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Why do you cast downvotes on answers?
Is it now discouraged to ask for reasons for downvotes as a comment?

I am new here and trying not to get into trouble in my struggle to reach 15 rep and be able to cast votes. I have been hunting for unanswered questions which I can solve, and thought I had found one. However, the script I had provided contained a typo (I converted it from a script I used personally and had to change some variable names, but missed one). This morning I saw the asker had added a comment to my answer saying it wasn't working, and giving the error. I immediately realised what was wrong and edited my answer, but he had already downvoted it. Is the consensus that this is reasonable? It makes it hard to provide any answer unless it's bulletproof, for fear of losing what little rep I currently have. FWIW the question was so badly worded that I would have downvoted it myself if I could have!

I have already read through several questions like those linked at the top, but didn't find much of a consensus, save for cletus, who wrote I only downvote when the answer is seriously wrong. This does not include minor syntax issues, typos and the like.

I seek your opinions!

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2  
It seems a bit harsh if the only problem was a typo, but the reasons people vote (in either direction) are really only known to them. –  ChrisF Jun 23 '11 at 8:06
3  
In this case it wasn't the original poster that cast the downvote (look at his profile he has 0 downvotes). Votes are anonymous, so you never knows who has cast them. But you are on 20 now so you can cast upvotes. –  Toon Krijthe Jun 23 '11 at 8:19
    
@gamecat Insightful! I didn't know I could see someone's downvote count in their profile. So, basically a third party came along, saw his comment on my answer, and thought my answer was unhelpful because of this? Obviously, I had mistakenly assumed the person who commented was the same as the person who voted. –  Nicholas Jun 23 '11 at 8:36
    
I don't think its reasonable for that but you have to accept that people can downvote for pretty much any (non-abusive of other users) reason they like. That doesn't make their reason good or "reasonable" or "approved", but essentially its your vote to spend as you like. –  RobM Jun 23 '11 at 12:03
    
In addition to what Gamecat said, OP doesn't have enough rep to downvote! (you need 125 to downvote) –  Lorem Ipsum Jun 24 '11 at 3:08
    
Some people seem to be jerkwads. Alas. Luckily, they also seem to find it difficult to make constructive contributions to the community at all, and so it appears rare that they pick up enough rep to do real damage. (An occasional downvote's really not a big deal; Jon Skeet's had hundreds!) –  Donal Fellows Jun 24 '11 at 8:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Indeed it's complicated in the first days because drop of reputation is costly since you do not have a reputation pool from previous days.

As far as if it is fair, I would say that downvotes are to the discretion of the downvoter. He found it uninteresting to him I supposed. Maybe he did not have the skill to see the typo, so dismiss the whole.

Normally this is countered by other user who will upvote your answer if it's valuable (and therefore now: corrected). Could be tricky if the question is very old, or in a non frequented subject. Maybe the OP will review his vote as well.

We can't help people downvoting for dark reasons, but fear not cause the community is here to balance this.

Don't be discouraged, try looking up new question and make quality answer. You'll even earn some rep if you do a better answer based on another answer (provided you don't just copy/paste it) with addition of helpful diagrams, or explanations. This will help you build a reputation reserve to support those little downvotes.

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Downvoting an answer that doesn't work is perfectly reasonable. In fact, that's what downvoting is for!

Of course, there are caveats. You should only downvote an answer that doesn't work for you if you reasonably believe that it's the answer's fault and not yours. (E.g. the answer may work in a different version of the operating system/language/framework/…)

If the only reason that the answer doesn't work is a simple, easy to fix mistake, then the proper reaction is to edit the answer and fix the mistake, and then upvote it if so inclined. But that requires figuring out what the mistake is. If you can't spot the mistake, you can't know whether the answer is almost correct or completely wrong, and so downvoting is reasonable.

People who've downvoted an answer will sometimes come back to check if it's been improved. If the answer has been edited in the meantime, they can change their vote. And even if they don't come back, if people find a correct (or corrected) answer that's been downvoted, they might be more inclined to upvote it. One downvote plus one upvote make a score of zero, but +8 to your reputation.

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