I'm not a heavy SE user but I've noted that every now and then my posts get downvoted without explanation and for no obvious reason.

Leaving such posts extant damages my reputation score, whereas it seems I can delete them and recover the loss.

I'm unsure if deleting them is good for the community: if there's not already an explanation for a problem any one added to mine will be lost.


  • 4
    When you get a downvote, do check the post and try to see if it lacks something you missed. If it does, edit it. If the post looks terrible to you, delete it. If you feel it is fine, just ignore the donwvote: someone will appreciate it more in the future, for sure. Aug 18, 2016 at 13:53
  • 2
    Word of caution, posts aren't hard deleted. If you make a habit of posting downvote-worthy posts and then deleting them, you might get the reputation back but you might also find your account banned from posting after a while. More details here: meta.stackexchange.com/help/question-bans & meta.stackexchange.com/help/answer-bans.
    – yannis
    Aug 18, 2016 at 14:02
  • Some good advice here: How do I write a good answer to a question?
    – ale
    Aug 18, 2016 at 14:32
  • My latest victim of downvoting seems to attract good quality discussion so I'm reluctant to delete it. Do ppl get credit for downvoting without explanation?
    – Ian
    Aug 18, 2016 at 16:07
  • @Vienna: The reasons comments are not required with votes (up or down) have been discussed to death here and at Meta Stack Overflow. While you might think that'd it'd be nice for someone to explain why they're voting down a post, it all too often leads to worse outcomes. Arguing, revenge, harassment. Just for a stupid downvote and its 2 point reputation penalty. If unexplained downvotes bother you that much, you're going to have a frustrating time on Stack Exchange.
    – ale
    Aug 18, 2016 at 19:17
  • 1
    Same opinion, down voting should cost 10 points or more
    – user309631
    Aug 18, 2016 at 19:20
  • @Vienna so should the cost of downvoting be higher than the penalty for being downvoted? Should someone else be punished if I post a bad question?
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 18, 2016 at 19:39
  • yes, simply yes 😉
    – user309631
    Aug 18, 2016 at 19:43
  • @DEAD Why not? Someone else should be punished if you post a bad question when (s)he decides to downvote it. Why not post a constructive comment instead of downvoting it? (What I mean is downvoting should have a far higher threshold, maybe 100K???).
    – Rathony
    Aug 18, 2016 at 21:00
  • see also: Can self-censoring end up with a question ban?
    – gnat
    Aug 18, 2016 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


If a user downvotes one of your posts, it is to motivate you to do something. That might be editing your post into shape, add more explanation to it, or make it clear and well-researched. You always have to check if there is a feasible way to upgrade your post.

If that isn't possible, because your answer doesn't answer the question, your question is clearly off-topic, etc., you can choose to delete the post. If your question has answers with a positive score you are not allowed to delete your post.

Deleting good content harms the community, so before rapidly deleting a post with a single downvote, do your best to keep it!

And sometimes a 'random' downvote is just a downvote, for seemingly no good reason your post got downvoted. If that is the case, just leave it that way and move on.

  • 2
    I think it is better to add explanation on what drive-by downvote is which is not uncommon and new users should not be too much concerned about a downvote or two.
    – Rathony
    Aug 18, 2016 at 21:02
  • Updated a little. Aug 18, 2016 at 21:08
  • 2
    One more thing: if the vote came with an explanation, always be sure to respond constructively, by doing everything possible to improve your post (as suggested here), or if you really truly disagree, by politely explaining why you think it's okay as-is. One of the reasons a lot of people don't explain their downvotes is that they're sick to death of getting argumentative or hostile responses. If users learn that you respond well to constructive criticism, they'll be more likely to provide it to you.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 23, 2016 at 19:00
  • @Jefromi: Indeed, the SE team encourage us not to attach explanations to announcements of downvotes. That's why we're not actually allowed to write "-1", "+1" any more. You have to sort of explain why you think the post should be improved without admitting that you've downvoted it. Which is ridiculous but it is what it is. Consequently, expecting someone to clearly "explain a downvote" is a bit of a fool's errand nowadays. Aug 27, 2016 at 19:06
  • 1
    @Lightness No, they encourage focusing on what to improve rather than telling the author that you downvoted, and avoiding explicitly saying -1 because it doesn't really add anything and some people react badly to it. People react badly to explanations sometimes too, of course, but you have a better chance without the -1.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 27, 2016 at 19:47
  • @Jefromi: That's literally what I just said. Aug 27, 2016 at 22:00
  • @Lightness No, I'm saying it makes perfect sense and is not ridiculous. It's just trying to improve answers without things getting confrontational. It's just like how you'd tell a coworker "i think you've overlooked this" rather than "you're wrong! you overlooked this."
    – Cascabel
    Aug 27, 2016 at 22:34
  • @Jefromi: I've addressed in the past why it's ridiculous. meta.stackoverflow.com/a/285088/560648 It's more like telling a coworker "you're wrong!" then running away without explaining yourself, then coming back into the room with a wig and a different accent, saying "I think you've overlooked this". The poor coworker still has no idea what the "first person" was talking about. I admire the intent behind the rule but it is flawed in practice. Forcing people never to say "you're wrong" is just absurd, counter-productive, offended-on-behalf-of nannying. Aug 27, 2016 at 22:36
  • @Lightness And as so many have said in the past, you're not losing anything by not saying "I downvoted." If you have a point to make about the answer, you can do so just as well without explicitly announcing your vote. But this is kind of beside the point: we're talking about how to kindly give constructive feedback, when the point that I was making was that it's important to respond constructively to that feedback.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 27, 2016 at 22:49
  • @Jefromi: No, we're literally talking about explaining downvotes Aug 28, 2016 at 10:44
  • @Lightness I don't agree with your framing of the issues, but even using your words, you're talking about explaining downvotes and the original point here was about how to respond to an explanation. It's all beside the point; go somewhere else if you want to have this debate.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 28, 2016 at 13:38
  • @Jefromi: No, the question is about explaining downvotes. You can go somewhere else if you want to have a debate: I am simply passing along the facts for your intellectual enrichment. You're welcome. Aug 28, 2016 at 17:46

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