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Encouraging people to explain down-votes

On Stack Overflow, if a user casts a down vote, can there be a dialog or popup asking the reason for for the down vote? How can we know, whether the down-voter has judged properly? What are the parameters?

  • 8
    This already exists. When a user below 2500? rep downvotes a post, (s)he will get a popup asking for a comment.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 18:39
  • @Mysticial - I think (I realize) the reputation limit is 2000. and for Meta it is 1000. :-)
    – Himanshu
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 4:56

3 Answers 3


There are two ways that "invalid" downvoting is prevented:

  • downvoting an answer costs you a point.
  • a pattern of downvotes from a single user will generally be reversed automatically

I put invalid in quotes because the design of the Stack sites is that users are allowed to vote up or down for whatever reason they want, and they don't have to justify or explain their votes. No-one can say your vote is wrong. While it might seem that this is crazy and leads to terrible voting, by and large it doesn't.


Converting comments to answer.

can there be a dialog or a popup asking the reason for down voting a post.

This already exists. When a user below 2000 rep downvotes a post, (s)he will get a popup asking for a comment. Of course, leaving a comment is still optional.

How can we know, if the down vote is judged properly ?

You don't. People can downvote for any reason they want including, (but not limited to):

  • Having a bad hair day.
  • Don't like you.
  • Revenge for some other (unrelated) episode.

And there's nothing you can do about it. That's just the way it works.

However, when a post has a lot of upvotes and a small number of (unexplained) downvotes, it's usually a clear indication that the downvotes are "misjudged" in some way. But in such cases, the upvotes offset the downvotes anyway. So it's not a problem.

What are the parameters ?

There are automated scripts to catch and reverse obvious voting abuse. And moderators have extra tools to detect voting rings and such. How these work are all secret for good reason.


There is an orange dialog(sometimes) when you cast a down-vote reminding you that it's polite to leave a comment.

It would be nice if you could leave an anonymous comment when down-voting(to avoid bad blood), but with the current state of things, it doesn't look like that will happen any time soon.

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