Recently @Catija replied to my answer (If more users could vote, would they engage more? Testing 1 reputation voting on some sites) about mandatory downvote reason (especially for 1+ rep users).

“I'd be more open to a multi-select for low rep users that allows them to pick valid reasons to downvote without giving a free text field.” – Catija Staff Mod

The proposal ( originally suggested in John Saunders comment Jul 4, 2009 ) is to

  • add the quick list of reasons, so the users don't even have to type.
  • Add an "anonymous" checkbox, defaulting to checked.
  • The dialog can be shown to any users (not only low rep).
  • For those, who have enough reputation to add comments, another option with free text “your own comment” can be shown.
  • If the user already added a comment or upvoted one of existing comments, dialog can be suppressed.

Two points suggested in the comments by Aaron Bertrand, Staff

  • the proposal will be more valuable for answers, rather than for questions.

  • the downvoter name if they chose to be anonymous will not be shown on the site, but (in particular for free text comment) should be recorded in the system to be available to moderators if there is an abuse.

I found a couple of suggestions that were deleted just because they were posted as answers instead of as a feature requests:

Why isn't it required to provide comments/feedback for downvotes, and why are proposals suggesting this so negatively received? (the link may be not visible if you don’t have enough Stack Overflow reputation)

Please include a reason for the downvote:

  • Too verbose
  • Argument is unclear
  • More research required
  • Issue not addressed
  • Duplication
  • Other

Obviously there will be differences in popup layout & content for questions versus answers. Closing the dialog without providing an option will be marked as Other.

Why isn't it required to provide comments/feedback for downvotes, and why are proposals suggesting this so negatively received? (the link may be not visible if you don’t have enough Stack Overflow reputation)

  • keep down/up votes anonymous

  • when you vote on a question or comment, a small popup opens, and you get to click on what applies to you (at least one choice). For instance for an answer, it is:

    • technically wrong
    • off topic
    • not justified enough
    • a repeat
    • outdated
    • incomprehensible
    • ...?

I searched for similar questions and many of them were closed as a duplicate. My suggestion is not a duplicate of Encouraging people to explain downvotes that was completed in 2009, but a new feature request to improve the current implementation.

Some clarifications based on comments and answers feedback

The idea to Encouraging people to explain downvotes is very popular (1245 votes). This suggestion is how to encourage them more with

  • less effort (no need to type),
  • allow to keep anonymous and
  • allow even for those, who don’t have enough rep to post free text comments.

There are 246 questions linked to/from Encouraging people to explain downvotes. Many of them are closed as duplicates, but the big number is a clear indicator that the current system behaviour is not good and requires improvement(s).

The FAQ accepted answer Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are requests suggesting such negatively received? explains the reasons of the current implementation. However, most of points are not convincing and conclusions may be challenged. The current implementation may be redesigned to improve.

The difference with good suggestion Explaining downvotes, a new take on things is that proposed implementation is different. This request also intends to address the requirement to ask for downvote reasons for people with minimal reputation.

Some people think that knowing reasons for downvotes are useful only for the post author. Encouraging to explain downvotes is important to improve quality of posts, which will benefit the site in general. It also will benefit future readers who will see what is the problem with the post that downvotes thought about.

  • 11
    Doesn't matter if the comment will reveal the downvoter or not. I don't want to be forced to explain my downvote, plain and simple. Sep 29, 2023 at 9:24
  • 1
    @ShadowTheGPTWizard If you really don’t to explain( why not?) answer “other” Sep 29, 2023 at 9:31
  • 9
    So it becomes extra step that I didn't ask for. Personally I do explain lots of times, but I don't want to be forced to do that. It will just have opposite effect on me. (make me less willing to explain.) Sep 29, 2023 at 9:34
  • 6
    God, not another one of these. You are not proposing any new ideas; please actually read the history of this idea before repeating it again.
    – Nij
    Sep 29, 2023 at 9:35
  • 8
    @Nij looks like he did. I don't think it was asked before in this form, so it's legit and not duplicate. Most others are not direct feature requests and/or without explicit suggestions. Sep 29, 2023 at 9:36
  • @ShadowTheGPTWizard, I’ve changed the title. You will not be forced, but prompted to make it easier to answer. Sep 29, 2023 at 9:39
  • @nij, of coarse I read why-isnt-providing-feedback-mandatory-on-downvotes-and-why-are-requests-sugges. Note the votes for the question:108 is greater than the accepted answer: 73. It means that the answer is not satisfactory, and the problem still exist and should be solved. If you don’t like my suggestion, suggest better Sep 29, 2023 at 9:44
  • 5
    Yeah, it has. Nothing new here at all. @ShadowTheGPTWizard
    – Nij
    Sep 29, 2023 at 9:44
  • 2
    You've read one post, great. There are another few hundred to go. Start with putting is:q explain downvotes in the search bar.
    – Nij
    Sep 29, 2023 at 9:45
  • 4
    If you think that downvoted questions confirm that a problem exists and should be solved (and earlier that highly upvoted questions answers suggest we don't find them satisfactory) then I really don't know what to say. Sep 29, 2023 at 10:11
  • 1
    Sorry, but I don't believe that anonymous critical comments would have a positive effect.
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 29, 2023 at 10:52
  • 3
    I think at least for questions this would be more useful here on meta (where down-votes can be for very different reasons, e.g. this question is bad or unclear or lacks research vs. no I think this is a terrible idea or I agree it's a bug but don't agree developers should spend time on it). On the main sites I don't know that down-votes (again, for questions) often need further explanation. More often than not, questions are also eventually closed for the same reasons they are down-voted.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 29, 2023 at 16:13
  • 3
    Now, for answers, I think there is more potential value there, because down-votes are often not visible (hidden behind +/-) while lacking the same type of inherent context (or companion close reasons) anyway. Future readers are here for answers, not for questions, and it can be very useful context for them to (a) know there are down-votes at all, and (b) have some general context about why.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 29, 2023 at 16:15
  • 4
    Over the years, I've tried to be very good about giving that context to answer authors first, giving a chance to correct before I consider down-voting. But at times I've been very gun-shy about putting my name anywhere, since I've often at least had the perception that I was being targeted after giving some helpful (and perhaps sometimes abrasive) context, whether I down-voted or not. Being able to anonymously comment (or pick an option) on answers might be a consideration, but it would have to be accountable (e.g. tied to you in the system and available to moderators if there is abuse).
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 29, 2023 at 16:18
  • 4
    (That was a lot of words to imply that it might be valuable to separate concerns and focus just on answers.)
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 29, 2023 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


You've kind of missed the point, but don't worry, all the other people making this same suggestion have done so too.

Voting is mainly for those reading posts, not those asking or answering them. We want people to read clear and useful questions and then read their clear and useful answers and by corollary we want to lead people away from poor quality, bad or wrong answers. For that we don't really need comments at all. All you have to do is look at the overall score. If it's quite positive then that's likely to be a useful answer that will solve your problem, if it's negative then it probably isn't and you don't need to waste your time trying it.

So we need downvotes to distinguish answers that nobody's voted on at all from answers that people have analysed and actively determined aren't useful.

If voting gets the poster to improve their post then that's lovely too, but they are but one and the readers of posts are many. Optimising for a single individual is not the right way to go.

  • 2
    “ Voting is mainly for those reading posts” Exactly, as a reader I want to see in a comment, what was the reason why someone downvoted the post. Sep 29, 2023 at 10:16
  • 11
    @MichaelFreidgeim yet you're not interested why a solution has been upvoted? I find it odd that so many people apparently find no reason to know why something was considered good. Yet somehow feel the reason for downvote would help them.
    – VLAZ
    Sep 29, 2023 at 10:19
  • @VLAZ, tell the truth, I didn’t think about reasons of upvoting before. Based on the number of votes for Encouraging people to explain downvotes (1245 votes), many people are more interested in reasons of downvotes too. Sep 29, 2023 at 12:35
  • Encouraging to explain downvotes is not “Optimising for a single individual”, it is important to improve quality of posts, which will benefit everyone on the site. Sep 29, 2023 at 13:20

This would introduce increased friction for casting downvotes. Yes, small yet one not present for upvotes.

Furthermore downvotes are already cast at a lot lower frequency than I feel they should be. Thus, I disagree that we should further discourage downvotes.

  • “ downvotes are already cast at a lot lower frequency than I feel they should be. ” Downvote penalty stops some users (especially with low reputation) to downvote bad posts because they do not want to lost their 1 rep. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/393127/… Sep 29, 2023 at 10:10
  • 3
    @MichaelFreidgeim well that is a problem but it's not something you've focussed on with this question. Sep 29, 2023 at 10:11
  • @RobertLongson, in a comment I just explained why “downvotes are already cast at a lot lower frequency than I feel they should be. ” Sep 29, 2023 at 10:18
  • Why not enough downvotes- see meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/398537/… Oct 1, 2023 at 6:16

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