There have been a number of questions here because people are unhappy with unexplained (and sometimes seemingly inexplicable) downvotes. Some are linked from here...

Penalise Downvotes without Comment / Reward Downvotes with Comments

An idea I haven't seen anywhere is that downvoters should be identified (or at least identifiable) with a list or link near the score, perhaps with some metric indicating how trigger-happy they are with the downvotes.

The idea is that people are less likely to downvote excessively, or out of spite for some grudge, or whatever if they are identifiable - if it damages their own reputation as well as their victims.

I can see reasons against as well as for - one advantage of anonymous downvotes is that it's hard to retaliate against the downvoter, so you can't end up with downvote wars.

I just thought I'd throw the suggestion out there and see what people think.

  • 1
    @Alconja - aha! I shall have my revenge Bwahahahaha!!!
    – user136873
    Aug 11 '10 at 23:13
  • Be gentle, he finally came clean :P Nov 7 '10 at 23:36
  • Isn't simpler to just answer the man's request that downvote it?! Nov 7 '10 at 23:37
  • I meant to say "than" Nov 7 '10 at 23:37

You can see people's upvote:downvote ratios in their profiles.

Other than that, I am categorically against this. Knowing who downvoted you would mean war. The community would be flooded with personal vendettas, and every downvote would become a personal and political decision. It would be horrible.

  • Yeah - that's kind of what I figured. +1 and accepted.
    – user136873
    Aug 11 '10 at 23:06
  • 1
    +1 for "categorically". That about sums it up.
    – squillman
    Aug 11 '10 at 23:17
  • I'll just say as one final point - downvotes shouldn't really be used lightly anyway, on SO anyway. I get that they're used differently here. I'll just leave a real-world analogy - electoral votes (upvotes) are anonymous, but downvoting isn't allowed at all in elections. To quote another question "downvotes appear to be pure evil" - so how much freedom to downvote do we need?
    – user136873
    Aug 11 '10 at 23:25
  • @Steve downvotes are essential to maintain the quality of the site. They are nothing like evil. They help identify bad or wrong content, and make the creator fix or delete the wrongness. Fair downvoting - preferably without any personal bias, and leaving a comment outlining why - is a service to the site IMO.
    – Pekka
    Aug 12 '10 at 8:51
  • @Pekka - on the other hand, downvotes can be a cowards way of retaliating when someone leaves a comment on your answer that you don't like. Real issue? Who knows? I only know a little bit about basic psychology, and the bit of history that says most ordinary people will maliciously inform to secret police etc, provided there's minimal consequences to themselves, simply because they don't like someone. In comparison, what's a malicious downvote? Downvotes do have a cost - no doubt why they're relatively rare - but it's still worth considering options IMO.
    – user136873
    Aug 15 '10 at 7:12
  • @Pekka - I doubt "essential" because the bulk of the differentiation of good and bad is done with upvotes. Comments even can't be downvoted already. And as for the objection in the answer - which I pointed out in the question - we can already have war perfectly easily in comments, and every question, answer and comment is already a personal and political decision - one that could potentially affect your job prospects - negatively as well as positively.
    – user136873
    Aug 15 '10 at 7:18
  • @Steve (Re the first comment) I absolutely agree, and I'm sure this happens every day. I have thought about the same idea a number of times over the last months. I however have always reached the conclusion that I'd rather have petty malicious downvoting than not have an instrument to give negative feedback to an incorrect answer or lousy question.
    – Pekka
    Aug 15 '10 at 7:23
  • @Steve (re your second comment) A downvote reduces the number of upvotes and is the only way of "bringing down" a mistakenly upvoted wrong answer. I maintain downvotes are essential for the functioning of the site. What I mean by "political" is that a downvote is likely to affect your relationships to other people on SO. Of course you can already have war in comments, but only if you choose to. Named downvotes would take away that choice.
    – Pekka
    Aug 15 '10 at 7:41
  • @Pekka - one way to "bring down" a mistakenly upvoted wrong answer is for the upvoter to cancel the upvote. Equally, you can just accept that some wrong answers get upvoted - and for that matter accepted. You can still upvote correct answers. And you'd have the same choice with downvotes that you do with comments - no-one can force you to downvote. BTW - I upvoted your answer. My arguing the logic shouldn't be seen as demanding a change. On balance vs. black/white logic, value of stability, yada yada. I only really asked as my contribution to community brainstorming.
    – user136873
    Aug 15 '10 at 7:45


  • +1 for bold and big. Visual equivalent of Pekka's "categorically".
    – squillman
    Aug 11 '10 at 23:17
  • 2
    (-1) This is unhelpful to the OP and to anyone interested in the question. But it will gather upvotes from Meta Regulars who have heard the question before.
    – devinb
    Aug 12 '10 at 12:07
  • @devinb - +1 for unhelpful. To me, it seems like a rejection of the idea of even discussing the idea. It is on a discussion tag, not a feature-request tag, and I thought community brainstorming was a good thing - responding not with discussion but with a big bold NO just seems... well, let's just say it won't encourage open exchange of ideas.
    – user136873
    Aug 15 '10 at 8:12


This is a bad idea.

I'll reprint this answer from Who Voted For Or Against

No, all votes are anonymous. It does not matter who voted for what. Votes are an indication of community acceptance of an answer.


Synopsis of the topic.

Related Links.

  • -1 because when the question is "should we consider a change?", the response "this is how it is" is not an answer. The quoted answer is an answer to the original question, but not to this one. The "community acceptance" thing is just a bit crazy, though, as if "the community" was some independent entity, and as if you could mandate how "the community" will percieve things. Oh - and you can't hold me responsible for my downvote because, after all, it's just an "indication of community acceptance" and therefore nothing to do with me. Though of course we can still fight it out in the comments.
    – user136873
    Aug 15 '10 at 7:01
  • @Steve, I can hold you responsible for anything you self-identify. That is why we make commenting (identifying) voluntary. You have chosen to indentify yourself, and therefore risk that I will serially downvote you. You also open yourself up to serious discussion and engagement on the issue, so there's upsides and downsides. Did you read all of the items in the "synopsis" link? It's much more thorough and I didn't want to reprint it all here.
    – devinb
    Aug 15 '10 at 14:01
  • @Steve, I think I understand the critique from your first sentence. I've clarified my position on the issue in my response.
    – devinb
    Sep 1 '10 at 15:13

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