This badge would be for people who have left comments in roughly 20 questions or answers they've downvoted.

It'll encourage people to explain why they're downvoting without forcing them to do so.

Statler and Waldorf Statler and Waldorf
(source: ifc.com)

  • 56
    -1 because I want the Statler and Waldorf badge.
    – waffles
    Jul 31, 2010 at 5:48
  • 9
    @waffles: What happens if you explain a downvote without casting it?
    – mmyers
    Jul 31, 2010 at 5:50
  • 9
    @mmyers, we need a new badge for that :)
    – waffles
    Jul 31, 2010 at 5:53
  • Ahahahaha! This is great. -1.
    – Pekka
    Jul 31, 2010 at 9:32
  • 4
    I am not sure if I should upvote, because I like the proposal, or downvote, because the badge idea is awesome. Aug 4, 2010 at 16:48
  • declining, sorry, too many loopholes with this one.
    – waffles
    Aug 24, 2011 at 2:57
  • 1
    @waffles: Are you referring to the "-1 my cat's breath smells like cat food" loophole, or some other loophole as well? Aug 24, 2011 at 3:49
  • @Andrew that mainly also added one more reason to my answer... overall this is a fairly dangerous badge to have imho
    – waffles
    Aug 24, 2011 at 4:36

7 Answers 7


To discourage downvoting with worthless commenting, what about only counting downvotes with comments that have a minimum of 1 up vote?

  • 43
    -1 my cat's breath smells like cat food
    – Shog9
    Jul 31, 2010 at 6:13
  • 10
    facepalm - I suppose there are loopholes... Jul 31, 2010 at 7:32
  • That makes a little more sense.
    – user149317
    Jul 31, 2010 at 12:15
  • 1
    @shog...you should really follow through...
    – jjnguy
    Aug 1, 2010 at 1:02
  • 1
    @jjnguy: ilm actually not big on the whole, "reveal your votes in comments" thing...
    – Shog9
    Aug 1, 2010 at 1:56
  • 4
    @Shog9: It's often very useful to know why something was downvoted. Heck, I've explained other people's downvotes. Aug 4, 2010 at 21:44
  • 6
    @david: I disagree... It's often useful to explain why a given post is flawed, but equating this with downvoting just confuses matters when comments are left by users who aren't voting.
    – Shog9
    Aug 5, 2010 at 14:24

My issues with this are:

  1. It does not encourage positive behavior, you have to be a "downvoter" to even be considered.

  2. It would be really easy to get so it would have to be bronze, but it seems like a lot of effort for a bronze badge.

  3. It could encourage negative behavior eg "-1 I do not like your gravatar" and so forth

  4. What happens when you explain your down vote, the user incorporates the comment, and then you give the modified post an up vote?

  5. This would encourage non-anon voting, which is risky. If I see a negative comment on my post and the person has "Stalter and Waldorf" I can safely assume the person leaving the negative comment is the person who downvoted me.

  • 3
    Re #3: Are you still scarred from that? That was like a year ago.
    – mmyers
    Jul 31, 2010 at 5:52
  • :) that was he should not be named back in his hey day ... I have grown much more resilient to attacks in the last year
    – waffles
    Jul 31, 2010 at 5:54
  • 7
    -1 I do not like your delicious avatar
    – Shog9
    Jul 31, 2010 at 6:12
  • 6
    Re 1, downvoting is already encouraged ("critic" badge). Re 4, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/102/additional-badge-ideas/… Jul 31, 2010 at 6:26
  • @Andrew-Grimm: I agree; though I think that perhaps this suggestion could mike a nice replacement for the critic badge. I suppose some folks wouldn't want their critic badge revoked, though, so it probably won't fly as a replacement. Jul 31, 2010 at 17:45
  • 1
    (-1) only 3 is a valid point.
    – devinb
    Aug 4, 2010 at 13:14
  • 1
    @devinb should it not be +.25 then?
    – waffles
    Aug 4, 2010 at 13:39
  • You're right. editing for retraction purposes.
    – devinb
    Aug 4, 2010 at 13:41
  • 1
    However, (1) downvoting is not 'negative' behaviour, it it misunderstood behaviour. (2) irrelevant to the making of a badge. If the question is the difficulty or ease, just tweak the parameters. (3) I cover in my response, this is a valid concern. (4) That isn't a reason not to create the badge. They'd get to keep the badge, because the positive behaviour (commenting on downvotes) has occurred. That's fine.
    – devinb
    Aug 4, 2010 at 13:53
  • @devinb, I was just joking around there, I really do not mind being downvoted on meta. .... Commenting on questions well is already covered by the commentator badge, I do not see how a constructive comment + downvote is better than just a constructive comment. Constructive comment + downvote leads to flame wars quickly
    – waffles
    Aug 4, 2010 at 23:53
  • Also, can somebody please tell me why: stackoverflow.com/questions/2973900 is behavior we want to encourage ?
    – waffles
    Aug 5, 2010 at 0:00
  • 1
    @wafles♦: good point, but the question should rather be how to educate users that this is not a valid reason to downvote by community consensus. At least that downvote got explained... Aug 5, 2010 at 9:18
  • With regards to 5, can you explain why that's a problem? Are you afraid that the OP is going to go to the downvoter's place and rearrange his furniture? Aug 25, 2011 at 22:58

I think the idea might work with a couple tweaks...

  • Make it 10 downvoted posts
  • Make it 2 upvotes for the comment
  • 1
    I don't know where to even begin! This post is a complete wreck! Dec 20, 2012 at 23:25

While this is a great idea, it falls in the same way that all the "force a comment on downvotes" fall.


  1. Relevant comments: How do you determine relevance of the comments? You really can't. All that it would require is that you add "@someone, lol!" and if you do that enough times, you could get the badge.
  2. Regexing the comments: Would this apply to any comment at all, or just the comments that have something like "(-1)","[-1]","-1", or "downvote" in them? Even if you add this caveat, it is completely possible to add "(-1) I don't like your gravatar." At which point you are giving out badges for useless behaviour.
  3. Repetitive comments: The behaviour that this badge encourages is commenting on your dowvnotes. It doesn't encourage any form of restraint or prudence. If someone has commented "(-1) Your solution fails in such and such a manner", and you agree, you would have to add a second comment in order to get the badge. Obviously we don't want people to do this, but it is the behaviour that is encouraged by the normal interpretation of the badge, not even the users trying to game the system.
  4. Downvotes are comments (Redundant comments): Everytime you downvote you are saying that you disagree. It IS your statement of criticism. Oftentimes, you don't need to explain yourself. For instance, if someone answers a python question with C#, it really shouldn't be necessary that I comment on my downvote. My downvote IS my comment. I will comment on nearly all of my downvotes, but that is just because I love to hear myself speak. In most cases, it is simply unnecessary.
  • 2
    RE 3. an upvote of that comment might also count, RE 4. it is impossible for a system to know when a downvote is obvious, and sometimes also for users. one simple "-1 question was about python" would still help. Maybe the answering user simply overread that tag and will delete his answer after that helpful comment Aug 4, 2010 at 14:50
  • 1
    Nitpick: Downvoting, except on Meta, doesn't mean I disagree. It means I think the question was bad, for some reason or another. I often downvote when I think the reason might not be obvious to the newbie, and comment on that. Aug 4, 2010 at 21:47
  • 1
    RE 1: If Peter's suggestion was incorporated, then meaningless comments wouldn't help you get the badge. Also, do you mean "fail" or "fall down" rather than "fall"? Aug 4, 2010 at 23:19
  • @andrew, I meant "fall" as in "topple", or "fall down" is just as good.
    – devinb
    Aug 5, 2010 at 4:16
  • @Tobias, I agree the system can't understand when a downvote is obvious, which is why the system shouldn't enforce (or encourage) that we ALWAYS comment. We should be prudently commenting, but there's no way to create a badge for that. Also, allowing upvoting a comment to count would simply encourage them to upvote any random comment on every post they downvote.
    – devinb
    Aug 5, 2010 at 4:18
  • @David On SO it means that you think there is some failing in their answer. If I "disagree" with someone it is the same as saying "I think your argument is flawed in XYZ manner" they are simply different terms to indicate that the downvoter and the poster have different views on the issue.
    – devinb
    Aug 5, 2010 at 4:20
  • @devinb: Except that we might have the same view on the issue at hand. If you want to say that I disagree with the presentation, fine, but Meta's the only place I downvote because I disagree with the issue at hand. Aug 5, 2010 at 13:59
  • @David, you and I have different views of downvotes. that much is clear from our ratios. I downvote when I believe it is incorrect or bad advice. For instance, "Exception catching is a sign of bad programming". I would downvote that, even though it is a matter of opinion, it is possibly dangerous advice if taken naively.
    – devinb
    Aug 5, 2010 at 14:17

I also think that it would be good to take into account how many unexplained downvotes you have casted. So, for example, the badge could be for having casted 20 downvotes with no more than, say, 5 unexplained ones.


My experience with explaining downvotes has been so poor that I rarely do it anymore. Most of the time when I've downvoted and left an explanation the answer is then edited to correct the problem; then the downvote and explanation no longer make any sense.

  • 9
    Sounds like your down votes with comments are improving the site! The fact that your down votes without comments do not cause a change in the answer is further proof of the power of down voting and commenting. Once the answer is edited, you should obviously remove your down vote. Aug 1, 2010 at 19:33
  • I'd much rather spend my time answering questions than following up on comments and downvotes to ensure that they're still relevant and accurate. In the meantime another user will have already supplied a correct and accepted answer anyway. By the way, do I get my -1 point back if I undo a downvote?
    – user12752
    Aug 2, 2010 at 16:44
  • yes after the next rep recalc (which you can request by flagging one of your posts, but hopefully not for a single point) Aug 4, 2010 at 18:14

My recommendation would be to abolish downvoting of questions and only allow upvoting of questions: let a deafening silence (no answers, no upvotes) be the indication of a question to be ignored.

A question with no answers and no upvotes has but a marginal existence. It doesn't really worsen the signal-to-noise ratio, especially since S.O. search results will show whether a question has any answers or not. You can include a (user-toggleable) feature whereby any question without an answer would be excluded from the search results. Now that would improve the signal-to-noise ratio!

The focus should be on bubbling good answers to the top. There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.

  • 4
    I disagree. Downvoting a question indicates that there is something positively wrong with it. Hopefully the OP will learn from it and correct the problems or at least ask a better question next time. A zero score is much more ambiguous. Dec 20, 2012 at 23:27
  • It MIGHT indicate that something is wrong with it. It might not.
    – Tim
    Dec 21, 2012 at 0:00

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