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I want y'all to understand something first. I am basically a big fuzzy bouncing ball of happy when it comes to Stack Overflow. I smother questions and answers I like with love and big shiny upvotes. I would never dream of burning a young hopeful's dreams down to ashes with cruel black downvotes.

Or would I? The other day I was browsing around a question that I wasn't quite sure what to make sure of. The mouse pointer was wandering aimlessly as I mused. My hand slipped on the mouse, and horror! a downvote was cast. A nice pop-up panel requested that I leave a comment explaining my action, and to my dismay, I am now branded a Critic, a hater of men (and women) (and their well-intentioned comments). I now skulk in the private places of Stack Overflow, hoping nobody will notice the scarlet C branded on my forehead.

OK, seriously, one downvote shouldn't be a big deal, and can be undone (though the scarlet C remains :-) ), but strangely, this little act has got a hold on me. I do wish I had had a "think twice" panel to catch me from casting a downvote that I didn't really want to cast. Here are my thoughts:

  • Downvotes potentially harm reputation, and reputation is, if not king, at least a major duke on Stack Overflow. They should not be cast too lightly, and a pop-up could help.
  • I've heard (though admittedly not seen) that serial downvoting is a problem among some people. Where it is, it would be nice to discourage it. A pop-up could help there too, though it certainly wouldn't be a panacea.
  • At the same time, I recognize downvotes should not be cast too sparingly either, so we don't want to make downvotes difficult or annoying to cast. (You're probably thinking of Windows asking for confirmation everytime you want to trash a file. So am I. :-) ) Pop-ups might be perceived as obtrusive, but it seems to me that the "please leave a comment" pop-up is anything but obtrusive. I think there's ways to tweak this feature request so it doesn't get in the way.

Thanks for your consideration!

share|improve this question
+1 for "big fuzzy bouncing ball of happy". – Ether May 28 '10 at 4:51
(-1) for the reasons in my answer. – devinb May 28 '10 at 6:44
Downvotes aren't bad on principle (and the converse is true for upvotes). – brandaemon Jul 30 '15 at 20:44
I agree, but I think downvotes can have a chilling effect on users that upvotes don't. I would still argue that more care should be taken to make sure that downvotes are being cast properly. That being said, see my comment to the answer below – so long as a bad downvote can be undone without difficulty, hopefully no harm no foul. – Owen S. Aug 3 '15 at 20:29
up vote 14 down vote accepted

I disagree.

The "please leave a comment" popup stops showing up after a while (not sure if it's rep-based, or only shows on your first n downvotes, or what else). So a confirmation dialog would be a distraction, because the alternative is "no popup at all".

Which brings us to the important part: Always do the user a favor and don't ask for confirmation if you can undo.

share|improve this answer
+1 undo > confirmation – Alconja May 28 '10 at 7:06
The nays have it. On reflection, I see that part of my irritation was that it being undoable was not clear to me, and the badge further gave the impression that I had just done something irrevocable. But those are for other discussions. – Owen S. Jun 3 '10 at 6:44

Voting, both up and down, is something that this central to StackOverflow. It is pretty much the core mechanism on the site. As such, we must be able to trust that the users are able to do it correctly.

A pop-up on something that you should be doing multiple (possibly dozens) of times a day would be excruciating.

The panel that reminds you to leave a comment is there only for beginners, and disappears quite rapidly. This is the correct behaviour, we should be guiding people towards doing the correct thing, but not stopping or interfering with them if they are doing the right thing. Casting downvotes is (in many cases) the right thing to do, and we have to trust them.

As a final note, a pop-up will not decrease invalid downvotes, it will decrease all downvotes, which is bad for the system.

share|improve this answer

No, we don't need this.

Honestly, if people are getting worked up over downvotes, they need to work on their self-esteem. It's not that big of a deal.

Sure, I get downvoted. And every time it happens, it gives me pause. After all, my answers are always perfect, what did I do to deserve this -1? Should I ask why I got the downvote? Should I flag a moderator and ask for reconsideration? Should I lobby congress to get the downvote laws changed?

Then I get up, dust myself off, and answer more questions.

You might be interested to know that I personally have cast 72 downvotes since I started prowling StackOverflow. Perhaps that makes me a bad person. On the other hand, I have also given out 2907 upvotes, more than Jon Skeet (and he has nearly four times the rep I do). So my Upvote/Downvote ratio is pretty high (about 40:1).

Here on Meta, my Upvote/Downvote ratio is much lower (about 7:1), mostly due to one particular user (who shall remain nameless) for whom I take great pleasure in downvoting, every chance I get.

share|improve this answer
+1 ... Just to increase my upvote/downvote ratio :) – Daniel Vassallo May 29 '10 at 0:26
Only 72 downvotes? Amateur – Gnoupi May 29 '10 at 14:22
Is it me that you downvote? I've cried myself to sleep so many nights worrying... – devinb May 30 '10 at 20:18

I'm all for it, but only if the same applies to upvotes.

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