Each question in SO keeps a list of the users who voted it down. As we all know, the list is never shown to anyone. Only the down voter can see which questions he down voted.

Sometimes, down voters down vote rather hastily. Thats okay because no one is perfect (except chuck norris). But sometimes, the down voter might have a good reason to down vote but may not leave a reason behind. As a result, the poster is left wondering if his question is stupid/bad or okay. To remedy this situation, I suggest a feature below -

The poster should have a button "request down voters for reason" which can be pushed only once. The down voters in the down voter list get the notification and can choose to respond to it. I feel that this can serve as a polite reminder to those who down vote a question which would seem to be an okay (if not good) question to most people.

Example of question which I feel should have at least 0 votes - Speed up or slow down time - A clock whose time is different from system clock?

If okay, then this feature can be combined with - Provide (optional) anonymous reasoning field for down-votes

Do you agree to the proposal ? As an aside, do you agree that the SO question above should not get negative points ?

  • okay where is my reason ? Its ironic that of all the forums, I did not get a reason here.
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 10:53
  • my suggestion can be combined with - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/54493/… which requests that people be allowed to submit reasons anonymously.
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 10:55
  • 4
    Votes on meta often indicate agreement (up vote) and disagreement (down vote).
    – Felix
    Mar 31, 2013 at 10:56
  • LOL !!! -2,-3,-2,-3...-2. If it goes below, say 5, then people might just jump onto the bandwagon and beat this question further.
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 10:57
  • 1
    I disagree, voting is anonymous. You can leave a comment, but it can not be required. Besides, downvotes are not the end of the world. Mar 31, 2013 at 11:00
  • If only one could get a dollar for each down vote in SO and a dime for a good question, then one would be a rich person. :)
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:00
  • 1
    ` LOL !!! -2,-3,-2,-3...-2. ` -- That is because of me :P , I was downvoting and removing it, trying to catch the message it shows to put it in my answer. -- I didn't leave the downvote, I do not disagree with this question.
    – sharp12345
    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:03
  • 2
    ' and agree that this question should not get negative points' ...I see what you did there, sneaky. Mar 31, 2013 at 11:04
  • 2
    If you get a lot of downvotes, you maybe want to revisit the way you write your posts. Mar 31, 2013 at 11:06
  • @ToonKrijthe - i edited the question. Please tell me if its better now.
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:07
  • 3
    @Time - A lot of people don't want to improve their posts, so they blame the stupid downvoter for all their problems. That soon teaches everyone not to leave comments with your votes for posters you don't know.
    – Bo Persson
    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


I don't think tasking a user to return in order to explain a down vote is going to help very much. First, nearly everyone that asks a question that is down voted is going to press that button. I just don't see down voters returning to provide an explanation if they have not done so already.

What I see happening is people getting annoyed at the inbox notifications, which might tempt them to avoid down voting entirely in the future. That's definitely not something we want to do.

Yet, this keeps coming up. Currently, the only way to leave feedback is to leave a comment with your user name attached to it. Some people avoid this because:

  • They don't want to get into a conversation with the user at all. They've done their civic duty by voting based on the quality of the question, they want to move on.

  • They don't want to open the door to 'revenge' scenarios. Some people definitely aren't on their best behavior when reacting to down votes.

  • They make think the question is unsalvageable, they simply can't find anything constructive to say. If you can't say anything nice ...

If a feedback system to explain votes were to be implemented, it would need to be:

  • Anonymous

  • Extremely simple - nearly effortless to use and 100% effortless to avoid altogether. Ease of use needs to be what invites down voters to leave something else, this can't get in people's way.

  • Geared to present feedback constructively to the OP, we don't want them to feel even worse, or more overwhelmed than they might otherwise. This gets tricky

  • Designed to not add any additional moderation overhead (which pretty much rules out any kind of 'custom' feedback where people can just type)

  • At least relatively easy to implement. That's difficult to tell from the outside looking in - but moving parts should be kept to a minimum.

So while I think the idea might have a bit of merit now that we've reached the scale that we have, I don't think what you've proposed would work very well as described. You made a good try though, so If the problem really interests you, I encourage you to explore it more and perhaps try again.

  • Thanks Tim. Yes, I think that my suggestion would not work well. May be we can reduce some points for not leaving comments for a certain number of down votes while ensuring that anonymous reasons.
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:47

Right now, when you downvote, you get the message:

Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved.

Which I think is enough, although could be worded differently to encourage more contribution to commenting.

Voting history is recorded, and each user can see what posts he has up/down voted before, other users can't see it.

  • Thanks for the response. I edited the question. Please tell me if its better now.
    – Time
    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:07

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