What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 128 Stack Exchange communities.

Recently I had a bad experience on workplace.stackexchange.com where my answer got a couple of up, but in total more down-votes. Personally I think this is not because my answer is bad, but due to the fact I have a different perspective on the situation. The down-votes are from people who apparently deeply disagree with me and use it to express their opinion.

The original poster at one time accepted my answer, but after it started getting down-votes changed it to the one with the most votes. Maybe he changed his mind or buckled under the peer pressure.

I love to help and express my experiences. I do not care about the point system, but I do want to be a happy StackExchange user, and the down-vote commenting made me pretty frustrated. I felt like “I do not want to express my-self anymore and leave and hide”.

The down-vote system suggests you leave a comment to help the answer to be improved. When someone leaves a relative negative comment I have an urge to defend my-self and explain why I think my answer makes sense. This lead to frustration on both sides and resulted in a little flamewar, which would be far better suited for IRC or a forum.

This all leads to my question: Is the down-vote system really necessary, or can we just eliminate it?

Reasoning and or suggestions for improving the down-vote system:

  • StackExchange tries to discourage answers based on opinions, but voting is primarily used for this on some StackExchange sites.
  • Up-voting differentiates enough between good and worse answers and is much more positive
  • If an answer or question is really unacceptable you can flag it and it gets moderated
  • Increase the reputation cost of down-voting based on the user base-size and average reputation, to prevent people from down-voting just because they disagree
  • Does the down-vote system solve a problem which cannot already be tackled other-wise

Related posts:

share|improve this question
10  
No, you cannot flag a post and as for it to be moderated just because it's wrong or otherwise a bad answer to the question. These should and generally are rejected every single time. This is exactly what downvotes are there for, and why you can't remove them. Too many people already don't downvote enough; the -1 penalty is already a very strong deterrent. Increasing it would only serve to have lots more bad answers not properly labeled as such. –  Servy Jul 21 at 20:56
8  
I don't see how this same exact argument couldn't be made to remove upvotes as well. –  Doorknob Jul 21 at 20:59
    
@Doorknob They are positive and not negative. :) –  Niels van Reijmersdal Jul 21 at 21:01
3  
By the same logic, everything should be automatically closed and there should only be a reopen button, because reopening is positive! Yaaaay! happy rainbow –  Doorknob Jul 21 at 21:03
    
@Doorknob Clearly what you've forgotten is that SE is a place to collect as many Imaginary Internet Points as possible, not to be a place to find the best answers to quality questions. –  Servy Jul 21 at 21:03
    
@Servy You are right. Moderation is not for bad answers, therefor I removed the "bad answers" part from the moderation reasoning. I guess I just struggle with the negativity of down-votes and the resulting comments. –  Niels van Reijmersdal Jul 21 at 21:08
5  
It would be good to remember that downvotes aren't meant as personal attacks on a user, but rather judgments of answer content. In this case, they mean exactly what you said they mean: that someone disagreed with your perspective in the answer. There's no reason to take that personally. –  David Robinson Jul 21 at 21:13
    
Having said that, some of the comments on your answer do border on obnoxious and unconstructive (such as the one that quotes you and follows it with "blah blah blah...") The correct approach isn't to get rid of downvotes (it's not like that would stop people from commenting- if anything, it might make commenting more harsh to "make up" for the lack of downvoting!), it's to flag comments. If the entire comment thread is a "flamewar" as you say, you can flag the post and explain that in a custom reason. If a moderator agrees he may delete some or all of the comment thread –  David Robinson Jul 21 at 21:40
    
@DavidRobinson Thanks, there is indeed no reason to take it personally and I have to accept that some people just disagree with me. Which is fine actually. –  Niels van Reijmersdal Jul 21 at 21:41

3 Answers 3

"The down-votes are from people who apparently deeply disagree with me and use it to express their opinion."

Whoa! You just described meta! :D

...yeah.

StackExchange tries to discourage answers based on opinions, but voting is primarily used for this on some StackExchange sites.

Yeah, so? What's wrong with opinion-based voting? There's no other kind of voting and removing voting definitely won't help.

Up-voting differentiates enough between good and worse answers and is much more positive

Downvoting differentiates better between good and worse answers and over-positivity is harmful

If an answer or question is really unacceptable you can flag it and it gets moderated

Oh, so waste the moderators time with subjective flags? Not a solution. Moderators do not evaluate the technical accuracy of content, let alone whether you think a post is "good" or "bad". Just no.

Increase the reputation cost of down-voting based on the user base-size and average reputation, to prevent people from down-voting just because they disagree

Downvoting costs 1 rep and subtracts 2 rep. A lot of people think that's a lot now, in the end if you disagree strongly you're going to vote. Preventing downvote unless you disagree really strongly won't help with anything.

Does the down-vote system solve a problem which cannot already be tackled other-wise

I dunno, do you have a better solution?

share|improve this answer

I think that the voting system it's fine as it is. The problem is that you can't hope for a size-fits-all solution (and due the scope of SE, they be managed to do so) to allow content to be sanctioned by users objectively in a myriad of situations where they may not be applicable. The Workplace.SE is one of these cases, at least on part.

The question (and I haven't look at it) may be asking only for opinions about what to do / what should be done / how / etc. rather than hard facts or probed expertise or maybe your answer doesn't gave the impression of being one. I don't know. But what I do know is that rather than just removing the system, instead focus where it shines, commit yourself to provide answers or sharing your expertise in topics where you can only be "right or wrong", instead of "we agree or disagree", which is called the technical answer.

If you are technically correct I assure you that the amount of downvotes from people that considers your are wrong will be because they think your are wrong instead of your disagreeing with your point of view.

share|improve this answer

For one thing, I don't see how this same exact argument couldn't be made to remove upvotes as well.

the down-vote commenting made me pretty frustrated. I felt like “I do not want to express my-self anymore and leave and hide”.

Votes shouldn't be taken personally. They're just a sign that some random person on the internet thought your answer was incorrect.

If an answer or question is really unacceptable you can flag it and it gets moderated

But what if it's just wrong? Do you really expect every single correct answer (including those of mediocre quality) to be upvoted a few times? Downvoting differentiates between meh and wrong.

Does the down-vote system solve a problem which cannot already be tackled other-wise

Yes. It signifies post that are of low quality. (It also drives the question/answer banning algorithm, but that's less important.) If downvotes didn't exist, you wouldn't know at this very moment that people disagreed with your post. If downvotes were gone, there would be no way to express the fact that someone's question doesn't show enough research effort, or that someone's answer is wrong.


In any case, just because you got downvoted a few times doesn't mean the entire system has to be removed. The system works as designed 99.999% of the time, and I suspect it did this time as well (as people thought your answer was wrong). Downvotes are a central part of the voting system, of Stack Exchange, and they're not going anywhere any time soon.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

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