I asked a question on StackOverflow yesterday: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/17396342/java-diffie-hellman-key-exchange-implementation-gotcha

  • Before asking I searched almost a day for solutions, including StackOverflow
  • I phrased the question well (I'm not a native speaker, but my grammar is OK)
  • Provided concept code
  • Explained my motivations well
  • It's definitely not a homework questions

Then someone came along and without any explanation, feedback or guidance downvoted the question. This probably made people ignore it, and as another result it certainly get out of sight of many people who maybe able to potentially answer the question which is the goal of this entire site.

My question: can I somehow challenge a downvote? It ruins the usefulness of the site. We come here to solve problems.

(I asked my friends if there's anything wrong with the question. It is certainly not too specific, you can see many people struggling with Java DH implementations. It is specific maybe if that area is out of your knowledge, but than any such area could be "too specific = you don't know it". The other thing we could think of is that the person didn't read well, and thought that I need SSL, but that's not the case).

I'd like to see who actually gave the downvote, so I can get a feedback from the person to improve the question.

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    Well, in general ignoring down votes will serve you much better than putting angry disclaimers about them at the start of your question. That will probably only make things worse. – joran Jul 1 '13 at 19:15
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    Maybe someone thought your question was too chatty. – juergen d Jul 1 '13 at 19:15
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    How about concisely stating what the problem is? That's a big wall of text without an immediate, obvious question. – LittleBobbyTables - Au Revoir Jul 1 '13 at 19:17
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    The disclaimer and your corresponding edit message at the beginning of your question makes me want to downvote it without even reading it. I won't, but you might want to address that. Lashing out is never the answer, even if you're upset. And if it's feedback you're looking for from the downvoter, referring to them as a troll or moron is not going to make that happen. – Bart Jul 1 '13 at 19:18
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    I had to work very hard to not downvote the post when I saw that disclaimer as well. I settled for simply removing it, as it shouldn't be there. – Servy Jul 1 '13 at 19:19
  • @Servy thanks for removing it, I would do that too – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:29
  • Bonus question gentlemen: why is this topic -6? – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:32
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    @CsabaToth meta.stackoverflow.com/help/whats-meta See the section on voting. – Bart Jul 1 '13 at 19:33
  • @Bart: thanks, I'm new to meta – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:34
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    nothing makes me want to downvote more than people complaining about downvotes – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Jul 1 '13 at 19:40
  • "The other thing we could think of is that the person didn't read well, and thought that I need SSL" -- why would you think so? And as apparently you do think such might happen: make clear that SSL is not the answer? (In a more friendly way than you did earlier.) – Arjan Jul 1 '13 at 19:44
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    @CsabaToth I've edited your question a little. I understand you're writing in your second language, so don't feel criticized. Asking a question is not opening a topic and the distinction is important. SO is not for discussing. It's for asking something crisp, clear, and answerable. When a question is rambly, long, and hard to find the actual question it will get downvotes. This is a feature. While it hurts to get them, the fact they exist is what leads us to so many crisp, clear, answerable questions - and their answers. – Kate Gregory Jul 1 '13 at 20:02
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    @KateGregory Thank you, and it's an honor! I can say "SO - it's my foot"! ;) – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 20:07
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    I can also see the other big conclusion: I should take down-vote less seriously. – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 20:09
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    @CsabaToth No, downvotes are serious business, they just aren't personal. It's not an insult to you, it's someone taking time to provide feedback on your post so that you can improve it to provide better content. Think of it as a polite suggestion to re-read your post and either address the specific problems mentioned in comments, or if there are none, just for anything you think may be problematic. You shouldn't just ignore downvotes, because they are serious. What you shouldn't do is be offended by them; there is no malice in downvotes, merely constructive feedback. – Servy Jul 1 '13 at 20:27

can I somehow override/undo the -1?

No, you cannot. Everyone has the right to vote however they want on any post, barring a few exceptions for cases of voting fraud. You cannot undo the vote.

Such cases ruins the usefulness of the site. We come here to solve problems, and such ignorant actions jeopardize that.

While downvotes that may seem improper can be problematic at times, the voting system adds far more value than the problems it causes. Allowing you to just invalidate a vote because you don't like it would effectively be the same as removing the voting system entirely.

The ability for users to be able to downvote poor quality content is essential to the success of the site.

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  • In short, good content overrides -1's. – user7116 Jul 1 '13 at 19:41
  • "the voting system adds far more value than the problems it causes" -- including feeding the automatic post bans for those who post crap. So indeed: very much agreed. – Arjan Jul 1 '13 at 19:41
  • I can see why the voting system is useful. I often see homework questions or such question I cannot understand (bad English). – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:51
  • @Servy, very well said - thanks. – ToolmakerSteve Jul 11 '13 at 2:57

No, you can't see who placed that downvote. Not even Community Moderators can do that. Votes are anonymous by design, and I don't ever see that changing.

People can vote up or down a question or answer for whatever reason they choose. Perhaps they thought your question was too easy. Perhaps they didn't like how you phrased it. Perhaps they don't like your avatar. People are encouraged to write comments to explain why think a post isn't up-to-snuff, but it isn't required.

All you can do is step back and see if there is a way to improve your question. If not, then just forget about it and move on. It's just one vote.

Of course, you've now brought attention to your question here on Meta. That may or may not work out for you. Good luck.

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  • For what it's worth, I didn't go look at your question before writing this. – ale Jul 1 '13 at 19:20
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    Having read the question, I can say it wouldn't matter if you had. – Servy Jul 1 '13 at 19:21
  • It could be a feature maybe to ask the person anonymously (not knowing his identity) why was the down-vote. I see why it happened in my case, probably it was too lengthy, not clear enough/well focused. – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 20:16
  • Asking for anonymous feedback on downvotes has also been a requested feature. Cast about on Meta for a while. It has been discussed to death. – ale Jul 1 '13 at 20:17

Answering your question...

As for your "question" portion... Any attempt to "play" the system to counteract the -1 is going to be considered a breach of terms of use. Don't do it. You're not suppose to be able to.

Moving Forward...

Having taken a very quick glance at your question, you almost certainly triggered someone's tl; dr. response. That may have been manifested in the form of a downvote. Some questions can be summarized better, some need a ton of detail.

I might try to break up big walls of text or code by writing inline explanations for small blocks of code (instead of code comments, which make for a longer code block).

Some people are going to vote down because it's not interesting to them; I certainly can sympathize. It's also entirely possible that your topic is very niche, and will only benefit from a bounty.

One final thought: don't become too concerned about a negative score causing people to steer clear of your question. I'm quite the opposite; negative scores attract me to questions, so it may end up working out in your favor, in the long run!

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  • Too long; didn't read. – Lynn Crumbling Jul 1 '13 at 19:38
  • answered my question: what is "tl; dr" – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:39
  • Understood, I should phrase the question shorter. – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:43
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    Could you have stated your entire question as: I have a byte[] returned from KeyPair.getPublic().getEncoded(). How can I convert it to a PublicKey so that I can use it with doPhase? – Lynn Crumbling Jul 1 '13 at 19:49
  • Actually that's the essence. I thought I'll give as much background info as possible, but probably that can distract people from sorting out the real question. I could imagine that someone says that I'd rather have to export a X509 format certificate or something. – Csaba Toth Jul 1 '13 at 19:54
  • No problem; I guess I'd state the question first. After the basic question, offer more detail, a background, things you've tried, etc... but at least I can skip the rest, if I already have thought of an answer. Good luck with your problem... – Lynn Crumbling Jul 1 '13 at 19:57

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