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It is pretty well common consensus on Stack Exchange that down-voting without commenting is not ideal, but shouldn't be stopped either.

This link for example, talks about the policy.

I would like to suggest a middle ground - a means of encouraging good commentary on why a down vote is being cast, but not hard-enforcing it either. Whereas others have pointed to badges or prompts, I would suggest a simple incentive approach.

Currently, it costs a user 1 reputation to cast a downvote.

I would like to incentivize people with what they really care about - points.

The proposal is this:

Casting a downvote would cost 2 points, or only 1 point, if you leave a comment as to why.

Nothing changes for the would-be anonymous downvoter, except they get a little more expensive. The constructive comment leaver, however, is penalized less.

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  • Why did I know I'd get an anonymous downvote on this as the first? :)
    – anon
    Oct 6 '14 at 22:43
  • 7
    comment to avoid 1 point cost: foo bar baz Oct 6 '14 at 23:03
  • 2
    Besides; Most complaints are about downvotes on questions; are you suggesting bringing back a cost to downvoting those? Currently downvoting on questions is free. Oct 6 '14 at 23:06
  • 1
    comment to avoid 1 point cost: foo bar baz. Since up votes on other comments don't count.
    – user213963
    Oct 6 '14 at 23:46
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  • Sorry - I really did look, but didn't see that one. Yes, mine is a dupe, and ideally, I'd like to delete my suggestion.
    – anon
    Oct 7 '14 at 1:44
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    I'll stop thinking :)
    – anon
    Oct 7 '14 at 1:45
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As Martijn points out in the comments, this doesn't really encourage constructive comments, it only encourages comments. Commenting for its own sake doesn't seem like a good thing; even less so if you effectively "gain" a point by commenting.

As MichaelT points out, it could also lead to multiple comments all saying the same thing rather than a single upvoted comment explaining the issue.

In addition, this would only affect downvotes on answers, since downvoting questions is "free". I don't see why downvote-without-comment would be discouraged rep-wise in one place and not the other.

Last, unless something has changed in the few hours (since my last DV), downvotes don't cost two rep, just one. It costs two to the person that was downvoted, but the downvoter only loses one.

1
  • After following psubsee's link, I noticed that there is already a far better answer to this than I could hope to type out. Please click through to that one.
    – Geobits
    Oct 7 '14 at 0:14