The following links may be helpful to you:
[Taking downvotes too seriously is an] erroneous assumption that they've done something wrong, rather than the truth [which is] that they've misunderstood the meaning of something done to them.
Downvotes should be taken as seriously as any "Caution: Falling Rocks" sign. It means you should keep your eyes peeled, but you don't stop driving, and you don't burst into tears.
Relevant points of my (very long) answer
The negative reputation is rather minor, and the downvote is valid critisicm. It is not the most constructive criticism, but it is a very quick and easy way to indicate that "I find flaw with your answer".
As for being helpful, if I'm lost in New York city and I ask someone for directions, it doesn't matter how nice they are, if they are wrong. I appreciate that they were trying to help, but if they didn't know the correct answer, they should probably have stayed silent.
Downvotes are to indicate that the answer is wrong. On a technical advice site, this is critical. It is not only to indicate to the answerer, but to everyone else that they should not follow the advice within. While that's a little harsh, it helps a lot of people very quickly. Explaining your downvote is often just asking for a fight, because the answerer will refuse to concede.
Key point of my answer
Voting and commenting are completely separate mechanisms that were designed for different purposes.
Voting is to bubble the best answers to the top. Commenting is to engage.
Key points from TheTXI's answer
- I wish people would stop taking everything personal and assume that all downvoting is a vindictive personal attack when 95% of the time it is not.
- Not every downvote requires a comment. I should not have to explain myself every time I want to mark someone for being wrong.
- If someone doesn't want to give you a reason for why they downvoted you, then you should examine your post and see what it may have wrong with it compared to other posts.
Not everyone is right all the time! This includes both the downvoter and yourself. If you are wrong, you should try to fix it, if they are wrong, well, you're still right, so be happy about it.
Quotes from my answer
- Relevant comments: How do you determine relevance of the (forced) comments?
- Regexing the comments: Would any comment at all be sufficient?
- Repetitive comments: Rather than upvote another comment, people will post an identical one for themselves.
- Downvotes are comments (Redundant comments): Every time you downvote you are saying that you disagree. It IS your statement of criticism.
If you are nice enough to leave a comment on a downvote to explain yourself, [...] [Ed: emphasis mine]
Commenting is optional. It is meant to be.
Jon B's response:
First, I don't think I should be required to justify my decisions to the world. Second, you can't force someone to type a meaningful comment, even if you force them to type a comment.