I find it quite irritating and not beneficial at all, when someone downvotes my question without any comment to say why. The current question is this, but I have seen this situation on many other questions. Sometimes you can find at a downvoted question a comment from the asker himself asking "Why the downvote?" or something.

As I understand it you may downvote a question if

  • it has a poor quality
  • it is not clear
  • no web research has taken place beforehand = laziness (obviously hard to prove though)
  • no SO research has taken place beforehand = laziness
  • it is a duplicate
  • it doesn't explain the issue well enough or I can't understand it
  • ... etc.

Am I right or wrong here? There doesn't seem to be a topic about voting in the FAQ. I found some questions here on meta that give good clues, like this and this. But they always talk about peoples own opinions. Are there no official guidelines to upvote and downvote? (Well, there MUST be, so why can't I find it?!)

And to the downvoting-without-leaving-a-comment issue:
Any others who can't see the logic here either? What is downvoting good for when I am convinced that my question is fine for the site? Have this been discussed before?


So, I have found that the documentation on how and why to downvote can be found in the list of privileges: https://stackoverflow.com/privileges/vote-down.

Still though the explanation on when to downvote and what to do about it is not very thourough.

Update 2

I have been thinking a lot about the comments on anonymity. I understand the deal here.

So, wouldn't an idea be then to simply require an anonymous comment from a downvoter? If that could be build into the system.

  • 6
    Oh, thanks for downvoting to prove my point :)
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 9:40
  • 3
    In you question what evidence have you provided that you have tried anything or done any research?
    – Richard
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:03
  • 1
    None. Why should I provide evidence of my prior research?
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:12
  • 3
    See bullets three and four in your list of reasons to downvote.
    – Richard
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:14
  • 6
    Leaving a comment with the downvote most often leads to more comments from the OP defending the question and/or insulting the stupid downvoter. It just isn't worth it. Guess why many comments start with "I didn't downvote, but...".
    – Bo Persson
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:15
  • Let me point out the words "(obviously hard to prove though)". As I understand SO, the questions here should be precise. If I add sentences to a question like "I have looked here and here and here but didn't find it" or "I had no luck searching the web" it would tell, but that would be irrelevant.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:17
  • 1
    @Bo Persson Yes, probably. But then again why shouldn't you have your right to defend your question? That could give a short discussion on the problems in the question, and the asker could then correct it. On the other hand, the asker might also happen to be right, and the downvoter could have been wrong. When personal insults is not legal here that could also be flagged and dealt with like anything else.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:22
  • 6
    @Steeven - I might not be interested in discussing exactly how bad a question is. :-) Leaving a comment causes other comments to the question to appear in my inbox. It fills up quickly, and is a distraction when I try to answer better questions. I did leave comments with my downvotes initially, but stopped after a few months. It just wasn't productive.
    – Bo Persson
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:31
  • Okay, thanks to point it out.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:37
  • 1
    @BhuvanRikka, YES, to indicate incorrect answers and bad questions. Jul 7 '12 at 11:09
  • 1
    why this question is downvoted?
    – Akram
    Jul 7 '12 at 11:32
  • 1
    @Akki Downvoting on meta is different, people just disagree with the implied request that downvotes have to be accompanied by a comment explaining them. Jul 7 '12 at 11:35
  • 7
    I am required to post this comment since I downvoted. I hope this comment helps you. <anonymous>
    – Mat
    Jul 7 '12 at 13:03
  • 3
    Personally, whenever I get a downvote, I wonder: 'Why'. I understand from the discussion, that we are supposed to find the 'Why' ourselves. I try to make my answers as thorough and well worded as possible, to avoid offending someone. When I'm not at least somewhat sure about the answer I'm trying to give, I don't give it...but, assuming that it was 'required' to give a comment prior to downvoting (even if it was by using a chiffre, which leaves the downvoter 'unknown')...wouldn't that make things better? Because this way, in my opinion, downvotes can easily be used, to 'promote the own answer'
    – ATaylor
    Aug 1 '12 at 8:08
  • 1
    I think requiring an anonymous comment for the downvote an excellent idea. I'd also allow this anonymous comment to be downvoted as well by other users than the poster
    – Leo
    Feb 14 '14 at 13:27

Are there no official guidelines to upvote and down vote?

The privilege page says:

When should I vote down?

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

Apart that, there isn't anything official about down-votes. Consider what shown in the tooltip for the down-vote button:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful (click again to undo)

For example, suppose that a user ask a question that is duplicating another one; the question is closed, and the OP asks exactly the same question, asking again the same question, when the previous question is closed. I would not be surprised the user gets down-voted.

The reasons why who down-votes doesn't always leave a comment are probably two:

  • If a user always leave a comment when down-voting, it would be easier to notice when that user down-votes. Down-votes are anonymous by design.
  • There isn't a reason to leave a comment, if the down-vote is given because the question doesn't show any research effort, or it is not useful. What would the comment be, in those cases?
  • I understand your point but I agree with the OP. Answering your bullets: the down-vote comments could be anonymous; the comment would be "didn't research enough / not useful" just as you posted.
    – gibertoni
    Feb 26 '13 at 16:25

Even if in some case is easy to tell to the other –you forget that- and not downvote, and the user corrects it, in the rest cases for my point of view, to not left a comment may help more the one that make that post.

Why ?

If you not get any reason for the downvote you need to search by your self to find the reason, if you really care of course to improve your self.

So if you search by your self to find the reason of -1 you may find ten reasons and not only one, not only the one that the user gives you -1.

And if the user gives you a reason, this is easy to argue with that and avoid accepting this reason, avoid improving your self and being a better one. Its easy to say, this is your personal opinion and I am not accept it - but this way you never really learn anything, you stop only to what you believe is correct. Like some people that make a question, that have all ready stack on an non working answer and did not open their mine to see some other answer that may work.

So find by your self why you get -1 can real make you better.

The same think happens in life, life is push you on your mistake, gives you -1 and no one is there to give you a reason, and if you not see why you get slaps and continue that road you never be better person.

So search by your self why the -1, find more than one reason, and the next time correct all that reasons.

  • I really do not know if you agree with this point of view, but my teacher do that to me most of the cases...
    – Aristos
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:25
  • In real life I'm usually able to see who "gives me -1" :) And I can confront and ask and find the reason right away. My mom always told me to tell people instead of holding a grudge...
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:27
  • @Steeven You see :) you takes it personally - avoid that.
    – Aristos
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:29
  • Well, no offends. But to yell at someone "You are wrong" but with no "because" is of course anonymous but very unconstructive.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:32
  • Nothing personal :) I don't see it like a comment on anything else than your answer. Hope it doesn't seem that way. Just excited to take up the discussion. After all, this answer contains a lot of personal points of views.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:33
  • @Steeven There are two roads - the one is: You get a reason for the -1, the other is to not get a reason. What road make you think more ? What road make you find more mistakes ? What road make you better ? What road make you really argue with your self only to find the answers ?
    – Aristos
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:35
  • Which is also what I'm actually looking for with my question I guess...
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:35
  • 1
    Well thanks for the answer. I see your point. Though I disagree a bit. My belief is that feedback for the most is more constructive. It points at the error for you, instead of you risking to just look wildly around and never actually seeing the problem causing the vote. In both cases I think a lot :) but feedback gives me the direction.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:44
  • @Steeven You see what you say :) gives you a direction ! this is limit your mine... :) open your mine, there is no direction - think everything and anything possible.
    – Aristos
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:46
  • Well you have to focus. Why waste time? There is a problem and what is it. If there were many problems you have a good point, but here it might be just one small thing.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:52
  • @Steeven You waste your time when you watch tv. You do not waste your time when you search in your self to find answers and be better. :) and unfortunately we do not do that, we do not try to improve our self, but we always search for excuses for our mistakes. The focus here is to find your error ! :)
    – Aristos
    Jul 7 '12 at 10:57
  • Wow, nice :) I think we could continue discussing this for a long time, so I'll stop now ;) Thanks for the input.
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 11:08
  • @Steeven I continue to prove what I say... you argue all that time and avoid to really think by your self to solve it. :) Especial to you is better to not leave comments :)
    – Aristos
    Jul 7 '12 at 11:10
  • let us continue this discussion in chat
    – Steeven
    Jul 7 '12 at 12:06

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