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Encouraging people to explain down-votes

OK, I've just got downvoted for an answer that was previously upvoted. I'm pretty sure my answer wasn't the best, yet not the worst. It was also not a subjective question and I got a little upset because...

One of the reasons I'm participating on discussion forums or hybrids like StackOverflow is that I want to get some feedback for what (I think) I know. But, there are occasions in here where you have no idea why your response was bad and thus downvoted. I mean, a question is not about who gives the best answer, it is about learning from each other. If you downvote me, give me a reason for it. Don't be a coward or a selfish person that keeps all the knowledge for himself.

I've been searching on uservoice and any proposal to enforce some feedback when downvoting was rejected so I believe giving feedback for a downvote should be basic netiquette in here. If the system can't enforce it the we should rely on common sense. So...

When you downvote, please give feedback:

  • Say, "Hey, I downvoted you. It was me, ok? Now you know."
  • Say, "Hey, -1 because you said that."
  • Say, "Hey, that what you said is actually the other, -1"

It's not that funny to offer free consultation letting ghosts assess your knowledge. I'm doing this for free so I expect this to be a fair trade by receiving real feedback for free. I'm also convinced I'm not the only one having this problem, so please share your opinions.

I'm a little bit shocked. Within a minute after posting this "question" some people downvoted almost all of my questions (no subjective questions and I may say pretty hard to answer). So, some people are very touchy today although I didn't point the finger at anyone... I wouldn't have believed this could happen.

  • 1
    -1 for not being programming related.
    – GregD
    Mar 1 '09 at 19:06
  • @GregD, thanks for your feedback :) Mar 1 '09 at 19:06
  • @Ionut G. Stan This isn't really the appropriate way to rant about SO. Do not be discouraged if this gets closed. People should leave reasons for downvotes if they want to, but comments on similar stories is the more apropo way to doing it.
    – GregD
    Mar 1 '09 at 19:08
  • If you answer a subjective question, a downvote just means "I don't agree". Big whoop.
    – Blorgbeard
    Mar 1 '09 at 19:43
  • Voting should always be anonymous, it's very rude IMO to suggest it should not be and very selfish. If you're upset about downvotes cry yourself a river and then drown in it. :P Mar 1 '09 at 20:06
  • Stick around long enough and people will downvote you because you're the one who posted the question/answer, no matter how great it is.
    – Robert S.
    Mar 1 '09 at 21:00
  • BTW Ionut, send an email to team@stackoverflow.com and let them know about the irregular downvoting patterns you received after posting this question.
    – Robert S.
    Mar 1 '09 at 21:01
  • @Out Into Space, what difference would it make to send such an email? I'm not sorry about those 8 lost points. Mar 1 '09 at 21:38
  • 1
    I tend to leave comments when I downvote below 0 unless there is another comment that explains my position. But sometimes I downvote because the answer is not as good as another answer with fewer votes. Don't forget that downvoting costs the voter as well. Mar 13 '09 at 20:50
  • It costs 1 point to who down-votes, which means that who down-votes loses less. If then they are going to change that to −5 for who is down-voted, the difference would even higher; losing just 5 points, I could take off 25 points to somebody else.
    – apaderno
    Dec 19 '09 at 14:08
  • Can you please express uour opinion on marking question as duplicate at the following link: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/219750/…
    – Revious
    Feb 5 '14 at 19:52

My suggestion is to not be too thin skinned about it. By participating in any social medium on the web, you'll be exposed to a lot of contrasting viewpoints and personalities.

Take the good out the experience. Don't worry about the down votes.

  • 7
    i dont think he worries about down votes. he wants the feedback on why it was downvoted..
    – Gulzar
    Mar 1 '09 at 19:08

Rule # 1 (echoing a very old rule)

Usenet is a very strange place. (s/usenet/stack\ overflow/)

Reputation is a neat way to keep people interested in answering questions and making edits where needed. I've heard that some recruiters now look for SO reputation .. if your reputation on some third party web site is such an issue, run like hell.

Rule # 2

Answering subjective questions is like taking a laxative in conjunction with a sleeping pill ... results observed when waking are undefined.

SO does have its 'digg/reddit' component, as such its going to inherit fly by voters. If you don't take it personally, it really does not matter.

  • I'm not taking it personally (save for the downvotes on my other questions after posting this one). It's just that I feel I'm lacking some knowledge and don't know what it is. I'm curious. Mar 1 '09 at 19:19
  • By the way. Sometimes is hard to define subjective in the context of programming. For a given problem may be several solutions. Choosing one of them is subjective. Programming is not really Maths, but I get your point, which is valid. Mar 1 '09 at 19:41

Don't sweat it.

I got down-voted today for an informative answer because the person who down-voted didn't think my information was applicable or important enough for his specific environment/project, and after it had been up-voted... no biggie, it happens. There's going to be a cross-section of people, and I personally don't worry any more about expressing unpopular opinions; I'm not trying to be #1 on anyone's hit parade, I'm just trying to provide helpful info.

  • @Nick, at least you found out why you were downvoted while I didn't. I'm not saying do not downvote me, I just want to know why. Mar 1 '09 at 19:23

I guess people don't have much time to leave feedback. It does make you think a bit though and comparing with other upvoted answers is itself a good feedback..

  • Compared to the time it takes to read a question, then read an answer, and then deciding that it should be down voted, leaving feedback doesn't take that long. It takes less then a minute to leave a simple "I down voted you because of this..." comment.
    – DeadHead
    Mar 1 '09 at 19:32
  • for simple straightforward ones, I agree. but not always easy to "write down" your explanation.. and i agree with another post, if you force a user to enter something, he might just enter some junk.
    – Gulzar
    Mar 1 '09 at 19:54

Nothing, just accept it. If you force users to give a reason you will get always get some people writing any old garbage, in the same way that they fill in fake email / postal address info when '* required' to.

  • I guess you're totally right and indeed there's not much to do about this. Mar 1 '09 at 19:21

There's already been a popular uservoice request to force users to comment when they downvote. It was declined.

  • I know. I wrote about it in my "manifesto". Mar 1 '09 at 19:25

People are going to downvote answers. Unfortunately it happens, it isn't limited to certain people, it is localized to answers. Now it's true some closures and downvotes don't make sense but this is something you will have to live with and attempt to avoid being bitter about. Your point of view is not always agreed with by everyone or anyone else.

In anycase I still believe suggestions like this do belong on uservoice but personally I can see why any previous suggestion was rejected. I personally don't feel votes need an explanation or a justification. I think as long as we all act reasonably then the site will work as intended.


I get downvoted for all sorts of reasons, mainly swearing but you have remember there are many different people out there with completely different minds and ideas so your thoughts will always irk some.

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