I notice that I have been hit by 3 down votes. Clearly some people do not like my ideas and I would like to know which ideas people did not like so I can learn from my mistakes.

Is there a way to tell where the down votes were applied?


10 Answers 10


There is already a uservoice request that downvotes require comments. Of course, it would be easy to type in garbage for the comment, but at least it would be a prompt.

Using your reputation page you can see which questions/answers got downvotes, but of course that doesn't explain why they were voted down. When that gets too unwieldy, you can use a bit of hackery to get the JSON showing the reputation gained/lost during a particular time period, but I wouldn't worry about that just yet. (Hopefully by the time it becomes an issue for you we may have better tools. I'm still trying to work out exactly what would be useful.) Other answers have pointed to the external website explaining the "delta since your last visit" too.

Personally, I ignore it most of the time - if someone isn't willing to explain why they don't like an answer, it can't be that important. If they add a comment, I can explain my reasoning, improve my answer - or just delete it if it's flat-out wrong. It's always worth remembering this when you apply a downvote yourself - put yourself in the place of the person receiving it, and think of the benefit of adding a comment vs just downvoting :)

  • jon skeet fact: downvotes against jon skeet have the decency to Math.abs() themselves. – bananakata Dec 5 '08 at 10:24
  • The uservoice request has been denied. – Scottie T Dec 5 '08 at 23:32
  • I don't like adding a comment to explain a downvote, because there's the chance of retaliation. Any comment system would have to be anonymous. – Mark Ransom Dec 5 '08 at 23:41
  • Mark: Without a comment, there's no chance of explanation. I think most users are more likely to want to discuss your objection than to retaliate with other downvotes. I haven't seen much evidence of "tactical" downvoting, but I've seen lots of interesting discussions... – Jon Skeet Dec 6 '08 at 8:14
  • @Mark: Unless the post is plain offensive, I think it's a good idea to leave a comment for every down vote. Yes, there may be a few people who retaliate but I'm willing to take a few hits to help people understand why I believed they were wrong. It's a learning site after all. – JaredPar Dec 6 '08 at 10:07
  • I really think commenting on downvoting (or at least commenting on downvoting which results in a negative number of votes) should be mandatory! I've had a couple of downvotes which were reversed once I asked for explanation, and apparently the downvoter almost every time misinterpreted my answer! So there are too many people too eager on the downvote button! – fretje Jun 9 '09 at 15:03

I would be good feature addition to stackoverflow to mandate comment for downvote.

  • There is already a feature request as said by Jon Skeet: stackoverflow.uservoice.com/pages/general/suggestions/24848 – boutta Dec 5 '08 at 10:37
  • I disagree. This is a disincentive to downvoting - there is already a rep penalty. At the end of the day, if the question - or answer - was more helpful to users than otherwise, the balance will be positive. I don't need to know why I was downvoted - just shrug and move on. – Sam Meldrum Dec 5 '08 at 10:57

The saddest (happiest?) part is when they downvote you and leave a comment, but their downvote reason is flat out wrong :-)

At least that's better than no comment, but it highlights the possiblity of wrong-reason downvoting, which I'd venture to say it happens more than we'd like to.

Also, there's the malicious downvoting, where people downvote you to get their answers above yours, that will never be explained in a comment.

So, the sanest path is to just ignore no-comment downvotes.


If you're talking about the Votes section on your user profile page, that's telling you how many votes you have made rather than received.

  • Yep, I am sure this is the case. – Claymore Dec 5 '08 at 10:09

I would assume that in your profile, beneath the "n Votes" title, there's a summary? Or maybe under the "Votes" tab?

If not; I will request it as a feature :D


If you go to the reputation graph page in your profile it'll show you which answers (and questions) have received down-votes.

I would also support mandatory comments on down-votes. There's a pattern of votes against many of my answers which looks like systematic down-voting for no good reason.


I try to leave a comment when I'm downvoting for non obvious reasons.

EDIT: What I mean by obvious reasons are what I suppose are obvious reasons for everyone: rude answers or insults, completely off-topic discussion. If I just don't agree with the answer I don't downvote.

  • 1
    What's obvious for you is not necessarily obvious for the guy who wrote the answer – Vinko Vrsalovic Dec 5 '08 at 10:08

which for you would be


No, there isn't, at least not directly.

In your profile on the 'Reputation' tab, you have this nice graph of your rep development. The shaded part shows which time frame is taken into account for the list to the right of it. You can define this are yourself by marking it with your mouse, the list will be updated accordingly.

Now, assuming that you are mostly interested in current downvotes, you can just mark the last two or three days and see where you got the most downvotes.

Sometimes (sadly, not very often), people will add a comment to your answer, explaining their downvote. So I usually go to see my responses. If somebody left a useful comment, I follow up on that. If not, I ignore the downvote. (Well, at least I try to. But sometimes my ego gets in the way...)

  • (Apologies for my mistaken edit. I thought I was editing my own post. Too few coffees...) – Jon Skeet Dec 5 '08 at 10:04
  • No apology necessary. I am suffering from caffein deprivation too ;-) – Treb Dec 5 '08 at 10:59

Perhaps some sort of "outvoted" system where a down voter would be additionally rep punished if the answer was later upvoted above 0? And I imagine the reverse would also work.

I can't imagine a system which can't be gamed or broken in some respect. God, how does /. deal with this? :)

  • Q. "God, how does /. deal with this?" A. It doesn't – Noel Walters Feb 4 '09 at 18:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .