes, then there's really no point in worrying about it - either author could have chosen to improve their work; i don't lose any sleep over the battle between apathy and subtrifuge. – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 17:40
@Adam Bellaire: I imagine that this would be something that would be difficult to substantiate without a change such as the one I have suggested. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:46
@novatrust: actually, it would be easily possible for the SO Team to obtain this information. With full access to post and voting data, they could - and very well might already have - obtain figures on how many users vote on other answers after posting their own. That they've chosen to rely on other means for combating this is telling - see:… – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 18:09
I've read that post - and that is a good point. By making the information public, it would allow users to help police the system. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 18:18
@novatrust: So you're saying we need to change the voting system in order to get the data we need to decide whether the voting system needs to be changed? I call shenanigans. – ベレアー アダム Sep 8 '09 at 18:23
Users don't need to be "policing" the voting system. Again, it's that sort of "vigilantism" that's convinced me to leave fewer comments overall when voting, and more misleading comments when i do comment. Trust me, nothing good comes of it. – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 18:24
@Shog9 - +1 for the whole "If two answers are so similar..." point. Brilliant. I'm going to file that right next to "Bottom line: if you want to get upvotes, WRITE A GREAT ANSWER." - Jeff Atwood – Robert Cartaino Sep 8 '09 at 18:28

Downvoting is intentionally anonymous for a reason. Highlighting users who downvote a question is going to lead to even less downvoting in the future. We already have enough stuff that does NOT get downvoted due to the cost of it compared with the freebie upvotes. Adding in yet another reason to -not- downvote is just another reason that you might as well do away with it altogether.

Edit: It should also be noted that making downvoting public increases drama because now you have a target to go and revenge vote against if you ever feel slighted

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I understand. However, this only highlights users who are both a) Downvoting answers and b) Posting their own answer to the same question. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 16:37
I have no shame in my name showing up clearly next to what I downvoted, IF I have a legitimate reason to downvote something. Neither the point cost or the (proposed) downvote history would dissuade me from downvoting an answer to a question. The problem with competitive downvoting is that the point cost is not enough of a negative incentive to prevent it from happening - it's simply an investment if it results in their answer being more likely to be upvoted. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 16:46
@novatrust: And if we both post comparable answers within seconds of each other, and i up-vote yours as a gesture of good-will? Funny how no one ever complains about that... – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 16:49
Shog9: I reject your straw man comment :-) – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:19
I AM NOT MADE OF STRAW! – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 17:22


I usually don't even leave comments now when i down-vote. Why? Because some people take it waaaay too personally. I remember one particularly bad instance, where the author of a down-voted answer grilled the author of another answer in comments because he suspected him of down-voting based entirely on a slightly-critical comment. He kept it up for something like an hour, even as the second author vehemently denied it! By the time all was said and done, any value that might have been had in that comment was buried under the bitter whining and groundless accusations.

That sort of drama is far, far more harmful than a little bit of strategic down-voting.

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Thanks for your feedback. Maybe you've thought about this a lot more than I have. However, it seems to me that making downvoting public would reduce drama by preventing the very paranoid speculation that fueled the conflict outlined in your post. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 16:54
making downvoting public increases drama because now you have a target to go and revenge vote against if you ever feel slighted. – TheTXI Sep 8 '09 at 16:59
@novatrust: No, it would only make the drama queens target the people that downvoted. The drama would still be there. It would just discourage anyone to downvote as the one that are downvote prone are generally the ones that take a downvote in a bad way. – perbert Sep 8 '09 at 17:09
@TheTXI: Interesting point. Thank you. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:12
I want to know who marked me offensive!!! I'm sure it was you TheTXI! Its always you! See? I've got the feeling that if the downvotes where to be shown, the flames would make the Sun feel cold. – perbert Sep 9 '09 at 13:05

So you only want to show downvoters and not upvoters? I agree with TheTXI that it is anonymous for a reason. I do not think we should only show downvote history if this was even implemented. It would have to be a full history of voting and not just downvotes.

None the less, I do not think this will be implemented as anonymous voting was "by design".

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I agree with the general idea of anonymous voting. To clarify, I do not want all downvotes to become public, just downvotes when then user has a possible malicious reason to do so. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:00
Who are you to assume that a downvote left without a reason should throw up malicious flags? – TheTXI Sep 8 '09 at 17:08
It would be reasonable to assume that a downvote to an answer in the same question that the downvoting user posted a answer to could be potentially malicious. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:18
Or it could simply mean that I think you are wrong in your answer and I think I am right. – TheTXI Sep 8 '09 at 17:19
I agree, but in that case would you mind seeing your name next to post that you downvoted? Maybe you would be more likely to leave a comment to explain why you legitimately disagree with the other answer. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:26
No I would not want to see my name associated with it. That opens me up for revenge voting. I also do not feel that I should have to explain myself to someone when voting them down. – TheTXI Sep 8 '09 at 17:28
@TheTXI: I can't contest your point. You obviously know the audience of these websites very well and I have to trust your assertion that users underhandedly seeking revenge would be a significant problem. – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:51
Just ask any of the mods about revengeful downvoting just from closing questions. This would increase further if your idea was put in place. You even mention "possible malicious reason". How can we say it was? I don't see how we can "... to become public, just downvotes when then user has a possible malicious reason to do so." – Troggy Sep 8 '09 at 17:56
@Troggy: The important part is that this would leave a auditable trail of potential abuse. This way, users who repeatedly engage in this behavior can be easily identified by you and me (and then moderators can be made aware if it does in fact look malicious). – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 18:09
@novatrust: there is a surprisingly large number of users who consider any down-vote to be "malicious". Even down-votes on worthless or incorrect answers. No, i'm not kidding. See also: sympathy votes. – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 18:35

Déjà vu?

Most of the time, if you are downvoted for a legitimate reason, that reason should either be readily apparent or will become so as more answers/comments arrive. At least, I've found that to be the case. I can then delete my answer, or make it CW if I think for some reason it is still useful despite being wrong.

Sometimes you aren't downvoted for a legitimate reason, and you can usually tell as these are one-off votes that aren't echoed by others. So what? It's 2 rep. If you're lucky, someone else will see that you didn't deserve the downvote and give you a pity upvote you wouldn't have otherwise gotten. +8 for you. IMHO, it's not a big enough deal enough to warrant sacrificing the integrity of the anonymous system.

I understand that often people who propose this say that it isn't about the rep. While you might prefer to know who downvoted you, or for what reasons, the community is invested in the anonymous voting process. I think that you'd have to show that the system is badly broken in order to make this fundamental change.

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Absolutely right, it's only 2 rep. However, the purpose of strategic downvoting is to take away any initial advantage of having upvotes early on in a question (which greatly increases your chances of being further upvoted). That 2 rep snowballs into a loss of votes you would have otherwise received. See: – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 17:24
@novatrust: If that type of activity becomes the norm, then the system will be badly broken and something will need to be done. However, I have not seen enough evidence yet to know whether this is the case. – ベレアー アダム Sep 8 '09 at 17:33

I like the idea provided that the user supplied an answer to the question and could opt-in to providing his/her name.

Where I don't like the idea is that I don't see it getting used frequently enough to actually be developed...

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