When I downvote a question or answer for its content many times there already is a good comment explaining why the downvote is done.

Example of question I downvoted. Though terse I could find myself in the following comment with regards to why it should be downvoted:

There is nothing like VB 2010 Ultimate and this is a Q&A site not a tutorial site. What have you already tried?

Because of this I don't feel that I should add yet another comment describing why I downvoted and I proceeded with upvoting the existing comment.

However personally I do think it's fair that the other person should know that I downvoted. Would it be possible to fabricate an optional link between the downvote and the comment support? Maybe something like The following members support this (Harald Brinkhof,...) next to the comment, telling the downvotee why he was downvoted and the weight this comment obviously carries.

Since the option of anonymous downvoting has to be respected this has to be a choice, but I think it would be nice if I could add some proper downvote explication without needing to clutter the comment section, especially when someone has explained my reason(s) better than I can already.

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    No point in such thing - you can just say something like "I second @Ashwin" and might add your own view. This way the OP (or others) can address you as well. – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Jun 23 '12 at 20:20
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    -1 what @ShaDowWizArd said. – Kevin Jun 23 '12 at 21:06
  • possible duplicate of Encouraging people to explain down-votes – ChrisF Jun 23 '12 at 21:07
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    @ChrisF I disagree. This isn't about encouraging people to explain downvotes, it's about giving those who support an already-explained reason a way to do so openly. – Kevin Jun 23 '12 at 21:12
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    Tangential: it's not at all uncommon to receive support emails from folks upset at being down-voted, only to find them using that wretched "-1" prefix on comments left with down-voted posts. People are petty: if you focus on the vote rather than the problems with their post, you shouldn't be surprised when they also become fixated on voting... @Kevin – Shog9 Jun 23 '12 at 21:14
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    Also: why would you ask for this only on down votes? Have you never seen a complimentary comment that you would agree with when up-voting? @Harald – Shog9 Jun 23 '12 at 21:16
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    The best downvotes are the downvotes that are followed by a very friendly and polite comment, the purpose of which serves to help guide the poster in either fixing what caused the downvote or discouraging that behavior for next time. People are less likely to learn something once they become emotional, defensive, or angry. – jmort253 Jun 23 '12 at 21:18
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    @Shog9 I guess because I don't consider the upvote to have a negative backlash for people and I like to turn a downvote into something constructive, something to be revised when situations are rectified. I know the voting system isn't supposed to be looked at as a 'personal' thing but it feels that way to many. Hence why I think a 'hard blow' could be softened by telling the OP: "it's not personal, here's what you could change to improve" I just don't think that should clutter the comments. – Harald Brinkhof Jun 23 '12 at 21:23
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    You should absolutely tell folks how to improve their posts in a polite, constructive fashion! You should do this regardless of how you vote, whether or not you vote at all... If someone's already left a good comment, up-vote it. The important thing is that there's constructive advice left for the author, not the names attached to it. My rule of thumb: Comments are for the author of the post; Votes are for the other readers. – Shog9 Jun 23 '12 at 21:25

personally I do think it's fair that the other person should know that I downvoted

Why? What would that give them? They already know they have been downvoted.

If you agree with the comment, upvote the comment this will help with educating/explaining to the OP why the question was downvoted.

  • well, it allows the person to check me out and weigh me against my vote through my profile and answer history (not in every case of course but it might help). It's a matter of personal choice after that, I think it's fair that if I tell you that I think something could be done better, that you at least know who I am. I'm finding leaving an anonymous vote to be too easy and it doesn't really agree with me, personally I guess. – Harald Brinkhof Jun 23 '12 at 20:25
  • @HaraldBrinkhof - And how would that help them? They don't know you and even if they can accurately assess you through your profile, why would they do that with all downvoters? If you don't want to be anonymous, don't be. Leave a comment. – Oded Jun 23 '12 at 20:28
  • it would at least tell them that for a question that has X downvote, with multiple comments of various worth at the very least comment Y contributed N downvotes. Sometimes comments can somewhat vary in direction and I think a certain added emphasis could help a downvotee. Personally knowing Who wouldn't directly contribute though, you are right about that. – Harald Brinkhof Jun 23 '12 at 20:37
  • @harald they should just assume tusks all the reasons in the comments might apply. If there are so many downvotes, it really doesn't matter who voted for exactly which individual reason. – sth Jun 24 '12 at 9:57

Making voting anonymous helps prevent emotion-laden retribution. If someone down-votes your post, a person of questionable maturity may be tempted to seek out the voter's posts and downvote them all in revenge. This encourages voting for the wrong reason -- voting for/against a person, not content.

And don't tell me this doesn't happen. Just two days ago a SO user saw that I had voted to close his question that belonged on SF instead of SO. Based on that fact alone, he looked up my company website and filled out a customer contact form saying:

tylerl Was extremely rude to me on a Stack Overflow question and closed my post for being "off topic" when it was a discussion of the linux filesystem. I would never want this person to interact with customers as he has a very nasty anti social personality.

Obviously the only result was lots of laughs around the office, but it shows just how hurt and irrational people can be about this sort of thing.

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    lol discussions of the linux filesystem are off topic. But it's not like that's a bad thing, you actually helped him move his post to a location where he'll get better answers. Some people don't realize when they're actually being helped. – jmort253 Jun 23 '12 at 21:36

All voting on Stack Exchange is anonymous. For better or for worse. I have no actual numbers on this, but I think most users like the fact that their (down)votes are anonymous.

Would it be possible to fabricate a link between the downvote and the comment support?

That would just cause the subsequent downvoters not to upvote the comment explaining the post's problems.

Even there's no existing explanation in the comments, many users downvote without leaving a comment, just to protect their identity.

Because of this I don't feel that I should add yet another comment describing why I downvoted and I proceeded with upvoting the existing comment.

I agree that you shouldn't post a simple -1 comment, just as posting +1 comments is discouraged.

But if there's even a minor point the existing comment missed, explain the post's flaws in further detail. There's your loophole.

  • I feel I must clarify that the linking would be an additional choice, so anonymous upcommenting after downvoting would still be possible, guess I wasn't clear enough about that. Sorry. – Harald Brinkhof Jun 23 '12 at 21:01
  • I took a link between the downvote and the comment support as something non-optional. That's different, of course. But I still think that very few users would use this functionality. – Dennis Jun 23 '12 at 21:03
  • That's fair, I edited in the word optional in my question, thank you for pointing this out. – Harald Brinkhof Jun 23 '12 at 21:05

See what I did there? Remember, downvoting is anonymous, and the Stack Exchange leadership is still strongly in support of that. But if you want the poster to know you downvoted, post a comment to that effect, even if it's just "I agree."

  • I understand Kevin and I must say in a way I understand why that should be the answer I'd have to accept for this question but I don't really like adding such comments that don't contribute anything useful for the OP. In my opinion it's just visual clutter until the OP himself decides he'd like to know. – Harald Brinkhof Jun 23 '12 at 21:16
  • @HaraldBrinkhof - Aside from leaving a comment, there is really no value in anyone knowing that you specifically downvoted. All that matters is coaching the poster by offering constructive advice on how to correct the behavior or fix the answer. If you don't have anything constructive to add (because someone else already commented and beat you to it) then there is no reason for your name to be mentioned. – jmort253 Jun 23 '12 at 21:21

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