Almost every time I ask a question, especially in C++ section, no matter how good it is, it immediately gets downvoted by a huge number of people with no explanation why. Later on, someone usually asks for an explanation as this clearly isn't a bad question. Their comment gets heavily upvoted and some of these users remove their downvote, or other people upvote just to keep me on balance.

This happens to answers as well. A good example is this one: Why is it faster to check if dictionary contains the key, rather than catch the exception in case it doesn't?

Here the answer (which now has more than 230 upvotes) got heavily downvoted just as it was answered and nobody ever understood why.

Later on the downvotes disappeared. Are there some users who just downvote everything that is ever asked or answered. If so, is there any solution to this? Because it's rather annoying.

I have no problem with downvotes as long as they have a reason, but an unjustified "wave" of downvotes which later get reversed or balanced out with upvotes from other people is rather weird.

  • 8
    Just because you don't know what the reason is doesn't mean there is no reason.
    – Servy
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:51
  • @Servy I don't say that, but it's still annoying when people who are not bothered to downvote are bothered to explain it.
    – Petr
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:52
  • 8
    It probably isn't the most constructive to refer to anonymous downvoters as "trolls", and you can't take these votes personally (unless you are being specifically targeted by someone, but that's not the case here). The C++ crowd does tend be a little more critical of incoming questions than other tags, but that's been the case for a long while. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:53
  • @BradLarson I am not saying they are trolls. I am rather asking if these are regular users OR trolls. Because sometimes it just look pretty weird, I guess there are more users who can confirm that.
    – Petr
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:56
  • 2
    @Petr You do actually call them trolls, "some of these 'trolls' remove their downvote, or other people upvote just to keep me on balance."
    – Servy
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:57
  • @Servy: ah, yes, personal experience distorting my reading skills. :-) Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:57
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    Can you give some concrete examples of situations? That answer that got "heavily downvoted" has 0 downvotes. Out of your last 5 questions only one of them got downvoted with reason: you did not describe an accurate situation. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:59
  • @Servy that was kind of part of the question, hence they were in quotes "trolls" vs trolls. The point of question was to figure out if it's normal that answer which later get 230 upvotes get -6 downvotes right after it's posted, just before people figure out it's not a bad answer or if people are trolling... I guess I didn't choose the best wording.
    – Petr
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:59
  • @Petr - Your typical trolls post garbage and rants, and never build up enough reputation to be able to downvote (there's a fairly high threshold for that) before we destroy their accounts and block them from accessing the site. I've only seen fake accounts used to downvote people (but which were primarily used as sock puppets for a main user) a tiny handful of times in the last couple of years, and we come down hard on those people. Almost all downvoting is due to more experienced members of the community. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:00
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    This doesn't seem to be the case in the Q/A you linked to but you have to keep in mind edit history when posts are heavily downvoted when first posted then later upvoted.
    – codeMagic
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:07
  • @JeroenVannevel it has 0 downvotes now, but when it was answered it received many of them. I think they were later removed once people realized that the answer is actually not wrong, but nobody really explained it.
    – Petr
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:08
  • @Petr: I'm pretty sceptical that a 84K user would get instantly 6 downvotes which in turn would all get retracted to end up with +230. He'd have to make a lot of edits in the grace period to go from horrible to very good, maybe a SE employee can clarify this. But surely you're not basing this on just one post? Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:11
  • @JeroenVannevel well, the answer had negative score before. There is no history I can see, but there was even a comment asking why (which was upvoted as well). It disappeared as soon as downvoted disappeared. Anyway here is another example of unexplained downvotes if you need I can dig more but I don't know if there is any point in that stackoverflow.com/questions/15642802/…
    – Petr
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:14
  • 1
    @Petr not to be rude (and not a c++ expert here) but that seems to be a RTFM question. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


Downvotes are part of SE culture

I have no problem with downvotes as long as they have a reason

That's rather unfortunate, as you should not have a problem with anyone downvoting. SE encourages voting. SE encourages downvoting. SE does not penalize for voting on questions, but does on answers. SE encourages giving reasons for your downvotes. SE does not prohibit downvoting without leaving an explanation. And that should not be construed to mean SE discourages downvoting without leaving a reason.

I'm sorry but it just sounds like you need to adjust to the culture around here. This blog post may interest you: https://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/03/the-value-of-downvoting-or-how-hacker-news-gets-it-wrong/ it may be harsh at first but we are a very high volume site doing a lot of volunteer work with surprisingly little filtering needed for the scale. Downvotes are a big part of how that works, and they need to be cheaper than comments.

Your post is also kind of a duplicate of this: Encouraging people to explain downvotes but a little bigger in scope. You may find friends there (but they lost the debate).

Also see Shog9's answer for when a downvote with no comment is better than no downvote or a bad comment.

No, there is not an epidemic

Maybe some evidence of a change - see, e.g., this meta discussion: We need to be a little less hostile.

The reason I drove the point on culture so much was you seem to be engaging in the type of logic where if a cop pulls you over for speeding then clearly the cop was on steroids or had a personal vendetta against you or something. Your downvotes on this thread largely boil down to the fact that aside from your hyperbole, this is all normal.

Regarding that hyperbole -

Almost everytime I ask a question, especially in C++ section, no matter of how good it is, it immediately get downvoted by huge number of people with no explanation why.

I checked your questions, and no part of that claim is true. You do have a +0/-2 C++ question that you only got advice on after you asked in comment. To which I reply, "Wow, it's a good thing somebody downvoted without a comment precisely so that you would ask." But seriously, -2 is now "huge"? what would a small number of downvotes look like, only one upvote? So yes, this tells me there is not a "troll epidemic" - just culture shock and hyperbole.

  • 2
    I have a problem with people downvoting answers without adding a comment (or upvoting an existing comment describing why it's bad). It's unfortunate that SE allows DVs without comment (perhaps with an anonymous comment for cowards) Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:13
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    @CodesInChaos see the two links in my answer for a rather thorough discussion of that.
    – djechlin
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:13
  • @CodesInChaos also see meta.stackexchange.com/a/172760/183887
    – djechlin
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:14
  • The first link only says way downvotes are good - I don't dispute that. I have cast over a thousand myself. But when an answer gets downvoted, it usually has a flaw that needs to be pointed out. Both for the poster's (what to fix) and readers' (why not to follow this answer) benefit. I don't care that much about question downvotes, since those are far more subjective. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:28

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