Why not make it mandatory to leave a reason or at least a remark of some sort whenever down voting?

You see more and more often questions being down voted while many times they are simply perfectly legitimate, as questions/as people being unable to achieve some desirable result. I am not talking about "Hey, please do this and that for me, thanks :D " posts.

I would like to know what reasons there are for not making it mandatory to leave a reason for a down vote.

  • 3
    As an example (as per my answer) - "I downvoted this because I do not like seeing squirrels in hats" - is it wrong I downvoted for that reason? Probably, what can you do about it? Other than enforce reasons people have to downvote, and that would be a very messy policy to setup, enforce, and manage. What would happen is you and others would debate with me here in comments why I have such a stupid downvote reason, and spoil the comments relating to the question. I can simply debate "I can downvote for whatever reason I wish as there are no rules on it". It's just not worthwhile.
    – James
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 16:28
  • I downvoted because the voices in my toaster said to do so... but in all seriousness, a cursory search would have found the plethora of dupes of this same gripe.
    – user289879
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 22:59
  • Why not make it mandatory to leave a reason/remark upon up voting?
    – fbueckert
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


This will be closed as a dupe, but you should use the search here on MSE and MSO as this has been debated many many times over.

I understand the reason behind wanting to know who downvoted and why, and in some cases this would be useful, perhaps arguably even to help users improve their downvoted post.

However, there are many reasons to not enforce users to comment and explain a downvote, and arguably reasons to not enforce are more important than any usefulness we'd obtain from enforcing downvote explanations.

Why not make it mandatory to explain downvotes:

  1. Downvotes are anonymous, if they were not we'd lose a lot of downvotes from users who do not want to reveal their identity or reasons for downvoting
  2. We'd end up with more arguments in comments about who and why someone downvoted than we would useful comments discussing the actual question or answer
  3. It would be tiresome and annoying having to comment every single time we wanted to downvote a post - would you be happy doing this? "Every time" you downvoted.
  4. Users, including you, have a free right to downvote, upvote, or not vote at all. And that right to vote or not means we are free to explain votes if we choose, or not.
  5. In "most" cases, you do not need an explanation of a downvote to know what the problem was. Your post is badly formatted, no code, difficult to read, off-topic, etc. In cases where it isn't obvious why there is a downvote, then there may be no good reason for the downvote. But there is nothing can be done as we can downvote for whatever reasons we want, and difference in opinion makes it difficult to argue whether the downvote was right, wrong, unfair, etc.
  6. You'd get utterly pointless comments as you cannot enforce via scripts a useful and decent comment explaining the downvote. Such as "I downvoted because the sheep are not pink and I like green jelly" - might sound stupid, but how could you stop such comments even if you forced users to comment when downvoting?
  7. Etc

Related ideas, feature-requests, discussions, and debates etc:

Here on MSE:

Encouraging people to explain downvotes

So annoyed with no-comment, vindictive downvoting

Should everyone have to defend a down-vote?

When voting an answer down, is it polite to add a comment giving a reason?



Require a comment explaining the reason for the first downvote on a question

Make downvotes free when downvoter leaves a comment?

Remove rep loss when down voting with a comment

  • 2
    Downvoter explain yourself! Ermm, wait, hang on. No.
    – James
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 18:22
  • Also, if downvotes should be explained, then upvotes should also be explained.
    – user289879
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 23:00
  • and what would be the motif behind not willing to "reveal your identity" when down voting ?
    – Veverke
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 7:21
  • 1
    Revenge downvoting
    – user289879
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 8:58

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