Can I consider it as an abuse if I seek for reason but ignored? Can I flag it saying it is an abuse or what can I do to know what is wrong with my question?

Assume the question has 20 downvotes and has no comments at all.


What to do if my question is downvoted for no reason?

If it literally and absolutely is for "no reason" then you do one, all, or some of the following depending on your personality:

  1. Shrug your shoulders and move on
  2. Ask in comments why people are downvoting you
  3. Ask on Meta
  4. Curse and swear
  5. Rant in comments

In all cases, I suggest "1", and possibly "2" and "3" depending on the scenario, as the other options do nothing useful or helpful for you or other users.


Assume the question has 20 downvotes and has no comments at all.

I would then also assume that there is a very good reason for the downvotes. One or two downvotes could be nonsense reasons - someone got out of the wrong side of bed, lost their keys, etc.

But 20 downvotes is a sign you need to step back and carefully evaluate your question. There is something wrong, and you need to find it and address it. 20 downvotes also means it probably shouldn’t be too hard to find or know what the issue is, as that's a fair number of users voicing a negative opinion.

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    Can you share examples of your bullet 2 and 3 where that actually helped? – rene Aug 29 '15 at 15:12
  • @rene For "3" this very question and my answer here. for 2, not so much, but sometimes people explain, even if it's not the person who downvoted "why the downvoted" - random user: "Because XYZ" – James Aug 29 '15 at 15:13
  • Here's a better example for "3": meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/265665/…. And it can help for answers too: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/266090/… – James Aug 29 '15 at 15:14
  • @rene, 2 "sometimes" helps e.g. : stackoverflow.com/questions/15093463/authentication-in-asp-net – James Aug 29 '15 at 15:20
  • Ok, bullet 3 might work if phrased as Can you help me improve. I still have doubts about your bullet 2 advice. It will hurt the OP if not carefully stated. – rene Aug 29 '15 at 15:21
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    with 20 downvotes there is not much more hurt to be had :) – James Aug 29 '15 at 15:22
  • The example you provided had one down vote, for legit reasons IMHO.. OK, I made my point .... – rene Aug 29 '15 at 15:24
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    except for 21+ downvotes... – user289879 Aug 29 '15 at 15:24
  • "The example you provided had one down vote, for legit reasons" so my point worked with even only 1 downvote. So it works, sometimes ;) – James Aug 29 '15 at 15:38

There is no obligation for people to explain downvotes as there is no obligation to explain upvotes, this is not abuse.

Downvotes without comments are not abuse, no matter how many there are, they are a critical part of quality control on Stack Exchange.

The main reason is that the downvote itself is an explanation in itself, and the explanation can be read if you hover over the downvote button, where it says:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

This is an efficient warning for any future reader that there probably are big problems with the question. 20 downvotes, as per your example is a definite signal in itself that the community has found something wrong with the question. Sure, some may be 'pile on' downvotes, but the majority would be legitimate.

This has been asked in varying forms again, again and again (a simple search finds a lot of these kinds of questions - a canonical response is Encouraging people to explain downvotes) and tend to be magnets for downvotes.

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    You may want to edit your answer as OP has tweaked his post e.g. "Assume the question has 20 downvotes and has no comments at all". – HackerKarma Aug 29 '15 at 15:00
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    @HackerKarma true, have addressed the 20 downvotes aspect - made for a nice example – user289879 Aug 29 '15 at 15:03
  • Is it fine if I ask for a moderator to explain to me what's wrong with my question since each downvote represents that sentence? It should be rightful to do that so that I won't repeat the mistake again, right? – XPMai Aug 29 '15 at 15:05
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    Moderators can't tell you why people downvoted beyond what that sentence - and flagging moderators for the kind of this is a waste of their time – user289879 Aug 29 '15 at 15:07
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    And moderators can NOT see who down voted... – rene Aug 29 '15 at 15:10

While this question isn't quite about this, I'm going to talk about the comment thread on your question about pacts and treaties:

You say for no reason, and yet he said the following:

I'm tempted to downvote

then you laugh about it (yes, hehe is a laugh) and he responds

Alright, -1 for consciously subverting the rules of the site.

There's the reason - you broke the rules of the site, on purpose. You admitted it (2nd comment), and the edit is clearly a bump.

Now the next comment he gives explains it again. He says why he down voted. On top of that, his comment has 4 up votes on it - so in total 5 people agree that you were abusing the system.

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  • I'm sorry that I've explicitly unlinked that case with this question, thus, I wouldn't agree with that you said even though you may be correct (but you aren't right since you also abused the voting system by using it for opinion). Whether it's a bump or not, a grammatical error is still there. It's just like I say I don't know how to answer the exam question (revealed) but I got correct for the correct answer due to luck, and you unprofessionally deducted my marks for the question. – XPMai Sep 1 '15 at 10:05
  • @XPMai Just note, it wasn't me that downvoted, it was Dan Bron. I'm Tim. Also, it is his vote and he is perfectly allowed to vote because of your behaviour around this question. "you also abused the voting system by using it for opinion" - umm votes are opinions, not facts - each person votes based on their opinion of the question. And it was a bump and there was no grammatical error there - it was fine without the letter "A" - a capital no less. Just accept that you bumped it, he down voted and move on? – Tim Sep 1 '15 at 10:10
  • I don't accept that you deny your (generally people here) act of abusing the system by being biased to the OP and proofs would be your off-topic arguments here and reasons. Although I admit bump because I had patiently waited for 6 days with no responses from the community, but I also admit a non-optional grammatical fix was made. (essentially killing 2 birds with 1 stone) It was capital letter (I was surprised too) because of typo error and I know it's pointless to reason, but just assume it isn't capital and re-read the sentence then you'll recognise the necessity of a there. – XPMai Sep 1 '15 at 10:19
  • @XPMai I have read it more than once, it's not needed. Also, you seem to think I was the downvoter - I wasn't. Dan downvoted (appropriately). I'm explaining why here. – Tim Sep 1 '15 at 10:23
  • not necessary? Any supports? My support: I've been using "treaty" and it's singular, thus, a is needed. – XPMai Sep 1 '15 at 10:28
  • Because you are talking about a concept. – Tim Sep 1 '15 at 14:07

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