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EDIT : How about a forced comment dialog...which forces the user's to comment when they downvote otherwise they can't....right now it just shows a popup to suggest posting a comment...maybe this is little too strict...but i just find it annoying when ppl downvote and leave no comments....

How about having a badge "Irritable" for a user who downvotes over 20 times in a month and then have maybe further "Furious" for over 50 downvotes in a month....just a fun suggestion...since i see people downvote like crazy at times...there should also be a way to downvote a comment i think in addition...

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I agree with being able to downvote comments, there is a feature-request for that already. –  Lance Roberts Jul 15 '10 at 16:30
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pff... I'd have like 20 furious –  jmfsg Jul 15 '10 at 16:32
    
"Irritable" makes it sound like an evil brand being applied to the user, instead of a badge of victory. Oh, and "more downvote" badges are also discussed at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/50195/… –  Grace Note Jul 15 '10 at 16:39
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"High Standards" would be a better name for such a badge. –  sth Jul 15 '10 at 16:42
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And here I am, thinking people don't downvote enough! –  Aryabhatta Jul 15 '10 at 16:43
    
-5...well..i just was making a suggestion to decrease excessive downvoting...maybe at least in someway force users to comment why the downvote....maybe like a forcible comment dialog on the downvote.. –  Misnomer Jul 15 '10 at 16:45
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meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135/… is the root post from which all "require comments when downvoting" questions are duplicated. –  Grace Note Jul 15 '10 at 16:47
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What is this "excessive downvoting" of which you speak? –  dmckee Jul 15 '10 at 16:55
    
You were trying to suggest a badge as a means for decreasing downvoting? –  Grace Note Jul 15 '10 at 16:59
    
@dmckee..like something happening now..:) –  Misnomer Jul 15 '10 at 16:59
    
ya on a serious note @Grace note that's what i wanted to do.. –  Misnomer Jul 15 '10 at 17:00
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@VJ01, don't take it personally, people here are just irritable. –  Lance Roberts Jul 15 '10 at 17:01
    
Badges are intended to be a good thing, to encourage more behavior. Implementing a badge for downvoting is going to get people to downvote more often, not reduce the amount of downvoting. –  Grace Note Jul 15 '10 at 17:03
    
hmm...ya i realise it...maybe there should be like opposite of badge..to identify bad things ...that just a thought i had...i guess will try to be more clear next time... –  Misnomer Jul 15 '10 at 17:06
    

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think downvoting is at least as important as upvoting, if not more.

You get a lot of correct looking (but in fact wrong/misleading) quickly posted answers which get a flood of upvotes, while the correct answers are just ignored/buried in the noise.

Downvoting (and in most cases, a suitable comment) helps distinguishing the signal from the noise...

If you do want to give a badge, "Irritable" wouldn't be on my list of choices.

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I certainly wouldn't consider downvoting more important. They are two sides of the coin, but one of them is supportive and the other is discouraging. I try to be supportive as often as possible. –  devinb Jul 15 '10 at 17:57
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@dev: Downvoting does not preclude upvoting! From my experience (mainly in the algorithm tag) I have found the need to downvote more than I would like to. I do upvote too :-) So yeah, I agree. –  Aryabhatta Jul 15 '10 at 18:59

First off, before I attack the idea, lets call them 'Constructive' and 'Critical' for now.

  • 'Constructive' - First X downvotes
  • 'Critical' - First XX downvotes

Or whatever, even if it is monthly or capped in some way, my critiques will hold the same.

The purpose of badges

The purpose of badges is to reward, encourage, or acknowledge positive behaviours or events. Some of them are in your control (Commentator) some are trusted to luck (Enlightened). But they are all designed to recognize that some desirable behaviour has occurred.

Two factors must be considered:

  1. Is the intended behaviour desirable?
  2. Is the side-effect behaviour desirable?

Intended

Is it appropriate that users downvote? Yes. Downvoting is an important if underused part of the site. So the "intended" effect of this badge must be considered to increase downvoting, and we will first grant the premise and assume that it will do that.

What are the possible effects of people doing this in good faith?
Ultimately, the two reasonable options of downvoting being overused or underused by site, I'd rather that they be underused. Being downvoted is usually a disconcerting and uncomfortable event. It is also distinctly unfriendly. I always try to leave a comment or an answer when I downvote.

However, it is a part of the site, and it is important because we want users to be able to downvote answers which are well-formed but false. If an answer is fundamentally wrong, I'll downvote them. Not enough people do that, because they are worried about being nice. But being nice and having a strongly positive community with a few cantankerous 'keep-them-in-check' annoyances is a good thing.

This means that I feel that even in the intended case, this badge would be detrimental to the community.

Side-Effects

People "game" the badge system. They try to collect all the badges, often through whatever means necessary. This means that users would simply downvote anything they see nearby. Obviously, this is completely unhelpful, because the user will be trying to find the flaw in something which isn't flawed.

Encouraging retaliation. This one is a little unlikely, but it is possible. Basically, if you receive a badge for downvoting, it is announcing that you are someone who downvotes often. This makes it easier for people who are frustrated with downvotes to have someone to target. It is sort of like a wall-of-shame for something that isn't shameful.

Discouraging comments. Downvoting is still a little taboo. Hopefully, users who downvote explain themselves clearly and in doing so, make themselves helpful to the poster. However, once we create badges that highlight downvoting as a positive or encouraged behaviour, we aren't necessarily advocating downvoting in a responsible manner, we are supporting downvoting as an end in itself. The action and not the intent becomes the encouraged behaviour.

Obviously all three of those are pretty negative effects on the site, even though they are (as side-effects) not guarantees but rather possibilities.

Bottom Line

In both the intended and side-effect case, I feel the results are a net negative.

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Badges are supposed to encourage positive behavior. I don't see how rewarding lots of downvoting does that.

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Downvoting is important because it tells you what is 'bad' content. If we all ever upvoted, it'd be really tough to see what content is actually 'bad', as opposed to 'not the best'. –  George Stocker Jul 15 '10 at 16:35
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@George, downvoting is important, but we don't want too much of it. –  Lance Roberts Jul 15 '10 at 16:40
    
If I may play devil's advocate, then: downvoting does serve a useful purpose in the SE system. This has been discussed at length in other questions, so I won't beat it to death here. Some people are afraid to downvote even when it's justified, because they don't want to lose rep. These badges could encourage them to cling less tightly to a number which is already a "rough measurement." –  Pops Jul 15 '10 at 16:41
    
Ow, comment-FGIWed. +1 @George. –  Pops Jul 15 '10 at 16:41
    
@George Downvoting obviously serves a purpose, but it should be used in moderation. The reason why it costs rep is to have people only downvote when necessary. By encouraging lots of downvoting in the form of a badge, it would only serve to undermine that limiting factor. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 15 '10 at 16:53
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We don't want too much, but we need more than we have now. –  dmckee Jul 15 '10 at 16:55

Let's not encourage downvoting too much.

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Who couldn't see that coming. –  Michael Petrotta Jul 15 '10 at 16:48
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@Mic, it's pretty incredible how both the question and the answers opposing it are both garnering downvotes, must be Meta sarcasm –  Lance Roberts Jul 15 '10 at 16:53
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For my part it's not sarcasm, it's opposition to the idea that downvoting is a despicable act that needs to be abolished. And for the votes on the question: People who think downvotes are bad are opposed to rewarding them with a badge, people who think downvotes are good are opposed to giving out negatively named badges for them. So basically all sides are inclined to vote -1 on the question. It's not that surprising that it gathers a lot of downvotes. (And editing rather unrelated duplicate feature requests into the question is also not going to help) –  sth Jul 15 '10 at 17:32
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@sth The feature request is somewhat related. The OP was intending to reduce downvoting by positing this badge, and suggested the second idea as another method for reducing downvoting. –  Grace Note Jul 15 '10 at 17:35
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I also downvoted earnestly in both cases. –  devinb Jul 15 '10 at 17:35
    
I like earnest behavior, just thought it was funny. It's my Meta laugh for today, and I'm always willing to trade some rep for a good laugh. –  Lance Roberts Jul 15 '10 at 17:56

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