The question of down voting questions is always a debatable topic. The purpose of the down-vote is unclear. The reasons for most of the down-votes is even less clear. Obviously if the intent is to improve the content there should be no problem with disclosing the reason behind a persons down vote. Yet most down votes are made by ghosts. They vanish into the night without a trace.

It would be easy to track the amount positive and negative votes a person casts, so does it not make sense that there should be some kind of penalty for those people that abuse their voting privilege. There are people that put effort into writing and asking questions and it takes almost no effort hit a down-vote and discredit the writer. A down-vote with an explanation is constructive criticism and improves the quality of the website. A down-vote with no explanation serves little purpose and is just criticism.

I think if down voters had to explain their reasoning behind their down votes and they were as accountable as the person who asks the question, there would be a lot less negative votes.

What should the penalty be for abusers of the down vote system?

When I asked this question it was because I had asked simple questions. About what I have no idea now. It was met with negativity. Today I found out that I was on the wrong Meta. I should have been on the Meta Stack Overflow. Had the question been asked on the Meta Stack Overflow there most likely would not have been a problem.

I no longer care what happens on the Meta Stack Exchange and would be very happy if I could delete all of my input and just stay with Stack Overflow. Unfortunately for me this not allowed.

  • @Catija Not a dupe of that question. That one has to do with serial votes; this one doesn't (even though it seems like that at first glance). Feb 5, 2018 at 4:09
  • Just to be clear here: are you talking about downvotes on main Q&A sites, or on feature requests on meta sites? Feb 5, 2018 at 4:13
  • 8
    Looking at the trajectory of your questions - eh, might be worth calming down a little about downvotes
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Feb 5, 2018 at 4:13
  • 4
    "What should the penalty be for abusers of the down vote system?" if you can prove that they're abusing it, then custom mod flag and explain it. Otherwise, you might have a misunderstanding on how this site works. Feb 5, 2018 at 4:14
  • It is impossible for me to prove if someone is abusing their privilege because there is no way to know who cast the vote.
    – user305419
    Feb 5, 2018 at 4:17
  • 1
    Downvotes on answers already have a "penalty" it takes away 1 rep from downvoter
    – aBochur
    Feb 5, 2018 at 4:17
  • That's not a penalty for abusing a system!!!
    – user305419
    Feb 5, 2018 at 4:21
  • I can only assume that you are against having to justify why you give a down-vote and you would prefer to remain a ghost voter.
    – user305419
    Feb 5, 2018 at 4:24
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    @ApexCapstone firstly, i didn't downvote. Second of all, can u please post examples of good posts with down-votes?
    – aBochur
    Feb 5, 2018 at 4:26
  • 5
    Explaining downvotes often leads to arguments instead of improvement of the question. If a downvote is not explained, assume the reason given in the downvote tooltip.
    – user204841
    Feb 5, 2018 at 5:21
  • 6
    Even if it doesn't lead to arguments, it means explaining again and again how the site works and why the site works like it does.
    – user204841
    Feb 5, 2018 at 5:23
  • I issued a downvote, I don't agree that one should explain the reason you have issued a vote, because if most people who disagree with the vote they received will say it was unfair (in my experience) or they will attack the person who issued the vote (in my experience). For instance, on any other SE website except this one, It would take 4 people to counter the reputation loss votes of 21 people. This is a meta website so reputation rules are slightly different.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 5, 2018 at 17:52
  • 3
    @Ramhound Meta.SE is a main site, not a per-site-meta, and so has reputation, and the reputation rules are identical to every other main site.
    – Servy
    Feb 5, 2018 at 19:39
  • 6
    Only if you have to justify every. Single. Upvote. Otherwise, it unfairly weights voting into the positive, which is arguably a massive detriment to determining proper quality.
    – fbueckert
    Feb 5, 2018 at 23:25
  • You can ask for your account here to be deleted, if you like. Feb 23, 2018 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


A down-vote with no explanation serves little purpose and is just criticism.

Actually, when people cast a downvote, it means they genuinely believe that the question does not show research effort and is not clear. Users are under no obligation to explain their votes, though the system does prompt newer users to leave a comment whenever they cast a downvote. Additionally, when a user downvotes an answer, it will cost them one reputation point.

If the question is truly good, it's likely that others would have upvoted, leaving the question with a net positive score. If, on the other hand, a lot of people are downvoting it, with little to no upvotes, it means that the community at large believes it doesn't show much research effort or is unclear.