Is it ethical to downvote answers so my question is unanswered again? In my specific example here, I have two answers, each with one upvote, neither of which seem to get the point of the question (if you can improve the phrasing, please go ahead). Would it be ethical to downvote them each so that my question show as unanswered again? Is this an effective tactic to get my question answered, short of a bounty? I will happily do a bounty as soon as it's available.

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    If the answer "is not useful" as per the down-vote tooltip then down-vote away. If you are feeling generous add a comment as to why.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Mar 23, 2010 at 12:43
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    Is it ethical to link to your unanswered question in a meta post about the ethics of doing things to raise the profile of your unanswered questions? ;-) (Don't worry, this is a joke.) Mar 23, 2010 at 12:47
  • BTW, in this particular case it's no longer relevant -- Jørn Schou-Rode provided a correct answer. stackoverflow.com/questions/2489308/… The general question obviously still stands.
    – balpha Staff
    Mar 23, 2010 at 12:54
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    Also, T.J.'s comment above is now even more relevant, as I only stumbled upon the SO question via this on MSO :) Mar 23, 2010 at 12:59
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    If one of those answers are getting multiple upvotes then others believe that answer is correct to the question provided. Maybe the problem isnt with the answers but the question (or how its being interpreted by the masses). I would rephrase or add additional detail to your question.
    – Locutus
    Mar 23, 2010 at 13:53

4 Answers 4


Considering that both answers overlooked the bug in the code sample you posted, I believe it is fair to downvote them. Now, on the other hand, a new answer has been posted to your question, providing you with the solution to your problem! Go ahead and upvote + accept that!

Shame on the unicorn for covering the name of that shameless rep. whore!!

  • :-) Probably, but it's funny. Mar 23, 2010 at 12:58
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    It's not unethical
    – juan
    Mar 23, 2010 at 13:06

It might be unethical if you only do it to make your question unanswered again. But if the answers in question weren't actually helpful, then a down-vote is never unethical (it's even in the tooltip text of the down-vote button).

So in this particular case, just go ahead and down-vote them. No harm done.


Downvoting for some gain when you wouldn't otherwise downvote is probably a bit dodgy (but then, I'm a bit of a purist). I'm sure people do it, though (to push up their own answers, for instance). But you're free to downvote any answer you don't think is helpful (on your own question or others). You clearly don't find these two helpful. So the question is: Would you downvote them if they each had two upvotes and it wouldn't have any effect on your question's listing?


I don't know that putting the question bakc in the unanswered state is really going to help, so downvoting just to get to that state may be considered unethical, but worse - it probably won't even help.

Address the answers in a comment as to what they did or didn't help with so when others come along and read them they understand why they aren't helpful.

Downvote them if they are unhelpful or wrong.

Consider rephrasing your question to make it more clear and easy to understand/read - this will also bump your question.

Bump your question a few times until you get an answer (or people complain that you're bumping it) by editing the question in small ways.


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