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So annoyed with no-comment, vindictive downvoting

I know this is a well traveled subject, and I've read that even Jeff's sentiments have vacillated on the subject.

Like many folks, I value my Reputation, it's a source of pride. I don't mind being down-voted, but what I despise is being down-voted anonymously.

Let me explain why; for me StackOverflow isn't just about helping other people, it's about improving my understanding of problems too. I like researching answers to problem domains that I'd never touch in my day-to-day work. I work at a university and we have a fairly limited tool-set, C#, JQuery and oracle. StackOverflow gives me an escape from that.

When I answer a question and I get it totally wrong, it helps me to know that, and someone down-voting with a comment is a valuable lesson.

However, someone down-voting without leaving a comment helps nobody, I don't get feedback, the Question owner doesn't know why my answer wasn't well received by 'someone'; and just as importantly; future users don't get the full satisfaction of being able to trust a given answer.

Case in point, I was answering a question the other day regarding the use of DateTime in an MVC app, with specific regard to displaying the date in a given format. The user wanted to only show the date portion, and was getting in trouble as he was trying to save into the database with only the date portion. Both Jon Skeet and myself suggested the same thing, Save the date properly and format it when you display it.

The difference, Jon gets +7 up-votes, and I got down-voted to -1.

How does this help anyone ? It made my blood boil, I have to admit; I'm sorry but it felt malicious and I don't think it helps the spirit of Stack Overflow.

So how to solve this problem ?

Well, I've got a couple of suggestions.

Down-votes with a comment incur the same cost as current:

-1 to the Voter, -2 to the holder.

Down-votes with no comment,

-5 to the voter, -1 to the holder.

As a second point of debate, down-voting already accepted answers is also something that could be addressed with a similar weighting system. I would personally like to see it impossible to down-vote an accepted answer without leaving a comment; after all - the question owner was satisfied.

My point is basically, Down-voting can always be used punitively, but Down-votes without comments hurt the spirit of StackOverflow, dissuade people from either answering or encouraging discourse and self-learning with their answer.

People should be allowed to be anonymous, but I believe that we should encourage discourse where-ever possible.

Ok - Yes, I'm Jarateed off about being down-voted, but I'm trying to be constructive here. I honestly believe that a weighting system for down-votes will improve the quality of answers.

p.s: I'm specifically referring to down-voting by other individuals,not the removal of points by the question owner.

Edit: It's interesting that not-long after I posted this, another user has posted here complaining about a related sentiment:

How to give "hacky" answers to questions

He's cautious of answering because down-voting is systemic and un-helpful.

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    Russ, you've done a better job than normal of writing up this proposal, but the problem is there is a normal for writing up this proposal; we've been over this ground many, many times. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Aug 21 '11 at 23:42
  • Sorry, I'd not seen a proposal with my specific solution in it. – Russ Clarke Aug 21 '11 at 23:44
  • This question from last year, for instance, links three earlier approaches to the same problem. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Aug 21 '11 at 23:45
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    I guess theres an irony that even in a question complaining about anonymous downvoting, I've been downvoted anonymously. – Russ Clarke Aug 21 '11 at 23:46
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    Russ, I don't have a link to a particular post with your version, but that's because we've discussed it so many times before that I don't even know where to look any more. I assure you that "free with comment cost without downvotes" have been discussed previously. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Aug 21 '11 at 23:47
  • I honestly hadn't seen that one, thanks for the link. You must concede that it's still an issue because people still talk about it ... – Russ Clarke Aug 21 '11 at 23:47
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    The downvoting on meta is a different issue: the vote caster simply disagrees with your proposal---downvoting well posed questions because is disagree is part of the culture on meta. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Aug 21 '11 at 23:48
  • Yup, sorry - I was just trying to inject a modicum of levity :). Don't worry, I'm not offended, but I am less likely to answer questions with suggestions and research points. because I'm fed up of being punished – Russ Clarke Aug 21 '11 at 23:49
  • A little browsing and I found Penalise Downvotes without Comment / Reward Downvotes with Comments, though it appears to have been closed pretty early. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Aug 21 '11 at 23:51
  • That's a good read, thanks again. There's only one point which (again forgive me, its a long article and I am dyslexic) differs from my suggestion; I'm not suggesting we enforce comments, I'm identifying that comments are a valuable feedback (that can be gamed I know) and if you choose not to comment, you're not contributing to the net spirit of Stack Overflow, and should get a poke too. Even if its just as little as adjusting to -2/-2 for both parties. – Russ Clarke Aug 21 '11 at 23:58
  • Thanks for being constructive, I appreciate it. – Russ Clarke Aug 22 '11 at 0:58
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    Looks like downvoting is working fine; this post has been downvoted and has attracted several comments. I'm adding this comment along with my own -1 just so I won't be accused of [cue scary music] "anonymous downvoting". (Oh wait. That's completely by design. I really wish people would stop worrying so much about downvotes.) – Cody Gray Aug 22 '11 at 12:23
  • No no, it's entirely constructive to downvote a closed question. Feel better ? – Russ Clarke Aug 22 '11 at 13:11

This has been discussed many times before. Here is what you need to do:

Stop worrying about down votes. Get a sticky and place it on your computer.

     Stop worrying about downvotes

  • Go for a walk
  • Play some ping pong
  • Go drink some water

Next step after this is to review your post and see what more you can write in detail or clarify, if there is nothing more that you can add then you just got to leave it and move on to other questions.

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    I take your point totally, but please re-read what I'm saying - I am not against down-voting, I'm against un-constructive down-voting. – Russ Clarke Aug 22 '11 at 0:00
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    Yes and I am saying you need to let it go, a -1/-2 can be quickly be overcome by just answering another question. The only way to deal with un-constructive down-voting is to associate comments with votes anonymity that occurs within down votes. If you read Grace Note 's answer you will understand why this cannot work. Then there is this comment made by George – phwd Aug 22 '11 at 0:16
  • I apologise but I don't agree with Grace's summation entirely. I can concur that Associating downvotes and actual comments like this might have an issue, but I completely disagree that it's worse then the current problem which is that down-voting without comments does not help the community. So how to fix that issue, make the comment for a downvote private between, commenter, commentee and question owner ? perhaps. But don't tell me that just because one connotation isn't ideal then the whole thing is a no: that's just ducking the issue. – Russ Clarke Aug 22 '11 at 0:26
  • My suggestion solution about would also fix 'george's laughable attempt. Come on, do you think the community or the moderators would stand for people down-voting and leaving 'rofl' as a comment ? we're better then that. – Russ Clarke Aug 22 '11 at 0:28
  • Perhaps enforcing a reputation poll on non-commenting downvoters is a bit harsh, for the same reasons that Jeff said he didn't want to make down-voting cost more to the answerer; but their could at least be a limit or tracking made. If a person has made too many down-votes without comment then their downvotes don't incur reputation deficit. – Russ Clarke Aug 22 '11 at 0:31
  • No, they would not stand for it, but you are putting unnecessary overhead to their already long standing flag queue of other issues. With the number of users passing through SO per day, I am sure the number of flags right now are high. So getting back to your suggestions, how would you validate a comment? I am not shutting down your idea, down voting is a problem, but over the past year every suggestion has holes. If you can fix that, then I think the community would appreciate that. – phwd Aug 22 '11 at 0:38

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