On StackOverflow, I've received a couple of downvotes for rather stupid answers and some for controversial ones. Every time I do I feel beaten with a stick, enraged at the system and disinclined to post again. Of course, it might just mean that I have a big ego, low self-esteem and trouble with criticism, but that's besides the point.
I think we all feel insulted whenever we receive punishment from strangers after sincerely trying to help or asking for help ourselves.
As I'm not sure that I agree that "insulting users" is necessarily a good design choice, I'd like to cite Pavlov and propose removing downvotes altogether. They don't really do anything except let people beat on each other and discourage answers from all but the established coterie.
I understand the "but it's wrong argument" and would like to propose two positive solutions to counter it:
- Write the right answer.
- Upvote the right answer.
Alternatively, if the previous solution is unsatisfactory, I'd like to propose a much higher reputation threshold before downvotes are enabled to apply and a higher threshold before they can be received. That way, the wiser users can still beat each other, but us timid newbies are shielded a bit.
UPDATE: sigh I suppose I asked for it.
EDIT: BF Skinner is the experimentalist I was trying to cite, not Pavlov.
Here's a link to some more general articles on the principles:
"punishment [downvoting] only temporarily changes behavior and presents many detrimental side effects."
Basically positive punishment (downvoting) doesn't change the behaviour (ie// It's unlikely I'll post more thoughtful questions and answers in the future because this one has been heavily downvoted) and it's likely to cause "many detrimental side effects".
EDIT 2: "Evil" in this context is defined as "that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune;" Downvotes appear to be "Pure Evil" because they a) hurt, b) are encouraged by the system c) appear to be undoable (ie// once you smack someone, you can't unsmack them) and d) don't have an objective criteria to their application (ie// anyone can downvote for unspecified reasons). They are excused by the theory that they indicate wrong or misleading answers/questions (Here there be sharks!), which I contend is of dubious value given the required criteria for downvoting.