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I have an answer that I'm certain is technically correct. However, it continues to be downvoted. The answer has already been noted in comments on other answers to be better. It goes more in-depth than the others, yet it continues to be downvoted.

The already upvoted answers were nowhere close initially, and I had already commented on them to say why it is wrong...

Isn't there a limit for that? Shouldn't something be catching this?

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    Note - this keeps coming up, so I'm working on this post as something to link to.
    – Tim Post
    Feb 4 '14 at 10:27
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    The downvotes here are for the irony. Right?
    – JNF
    Apr 14 '15 at 8:32
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    Relevant xkcd: Duty Calls. Oct 6 '16 at 14:11
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    Upvote for the xkcd reference. Let's add this one just for fun: xkcd.com/505
    – SDsolar
    Dec 16 '16 at 2:43
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    Did the asker of this question have his account deleted? May 8 '17 at 23:41
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    @AaronFranke Unlinked "anon" means they were disassociated from this post. (They may have also deleted the account later, but we wouldn't know - the post is no longer linked to the account)
    – user315433
    Nov 18 '17 at 0:09
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    I think the question needs more context. You might have been caught in Should one downvote answers to off-topic questions? In this case, if the policy is followed, then all answers get downvoted.
    – user173448
    Jun 1 '18 at 18:12
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    Yes, I just got one for asking a question on encryption. There was no explanation on the downvote, it ruins your day and you think about it about it all day. I wish we remove this downvote feature, it does more harm then good. Jul 17 '18 at 2:04
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    Bad questions ruin many users' days, clogging up the site and wasting the time of curators who have to deal with them:( Jun 28 '20 at 13:06
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    What concerns me the most is down votes on new questions without comments, especially on first posts by new users.
    – pacmaninbw
    Jan 28 at 20:31
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The answer was down voted because I lost my keys. Please, stay with me, let me explain this odd chain of events.

Earlier today I couldn't get to the store on time because I could not find my keys. That caused me to miss the opportunity to run over a golf ball, which would have bounced between a few buildings in Makati and eventually land in one of the fish ponds at the park.

If that had happened, a fish would have been frightened, and not swum over to distract a little girl. But since the girl was distracted by the fish, she didn't stay with her dad on the way back to the car, and he left without her.

When he got home, he realized that he forgot something, but because the kid wasn't there the cat didn't hide so the guy tripped over the cat — and into his desk where he went to catch his balance.

While trying to get his balance, he accidentally clicked his mouse while the pointer was hovering over the down-vote button on your answer.

Now, because he was in such a hurry to get back to the park, he missed the grace period where he could have taken the vote back (had he even realized his mistake, which I doubt, he was in a bit of a panic at the time).

So you see, it's my fault that your answer was down voted, and I'm dreadfully sorry about that. I'll try to stop misplacing my keys, but I can't guarantee anything.


On a more serious note, some have attributed this to various phases of the moon. Sometimes, well, people just do odd things. It's one down vote, don't worry about it - as long as you're sure that your answer is good, then put it out of mind. The amount of entropy involved in a site of this scale is just too much to even hope for any kind of accuracy in a guess as to why it happened.

The real question remains, though, which is where the heck are my keys? I still haven't found them.

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I have seen the bandwagon effect with respect to voting multiple times. People seem to be more critical to posts with negative score and are thus more likely to downvote.

Another phenomenon is that often readers don't read all the responses but stop after the first or the second one. Since accepted answer and highest voted answers show first, people are more likely to read those and upvote them. Random fluctuations in the votes in the first minutes often determine the destiny of a post.

I agree that some care must be taken to combat these biases. One idea is what reddit does - change the order of responses to balance which responses people vote for. I also believe that in some subreddits, the number of votes is hidden until a statistically meaningful score is established.

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    ' People seem to be more critical to posts with negative score and are thus more likely to downvote' .. how do you discrminate between those cases, assuming they exist, and, simply, bad questions that users .decided to downvote on content? Jun 28 '20 at 13:11
  • 'the number of votes is hidden', AKA 'lying to posters':( Jun 28 '20 at 13:13
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    @MartinJames "assuming they exist" - The bandwagon effect is a well documented cognitive bias - what makes you doubt its existence? Hiding information is very different from giving false information. It seems you're trying to strawman my answer. Jun 29 '20 at 9:00
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    I do not doubt it's existence, merely whether it's influence on SO voting is so significant as to justify any action/s. If you wish to describe information-hiding as 'being economical with the truth', then fine, but you risk users taking inappropriate actions based on unnecessarily insufficient data:( Jun 29 '20 at 9:13
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    I myself gravitate towards questions with negative votes. Such questions often need a delete vote and/or another downvote to get it nearer to the -3 delete vote level. That does not mean that I do not read the question before voting! Such curation actions may well be misinterpreted as 'drive-by' voting, a term better ascribed to the many inexplicable upvoting of truly dire questions:( Jun 29 '20 at 11:28
  • "A lot of people thought this post was bad, maybe they're right" is a valid reason to look actively critically at something. It doesn't mean you automatically have to agree with them, but I'd hesitate to ascribe any actual malice to this phenomenon.
    – Shadur
    Nov 18 '20 at 8:18
  • @Shadur I meant it as a cognitive bias, not as an intentional malice. Nov 18 '20 at 10:50
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    @MartinJames (I know it was a while back, but...) You seem to be intentionally ignoring the "until a statistically meaningful score is established" part. Withholding information until you're sure it's actual information that can be distinguished from background noise isn't lying to users, it's responsible reporting. I mean, YouTube only shows view counts on a video starting from 301. Because any fewer is just noise. (And because YouTube users are childish jerks who will leap to mock a video for having "only 40 views", even if it was posted 10 seconds prior.)
    – FeRD
    Nov 21 '20 at 2:20

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