When voting on a question/answer, should you be given the option to leave a marked comment?

By "marked" I mean a red - and green + (simple; just small text). It would be based on the vote given, and would be just like any other comment. Adding a non "marked" comment would be the same as always. Please note marking would be very optional.

visual 'marked' example < Example of 'marked' comments.

My thinking behind this is that it would allow a voter the option to "leave a comment" (as it suggests you do when downvoting), while letting the reader know their comment is about how it should be improved / is not accurate, or (if unmarked) know it's most likely a confirmation / discussion / answer comment, without being distracting to users who don't want it.

Edit: This would be an optional, and less intrusive option, and it would decrease noise a +1/-1 would when normally done.

If you're worried about this cluttering up the comments system, I figured a comment would be marked if you clicked a 'comment now' link on the "consider leaving a comment" window that pops up when voting (I figure this would bring you down to comment box also, but definitely not new page).

"consider leaving a comment" "comment now" button < Clicking this would activate "mark".

Also, for both pictures, sorry about quality, currently using Windows xp and only have old paint version.

  • 2
    Recently I have been seeing more +1/-1 at the beginning of comments on some SE sites, which is where I got my idea.
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:35
  • I think the +1/-1 at the start of the comment is enough. Complicating the comment system with a "do you want to add your vote option?" isn't really something I want to see.
    – Matt
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:36
  • 1
    @Matt To clarify, I actually didn't want it with the comment. When you downvote, the "consider leaving a message" appears. I figured clicking part of that would "mark" the comment (and only then an 'unmark' option would appear).
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:52
  • This is a well designed solution but I think it's solving the wrong problem, per ChrisF's answer
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:11
  • @BenBrocka So I don't misunderstand, what's the "right" problem? The fact people put +1/-1 in the first place? ('cause ulterior motive here is to get rid of those)
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:18
  • Well, the problem with the +/- prefix is that it's there at all and that it focuses on voting, not quality. Voting is a powerful motivator but it should be quietly implied that better posts get higher score, rather than leaving a "-1" comment as a ransom note, fix your post or else
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:24
  • @BenBrocka The way I see it, people simply add -1 to let readers know they agree/disagree. The comment is what matters, and even removing the -1 the "ransom note" is still there. Also, you said that better posts get higher scores (indicating quality, via voting), but +/- (which I understand as score) doesn't indicate quality. I imagine I missed something, so could you explain? (I can be thick-headed, sorry)
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:58

2 Answers 2



Comments that start "+1" or "-1" are just noise. Vote if you want to vote and comment if you have something constructive to say. The two are not linked.

If the post is bad and you think it can be improved it then do so by editing. If you don't think you can improve it yourself the adding a comment pointing out where it's flawed is the way to go.

If you want to highlight a particularly relevant or important part of a post then using a comment to do that is good - but there's still no reason to add a "+1" at the beginning.

  • 1
    Thanks for quick answer. But when you downvote, it says something like "consider leaving a comment". I figured this would let the person reading the comment understand the reason it was left. But I guess it is kinda just noise.
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:40
  • 1
    @Kyomu - if you down-vote you must think that there's something wrong with the question, so if you have constructive criticism to add then you should consider it.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:42
  • 1
    I totally agree. But sometimes reading a comment, especially when there are so many only the top voted are shown, I find knowing why it was left can help me decipher the comment's intent.
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:47
  • @Kyomu - comments are always presented in the order they were added. Some might be hidden when the number gets large, but they are never sorted.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:48
  • Sorry, by sorted/reordered I meant the ones in between are not shown.
    – Fewfre
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:49

While I applaud your effort to reduce noise in comments, the fundamental flaw in this approach is that comments that begin with a -1 are oftentimes too punitive to really be effective. Also, the colors you're proposing just compound the damage by making the -1 stand out more, burning itself into the brains of people who might have thought they were being helpful, but who instead just simply need some guidance.

The purpose of comments is to seek clarification in questions or help improve an answer, and in cases where I see this:

-1 for not using jQuery on a question tagged jQuery

the result is usually an angry poster who goes on a tirade about how much SE sucks and who ultimately never improves his or her post. Sure, maybe the post isn't bad enough for massive downvotes or deletion, but this cracked -- if not broken -- window remains.

Even on downvoted posts, the -1 is perhaps the least valuable thing you can post in a comment. The poster doesn't need to know you downvoted. He/she likely already sees that in his/her reputation history, and seeing the -1 in the comment just tends to incite people. Instead, focus on constructive, guiding feedback, with the goal of patching up that cracked window so it becomes something much better.

Hey Bob, I just wanted to let you know the asker requires jQuery in this solution as per the jQuery tag. Think you can update your answer? Good luck man!

So instead, focus on ideas for making comment guide users better. Those would be the best feature requests, ones that encourage action rather than pouting in a corner somewhere. With that said, I'm just glad you didn't suggest also making the -1 blink. That would be brutal. ;)

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