I have a situation where I'm trying to figure out what the right thing to do is on SO.

I see a question. I answer the question. I see there are a couple other answers. One answers the question well, though with less explanation than my answer. The other answer seems both wrong and irrelevant to the question (doesn't answer the question at all). I comment to that effect. The "wrong" part is edited out, but the author of the answer doesn't respond to how their answer actually answers the question. In fact, they seem offended that I don't "get" it. After giving them several chances to explain how their answer is relevant to the question and seeing their attitude, I decide to downvote their answer as I don't see how it addresses the question at all and the author won't explain. They retaliate and downvote my answer and admit in their comments that their downvote of my answer has nothing to do with the content of my answer and only because they don't like me disputing their answer.

Did I do the right thing by downvoting their answer? Do I just have to live with their downvote retaliation? Anything I should have done differently?

I also have no way of knowing this for sure, but the next question I answered was upvoted, then downvoted so perhaps this same person is stalking my answers and downvoting other answers of mine too with no comment.

As long as this doesn't continue, I'm not losing sleep over a couple downvotes, but I do wonder if I should have done anything differently.

Followup Later After I Posted This Question: After thinking about it for a little while, the person who disagreed with me decided to delete their post. So, eventually the message did get through to them. I don't know if they rescinded their downvote or not (or if they even could).

  • In extreme cases (e.g. answer that is obviously wrong) post link here. Anyway there's no real "solution" to such thing, usually it just go away on its own when the other person had enough. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 10:06
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    if it were very difficult to identify the downvoter (e.g., [randomly] delayed reputation loss), these things would happen much less frequently Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


Did I do the right thing by downvoting their answer?

Quite possibly, although it is hard to tell without specific context. Personally I tend to reserve downvotes for things that are actively bad, and use comments for clarification - but it sounds like no clarification was provided. And you are free to choose your own stance on voting (as long as it is about the post and not the user).

Anything I should have done differently?

Probably not. And keep in mind that the weighting of up/down votes means that a single downvote doesn't have a massive net effect.

Do I just have to live with their downvote retaliation?

Well, a single downvote is nothing to get upset about. Certain patterns of excessive downvoting are automatically detected and counteracted. However, if there is a significant pattern of abusive voting the moderators can get involved (just flag one of the affected posts for moderator attention, and explain the problem). At the moment, though, I can only see one recent downvote (assuming this is stackoverflow) - about half an hour ago. Did you see multiple downvotes?

I would say, however, to be cautious - if we really are just talking about a single downvote, it is not really safe to assume the user is who you think it is. Indeed, even when there are multiple votes - you'd be surprised how often there is just coincidence.

  • would two down-votes less than a minute apart be enough justification to bother a moderator? This seems to happen once in a while and it slips under the auto-detection routine.
    – Sparky
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 19:03
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    I got three down-votes in quick succession last night, it seems. One on my accepted answer on the same question as his answer which I DV'ed, which caused the retaliation. The other two were 16/0 and 17/0 UV/DV answers of mine on other questions. I have no idea if the auto-detection routine would pick up on this, but I flagged all three answers for moderator attention. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 13:14

If you are facing a personal downvote on each answer you are giving (systematic downvote), use the flag tool to catch the attention of diamond moderators. They would deal with this.

If this stays limited to a single question thread, let go. the community will balance this by itself as the other user can only downvote once.

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    I just came across this after seeing a similar change on AcademiaSE. Someone admitted to downvoting because they saw a comment plus a downvote. I fully agree with the suggestion to decouple the downvotes from the comments: if someone comments and then downvotes, the timing of the downvote should be masked. I say this not because the one downvote of the disgruntled person is a big deal, but because if downvotes are anonymous, they should be anonymous. In cases where I want to downvote and comment, I don't do them at the same time, out of paranoia. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 19:49

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