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.
    – user50049
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 10:27
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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
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


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.


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? Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 13:11
  • 'the number of votes is hidden', AKA 'lying to posters':( Commented Jun 28, 2020 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. Commented Jun 29, 2020 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:( Commented Jun 29, 2020 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:( Commented Jun 29, 2020 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. Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 8:18
  • @Shadur I meant it as a cognitive bias, not as an intentional malice. Commented Nov 18, 2020 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
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 2:20
  • Re "accepted answer ... show first": This was changed in September 2021 (at least on Stack Overflow). Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 11:42

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