Edit: After the comment conversation, I've removed my slightly irrelevant/rambling backstory, and refactored question.

It seems there's some difference of opinion on what giving/recieving them actually means to different people and therefore how they are used, but I don't want to rerun that conversation again.

Instead I'm interested in seeing if there's any evidence available on exactly what results downvoting produces, if the lead to improving the quality of posts, and at what sort of frequency?

For example:

  • How frequently does downvoting lead to a self-close of a post, or a self-edit?
  • After a downvote inspired self-edit, how often does that then lead to upvoting/removal of downvotes?

As an aside, I also wonder if there's evidence for how often people post a comment to follow up a downvote? (or an upvote, even?)

Further aside: Maybe there's an accidental badge idea in here as well - the 'bothering to comment after downvoting, x times' bagde? "Constructive Criticism" maybe? However, I'd be surprised if this hasn't been suggested before...

  • 6
    Things that are downvoted get pity-upvoted immediately. Jul 13, 2010 at 10:35
  • 2
    @Ladybug Hmm, after a quick search on here I see that's a bit of issue. Shame really, as surely upvoting something just because it's been previously downvoted shows a lack of understanding of what an upvote or downvote means? Technically the caster is saying that they think the post is useful, but in thier mind maybe they're being "nice" to that one poster - but at the cost of potentially reducing the quality of the site overall by making poor content be scored as "average", instead of accurately marked as poor.
    – DMA57361
    Jul 13, 2010 at 11:27
  • Yup it doesn't hurt to undo an downvote...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 13, 2010 at 12:00
  • 3
    @DMA: You're a flicker of hope in the blackness of depression called SOFU. Jul 13, 2010 at 12:10
  • @Ivo - I'm not entirely sure I understand the context that your comment is in. Do you mean "undo"ing a downvote by deleted your downvoted post? Or something else? | @Ladybug - Thanks, I've been consuming information off of SO (in particular) for months now (probably since ~September) and finally decided to start getting involved when I can.
    – DMA57361
    Jul 13, 2010 at 12:40
  • It's a bit weird that you got your reputation back. Deletion itself doesn't trigger a change to your visible reputation - you need to have a reputation recalculation run against you to get the reputation visibly back. These only happen if someone trips the serial voting script on you (and you'd've noticed a much larger change in reputation, I'd imagine) or if you manually request one. The more likely scenario is that you got reputation back from another source, and you simply stumbled upon the post being deleted as an unrelated coincidence.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 13, 2010 at 14:40
  • @Grace Fair enough, maybe I didn't get it back - I'm willing to accept "I imagined it", "I misremembered my previous rep" or "I can't perform simple mental arithmetic before my morning cuppa" as potential reasons for that incorrect assertion.
    – DMA57361
    Jul 13, 2010 at 14:58
  • @DMA Undoing an downvote by giving a sympathy upvote doesn't hurt. Downvoting a sympathy upvote does, but such is life
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 13, 2010 at 19:54
  • 2
    @Ivo - I'd argue that both hurt the site, by reducing the accuracy by which questions and answers are ranked, and thus reducing the quality of said rankings and the site as a whole. However, I suspect it's of fairly minor consequence in the grand scheme. Anyway, I can see this is a conversation repeated many times on Meta already, by those much more involved than myself, so probably best not to start another here. I think I'll edit this question, just need to work out what to edit it to...
    – DMA57361
    Jul 13, 2010 at 21:25
  • 1
    @DMA it doesn't hurt the user, because upvoting a downvote doesn't cost the user rep. While downvoting a sympathy upvote does. That's what I meant.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 14, 2010 at 6:07
  • @Ladybug Killer: It's not true that good posts that get downvoted will always get pity-upvoted again. This argument is only valid on popular questions/tags. If you post on normal questions that don't have that many views and you get downvoted it's quite possible that you will not get upvoted because your post will never be read by anyone else but the OP, and quite often the OP doesn't even upvote the accepted answer let alone other good answers.
    – Mark Byers
    Sep 12, 2010 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


I have seen some apparent competitive down voting; where in a question with several almost identical (correct)answers posted within seconds of each other, the 'fastest gun in the west' votes are down-voted in order to re-level the playing field so to speak. This doesn't have any positive effect on posts that i can see, and seems a slight abuse of the voting system.

Generally though, down-votes encourage the poster of an answer to improve/correct their answer in the hope that the down-voter will rescind the down-vote and possibly up-vote the answer.

In a lot of cases though this doesn't happen, the down-voter either doesn't comment, so when the poster does amend the answer and comments to say such the down-voter never gets a message; or doesn't care enough to rescind the vote.


Well, currently there are 3,414 Peer Pressure badges awarded for posts that had scores of -3 or lower and were deleted by the owner.

In my experience down voting does seem to cause the OP to edit, if the down vote is accompanied with a comment as to the reason of the down vote. But I would love to see hard data about this.

As a note, I usually just comment first. Then if the error isn't changed I down vote, but usually even just a comment causes an edit.

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