Voting is anonymous. One can't see who voted where, the only public information is the total amount of votes, in the user profile. For downvotes it's not even showing the daily amount to prevent cases where one says "see, he cast only one downvote today so it must be on my post".

However, there is a way to see the time when user cast a downvote - his first only, but still - and this is via the critic badge page. It appears to be given pretty fast, every 5 minutes so for example now I know that vikram cast a downvote between 16 to 11 minutes ago, if I got downvoted I can compare the times and have a very reasonable "target" using this information.

Marking this for now though as I'm not sure how to handle it. Do you think it's important enough to change something, or is it better to let it be?

  • 1
    Fair point. Maybe the awarding of the badge could be timed without too much hassle?
    – Pekka
    Jul 18 '13 at 14:32
  • 7
    Hmm... a valid point to discuss, definitely. On balance, I don't know if it's a big deal. Although I suspect the rate of first-down-voting people who also leave a comment might be relatively high, and could add to the 'guessability' of this. Jul 18 '13 at 14:33
  • 1
    @Pekka it will still reveal the day, so I think it's either don't show the time awarded at all or nothing i.e. leave it be as it's now. Jul 18 '13 at 14:35
  • @Sha I don't see how the day is a problem though? It's just that with the time awarded, I can match it with a downvote I received. That's the problem here, right? Because I can see daily downvotes in the user's profile anyway
    – Pekka
    Jul 18 '13 at 14:36
  • 3
    And then what? Are we going to remove the 1-rep cost of downvoting answers because I've been using it to determine who's downvoted my answers forever? Jul 18 '13 at 14:36
  • On SO/SU/SF, probably not a big deal due to volume, but on slower sites it might be much easier to narrow down a downvoter Jul 18 '13 at 14:37
  • @Pekka same reason it's showing only total downvotes not daily in the user profile page, quite sure there's a discussion about this. Jul 18 '13 at 14:42
  • 1
    @Bolt that -1 is not showing anywhere, the one suspecting would have to keep track on the reputation of the user he suspects 24/7 - not very realistic thing to do. :) Jul 18 '13 at 14:44
  • @Sha nope, I see your daily downvotes. They arguably aren't that much a problem, as they have no time info attached.
    – Pekka
    Jul 18 '13 at 14:46
  • @Pekka where you see that? I don't see yours.. Jul 18 '13 at 14:46
  • @Sha on the first tab, i.stack.imgur.com/DLEUc.png
    – Pekka
    Jul 18 '13 at 14:50
  • 2
    @Pekka that's total amount of daily votes, not downvotes. One can only guess how many are up and how many are down. Jul 18 '13 at 15:40
  • 1
    I tried to downvote your question about downvoting, but then realized I don't have enough rep on this site to do so. I has a sad. Jul 18 '13 at 16:15
  • Not sure how you can correlate that someone got a badge for down-voting 11 minutes ago and my question got down-voted 11 minutes ago so that means they must have down-voted my question.
    – Joe W
    Jul 18 '13 at 17:22
  • @JoeW not "must have" just "might have" which is more than the public available data reveals otherwise. Especially if that user posted competing answer or commented on my answer. Jul 18 '13 at 18:09

We have added random time intervals to the frequency in which we award the critic badge.


As I understand it, downvoting isn't intended to be truly and fully anonymous anyway. When you downvote, you're encouraged to post a comment or edit to improve the post. The only time I have ever downvoted without explaining why I have done so is when another person has already addressed the problem I have with the post, so my downvotes are generally not anonymous.

The way I see it, you should be willing to stand by your actions -- if you downvote a post, you really shouldn't care whether people know it. If you're not willing to put your name on something, don't do it.

When someone downvotes me, I don't think "who is this horrible person that dares to defy me?" I look at my post to see if there's something to improve. If I don't see anything, I don't worry about it. What am I going to do once I identify the downvoter? Stalk him in chat and find some of his own posts to downvote? I'm here for knowledge, not a popularity contest, and I really don't care what some group of strangers on the Internet think of me.

And you'd have to not only look at the time the critic badge was awarded, but you would also have to look at all people who downvoted at that time and all posts downvoted, then determine the probability that that person downvoted your post rather than another post. So except for very slow sites (where you may be able to match them with a high degree of certainty), you really won't know who it is that downvoted you.

  • Ryan people are people and not everybody takes well to be being downvoted, and we all have our good and bad days, it's more if there is a hunch, I had a run in with someone, he then went onto another site editing my posts, simultaneously my posts were being downvoted.. Was he downvoting? I will never know, but it looked suspicious and led to further agro.. best these things are kept anonymous, and voting is supposed to be anonymous, unless the voter discloses their vote
    – user310756
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:47
  • Right, but if somebody cares enough to find and call out (or punish) a new user for downvoting them (and the critic badge tends to go to new-ish users), they have issues. I do understand being upset when an answer I think (or know) to be great gets downvoted, but I move on.
    – Ryan Frame
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:52
  • @Yve: didn't see your edit until my reply. That does make sense.
    – Ryan Frame
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:53
  • yes the person would have issues, and that is the whole point, we are dealing with the internet.. anybody and everybody.. it's just a safety hatch oh, yeh, I'm good at that lol I think of more to say - I seriously talk too much and drive my kids and friends crazy explaining things.. like I do to you guys here
    – user310756
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:54
  • 1
    @downvoter: I will find you... (if I used smilies I would do so here)
    – Ryan Frame
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:55
  • It was me.. cos of the statement 'As I understand it, downvoting isn't intended to be truly and fully anonymous anyway.' everything I've read here indicates otherwise...
    – user310756
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:56
  • @Yve: I see. I tend to talk to myself (soliloquy is the best conversation) instead of other people.
    – Ryan Frame
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:57
  • hahhahahha yes, yes me too.. I g2g2 bed, if you edit your answer, fo u mind tagging me in the comments, I like to go back and revisit downvotes if the post is edited and u r so nice.. anyway I DO smilies :) night (well 3am here - morning)
    – user310756
    Jul 18 '13 at 16:58
  • I'm not going to edit it; there is definitely room (and sometimes a good reason) to remain anonymous, but I think the suggestion to leave a comment when you downvote shows that SE's actual intention is against it.
    – Ryan Frame
    Jul 18 '13 at 17:11
  • 1
    Nothing to add to your chirpy discussion here! :-) Jul 18 '13 at 18:14

As noted in the comments and from the question, the issue isn't a debate about whether voting should be anonymous, but whether a potential leak in anonymity should be fixed.

Voting is anonymous. One can't see who voted where, the only public information is the total amount of votes, in the user profile. For downvotes it's not even showing the daily amount to prevent cases where one says "see, he cast only one downvote today so it must be on my post ".

I think it would be good to rectify this:

  1. Given the premise that downvoting is anonymous.
  2. Given that downvoting can be a source of friction and the new user is, usually, the most vulnerable member of the community.

I suggest delaying the time the badge is awarded. Make the time the badge is rewarded, either random after the first downvote. Or that the check for this is delayed, and perhaps checked once or twice a day, or at hourly intervals, with reference to this, so that the approximate time people voted is unavailable.

A note can be written beside the badge in the help section, saying it is rewarded within for example 48 hours of first downvote or at set intervals.

  • 6
    Friction is good, it prevents me from slipping. Jul 18 '13 at 15:05
  • @doubleDown I am the Queen of friction, holy god, and I don't start out with that intention.. I am waiting for some kind of controversy badge.. either that or a total post ban, whichever the community thinks is more apt ;) hahahaha oh and where is my upvote, I'm going to your profile page and going to start refreshing hahahahahha
    – user310756
    Jul 18 '13 at 15:08

"see, he cast only one downvote today so it must be on my post"

So what? If some OP's question or answer is downvoted and OP sees the downvoter, is there a problem? This itself is information that is harmless. OP can learn from it, think "It's their first downvote and it was on what I wrote, should I be doing something wrong or is (s)he just stupid?".

If the first (and if the downvote was justifyable), win for all. If the second, still no harm done.

Only when OP now thinks he or she should act on that knowledge, that action will be corrected. If it's serial downvoting on the downvoter's questions and answers, it will be reverted (still happens to me now and then, lovely how you lose a whopping 2 points even if some votes slip by). If it's offending comments, they will be flagged and removed.

Even if configuring a slowdown of the handing out of the badge took a mere few seconds to do, I think it's too far-fetched to even act on (and how often does it currently happen?).

  • 2
    Never said there's harm in finding out who downvoted and that's not the topic here, just saying that currently this information is kept private on purpose, and the badge is an exception. Jul 18 '13 at 18:12
  • @Sha I agree with your findings, it is inconsistent, but I just tried to explain why I think this isn't worth acting on.
    – CodeCaster
    Jul 19 '13 at 6:26

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