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Encouraging people to explain down-votes

Hi ,

Over in the programming land of SO I have become active in the tags related to VB.Net and Android.

I find the relationships between VOTING and REPUTATION and COMMENTING, although algorithmic, are betrayed by the human aspects.

As we all know sometimes the OP's question leaves plenty of room for interpretation in as much as unless specific code is presented sometimes we have to guess at what is actually trying to be accomplished versus what is being asked --- particularly if the OP is new to the language (the programming language that is.)

So after 30 yrs of writing software for a living I think I understand some subtleties regarding various programming techniques. And in my answers I generally explain why I am making the suggestions that I do. And then someone who is, shall we say, lesser-experienced; decides that my suggestions is an affront to the entire programming community and clicks his DOWN VOTE.

If you're lucky you may get an explanation to the vote --- and in one case this occurred to me and so I went on to further explain the reasoning behind my suggestion. In the course of a few COMMENTS between me and the DownVoter, he comes to see the light and dramatically illustrates that he has considerably LESS understanding of the some of those subtleties I hinted at above. In fact he's making PIKER errors.

The DOWN VOTE Balloon-Tip describes the reasoning for using this mechanism and it seems to me that those reasons are used a little less than we all, perhaps, think.

I think that if a DOWN VOTE had to be accompanied by a reason or comment then its use might become less frivolous and there might be a means to institute a "review" by some higher SO authority who could help determine if the Vote was deserved or not (and reversed.)

It seems to me that if the basic premise of the SO over other developers sights is the added citations (reputation, badges, etc) then we should be careful about how they can be manipulated.

Do you agree?

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marked as duplicate by ChrisF, balpha, random, John Saunders, perbert Mar 31 '10 at 14:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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Say that all again, but do it in one sentence. –  random Mar 31 '10 at 12:36
    
I'm not sure what are the key words in your message. Can you emphasize them? –  Gnoupi Mar 31 '10 at 12:37
8  
@ran, "I don't like being downvoted, it hurts my ego" –  jmfsg Mar 31 '10 at 12:55
2  
You may be taking the number UNDER YOUR name a bit too seriously. –  David Mar 31 '10 at 13:22

2 Answers 2

So after 30 yrs of writing software for a living I think I understand some subtleties regarding various programming techniques. And in my answers I generally explain why I am making the suggestions that I do.

This is great! We are glad to have another experienced member of the community, and you're well on your way to providing quality answers to questions using this approach.

And then someone who is, shall we say, lesser-experienced; decides that my suggestions is an affront to the entire programming community and clicks his DOWN VOTE.

This is a privilege granted by the site. If you have enough rep, you are allowed to downvote, whether or not you are familiar with the subject or not.

I think that if a DOWN VOTE had to be accompanied by a reason or comment then its use might become less frivolous ...

This is a legitimate issue, which has already been discussed ad nauseum and declined for a number of reasons.

and there might be a means to institute a "review" by some higher SO authority who could help determine if the Vote was deserved or not (and reversed.)

Reviewed by whom? The expert on the subject is you (the community).

If you put an answer out there that is correct, yet people don't understand, there's nothing you can do about that. It's simply a case of not speaking to your audience. However, generally speaking, if you give a good explanation of why you took a certain approach, that gives a good opportunity for everyone to see the logic behind your reasoning.

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I was going to edit out the duplicate "affront", but apparently it's a figment of my (or my browser's) imagination. –  mmyers Mar 31 '10 at 14:40

There are cases where the system can and does remove down votes (and up votes, for that matter) automatically. If the system detects that you've been systematically down voted (or up voted) by another user, those votes will get removed by the script and their effects reversed.

What you seem to be after, though, is selective disenfranchisement. That is, that "knowledgeable" people have votes that can trump those of people who are "clueless". To me, that's a very dangerous road to go down and antithetical to the premise of the site, which I would characterize as a "wisdom of the crowds" approach, albeit with self-identified "experts."

The point of SO is that all of us know better than any one of us. It may be the case that some truly clueless (or merely careless) person will downvote a correct answer, but as a whole on SO, correct answers rise to the top because all of us are both more powerful and more knowledgeable than any particular one of us. As I mentioned before, the system has rules and practices that minimize and mitigate fraudulent activity so generally you can trust that the votes on an answer roughly reflect the community's knowledge.

The question really becomes how do you respond when the community disagrees with you. My response is to evaluate my perspective. Seven times out of 10 I find that I've made a fundamental error in understanding the problem that makes my answer inappropriate. The rest of the time either I'm just plain wrong or I don't have an explanation for why someone would disagree. If I get more than 2 down votes, though, I'm almost invariably wrong in some way -- in my understanding, my answer, or my presentation.

One thing you may want to consider: how would you feel/react if your suggestion was implemented and the arbiter agreed with the down voter instead of you? Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

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