I've got a particular answer that got downvoted a couple of times, for reasons I don't understand. I'm not particularly concerned about the odd point of rep (though for us low-rung ladder people, it all counts!), but I'm more bothered because I really don't understand what was wrong with the answer I gave. I can understand no votes, but for it to be actively downvoted has puzzled me.

Without the downvoter commenting to my answer, I'm left stuck without any further recourse. How can I tell who downvoted it?

Please note — I'm not a saddo looking to indulge in some pathetic tit-for-tat. I'm just puzzled because the question couldn't really have a "wrong" answer.

The question is here, although I've since noticed it on another answer of mine too.

  • 17
    I agree; hit-and-run downvotes are, at best, pointless. Obviously you can’t expect everybody who votes down to leave a comment, particularly if there are already comments to explain existing down-votes; if the reason you think a post is bad has already been explained by someone else, repeating it is pointless. However if there are no comments or other down-votes, then a hit-and-run down-vote comes off as (and often is) just someone being petty or spiteful for some reason. Hiding their identity only makes it possible and easy to do this instead of making people accountable for their votes.
    – Synetech
    Aug 9, 2013 at 17:52
  • 3
    @Synetech it's easy to solve the duplicate downvote reason problem, simply write a reference to the other down voters' reason. At the same time, it's good to not reveal the downvoter's identity. The CS community is a mix of saints and thugs, so downvote quality control is especially important.
    – John Jiang
    Dec 29, 2018 at 19:36

3 Answers 3


No, basically. Add a comment saying that you'd like comments with downvotes - that's about all you can do.

It's a pain, but there's no way to force someone to leave a meaningful comment.

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    be aware that this is now implemented as of yesterday meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135/… Jul 8, 2009 at 14:09
  • I think that's the way it should be.. As has been mentioned before, although not too common, it can lead to malice, and if someone upvoted one of your posts it may make you feel like you should upvote one of their posts on another occasion, because they upvoted you, as opposed to being because of the actual content. Jul 8, 2009 at 14:10
  • 3
    PLUS, you'll almost always get upvoted if you ask why you were downvoted. I haven't yet tried this on a post that didn't get downvoted at all, but for some reason, if I ask why I'm downvoted, my post usually gets upvoted.
    – devinb
    Jul 8, 2009 at 14:33
  • @devinb - and you're right! For some inexplicable reason I just got 2 upvotes on that answer (it was standing at 0 this morning). :-)
    – robsoft
    Jul 8, 2009 at 14:35
  • @Jeff, are you referring to the div alert thing? Because I'm not seeing it... Jul 8, 2009 at 15:37
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    Sorry sir, to ask something, but many people downvote almost equal answers, to get their answer on top, so they get accepted at first.
    – twntee
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:26
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    @twntee: Do you have evidence of that? Given that downvoting is anonymous, it seems hard to see what evidence you would have.
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:28
  • @JonSkeet Respected sir, yes you are absolutely right, I can't not be 100% sure that a particular person has downvoted all answers, and clearly there isn't any evidence. But just experienced something, on particular question all 5 answers were identically same, then soon all the oldest answers get downvoted -1, and one newest answer had no downvotes and also there wasn't any comment before downvoting to it.
    – twntee
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:43
  • @twntee: So maybe that's the situation in this one case. That's very different from "many people". Can you refer to the specific example?
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:46
  • @JonSkeet yes sir, I agree with you totally, but these type of cases aren't good for SO. I wish and hope there is some solution for it in future, as one small bug can grow up to be a big problem. Thank you for replying me. :) yes i was talking about this question stackoverflow.com/q/20634744/826657, I don't 100% blame anyone but all answers were downvoted simultaneouly as soon as the user Andro answered, as soon as I blindly question him why downvotes, and all downvotes were removed.
    – twntee
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:50
  • @twntee: Well it's not a bug - it's one person being annoying. There are many situations where one person can be annoying. The solution is usually flagging - if you believe the answerer is responsible for the downvotes, you could start by leaving a comment to ask, and to see whether there's a reason if so.
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:54
  • @JonSkeet yes Sir, as soon I asked him, all downvotes were removed. and all the answers were upvoted simultaneously. I flagged the answer and called for moderator attention and while I was searching meta I saw your answer and thought of bring it to your notice.
    – twntee
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:58
  • @twntee: Right, so I don't see that there's a problem. Occasionally there'll be bad behaviour - that doesn't mean it's worth forcing everyone to leave comments, or to make downvotes non-anonymous.
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:59
  • @JonSkeet yes Sir, forcing everyone to leave a comment or non anonymous downvotes will lead to revenge policies, and mess up all SO knowledge. Best thing is to accept this one annoying person and his downvotes and move on. After it is all about sharing knowledge and not about reps. :)
    – twntee
    Dec 17, 2013 at 14:03
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    I think the first downvoter SHOULD (on questions AND answers) be forced to leave a comment about it - this is totally possible if @stackoverflow had the will to do it. It will improve the community by telling people what they did wrong i the opinion of the voter - the comment could even be anonymous. Political voting is already possible if you don't like someone's comment you can go and downvote them - and they can't see who you are or get a reason. This is already a problem, not seeing your downvoters doesn't fix it.
    – niico
    Nov 6, 2016 at 17:21


Knowing this would almost always end in pointless "tit-for-tat" as you called it (even if not your specific case). It'd cause more harm than good - arguments, "revenge voting" and so on..

  • 12
    Actually, it would make people accountable for their votes so that they cannot simply vote down out of anger or spite.
    – Synetech
    Aug 9, 2013 at 17:49
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    -1 (if I had the rep) Revenge voting is made more likely by this. If you piss someone off, they just go to your profile, go through your posts and downvote them without any accountability.
    – Carl Smith
    Oct 14, 2013 at 21:58
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    @CarlSmith Such revenge-voting is systematically detected and reversed (see this question). I can't think of a likely positive outcome that would come from knowing who downvoted an answer
    – dbr
    Oct 17, 2013 at 12:51
  • +1 I stand corrected.
    – Carl Smith
    Oct 28, 2013 at 13:23
  • 1
    tit for tat can already exist - if you don't like someone's comment - you could go and downvote their question or answer - and they wouldn't be able to know who did it or why.
    – niico
    Nov 6, 2016 at 17:22

you probably got dinged for calling subversion "trendy"; people can get mightly protective about their favorite tools (try saying something disparaging about Perl, for example)


  • Thanks Steven - the 'subversion' quip being the catalyst was my conclusion, too. :-)
    – robsoft
    Jul 8, 2009 at 20:40
  • Indeed. Especially, it seems VB.Net coders. One off-the-cuff comment I made on a question almost a year ago still gets a trickle of downvotes every month :-(
    – immutabl
    Feb 14, 2011 at 19:45

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