Yes, moderators, I already know that this question has been posted a number of times, the first one of which I came across was asked some 8 years ago and yet this seems to still be a problem. I wish to bring it up yet again to see if anyone can answer my point of view on this problem...and answer reasonably without succumbing to jerk-hood or other down-votable nonsense.
I'm asking this question mainly because I posed a question asking for some help in building (compiling in my environment) an open source library. My current configuration does not allow me to do so and I don't know why. The question is reasonable and I'm NOT a newbie, I've been writing software for over 40 (yeah, forty) years so I do have a clue. The company I work for also seems to think I have a clue as they pay me a very nice six figure salary. My ability with software isn't in question here, the reason for the asinine response to my question is. What I expected was a link to a documentation site that I might have missed or a request for clarification or even perhaps an answer like "did you include such and such a library?" or something reasonable in response.
What I received was 3 down-votes which cost me 6 points of rep on the QUESTION ITSELF with NO explanation. I further conclude that this was done out of spite because the times on all three down-votes is within a minute of each other, two in the same minute. I came here to search out why comments on down-votes are not required. What I found was rather disheartening.
I'll be the first to admit, I did not read all the comments of all the answers for my search on why people are allowed to be vicious without consequence. TLDR indeed. BUT, I did take time to scan through to get the gist of the answers and this is what I concluded:
The predominant attitude seems to be "grow a thicker skin". Not helpful.
It seems that the prevailing attitude is "it won't hurt your reputation that much, everyone can afford to lose a couple of points". Not reasonable.
"Why should I comment on something that is obviously
In my case, I don't contribute to SO that much (and this is one of the biggest reasons - the no comment down vote) so my rep isn't that high, so NO I can't afford to lose points, especially to mere spite.
When I do answer questions, I give good answers that always get up-voted so the community out there must believe that I'm not clueless. And yes, this id was created solely to ask this question, I don't need all the flak I'm going to get against my "real" profile.
So, here is my proposal to fix this problem. It comes from an old Pagan belief in that what you do to others comes back on you many-fold (some say 3, some say 5, others other values - you get the point). So, if you decide to down-vote a question or an answer, you get a choice:
Comment your down-vote with a good explanation. This is the desired response and is in keeping with the spirit of SO.
Down-vote with no comment, but YOU LOSE 10 TIMES THE REP POINTS OR 1% OF YOUR TOTAL REP POINTS whichever is GREATER for doing so. E.g. I lose 2, you lose 20 and yes, doing this can take you negative on your rep. It should cost and cost mightily for being a jerk.
I, as the QUESTIONER, AM ALLOWED TO REVIEW YOUR COMMENTS and can reject your down-vote and recover my rep points so long as I answer your down-vote with comments of my own - no penalty to me for rejecting your down-vote. Moderator then gets to approve/reject the rejection. All comments to be public, of course.
It would be even nicer if I could get the user id of the down-voter and report their activity to a moderator for review. A nice "Spiteful" button on a comment or answer rather than just an up- or down-vote, but that's probably asking for too much. The trouble with allowing interaction between folks is that someone usually has to act as the babysitter.
It won't completely solve the problem but it will take the ability to simply be vicious down to a level that is like any other good compromise - EVERYONE pays for their actions.
Now, some of you might be wondering as to the harshness of my solution. Here it is: The gist of what I learned reading the other questions and comments is that everyone was looking at it from the point of view of the person answering, e.g. "I don't need to comment on stupid questions, I can just down-vote them because...". Really? Or "This question/answer is really obvious/useless/off-topic, I'm going to down-vote it because it's plainly obvious/useless/off-topic ...", that's some ego you have there, or "Some questions are just too
<insert descriptive phrase> to comment on", etc. etc. etc. The point here is THAT IT ISN'T ABOUT YOU, IT'S ABOUT THE PERSON THAT ASKED THE QUESTION!.
THAT person may have a perfectly legitimate reason for asking their question. However, in ALL CASES, that person DESERVES a REASONABLE ANSWER. Perhaps they are clueless, WHAT DOES IT MATTER? HELP THEM OUT! If the question is a "Do my homework for me" question, SO WHAT! They will pay the price for doing so later and, maybe, just maybe, they'll learn something because you...wait for it...HELPED THEM OUT.
And here is a biggie: The ONLY reason to down-vote a QUESTION is if the question itself contains bad information. EVEN THEN, COMMENT AND LET THE PERSON KNOW WHY YOU THINK IT'S BAD INFORMATION! It is my opinion that questions should only receive up-votes because of their pertinence, nothing else. No down-votes at all, if it isn't a good question, it won't show up in the result set at as high a level as another that has been up-voted. So much the better.
And do notice, I said QUESTION, NOT ANSWER there - my recent experience is with a QUESTION that I posed, NOT even an answer I gave.
But, the same goes for answers. If you are going to down-vote an answer, EXPLAIN YOURSELF OR TAKE THE HIT FOR BEING AN UNINFORMATIVE JERK.
Because, folks, at the end of the day, SO is about ANSWERING QUESTIONS, not displaying egos, rendering opinions on relative worthiness or anything else that has to do with the answers or the person answering. To paraphrase Joe Friday, Just The Answers, Ma'am.
It seems that even some of the moderators have inflated opinions of themselves such that they have forgotten the reason that SO was created. I have seen some mighty high-handed responses on a routine basis, worse because the moderator might have closed or ill-commented the question, BUT THE ANSWER THAT I NEEDED WAS PRESENT WITH THE QUESTION. Ooops, looks like someone got a little egotistical and reached out to slap someone just because they could rather than because they should.
We shall see if that happens here, too.