Title/Request Elaborated:

  • Down voting an answer is a privilege given to users who have at least 125 reputation points.

  • I am requesting for a feature to prevent users from down voting (other) answers to the question, as soon as the user gives his/her own answer to the question.

  • As a follow up, a user who has down voted an answer to a question, the user shall then be labelled as a referee, and his/her privilege to give an answer shall get revoked.

  • Optionally, the user may be given the option to sacrifice his/her down votes to answers in that question, for the sake of giving his/her own answer to the question.


Users are generally able to be objective while giving up and down votes, provided they have given an answer to a question. As soon as they give an answer, however, they more or less lose their objectiveness. While a user would definitely not vote an answer other than his/hers up for having lost objectiveness; this is not the case for voting down...

A user may vote an answer down, simply because it is not theirs. <<< this is the tl; dr

I think we would all agree that in any sports, it wouldn't be appropriate to let a player be a referee. We don't allow this for up-votes, by disallowing casting up-votes for our own answers; and this suggestion/request asks one for the down-vote counterpart.

  • 7
    There is a badge that encourages upvoting competing answers, sportsmanship. I don't think there should be anything beyond that.
    – Pekka
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:07
  • 1
    I vote up other answers on questions that I have answered regularly, if I think that they are good answers. Sometimes they are even better than mine (although in both cases they must the answer must have been added after my answer or I wouldn't have bothered to answer in the first place)! :)
    – lnafziger
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:12
  • @Pëkka Example: In football, you'd appreciate a football player for displaying good sportsmanship. Then again, you still wouldn't allow disruption of sportsmanship, you wouldn't allow a footballer to push the other. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:19
  • 2
    @ThoAppelsin Answering questions on SO isn't a sport though. The rep "game" is just a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Having a system that isn't completely fair, but results in better quality answers, or a more effective evaluations of the quality of answers, is certainly better than a "fair" system that results in improperly evaluated answers.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:24
  • @Servy Tell me that I have misunderstood what you've said and disregard the rest of this comment if the following is wrong: You are saying that being able to down vote and give your own answer to a question at the same time improves the quality of the answers, right? Explain me how exactly this helps quality answers to emerge. Give me an example fictional case in which being able to vote an answer down and give your own answer would result in a better quality answer to the question. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:30
  • 1
    @ThoAppelsin Very few people actually do that. The vast majority of people, in the vast majority of occasions, downvote answers that the genuinely feel aren't useful answers. The harm caused by these very few exceptions circumstances (which, on the rare occasions that they happen, is virtually always able to be compensated for by other voters) is dramatically less than the harm that would be caused by the inability of answers to properly reflect their opinions of other answers through votes.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:33
  • Downvoting other people's answers is not automatically bad sportsmanship. There are situations where every answer to a question is terrible and you feel compelled to add one of your own. There is absolutely no reason why you should be prevented from down-voting the other bad answers in this scenario.
    – Pekka
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:38
  • @Servy This is not relevant to anything... Or I am having hard times to understand what is going on in there. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:41
  • @ThoAppelsin It's not relevant that very few people abuse a feature? It's not relevant that very rare times the feature is abused the community is able to deal with the abuse effectively? It's not relevant that proper use of the feature is very helpful to the site? Then what is relevant?
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:43
  • @Pëkka Like you've said: down voting other people's answers is not bad sportsmanship, provided that you haven't got involved in giving a correct/accepted answer. If you get involved, then yes, it automatically is bad sportsmanship. Don't get too focused on this word: in a competition, if you are a competitor, having influence on other competitors' success, is automatically a bad sportsmanship. It would be nice of you to relinquish whatever influence you have. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:46
  • @Servy Okay, why allow any abuse at all, when you could eliminate it for good? It does not serve any truly useful purpose to be able to dis another suggestion when you have already laid down your own suggestion. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:50
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    @ThoAppelsin Because your solution for eliminating the abuse causes more problems than the abuse does. When the cure is worse than the disease, you don't take it.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:51
  • @Servy What problem does it cause? It doesn't cause any... Feb 13, 2014 at 18:52
  • 1
    ...provided that you haven't got involved in giving a correct/accepted answer. No. Answering isn't a sports competition. It's about giving correct answers. If other people's answers are incorrect, you can downvote them. If they aren't, you shouldn't. If still do, you're a jerk, but it happens way too rarely to justify an extreme measure like this. If you have evidence that this is a widespread problem, show it.
    – Pekka
    Feb 13, 2014 at 19:01
  • 1
    @ThoAppelsin You picked out one little piece, out of context, and then made an invalid assertion based on that out of context quote. When you read the entire comment, I can't possibly understand how you would think that I downvote every single competing answer. I mean, I explicitly say, "but I certainly don't DV all competing answers. Not even close." How can you possibly read that and assume that I downvote all competing answers?
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


The only reason I answer a question is this:

it does not yet have a correct answer

If it has a wrong answer, I will want to downvote that answer and provide a right one. If it has one wrong and one right, I want to downvote and upvote those respectively. If I answer a question, and someone after that writes a wrong answer to the question, I want to downvote that one.

Yes, some people might downvote correct answers in a hope of getting more rep (because their answer will sort higher.) Most won't. You solution penalizes those who want to do the right thing because you believe some people are petty. I don't support that.

  • No one is perfect. You are not necessarily absolutely correct about your claim that that specific answer is wrong. If you really are sure that it is wrong, then go ahead vote it down OR make your own suggestion as an answer. Others will then decide if either your answer is wrong, or the other one is. Feb 13, 2014 at 17:09
  • 2
    @ThoAppelsin The site benefits from the information that Kate is providing through downvoting, namely that the other answer is unhelpful. Preventing that voting is preventing useful information from someone who is one of the most qualified to do so, after all she understands the question well enough to answer it.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:11
  • 1
    @ThoAppelsin I didn't say I was perfect. But your suggestion is based on "once I decide to answer, I lose all objectivity and there is no value in my opinion of any other answer, in fact it is most likely incorrect and spiteful so I should be forbidden to provide that opinion in the form of a vote." I think that is wrong. Feb 13, 2014 at 17:16
  • @Servy As she said, one would answer a question for only one reason: "it does not yet have a correct answer". The primary reason why she or anyone would make an answer is that the other answers are not useful. And now you are saying that she also can and should down-vote the answers she doesn't find useful. You catch the drill? Making an answer should then come with an auto-down-vote to every other answer that has been posted by far... Don't you think so? Feb 13, 2014 at 17:29
  • @ThoAppelsin why are you so determined to make my decisions for me? Whether or not I write an answer does not 1:1 establish how I feel about all other answers before or after it. Feb 13, 2014 at 17:31
  • @KateGregory Okay, I haven't said those. Your opinion does have a value. But you are already making your point (displaying your opinion) by giving an answer, although there already were answers to the question. You already are saying "hey, the other answers were not useful enough" or in your own words "the question did not have a correct answer until this very answer I am making". It turns out to be an over-reaction when you double your point by making down votes... Feb 13, 2014 at 17:34
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    @ThoAppelsin No, I don't. I am most strongly motivated to answer a question when there are existing incorrect answers, certainly more so than if there are none, that is true. However, answers posted after mine, or answers posted while I was writing my answer may well be good. There are also cases where there are answers that are just "okay". Maybe they work, but aren't as well explained, or don't go in as much depth, or aren't as generalized as I would like to see in a solution, etc. It's common for me to DV other answer, but I certainly don't DV all competing answers. Not even close.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:34
  • @KateGregory Kate, you said it yourself. I am not deciding for you, I am only reciting what you had said on your answer: "it does not yet have a correct answer". This does imply that you feel that the answer until then are not correct. Feb 13, 2014 at 17:37
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    @ThoAppelsin if you forbid me to downvote when I answer, or automatically downvote when I answer, you are deciding for me. I can decide for myself and don't want any change to the current system. Accept the ability of SO users to make their own choices, right or wrong. Don't be so all or nothing. Feb 13, 2014 at 17:53
  • @KateGregory But I don't decide for you, you decide for yourself. You say that you give answers, when the question doesn't yet have a correct answer. Then Servy said that one would down-vote other answers, when he/she finds an answer unhelpful. Two actions, both are to be issued under same circumstances. You say if (x) dothis;, he says if (x) dothat;; I am only combining them into if (x) { dothis; do that; }, I am not putting down new actions for different circumstances. I am only reciting/rewriting what you say. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:07
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    @ThoAppelsin you appear to be unable to grasp concepts like "sometimes" and "according to my judgement". Whenever someone points out a good reason to downvote, you advocate automatically downvoting for us. You made this feature request when you became aware of a bad reason to downvote and wanted to forbid it. I will not repeat myself in this comment thread any further. I do not want the system to forbid or automatically take any voting action for me based on my choosing to answer. I will make my own decisions according to circumstances. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:11
  • @KateGregory "want", how nice, well, okay then, people can have opinions of course... Aside from all the reasoning I have made for this request in the question; I also have an opinion which is that I want the system to forbid users from being able to down vote and give an answer at the same time. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:24
  • 1
    @ThoAppelsin And that want is fine. It turns out, according to the voting, that the community doesn't agree with your want, so it is unlikely to be implemented, of course, that doesn't make it wrong to want it, it's just a want that won't be met.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:26
  • @Servy If you asked the top most rich to give away their wealth, they wouldn't want it... and it is not opinions that are to drive a community, rather reasoned approaches and arguments. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:33
  • @ThoAppelsin At the end of the day the decision is going to come down to one, or a few SE employees. If they want to implement this change, they will. However, they generally take the community's opinion of an idea into some consideration. Highly unpopular ideas tend to not be implemented. Of course, widely popular ideas that SE employees foresee causing problems that most others didn't see, tend to not be implemented either, so yes, popularity isn't everything, but it is still a factor.
    – Servy
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:36

This feature would undermine the best qualities of this site.

First, if a user downvotes an answer and then tries to post their answer, what would you propose then? Blocking users from providing thoughtful, complete, high quality answers simply because they downvoted an answer that they felt was of low-quality. The purpose of downvoting is to call attention to the fact that a post or answer does not provide enough detail, is not correct, is incomplete, or whatever other reason that a user feels justified in wishing to downvote it. Or would you simply propose removing said downvotes because the person posted an answer? Either way you look at it, downvoting is independent of providing answers.

Second, what would you do if someone posts an answer and then downvote other answers? Suggest auto deleting the downvoters answer if it exists? Well that may not be fair especially if it was a high quality answer and marked as accepted.

And finally third, the most important aspect of this site, the ability to gather many answers from different perspectives to create a knowledge base if you will so that users will feel a high sense of value in wanting to use this site and return to this site on a regular basis.

  • I suppose you have misread/misunderstood the suggestion. It explicitly is asking for disabling people who give an answer to a question to cast a down-vote... Second part is therefore out-of-question. Feb 13, 2014 at 17:15
  • First part actually explains why this feature would just be perfect. Let me put it this way: Why would you give an answer to a question? Because you have the answer and it hasn't been answered yet, properly. Now you are telling me that you'd cast a down-vote to whichever answer that is not correct or incomplete, or in other words, improper. With all that, why aren't you making a suggestion for a feature that would auto-down-vote every other answer as soon as you make an answer..? Feb 13, 2014 at 17:19
  • @ThoAppelsin, regarding your first comment, I have clarified my answer to resolve the confusion regarding my first point.
    – Anil
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:38
  • Well, my proposal is already there in the question... You ask "Or would you simply propose ..." and my answer is "yes" to that. Why would you need to vote another competing answer down, when you are so sure that your answer is thoughtful, complete, high quality? Surely others would comply with your thoughts, vote the other answer down, and even vote yours up... Feb 13, 2014 at 17:43
  • @ThoAppelsin, regarding your second comment, again, downvoting is to call attention to the low quality of an answer. It should not matter if the downvote was cast before or after you posted your own answer, they should always be independent. Also, from my understanding, downvoting is also tied to flagging in some cases, like dealing with spam. So what you are suggesting, will have a huge ripple affect on the ability of SO to perform smoothly, and in an automated fashion when it comes to keeping the site clean.
    – Anil
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:43
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    Does this all stem from the fact that one of your answers was downvoted? If so, please don't take it personal. Downvoting is there to help you improve, it's not a reflection of what people think of you. Think of it as an opportunity to improve your answer and let the community know you did by commenting on the question. I've had answers downvoted and I'm sure I'll have some downvoted in the future. Cheers.
    – Anil
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:46
  • This is hypocrisy... You get personal and say "please don't take it personal". If you don't want your comments to be taken personal, then don't get personal... Feb 13, 2014 at 17:59
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    @ThoAppelsin, I was trying to say that you should not take the downvote you received to your answer personal, not my comments. I think you are reading way too much into this. Good day.
    – Anil
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:03
  • Oh... So, getting personal is all right. Then; well his answer there rewrites the code-in-question completely, then he tells me that fscanf is totally different from scanf although the question explicitly states that it actually reads from a .txt file (in other words, he/she simply had redirected the stdin beforehand, which is exactly the same as using a fscanf), then two more opinions that are nothing but opinions. So he clearly casts that down-vote just because it is not his answer. Well then, in such a case, I think we both were to be judged by the others, than each other. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:15

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