I posted a StackOverflow question earlier today and I received several answers which I personally regarded to be truly, ahem, uninformed. Up until now I was under the impression that answers which I find not useful should be downvoted. In fact, that is exactly what the tooltip says that appears when you hover on the down-arrow element.
However, I got some pretty harsh responses in the comments there; apparently downvoting several answers (three out of the four answers posted at that time) evoked some very hard feelings, even among people who haven’t posted an answer. They then proceeded to highlight my ratio of upvotes to downvotes, and furthermore, suggested that it should be displayed alongside the accept rate (presumably implying that they would then refrain from answering questions from people who have a tendency to downvote).
Up until now I never considered that ratio to even be a factor, much less to be problematic. Mine is approximately 1:1 at the moment. It used to be even lower (i.e. I used to cast more downvotes proportionally) and I didn’t really think that would be problem. But now that it was mentioned explicitly, I looked at some other people’s ratios and I was surprised that almost all of them have cast significantly more upvotes than downvotes, usually at a ratio of 5:1 or even 10:1. I honestly didn’t know that was the norm.
My questions therefore:
Should I be casting fewer downvotes? If so, why?
What would be considered to be an “acceptable” ratio, and why?
In an extreme case where most of the answers I get are seriously lacking, what should I do and why?