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I believe down voting answers is an important task for helping good answers to stand out. Since down votes carries also a reputation penalty, I believe that people doing lots of down-votes should get more badges. At least to compensate their sacrifice.

Do you think this type of people should at least get more badges?

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Lots of downvotes like this user 5640? –  YOU May 17 '10 at 16:34
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Eh I have mixed feelings. On one end I don't want to encourage inappropriate downvotes, but on the other downvoting is something rarely done and an important task. –  Earlz May 17 '10 at 16:35
    
@Earlz That is exactly my point. Downvotes are important too, but except for the "Critic" badge there is nothing else to promote it. I thought that mixing more badgages with the downvote penalty would be a great solution to promote more good downvotes. The sacrifice of one owns reputation seems to deserve a badge –  SystematicFrank May 17 '10 at 16:45
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-1: I don't see any reason to promote down-voting. –  IAbstract May 17 '10 at 16:46
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@S.Mark: you point that out as if downvoting were evil. It is not. –  perbert May 17 '10 at 16:49
    
I was not as clear as I should have been: I don't see any reason to further promote down-voting. –  IAbstract May 17 '10 at 17:00
    
I was told to leave a comment for the downvote. Does that get me my medal faster? –  Georg Fritzsche May 17 '10 at 19:07
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No, "this type of user" shouldn't get more badges just because they downvoted. There is already too much "dogpiling" where someone who has a few downvotes gets a lot more - just because they got some down votes. A herd mentality sort of thing. –  Tangurena May 21 '10 at 1:55
    
@Tangurena but downvoting causes them loosing even more reputation, and this -2 rep isn't really as big burden. –  РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ Feb 3 '11 at 11:32

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think this wouldn't be too bad an idea if the badge were awarded for downvoting and commenting on the same posts. Adding this badge would be a step towards reducing the number of anonymous downvotes on the trilogy sites and would be rewarding for the users kind enough to explain why they downvoted the post in the first place.

I try to leave comments as much as possible if I downvote, I don't leave a comment if one has been left already, or if it's a blatant spam post or whatever -- so it should probably be percentage based (like 80% of 1000 downvotes were left with comments). I think it would be nice to encourage that sort of behaviour.

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It's entirely possible for people to earn this kind of badge without ever actually explaining their downvotes. As well, it may result in posts that have a lot of downvotes all ending up with one-liner comments which all mean just the same thing. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 18:06
    
@ccornet: but that would be kind of obvious. For instance, if I had a downvote and a comment that said "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", I'd know why, and so would anyone else with half a brain so anonymity is still lost which is the point, only the commenter would likely lose some respect too. –  Andy E May 17 '10 at 18:44
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Suppose I downvoted this post, then proceeded to comment "No matter how many times I see that image, I can't stop laughing about it." Would you, as a person, be able to tell that the downvote and the comment were from the same person? –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 19:06
    
@ccornet I think that if the downvote has upvotes... seems complicated but I believe it would be the right thing –  SystematicFrank May 17 '10 at 19:22
    
@ccornet: Sure, you can't always tell but exactly how often do you think a positive comment would be left with a downvote? You could even go as far as checking the comment for "-1" (that doesn't have other digits and mathematical operators on either side, before you say anything ;-)). I just think it would be great to see a badge that discouraged anonymous downvoting. By the time people earned the badge, there's a chance they'd be in the habit of providing constructive criticism with their downvote and the trilogy sites would be a better place. –  Andy E May 17 '10 at 20:12
    
Checking for -1 doesn't help the people who don't preface their downvote explanations with -1 (like I do ♪) I'm actually more concerned about comment-flooding than about crafty commenting. However, you do have a good point: with a requirement as hefty as 1000 downvotes, or even just 600 as with Electorate/Aarobot's suggestion, having so many comments will probably encourage the user to actually give useful comments over time. After all, completely worthless comments will be erased as spam and the user will never reach the required threshold. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 20:25
    
@ccornet: didn't think about the spam comments being erased, that is a good point. 600 or 1000 downvotes equals -600 or -1000 rep too, so I think you'd weed out most users trying to "game" the badge because they either wouldn't have enough rep or wouldn't want to waste it. –  Andy E May 17 '10 at 21:40

Wouldn't that send a mixed message?

We're taking away a point to discourage too much downvoting, but here's a badge for all the downvoting you've been doing.

I agree that downvoting is an important component of the site, and it's a valid way to express your disapproval. However, I think there's a very delicate balance between encouraging it and discouraging it. I don't think we want to do too much of either.

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+1 because mixed messages are a good thing. –  mmyers May 17 '10 at 16:51
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@mmyers: Wait, what are you sayi.... Oh, I see what you did there. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 16:55
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I think the balance is already way out of whack, considering that downvotes cost reputation, upvotes are free, and several badges (including one gold) incentivize casting hundreds of votes bound only by the per-day vote limit. The skew is especially apparent with question votes; I'm looking at the front page now and don't see a single downvoted question. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 18:08
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@Aarobot: Not seeing any downvoted questions on the front page is fine. Do you see any that should be downvoted is the real test. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 18:25
    
@Bill: Absolutely, I saw a few of them half an hour ago when I left the comment, and I think you can find at least 2 or 3 extremely poor questions on the front page at any given time. They're in the minority, certainly - but that's the point. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 18:43
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@Aarobot: Maybe people downvote questions less because there are other choices? I'm much more likely to leave a comment, edit, or vote to close a question. With all of those options, downvoting a question seems pointless. Answers, on the other hand, can simply be wrong. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 18:54
    
@Bill: You can leave a comment on a wrong answer, too. Many users will even delete their answers afterward. Your answer says that downvotes are important but your comments suggest that you perceive them as evil/unconstructive, a last-resort option, which I think is exactly what the author of this question does not agree with (and neither do I). Answers can be wrong, and questions can be indecipherable nonsense. Same thing, to me. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 18:59
    
@Aarobot: But you can't close an answer. With an extra option on the table, downvoting does get bumped down a spot. I never said that downvotes were evil/unconstructive, I said they're pointless on questions when there are so many other things we can do. Indecipherable nonsense will be quickly removed, so I don't see the point in downvoting it. I don't care about the rep, or the score of the question. It's going to go away. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 19:10
    
@Bill: Closing is vilified even more than downvoting, and closed questions tend to get reopened by the same sorts of people who mass-upvote. And if they don't get reopened, it prevents the person from getting an answer (which we shouldn't deny them, even if their question was poorly-constructed). When you say that they're "pointless...when there are so many other things we can do", that implies that those other options are better somehow; why is that? –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 19:29
    
    
@Aarobot: Yes, those other options are better. If a question is incomprehensible, the correct thing to do is remove it from the site or improve it to the point of comprehensibility. There's no point in leaving it around to collect downvotes and take up space. Votes are capped. Why would you waste a vote (up or down) on a question that's going to get "voted off the island" soon? –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 19:55
    
@Aarobot: Now that I think about it, though, if you run out of close votes, downvoting a question seems more reasonable. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 19:57
    
@Bill: All reasonable points. Two more things to consider: (1) far more people can downvote than vote to close, and (2) downvotes are reversible after an edit, close votes are not. Questions can be reopened, but if the question is obscure then it may be harder to get it reopened vs. recover from a few downvotes (i.e. because more users can upvote than vote to reopen.) –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 20:11
    
@Aarobot: Those are all good points. Maybe I should spend some time on SU and SF. I seem to be thinking like someone who can open and close questions at will. :) –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 20:20

I think that most trilogy users, as concerned citizens, will downvote or at least comment on wrong or misleading answers. That part of the system works.

However, very few people seem willing to downvote questions. As I mentioned in another comment, at the time of writing, there is not one single downvoted question on the front page, but at least 3 questions with moderate views, vague/useless titles and unclear content.

It's not hard to see why question downvotes are so rare. Consider the following:

  • Downvotes cost (a small amount of) reputation;

  • Question downvotes don't directly benefit anyone; they look and feel mean-spirited, even though they do benefit the community as a whole by enforcing quality standards.

  • Cretinous random/pity upvotes prevent all but the worst questions from staying below 0;

  • Various badges reward mass voting (which, taking the above into account, always translates into mass upvoting.

Overall, in the long haul, I think the system cheapens upvotes and reputation, because they become so easy to gain by asking a lot of poor/mediocre questions. This problem has been partially fixed by lowering the rep gain from question upvotes, but that's only half the equation; without at least some downvotes to balance out those upvotes, we're only delaying the inevitable.

So here is my totally insane suggestion:

Split up the Electorate badge.

People want balance between upvote and downvote incentives. This achieves that; there's still an incentive to upvote good questions, but there's an additional incentive to downvote bad ones. And the duality mirrors the Supporter/Critic pair of badges.

I'd call it the kamikaze badge, since posting that many downvotes would translate to a major rep hit.

Think about this. 600 downvotes translates to 600 lost rep points, which I honestly think is way more than anybody is willing to spend randomly downvoting questions. Unlike upvotes, downvotes still have a cost, and I, for one, enjoy the comfort of knowing that my internet dollars were well-spent.

And in case some of you in the 10k range haven't noticed, there are several instances of presumably lower-rep users abusing the flagging system because flags are free and downvotes aren't. This question was absolute garbage, but it is not spam! Instead of giving these people an incentive to misuse the flags, give them a reason to downvote instead.

If people still think this seems like too much of an incentive for inappropriate downvotes, then don't require as many downvotes for that badge. Keep it at 600 for Electorate but make it 200 for Kamikaze. That sends a clear message that upvoting is preferable to downvoting but that downvotes are still an important aspect of the site.

That's my take on it anyway. Bring on the downvotes for this answer. ;)

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Downvoted questions don't appear on the front page by design. –  perbert May 17 '10 at 19:03
    
@voyager: Fair enough, but it takes several downvotes to punt them off, and I don't see any on the "questions" page either. So it's not like I'm just not seeing them; I know for a fact that they simply aren't there. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 19:05
    
@aarobot: right now, I only see one on page two. I agree that there is not enough downvoting going on. –  perbert May 17 '10 at 19:10
    
I've seen 3 downvoted questions on the front page since you've posted this, but I can't really say this question and its responses haven't influenced anyone's voting. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 19:13
    
@Bill: I don't see any right now, maybe they've disappeared or been punted or been pity-upvoted back to zero. Consider also that several of the questions that appear to be downvoted are actually flagged (often inappropriately). I'm not sure if the diamond gives you additional insight into that; it would be interesting to know how many question downvotes are actually flags (I'd guess 10% or more). –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 19:36
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"600 downvotes translates to 600 lost rep points, which I honestly think is way more than anybody is willing to spend randomly downvoting questions." This is actually a pretty solid point. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 19:58
    
Regarding the linked question, it's spam as in unsolicited and offensive as in do your own exam... –  perbert May 17 '10 at 20:22
    
@Bill: Given the whopper rep cost attached, it'd be a Gold badge yes? –  Donal Fellows May 17 '10 at 20:28
    
@Donal: Badge color is normally (but not always) tied to how difficult a badge is to attain. If you made this one gold, I wonder how many people would just randomly spend all their votes every day trying to get it, just so they could get a gold badge. –  Bill the Lizard May 17 '10 at 20:40
    
@Bill and @Donal - I always felt that Electorate should be silver, and Civic Duty should be bronze, but they're all a bit inflated because of the very-easy-to-obtain Critic and Supporter badges. So maybe don't literally split the Electorate badge, just introduce two silver badges for something like 1000 upvotes and 1000 downvotes (we'll call the upvote badge Yes-Man or Brown-Noser :p) –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 20:45
    
@voyager: What's that crackling sound? Is that a hair splitting? –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 20:47
    
@Aarobot: If it is Brown-Noser then it ought to be bronze. Just for the best color match… –  Donal Fellows May 18 '10 at 9:41

On the one hand, promoting people to properly downvote is a good idea. But there is no additional reward for upvoting past "Supporter". Which means that we would end up promoting downvoting more than we do upvoting, the hungry-badgers will do their best to cast only downvotes (and possibly not properly as a consequence) so that they get those badges on their way to getting things like Civic Duty. I think an emphasis should be made on a good balance of upvotes and downvotes. Not that they have to be in harmonious counts, but that you should upvote useful things and downvote not-so-useful things. Keeping the badges on even and neutral grounds encourages that better in my mind.

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I find it amusing that immediately after posting this answer, I received the Civic Duty badge for a downvote I had made earlier. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 16:45
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No additional reward for upvoting past "Supporter?" That's tenuous at best; Civic Duty and Electorate may technically reward all votes but everybody gets them through upvoting, and often not good upvoting, just random/pity upvotes. Given the number of cretinous questions I see upvoted, I think it's fair to say that the current system appears to reward upvoting more than downvoting, or at least is perceived that way. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 18:02
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@Aarobot The kind of badgers who are convinced to perform a 20-day random-upvote spree to get those badges are the same stock that would perform an X-day spree random-CW-downvote spree just to get the proposed Critic-upgrade badges. Upvoting may be implicitly promoted more than downvoting, but I wouldn't say it is "rewarded more", rather, upvoting is "easy mode": you get it earlier in reputation and upvoting is more immediately visible as safe to your reputation. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 18:30
    
@ccornet: I'll bet that you're wrong, because several of these people probably don't have enough rep to downvote that many posts, or would be too afraid of losing it. Even if you're right, you asked for balance; shouldn't we also have random downvotes if we're getting random upvotes? –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 18:41
    
@Aarobot We should discourage random upvotes, not encourage random downvotes! All a Critic upgrade would do is the latter, it doesn't solve the issue you're highlighting. Yes, it takes 100 rep to downvote, but once you hit it, all a badger needs to do is prey on all of the very-negative CW posts, which cost nothing to downvote. But between 15 and 100 rep, guess what a badger is going to do? Random upvotes. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 18:52
    
@ccornet: Honestly, we need more people to downvote those CW posts. And yes, in an ideal world I agree that we should discourage random upvotes, but that will never happen as long as upvotes are free and badges reward using them; the next-best thing is to add some balance to the equation by adding a downvote-specific badge, which most people won't try to get because it has negative side-effects. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 19:02
    
@Aarobot If people won't try to get the badge, then what is the point of the badge? This badge won't balance the pity/random upvoting. The problem upvoters aren't going to want to waste reputation on downvotes, so they'll either just not downvote at all, or they'll target the CW posts that have so low a score it doesn't have any more impact to downvote them. Either way, we don't get any meaningful downvotes, and we still have a ton of meaningless upvotes. The only people who will downvote are the people who were doing it right in the first place, because they can afford it. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 19:22
    
@ccornet: It's a fact that when people are measured, they alter their behaviour to optimize the measurement. That's a side-effect of every badge. Even the Great Question badge mainly just encourages people to post subjective questions. The point of a downvote-related badge, like every other badge, would be to reward the people who are doing it right. Sort of a consolation prize for the trilogy janitors who are punished by the system for doing what seems to be the right thing. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 19:34
    
@Aarobot At this point we will have to agree to disagree. I see badges as being intended to promote good behavior, you see badges for being rewards to people who are already doing good behavior. Different fundamental understandings at this point. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 19:50
    
@ccornet: They're one and the same. I'm not suggesting that people won't try to get the badge. I'm saying that very few people will try to game the badge, at least compared to other badges in the system. (Why bother when you can get other badges for free by upvoting? Maybe I'm naïve, but I just can't see this causing a significant amount of random downvotes.) –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 20:16
    
@Aarobot Addressing only the "why bother" question: since this is on my answer rather than your proposal above, let us assume the originally proposed situation in which we have a reward for a large number of downvotes but no matching one for upvotes. By the principle of least-effort-maximum-gain, lazy-badgers will focus on downvoting questions, allowing them to qualify for both the Critic-upgrade and the Electorate. This is the same reason why badgers will use the 300 votes for Civic Duty on questions only: because then it also 100% contributes to getting Electorate. –  Grace Note May 17 '10 at 20:31

I think you could probably make a really good argument for the opposite, if you could get your hands on the data I'd take a gander that you would find the establishment was more likely to downvote than the hard working critic. Giving them rep for downvoting in an effort to stop others from joining their ranks or challenging their authority is a rather poor idea. I think this is why you're getting downvoted too.

Instead, we should remove more rep for downvoting giving the establishment a bigger penalty if they continue to downvote the new up and coming users.

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-1 because you're about to catch up with my rep, and we just can't have that, can we? –  mmyers May 17 '10 at 18:34
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-1 for having a -2 answer. –  Aarobot May 17 '10 at 19:04
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-1: The data is available, and we have seen that up votes occur more frequently than down votes by an order of magnitude or two. There is a sparkle pony waiting to show you the raw data. Just google "stack overflow data dump." –  Stu Thompson May 24 '10 at 18:37
    
I'm referring to the votes by the people in the top 5 percentile. –  Evan Carroll May 24 '10 at 18:50

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