With respect to this question (and its implemented answer), is it possible to increase the reputation penalty for users that down vote a question without leaving a comment?

The reason I'm asking is because I'm seeing an increasing number of perfectly good questions being down voted, which in my opinion is happening because the voter doesn't like where the question is leading, usually because the OP doesn't fully understand what they are trying to achieve. I don't see this as a valid reason for down voting.

Maybe as well as an increased penalty for down voting without leaving a comment, if other people up vote the question, the penalty could be weighted even higher?


It's difficult to offer a list of examples, because this is a trend that has been spotted over a period of time, but I can easily offer these examples from my comment history.


Finding out what user Apache is running as? (has since been upvoted)

Where can I find iPad Sample Code (has since been upvoted)

Further Edit

Maybe an alternative would be to impose a heavier reputation penalty on a user that down votes a question when the number of up votes out weighs the total number of down votes by a designated factor.

It's always nice (or polite) to get a comment explaining why question has been down voted, but I believe we should be attempting to discourage down voting, especially when it isn't justified.

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    I'm seeing an increasing number of perfectly good questions -- any examples? (As much as a downvote is just an opinion, so is "perfectly good", in my opinion.) – Arjan Apr 1 '10 at 10:35
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    @Arjan van Bentem: Case in point meta.stackexchange.com/questions/44977/… – Bryan Apr 1 '10 at 12:12
  • @Bryan - things are weird on Meta - people downvote ideas they disagree with. It doesn't mean it's not a valid question, just that 5 people probably think it's a bad idea. – Dominic Rodger Apr 1 '10 at 12:14
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    I would +1 for the irony of asking a question about needless downvoting, which then gets downvoted numerous times. But if I did, it would weaken the case for my upvote - causing a rift in space-time. – Andras Zoltan Apr 1 '10 at 12:30
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    @Dominic, actually, I downvoted because I don't think this is a good question, as no proof for the bold statement is given at all. – Arjan Apr 1 '10 at 13:17
  • @Arjan: you should totally leave a comment to let the OP know that. – quack quixote Apr 1 '10 at 14:00
  • @Dominic: That's exactly what I'm getting at, however it doesn't just happen on meta. I stumbled across a perfectly valid question earlier on SF, but it got down voted because the voters didn't agree with method the OP was trying to do something. (At least that's the impression I got, but I'm guessing as the voter didn't leave a reason why!). – Bryan Apr 1 '10 at 15:41
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    I'm going to downvote this question without providing a comment. Edit: DOH! – Randolpho Apr 1 '10 at 16:00
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    @Dominic Rodger: If I think a "proposal", such as this one, is a bad idea, why would I want it to gain credence by being allowed to collect upvotes from people who support it, with me being discouraged from downvoting it? I was trying to realise Randolpho's dream (for the both of us), but obviously, like him, I failed at the last hurdle. DOH! – FumbleFingers Aug 26 '11 at 1:14

Unfortunately, anyone with the ability to write a script is considered a developer these days. Inevitably the younger immature and petty nature will prevail in a public forum. It's a fact of life we all have to live with. I have had valid questions heavily down voted because someone took offence or I questioned their pet library, etc., etc. It's the rough that you have to take with the smooth. I have also had very bright people provide deep insight at no cost. So you might say it's the cost of doing business online...


No. Forcing a comment will make people leave comments like "Obligatory (15 chars)", which doesn't help anything. How would your proposed solution differentiate between useful comments and useless ones?

  • They can just delete the comment too, so still pointless. – random Apr 1 '10 at 10:18
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    You misunderstand, I don't think a comment should be forced at all. Comments must be optional, but people should be encouraged to explain why the are down voting. – Bryan Apr 1 '10 at 12:10
  • Changing the reputation penalty for a downvote to take into account for whether you left a comment has the effect of forcing a comment. – Dominic Rodger Apr 1 '10 at 12:13
  • I disagree. Why should somebody that down votes and leaves a constructive comment, to encourage the OP to improve their question (and thus make SO a better place) take the same penalty as someone who down votes for the sake of it? And remember, I'm think more about the questions that are perfectly good questions. – Bryan Apr 1 '10 at 12:24
  • @Bryan - My point is, how would such a system work? How could the system distinguish between someone leaving a constructive comment, and someone saying "This is really dumb (15 chars)"? – Dominic Rodger Apr 1 '10 at 12:27
  • @Dominic - very simple. Only remove the penalty if the comment is up-voted. – DVK Apr 1 '10 at 14:28
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    There can always be people who upvote a "This is really dumb." comment. – Georg Fritzsche Apr 1 '10 at 14:54
  • @gf, yeah, but @DVK's got a point. There are always people who upvote dumb things, but then, that's how all of SOFU's reputation system works. – Dominic Rodger Apr 1 '10 at 15:31
  • Guessing what users "will" do is silly. This sounds like an easy thing to experiment with. Why can't this be run for a period in a region and reviewed? #lean – Luke Puplett Dec 4 '14 at 17:30

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