I don't like such kind of questions on Meta, so I will try to make it a good question and describe all with a details.

Today I down-voted https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7469685/what-could-be-a-replacement-for-swf-movie-to-present-a-video-on-browser added a comment with explanations why I down-voted it, and flag it as non constructive (my flag was marked as helpful). An hour later one of my answers was downvoted, without any comment left about the reason. Yes, that wasn't my best answer, but in my opinion it answers the question. Well, even if somebody considered my answer incorrect he could add the correct answer, or up-vote the competitive ones. I checked the users reputation who made competitve answer, and he didn't get any rep today for that answer.

It was my second down-vote on Stack Overflow, so I was a little bit down, after that. I think who could considered my answer so completely wrong, and that I thought that maybe it was revenge down-vote. So I checked reputation of the user I down-voted today, and it was clear that he down-voted some answers today. After I checked that that user cast only 19 downvotes in 8 months, so chances were very big that this was revenge down-voting.

I came to this meta, and searched what I should do in this case. I found that most questions about down-votes, were closed as duplicates. After I found Victim of Revenge Downvoting, and found that a team member of Stack Exchange suggested to cast a flag for moderator attention, and explain the situation there.

I did that, and create next flag:

I think after I down-voted this question (and a comment about this), the OP down-voted me in revenge; it's clear from his today's reputation and from timing of my down-vote of his question, and time when one of my answers was downvoted. I cannot be 100% sure about that, but if somebody can check this, and point him that it's not the good way to do.

As you can see, I didn't ask for returning any reputation, or banning that user, I just wanted, somebody to point him, that he did wrong. And after I get this respons on my flag: "declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention." So in the end I also lost 10 points of the flag weight.

After describing all situation in details, I want to know were exactly I was wrong here. And what should I do next time something like this happens?

  • My math was next: user has +5 and -6 and -2 as result.. +5-6=-1 so there also was some -1. When you downvote answer you get -1
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:36
  • (Showing the reputation like that is a regression of an earlier glitch.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:42
  • 4
    he's also got sockpupet account. Flagged one of his posts
    – genesis
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:54
  • 6
    You've yet to experience revenge downvoting -- when 5 or 10 of your posts get downvoted in a few minutes. One revenge downvote is working within the system, as opposed to posting a ranty comment in response or something like that -- essentially status-bydesign.
    – agf
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:54
  • @agf yes I read about that, and I hope that system can catch massive downvotes, but it was a single one, that's why I tried to bring moderator attention to this user.
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:57
  • Voted to close as Too Localized.
    – user7116
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:58
  • 3
    @sixlettervariables is it possible to have not too localized support question?)
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:02
  • @igormilla: my apologies sir, I'm a lazy native English speaker and left off the receiver of the vote to close. I meant I voted to close the original question rather than your support question.
    – user7116
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:06
  • 5
    @igor I'm trying to say that a single revenge downvote isn't an abuse of the system, so you should accept it as status-quo, and move on. The flag was correctly declined -- it's not something that should be corrected.
    – agf
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:09
  • @sixlettervariables ok, ok) thanks for clarification, as not native English speaker I needed it)
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:09
  • @agf I think you are right, and in the end I didn't want to panish that guy, I just wanted to get some feedback on this situation, and to know what to do next time. And I'm glad that genesis found out that, that user cheated and had sockpupet account
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:13
  • @igor True. In this sort of case, asking on Meta instead of flagging is the right thing to do, now that you know flags aren't for getting feedback.
    – agf
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:21
  • @agf so should somebody correct this answer: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/100980/victim-of-revenge-downvoting/100983#100983
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:29
  • 1
    I have a dream of changing downvote to a pair of ass-cheeks, and clicking the downvote button smacks it
    – bobobobo
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 23:33
  • 7
    Downvotes are noise in the system. If you only get a few a week or less, you should simply ignore them. If you are consistently downvoted, then you should start worrying about whether you should change what and how you post. Other than that it's simply not worth the time to worry about. Don't think that downvotes are particularly important. They are the opinion of one person among tens of thousands, and not a very strong opinion at that (otherwise they would have left a scathing comment). So just forget about it and move on.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 1:26

3 Answers 3


On the revenge downvote, I get that all the time, thanks to my propensity to leave comments explaining why I downvote posts. This is particularly aggravating now that questions downvotes are "free": people are just doing a revenge downvote on my questions so they don't lose rep.

This has led me to add the following to my profile1:

If I downvote your post, I will tell you why I did it. I follow my downvotes, so if you correct it (or I am corrected), I will remove the downvote.

Which will hopefully deter some of the revenge downvotes. But the truth is they won't stop. The only solution for that would be anonymous comments, but IIRC that feature request got declined.

On the flags, I think the flag weight system could use some improvements. I don't know how it works, but can mods give a "neutral" response to a flag? I have used flags in the past to get the attention of a moderator, but it seems like we have to further clutter meta for that now.

1 The revenge downvotes have almost disappeared, it could be because of the diamond, so I removed that from my profile.

  • 8
    Do you mean "revenge downvote on my questions so that they don't lose rep." in your first paragraph?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:49
  • 17
    this is a great example of why the utterly misguided "comments should be mandatory on downvotes!" crowd was never heeded. You're free to do this if you feel you must, but the consequences are all yours. Commented Sep 24, 2011 at 22:40
  • 1
    That's why I ask as little questions as possible on SO (got only 3 so far). :-) If they downvote my answers, it'll hurt them too. ;)
    – GolezTrol
    Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 18:02
  • 1
    @Jeff Atwood I think it would be excellent to have mandatory comments on downvotes. This only shows that something should be done about revenge downvoters. There is only very substantial benefit and absolutely no appreciable loss from forcing people to comment (either with associated name or anonymously).
    – sillyMunky
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 21:58
  • 2
    @JeffAtwood Most of those suggestions advocates for the ability to leave an anonymous comment, thus avoiding the revenge downvote problem Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 22:10
  • @SamIam anonymous comments bring their own problems of course.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 12:19
  • 4
    @sam if the only way you can leave an anonymous comment is to downvote, that makes it pretty awkward, like not being brave enough to state your position. They also can't be replied to. Really think through what you are asking for, try to understand the consequences (even the accidental ones) of what you are asking for. Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 20:29
  • 1
    Now you should add that sentence again in your profile. :)
    – Himanshu
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 10:42
  • something bothers me about this reasoning. I got "revenge voted" on my top 2 voted answers a couple days ago. His downvotes were made at exact same time as this angry comment, and he had 2 downvotes that day (out of his 4 all time) stackoverflow.com/questions/38595000/…... Revenge for a comment. If it's "ok" to do this, then I just do it back? How many is the limit? Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 3:55
  • Someone visited my profile and went to every answer (marked as accepted answer) and down voted it. There were around 12 to 15 answers. What can I do now? Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:32

Accept it.

Here's the thing. Voting isn't perfect. There will be revenge votes, there will be arguments, things will definitely be unfair. There are guards against abuse (had the user down-voted all of your answers, that would be flagged and fixed), but it will forever be imperfect, it will forever be human. And we accept that potential abuse as a way of gaining greater freedom in the end -- imagine every single down-vote being subject to moderator approval!

There are times when I have given legitimate answers and I have been down-voted anyway. In one case I even showed a list of benchmarks which (in my opinion) proved my point. I also know that I've gotten my fair share of "revenge votes" (akin to NullUser's), but I keep coming back. Why? Because I believe in this community. Because I know that for someone to down-vote me, that person must hurt the reputation which that person invested in. And then there is the fact that for every up-vote, I can take 5 down-votes.

As an aside -- I'm sorry to say that while it might be very convincing circumstantial evidence, your evidence that the user marked you down is only that -- circumstantial.


I've looked at his reputation and it does not look like the person you link to down-voted you (or that he down-voted anyone this week).

  • I completely agree with everything, and with the fact that I cannot be sure that he was the one who downvoted me, and I mentioned this when flag it: I cannot be 100% sure,
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:50
  • it looks like somebody did recalc of his reputation. Look at comment to my question, I put there what I saw in his reputation
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:53
  • 1
    Surely @igor was right about that user downvoting someone, see the comments at the question and this screencapture.
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:54
  • And @igor, +5 -8 still doesn't add up to -4, so your point still stands ;-)
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:58

After describing all situation in details, I want to know were exactly I was wrong here.

With just a single down-vote is not possible to talk of down-vote revenge.

First, it's not possible to know who exactly down-voted. You could notice the users who down-voted, if you know the reputation the users had the day before, even if it is not possible in some cases, for example when users trigger a re-calc of their reputation, and the re-calc causes a reputation lost because a question that has been deleted, and for which the users provided an answer with a positive score. In any case, you cannot know which answers have been down-voted.

Secondly, you cannot know exactly the reason of the down-vote, supposing that the user who down-voted you is the same user you down-voted. By your admission, the answer you gave was not the best you could have given, and the tooltip for the down-voting button shown for an answer says, "This answer is not useful (click again to undo)"; even supposing that the user who down-voted your answer is the same user you down-voted, you cannot know if the user down-voted you because he genuinely thought your answer was not useful. As for up-voting the competitive answers, there is nothing that imposes a down-voter doing that, nor is a down-voter forced to explain the reason for down-voting.

As per your flag being marked as not useful, that is because there is nothing the moderators can do, for a single down-vote. With all the users on Stack Overflow, there are surely some users who reciprocally down-voted each other, but that doesn't mean the moderators should always do something.

If you had consecutive down-votes on different posts, and the down-votes were done in a short period of time, then there would be something the moderators can investigate; differently, for a single down-vote there is nothing moderators can do.

  • 1
    Yeah, if you didn't get a bunch of questions downvoted, he wasn't really bent on revenge, OP got off easy!
    – einpoklum
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 22:43
  • The worst is getting five or so over the course over a few hours across some really old questions - they know the system (not just downvoting every one of your old questions).
    – hayd
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 0:41
  • IMO revenge votes just path the way to a toxic community. A few weeks ago I dared to downvote a question (does not happen that often) and leave a comment about the flaws I saw in his post. Whithin his comments the author went into full defensive mode that's when I left the conversation. Since then some of my questions, within a 2-3 days gap, got downvoted. IMO the chances of all those questions being downvoted by different people within the given amout of time is quite limited. As one shouldn't care about being revenge voted, performing "revenge votes" seems to be a tollerated thing then ... Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 9:26

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