This question on SO elicited a host of answers which missed a basic point - the OP was asking about integer math with overflow. Fortunately, someone answered correctly, and I upvoted that answer. However, I'm wondering whether to downvote (and comment about missing the integer point) the other answers. What's the best thing to do here?

edit - as it turns out, the OP was only asking about truncation, not overflow, which means my downvotes aren't even appropriate. But that's not really relevant to my original question, I'd still appreciate some feedback on that.

4 Answers 4


Hell yeah, down-vote 'em! That's the best time to down-vote...

Even if they're only invalid because the question changed after they'd been written, there needs to be some indication of their wrongness - and down-voting will also give the authors a heads-up so they can come back and either update or remove their answers.

  • A downvote isn't a very visible indication of wrongness. A comment works much better, and I'll get notified of a comment on my answer more specifically than a downvote. Also, since some people are sensitive to downvotes, I like to leave them only where deserved, and I'd rather not discourage people from trying to answer fairly vague questions. Apr 14, 2010 at 13:52
  • 3
    The comment is printed in a tiny font below the answer. The score is in a great big font at the top of the answer. Votes are pretty visible... Nothing wrong with leaving a comment, but that's not what was asked here.
    – Shog9
    Apr 14, 2010 at 14:33

The answers are wrong. Nuke them to kingdom come. But make sure you leave a comment explaining why. In fact, you can even get Commander Keen to do it for you (the downvoting, not the commenting).


I don't get it. Why are people afraid to downvote? If it's wrong, downvote it and maybe add a comment to let the user know he's misunderstood the question. Remember, a downvote will get someone's attention much faster than a comment and will be a bigger incentive to either delete his/her answer or to edit it.

It's just a vote, we don't need elaborate rules to determine if a person deserves it; it's not a matter of life and death. Besides, they are your votes. Do with them as you please.

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    Because a downvote is not zero-cost to the voter. If it were, I'd probably do it more often. Then again, that's likely exactly why they're not zero-cost.
    – bignose
    May 7, 2011 at 2:14

I'm biased since I'm one of those wrong answers that you've already downvoted, but it might be worth pointing out that so many answers are wrong because the question originally forgot to mention that rather critical point; the OP edited it later

  • Thanks for finding this post! I made the assumption originally that the OP meant truncation and overflow, you made the assumption the OP meant pencil and paper math, we were both wrong. But you're suffering for it more from my downvote. I have to say though, I'm surprised that on a programming website so many people assumed the question was about pure math.
    – mtrw
    Apr 14, 2010 at 3:41

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