I think you should ban people who never down-vote. I always go into questions that suck, only to see comments from people saying "This is a terrible question, please rephrase it". Why don't they down-vote the question then? Scared to lose one point, you silly user? I would not waste my time with the question if I saw it was at -1! This bothers me.

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    -1 so that I don't get banned – belgariontheking Oct 16 '09 at 16:39
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    -1, just for practice. – mmyers Oct 16 '09 at 16:40
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    (Actually, I didn't downvote. I'm scared to lose one point.) – mmyers Oct 16 '09 at 16:41
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    -1 because I like ponies – TheTXI Oct 16 '09 at 16:42
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    -1 just to compensate for mmyers' weakness. – Shog9 Oct 16 '09 at 16:42
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    -1 ​for ​irony. – Welbog Oct 16 '09 at 16:45
  • See? He was at -1, and now it's at 0. Sillywhistling pity voters are at it again! – Welbog Oct 16 '09 at 16:47
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    +1 sympathy vote – Tom Hawtin - tackline Oct 16 '09 at 16:48
  • -1 just to be funny +2 for the hilarity -1 for being poorly worded. – Brad Gilbert Oct 16 '09 at 16:48
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    @Tom Hawtin - tackline: I'm going to wrap a collar around your neck, with a button-up shirt attached. It will be so itchy. – Welbog Oct 16 '09 at 16:49
  • @<s>Welbog</s>biglaser.net, will there be lasers involved? – Brad Gilbert Oct 16 '09 at 16:51
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    Ya know, people downvoting this just because the title says "People don't downvote" aren't really as funny as they think they are. – cletus Oct 16 '09 at 17:27
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    -1. See, people downvote all the time! :) – John Rudy Oct 16 '09 at 17:38
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    @cletus: If it makes you feel better, that's not why I downvoted. I downvoted because banning people based on voting behavior which is not abusive/suspicious is inherently a rotten idea. But the irony is fun, too. – John Rudy Oct 16 '09 at 17:39
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    @mmyers: you were always a pundit. Now you're a (twice) recognized pundit! – Shog9 Oct 16 '09 at 20:06

Banning might be a bit harsh, but... This is a problem.

Keep in mind though, there's a bigger problem: sympathy votes. The user who posted that comment may well have down-voted the question, only for it to have been up-voted again by some misguided busybody who felt sorry for it.

There have been a few proposed solutions to this, but ultimately it's a social problem: most folks just aren't critical enough.

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    +1 On the sympathy votes. I think it's a much bigger problem than people NOT downvoting. – C. Ross Oct 16 '09 at 16:43
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    This is a very valid point. I don't downvote bad answers or questions that are at 0, because I know they will get pity upvoted if I do. If they're at 1 or higher, or -1 or lower, I'll downvote them, because I've noticed that posts with -2 are less likely to be pity upvoted than posts with -1. I'm not sure why that is, but I take advantage of it. If a bad post is at 0, I'll usually just leave a comment expressing how much I hate wearing shirts with collars. – Welbog Oct 16 '09 at 16:44
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    Exactly. I've given up downvoting 0-voted questions long ago. – xmm0 Oct 16 '09 at 16:45
  • Shog: "it's a social problem: most folks just aren't critical enough." This reminds me of when I was tasked with judging beers for a contest. I gave the best overall rankings. And why shouldn't I? Beer is good and stuff. – belgariontheking Oct 16 '09 at 16:48
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    @belgariontheking: yeah, but if you enjoy it too much, they take it away from you. Life sucks that way. – Shog9 Oct 16 '09 at 16:57

Several reasons:

  1. Comment and give people a chance to fix things unless the transgression is really egregious;
  2. Downvoting people on 1 rep is a pointless activity;
  3. It takes 5 downvotes to counter 1 upvote. Questions and answers on less than 0 net votes are much more likely to attract "pity upvotes" cancelling out the effect; and
  4. Downvotes received can be cancelled out by subsequent upvotes (up to the daily rep cap) meaning that if you answer a lot of questions you can largely ignore downvotes anyway, so there's even less reason to downvote such a person's posts.

It would be interesting to separate out downvotes on CW posts (which cost the voter nothing) out of people's upvote/downvote stats to see how many "real" downvotes people actually hand out. I imagine not many.

  • Agreed; I am hesitant to downvote a poor question (especially if the questioner has a history of bad questions) because I don't want them gaining a net +8 rep afterwards by someone else coming along to counteract my vote. If my goal is to "punish" the questioner, it is more advantageous (although less satisfying) to just walk away. – Ether Oct 16 '09 at 18:12

The reason I am hesitant to down-vote now is that it's harder to take it back. I used to down-vote poor questions/answers early and then undo after it had been edited. Lately it's been harder (for me anyway, also that's what she said) to time it correctly to avoid the "This vote is too old to undo" message.

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    But now you can reverse votes if the post has since been edited. – Mechanical snail Aug 23 '12 at 6:02

Closing questions and flagging for deletion those that are irretrievably broken is immeasurably better than downvoting in my opinion. Downvoting can result in self-deletion, but only if the OP actually cares or has rep to lose. Most often poor questions come from new users who have none and probably are unaware they can delete their question anyway. I choose the more effective mechanism for completely broken questions.

Questions that can be improved should be by those who can edit. If you have enough rep, rather than downvote or complain via comments, why not repair the question and make it useful. The OP benefits because now he/she may actually get some usable answers. The site benefits because it has one more usable question.

I usually reserve my downvotes for bad behavior -- consistently posting poor questions, trolling, and the like. In that case I'll often downvote and flag, getting a 2 for 1. Even though the rep cost to the OP is relatively low it sends a message about the behavior that it won't be tolerated (at least by me).


I down-vote a lot :)

I just did a quick experiment - randomly clicked 10 user names who had more than 500 points. 2 of them had not a single down-vote, 8 of them did. Of those 8, the average number of down-votes was around 15% of their up-votes, which seems quite reasonable.

I think your suggestion is too drastic, banning people just for never down-voting. It's a fine balance to encourage people to down-vote but make it hard to abuse. The -1 is necessary, but if only 20% of the people never down-vote that's probably not too bad.

(obviously my stats are really, really crude)

  • -1 (delayed until upvoted) I want graphs and freehand circles! – Tom Hawtin - tackline Oct 16 '09 at 16:51

Are you claiming that you don't even read questions that are at -1? How does a question being at -1 affect your ability to answer it correctly and get upvotes?

Yes, I know this isn't an answer. It's a comment, but I want to separate the discussion of this from the discussion of the question itself. If it's abuse of the system, then so be it.

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    A lot of the time < 0 questions are really vague and can't be answered because they don't have enough information. I don't avoid negative questions, but I generally look at questions before anyone has voted on them at all so my experiences probably aren't the norm. – Welbog Oct 16 '09 at 17:02

I don't down vote unless it is really horrible question. like suggesting to ban people who doesn't down vote? jk I don't think up vote and down vote are the purpose of SO, it maybe the purpose of less quality sites like Yahoo Answers. but here it should be a useful tool for users who want to use it and help. I see many questions down voted recently, but they are good questions and clear. it is possible the one who down voted such questions didn't understand it . beside users new to the site may need help you explain to them the issue and give them chance to modify their question.


Honest answer? Downvoting punishes the user who only tries to help, so it's a lose-lose situation.

If something is really crappy (and not "repairable" by editing the post) I'll flag it or vote close, whichever is appropriate.

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    -1: Overly romantic and simple. It is down right naive to think that folks answer only because they are trying to help. To start on your edumacation, search for the term "rep whore" here on MSO. – Stu Thompson Oct 16 '09 at 17:53
  • Possibly, but as long as I get punished for downvoting abuse, I won't do it. For me it's not about the numbers or about the fact that 1 upvote cancels 5 downvotes, it's simply the principle of punishing people for good behaviour. – Michael Stum Oct 16 '09 at 20:43
  • There seems to be a distinct lack of understanding from you on a certain point: other people have different motives for using SO and its features than you do. If there was not a penalty for down voting (which is borderline trivial, ffs. 1 lowly point!) then we'd have a much larger problem with "tactical down voting". PS: community wiki posts have no penalty. – Stu Thompson Oct 16 '09 at 21:13
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    Of course it's only 1 point and of course tactical downvoting is an issue, but that doesn't change the fact that I feel penalized by the nuclear option of "punish all legitimate users to prevent tactical downvoting". If people want to use it - they are free to do so. But the question (well, technically it's not a question but another nuclear proposal) is "People never down-vote" and this is my personal answer for the "Why". – Michael Stum Oct 16 '09 at 21:22

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