I came across this answer earlier today, which I deemed trivial (all it gave was the solution, not an explanation of why it worked or how to prevent this from happening in the future, and was practically copied from the comments above, which were posted about two minutes before).

I left a comment explaining why I downvoted, and a few people took offense to it:

@RichardJ.RossIII You're downvoting an answer that answers the OPs question? – modifiable lvalue

@RichardJ.RossIII habitually violates the rules. Since this answer is not wrong or dangerous and is in fact useful, it should not be downvoted. +1 to compensate. – Jim Balter

My question is, is there a policy against doing this? Should we, as a community, accept and encourage such answers? Personally, I think the whole question should be deleted, as it is far from useful, but that's not the point here.

Generally speaking, I save my upvotes for answers which either helped me personally, or do an exceptional amount towards answering a question. I downvote a lot, as I have high standards (that's not to say that I'm perfect, however).

The bottom line is this: should I be more conservative with my downvoting patterns?

  • 7
    Nope, it's entirely up to you.
    – Bart
    Apr 16, 2013 at 7:03
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    I don't think commenting when voting has ever gotten me any useful result. I have mostly stopped doing it; every once in a while I will do both and then I immediately remember why I gave it up. I don't care how many people complain about commentless downvotes (or upvotes, though no one ever seems to think a commentless upvote is bad for some reason); it's just asking for an argument.
    – jscs
    Apr 16, 2013 at 7:22
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    You should have downvoted question not answer.
    – IvanP
    Apr 16, 2013 at 7:31
  • @IvanP I didn't think that was necessary as I had already bored to close. The question would have died in peace it it wasnt for that answer. Apr 16, 2013 at 13:04
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    The only thing I'd say about this is that the last part of your original comment: I downvoted because this is such a trivial answer, and this question shouldn't have been answered in the first place. rubs me the wrong way. Everyone answering a question is a volunteer, and I don't like the idea of going after them because they chose to answer a trivial or poorly-asked question. Some of my better answers have come on poor questions, and I don't think the quality of the question should influence our voting on the answers to it. Jim was wrong in his response here, though. Apr 16, 2013 at 14:53

4 Answers 4


No it isn't. You can downvote for whatever reason you want as long as it isn't targeted at any user.

Different people have different standards and it's perfectly fine to have high standards.

Some people (myself included) actually have double standards...

  • For new and/or low traffic questions, I'll let anything that isn't wrong pass.
  • For old and high-traffic questions that are already well-answered, I have very high standards. And I will not hesitate to drop a link in our chatrooms to get the downvotes necessary to delete vote low-quality answers.
  • Chat really isn't my thing, but I see your point. In scenarios like this, though, I rarely vote for answer deletion, only question deletion. Apr 16, 2013 at 7:12
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    Well, obviously you can't (and wouldn't want to) delete vote high quality and high traffic questions. But those questions also attract an endless stream of low-quality answers that often add nothing of value. They usually aren't "bad enough" to warrant flagging, but they add noise. So I usually protect the question and drop a link into our chatroom to gather delete votes.
    – Mysticial
    Apr 16, 2013 at 7:16
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    I also note that I don't downvote at all on SO. I'm not a big fan of annoymous downvoting. And I find that polite negative comments (without the downvote) are more effective in avoiding confrontations with the user. But if I want something deleted, I drop it in our chatroom.
    – Mysticial
    Apr 16, 2013 at 7:25

No it isn't. Firstly, as mentioned here, voting is subjective and nobody can force you to vote differently.

It is breaking the rules to answer a question that should be closed -- a 1k user really should know better (and so should the 5k user who is berating you for downvoting). The question probably needs deletion.

In such cases, it may be helpful to downvote and comment "please don't answer such questions using the answer box. Instead, flag as and provide an answer in the comments if you wish."

I personally downvote trivial answers as well -- I like answers with at least a sentence of explanation. (But of hypocrisy here -- some of my older answers are quite trivial -- but that's what comes of answering questions :P)


It's not breaking the rules; you are free to vote whichever way you want.

However, downvoting answers to trivial / typo questions isn't really supported by many in the community; as you have observed, it will often end in strife and/or people upvoting to counter your downvote.

A more productive course of action might be voting to close, and then voting to delete, the question once it's been answered.

See also Close all the typo questions

  • 6
    The question you linked was my reasoning behind downvoting, actually. Sometimes, I think our community is way too harsh on downvotes, which only cause a loss of 2 rep, when we should be more concerned about who is giving up-votes (which give 10 rep!). Apr 16, 2013 at 7:11
  • @Richard yeah, absolutely.
    – Pekka
    Apr 16, 2013 at 7:12

There are no hard rules on this, as long as you vote on posts and not on users, you're free to use your votes as you see fit. Where exactly you draw the line on useful or not useful answers is up to you, though I would recommend to avoid the very extremes. Upvoting everything or never upvoting at all are not very useful voting patterns to the community.

Downvoting answers to questions that should have been closed is not uncommon, though I personally only do that for users that really should know better.

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