I find that a lot of new users will make one of several mistakes asking questions:

  1. failure to check Google
  2. failure to show any effort
  3. failure to read any introductory material on the language in question
  4. very bad English

Many users will respond by downvoting the question (maybe flagging or voting to close) and moving on. The idea of prompting for an explanation is nothing new, but the upvoted comments are often something like "what have you tried?", which isn't as useful to new users as a more thorough explanation. To a new user who may barely understand English, we just look like a black-box full of jerks.

Given that any comments explaining the issues tend to get upvoted, I propose some small set of "canned" comment buttons that appear after I've downvoted a question. Clicking on them would do one of the following:

  • Leave an anonymous comment
  • Leave a named comment
  • Leave a vote for the user to be notified (via comment or something else)

These comments could include links to the FAQs, which would save us the trouble of putting links in every bad post, and would be more useful to the poster than a single snarky comment with three upvotes.

  • 5
    Take a look at Autocomments, a script to leave great comments (can be personalized). Aug 11, 2012 at 9:15
  • Didn't know about Autocomments, these are indeed useful (wish they were enabled by default, or at least a list of frequently used links). There's still the issue that it leaves a single named comment, though: would be nice if new users had some kind of "your question was probably anonymously downvoted because of X" to accompany the -5 votes.
    – Shep
    Aug 11, 2012 at 9:46
  • 2
    I don't think it's a duplicate. Comments for downvotes serve greater purpose than just canned comments, and should get more resources. Reopened. Dec 16, 2019 at 13:07

2 Answers 2


I am not sure this will actually improve the feedback new users get.

I have been using Autocomments for a while now, using it to leave feedback to low quality posts where appropriate, and I've found that I keep refining the boilerplate and that I still need to personalize the message a lot of the time. Low quality posts, as it turns out, vary a lot in why they are bad.

If we were to provide canned comments, they would not fit the post they are posted on half of the time, but would be overused anyway. Posting a canned response with a button is going to be even faster than typing in a snarky one-liner, after all.

I'd prefer it if we stuck to flagging the snark, and leaving better comments in their stead, whenever you see bad comments.

  • @DHorse: There is a huge difference between aggregating data as a software company, and an individual receiving a canned response to their post. Canned responses are first and foremost going to be read by the poster, this proposal does not mention aggregating the response types given. Close votes on questions already provide such feedback. Jul 20, 2013 at 10:24
  • I made a change request to add check box style reasons to up and down voting. Similar to canned comments, checking the reason for a vote is useful and helps with users that do not take the effort you make in your responses.
    – DHorse
    Jul 20, 2013 at 10:28
  • Quoting that thread: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/189649/… "I disagree. Many users will leave a comment of course. Many will also just up or down vote because it is instantaneous. Reason codes (or check boxes) are a proven, important source of data in many high end business applications (where cost allows.) Though hardly in depth, they are less confusing than no information. They would provide SO with valuable data in an unambiguous form beyond the benefit to the users"
    – DHorse
    Jul 20, 2013 at 10:29
  • @DHorse: I agree with Andrew's comment there; I don't think I have to add anything to that. Jul 20, 2013 at 10:33

I joined Seasoned advice (the cooking subsite) and for 2 of my questions, I got down voted heavily and one got closed with no explanation of what I was doing wrong and no way to find out who down-voted me, so I could ask them for the reason and maybe for better questions next time. Maybe it could be a feature request to make it a must for a user to add a comment or explanation everytime they down vote someone just so that its fair on the person on the receiving end to not repeat the mistake and I guess in the end it'll help stack-sub-sites to have better quality questions and answers.

  • 4
    This was suggested numerous times and always rejected both by the community (suggestion got downvoted) and by the team. One of many. Anyway, you can ask on the proper Meta site why it got closed/downvoted. Aug 13, 2012 at 9:30
  • @ShaWizDowArd: Thanks for that and I know it has been asked and rejected. Maybe it should be put to vote for a month or something for an indication for stack-exchange to add it if its popular demand. Someone said on that link in your comment that people just won't down-vote if you make it hard for them to do it. Well, then lazy people should not be allowed to down-vote. If I get down-voted I would like to know why, so I can correct my mistake and not do that again.
    – Divi
    Aug 13, 2012 at 9:52
  • I did get my question re-opened and upvoted once I added a little bit of detail to it and it was because some other person (not the down-voter) explained to me what the potential problem could be. Good on him/her.
    – Divi
    Aug 13, 2012 at 9:53
  • 2
    Down vote should remain free. This is my opinion as well, and I won't discuss it here with you - feel free to comment on existing discussions about this but I really don't think that the community will ever agree to stop the down vote mechanism. (which is essentially what you suggest) Aug 13, 2012 at 10:06
  • Fair enough. At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to both approaches.
    – Divi
    Aug 13, 2012 at 10:10
  • @Divi, what do you mean "maybe it should be put to vote for a month"? When you post a feature request on meta, you are putting it to vote... People clearly value the ability to make lazy, anonymous downvotes (sometimes a question isn't worth more than that), my suggestion is to try to generate some kind of feedback for the new user by making feedback very easy (but still not required).
    – Shep
    Aug 13, 2012 at 10:47
  • "no way to find out who down-voted me" That's the point of anonymous voting. If the voter wanted you to know who voted and how, then the voter could leave a comment, but the point of voting is that it is anonymous. Hovering the mouse over the down arrow will give you the default reasons for a down vote. If you want to object to down votes or question closure, there is Meta for that. Ask on Meta how to rehabilitate a question so that it is acceptable to the community, then edit the question with the suggestions.
    – Ron Maupin
    Dec 16, 2019 at 19:13

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