When you see a question or answer you might normally down-vote that already has one or more down-votes, do you find yourself more or less likely to down-vote it? In other words, are pre-existing down-votes encouraging you to go ahead and pile-on or are they discouraging you?


12 Answers 12

  1. I choose which type of vote based on my opinion.
  2. I may choose not to exercise my vote if I feel that the existing vote count meets or exceeds the question's value (lack of value).
  3. I generally choose to try and improve a question that is poor, if possible, rather than downvote. I will downvote incorrect answers more readily.
  4. I tend to use close/flag for questions that don't belong rather than downvoting them.

I have no qualms about 0->-1 downvoting a question or answer that is poorly thought out or incorrect. If it already has a downvote, I normally won't add to it unless it's a really egregious example, or if it's a user I recognize as having a history of similar poor posts. In these cases, I will happily downvote them to oblivion just out of sheer frustration that they aren't learning. (These are the types of people who get posts on meta about them -- see posts tagged with [users] [behavior] for many such examples.)


I'll be honest, I tend to do all my upvoting/downvoting based on what score I personally think the post should have. So if it should be -2, and it's at -1, yeah I'll pile on. If it's at 24, and I think it should be 20, I won't downvote (because it's obviously good!) but I won't upvote, either.

So no, I don't pile on. I just vote based on where I think something should be.

Of course, the rules are totally different on Meta. On Meta I vote based on agreement -- up if I really agree (or you saved me the trouble of writing my own), or down if I disagree. (In fact, I have more Meta downvotes than all other Trilogy and StackExchane downvotes combined for my OpenID.)


If it's at -2, I will (peer pressure badge). Beyond that, only if it is horrendously bad.

  • 3
    I actually have a -2 post I'm waiting for someone to downvote again for that very reason ;)
    – retracile
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 0:00
  • @retracile - downvoted, enjoy :-)
    – ChssPly76
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 1:00
  • ha! :) But someone countered your downvote, so it's back at -2...
    – retracile
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 2:08
  • Some helpful(?) soul downvoted me to -3, so I am now the proud(?) owner of a peer pressure badge. :)
    – retracile
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 14:31
  • That was me :P (Typing this bit because it has an annoying 15 char limit)
    – Macha
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 15:26
  • 1
    If I upvote this to 3, will you delete it for "Disciplined"? Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 23:41

More likely, but then again, I love to downvote as is


Most of the time when you see something hit -3 or less it should simply be flagged or closed (although sometimes that Grammar Gestapo have just gone overboard on someone for whom English isn't their first language) so there doesn't seem much point on downvoting. This is particularly true for questions that simply need to be migrated.


Many if not most of the downvoted questions are from users with low or 1 rep. Downvoting does nothing but cost me rep at that point. So usually no.


I don't vote as much as I probably should.

  • 2
    An answer talking about not voting gets no net votes, and questions criticising pile-on downvoting get pile-on downvoted. The irony. Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 6:13

I don't down-vote, so it's never an issue.


I factor in current score before I down-vote. I rarely down-vote questions unless the person asking the question changes the meaning of the question in the discussion - then I down-vote for the obvious hideously worded question.

I will up-vote just about anything I agree with - especially those with low scores.

I will up-vote an answer, even if I don't agree with it, if I feel it was unfairly down-voted to bring them back to "0".

I will down-vote any question that is flat-out wrong (but I won't pile on).

Finally I will down-vote any question that questions the motivation of the original poster.


I completely avoid pile-on downvoting. It just seems really snippy, and I can't imagine that anyone - from the answerer to the community - gleaning any useful information from a -8 vs -9 score.

I'm much more likely to pile on an upvote, probably because I am more of the "reward good behavior" rather than "punish bad behavior" mindset.

I kinda disagree with the idea of downvoting because of "frustration". Its like saying "how dare you waste the time I spent on the intartubez by your useless drivel!" which might be someone's sentiment, but really shallow. Pile-on downvoting is like the SO equivalent of a flamewar. "j00 n00b, ur stoopid gtfo"

Serial offenders (if you can even call "posting on the internet" an "offense") will be dealt with by the moderation team anyway.

  • 1
    I don't think the guys here get frustrated as much as you think :P
    – o.k.w
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 0:41
  • 1
    Haha, maybe. That just always seems to be a reason people downvote - because its frustrating that a user won't learn or its frustrating that the question is poorly-formed. (okay, in fairness: [citation needed])
    – user3788
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 0:54
  • And this gets net -3 votes??? Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 6:12
  • 2
    @Andrew in general, posts to the effect of "geez, downvoting is a bit excessive, eh?" are met with a flurry of downvotes. There are a lot of closed questions negative scores which are basically exact duplicates of this.
    – user3788
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 7:15
  • -1 because everyone is doing it ;-) Commented Dec 11, 2009 at 1:39

I'm more likely to UPvote it, if I think it's not deserving of the -score.

  • Will the down-voter care to share why this answer is down-voted this badly? Just curious :P
    – o.k.w
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 0:42
  • 6
    I think some folks are piling on here :)
    – RSolberg
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 0:54
  • 2
    I think this went from -3 to -6 in a couple of minutes. Talk about pile-on... Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 1:41
  • 5
    Part of the reason is that these pity up-votes give users who don't deserve rep a lot of rep... because it bounces between -1 and 0 over and over again, netting them 8 rep for each bounce.
    – retracile
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 2:11
  • @retracile Won't this be obsolete now you can see the number of upvotes and downvotes a question/answer gets? Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 6:10
  • Wow. @retracile: I did not say pity voting, I said "If it's not deserving of the score". As in, the answer is nothing special, but it's not WRONG.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 9:01
  • @Andrew: I don't think so, in part because you can't see that split until you have enough rep (1k?), and because it's the net number that determines sorting, etc.
    – retracile
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 14:27
  • 2
    I think you got downvoted so much because of the general hatred for sympathy upvotes, which screw up the rep system and often prevent answers from going into well-deserved oblivion. If you're just going around upvoting OK answers with negative totals, that's different. As usual, when expressing an opinion similar in some way to a hot button, it helps to be extra clear. Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 15:54
  • I probably should have thought it through. I do appreciate the irony of being downvoted so much for this, so all's well :D
    – Phoshi
    Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 19:32
  • @retracile: Ah - I thought seeing the split was a new feature. I only got 1000 rep in SO recently, so that explains why I hadn't seen it before. Commented Dec 8, 2009 at 23:39

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