When you vote down an answer to a question, do you leave a comment to explain why? Personally I think this is very useful, since if someone has written something that is wrong they can be set straight. Obviously, this may not make sense for highly subjective answers...

  • 2
    Not only is it polite, it should be downright mandatory if there are not already comments that describe your problem with it (in which case a redundant comment would just be noise).
    – Synetech
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 13:50

14 Answers 14


Yes absolutely. This site is about working together to get the right answers. If someone is incorrect its a great help to let them know why. I hope to get reasons why people vote me down!


If I down-vote something, I always leave a comment as to why it's wrong. Otherwise, people might not learn. Also, and I feel more importantly, if something is +5 and -3, no one will know it has been down-voted unless there are comments explaining why.


I think a comment should be the first method to show someone you don't agree. Maybe they can clarify something that would change your mind. Then downvote if they still don't satisfy you. A downvote without a comment is almost as unhelpful as a posting that should be downvoted.

Plus, I think questions like this (about SO) should be community wikis, so the rep earned and burned is based mainly on programming knowledge.

  • Much as I like this idea - realistically, most of us will view most questions once and then move on. Definitely comment ... and follow this suggestion when you can (e.g. on question in which you are personally interested)
    – Mawg
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:08

Generally I will only make a comment when downvoting if that comment is actionable.

If an answer is inane or appears to be intentionally unhelpful, or just beside the point, I won't bother leaving a comment. At some point I'd just get tired of writing "don't be an ass", "don't be rude", "don't be an idiot" comments.

If an answer appears to be intended to be helpful but has some flaw, I will be more likely to add a comment. The answerer may have misinterpreted the question, or they may have made some error in coding, or they may not be aware of the deficiencies of their design, so a comment is worthwhile because it gives them feedback and it gives others who read the answer useful information (on whether to use that answer, for example) as well.


Yes please. I've gotten a couple of downvotes that I'm still a little confused by, and I'd have loved a few words of explanation (I'm not saying the downvote was unjustified, I just didn't know why it happened.) And both Questions and Answers, please.

  • 1
    Frankly, some people just like to wreck a good thing. For example, on stackoverflow.com/questions/206154/… , someone came along and marked every single answer down, even though they were all correct.
    – Just Some Guy
    Commented Oct 16, 2008 at 19:25
  • 1
    Yeah, I've been hit with one or two of those myself. Commented Oct 16, 2008 at 20:36

Yes, please comment. Sometimes I see a down vote and I don't understand the reason for it. Is the answer technically wrong? Is it off-topic? Is the voter trying to suppress points of view that they don't agree with?


The problem with leaving comments explaining downvotes is that the downvoted person may decide to take revenge and use up his allocation downvoting your contributions.

I'm happy with the anonymity factor to be honest.

Sure if I get a down vote I'll leave a comment under my answer or question asking the reason why, but if I don't get one I'm not all that bothered, and nor should I be. After all it's only a website (albeit a fine one), it's not like my credit rating is being affected. :)


I'd go a step further and suggest that it's polite to comment any vote. As others have said, the purpose of StackOverflow is to share information. IMHO, constructive comments—whether or not you agree with them—are always helpful. Personally, I find I learn most from the folks who disagree with me.

  • Thanks for the upvote ... where's the comment!? :-)
    – Adam Liss
    Commented Nov 8, 2008 at 5:05
  • Totally agree +1 Commented Nov 8, 2008 at 5:05
  • +1 agreed. "+1 agreed" would be enough but is not accepted as a comment..
    – Tomas
    Commented Feb 2, 2010 at 12:41

I'd say maybe. If there's a good reason to vote down, like technically wrong, or not answering the question, or flawed, then yes. We all learn from it. If they respond with something like "VB is teh suck!", then I think it goes without saying.

  • I do not understand. "VB is teh suck!" is technically correct. ;)
    – ddaa
    Commented Oct 16, 2008 at 18:43
  • VB RULEZ!!111!!!1!!!one!!11 Commented Oct 16, 2008 at 18:43
  • Actually, to be technically correct, it should be "VB is teh suX0rs!" Commented Oct 16, 2008 at 18:46

I think explanation on downvote of question and answer is always useful, though should not be compulsary.

Without it people often won't see why unaided, for themselves, why the downvote was cast.


Down votes on questions, not necessarily. Down votes on answers, usually.


You should always leave a comment on a downvote, because the person receiving the downvote has the right to know why. If somebody leaves an answer which he or she believes is helpful, then gets a downvote without an explanation, that person will be left wondering why the answer got downvoted. There may be rare exceptions, but it doesn't take any time to leave a comment such as "Not at all helpful" to somebody saying gibberish or something like "VB is teh suck!". I believe that it should be required to leave a (potentially anonymous) comment with a downvote.

  • You may want to add that on uservoice. I think however, that the overhead of commenting would keep people from downvoting.
    – Bob King
    Commented Oct 16, 2008 at 21:43

Yes- I was recently downmodded on an answer which I presume to be absolutely correct. If it is not, I would gladly delete the comment and learn something from it. Otherwise I am left doubting my own answer.

I am also afraid that some people may see the highest ranked answer and take that one to be 'correct' while others are 'incorrect'. My answer was not upmodded so it was not deemed correct or incorrect, but then another answer that had an opposing answer was upmodded. It clearly made my answer appear incorrect.

If anyone reading this may have been responsible, here is the post I am concerned about: Singleton Destructors


certainly not perfect, but just to give an idea on a potential automatic rule that may be "social" friendly
something like ...

votecount < 0 and Upvote and no existing comment :
>>invite user to add a comment
votecount <0 and upvote and (existing two or more comments) or one comment get 2+Up :
>>do not invite to add comment
votecount = 0 and Upvote and no existing comment :
>>invite user to add a comment
votecount > 0 and Upvote and existing comment :
>>do not invite to add a comment

votecount = 0 and downvote and no existing comment :
>>Oblige user to add a comment
votecount > 1 and downvote and no existing comment :
>>Oblige user to add a comment
votecount > 1 and downvote and with existing comment :
>>Invite user to add a comment
votecount > 5 and downvote and with not comment :
>>Oblige user to add a comment

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