Has SE changed its stance on revealing votes, or is this an unintended feature?

This user asked a question and all 5 anwsers got downvoted, so I checked his profile after he said uncomplimentary things in the edited question.


Am I reading right that it shows the user as being the hand behind the 5 downvotes?



I just realized that this also now helps my defense when there are two answers and the other gets a downvote. Well, hast the rules loosened on vote anonymity? Can we finally have this data in the data.se dumps?

Related: Can we add vote history to the data.se dumps?

  • 10
    You know he lost 5 reputation in downvotes, you can't tell what he did vote on however. Technically.
    – badp
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:06
  • Not directly. The -5 votes are for "today", not for just the question listed above that. But well, I guess your conclusion is correct...
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:07
  • @badp @Arjan - you can. If you look closely, the time frame is explicitly broken down into small blocks. Check your own - it now includes where you voted! (new). For other users with many activity, it clumps them Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:10
  • @Arjan can you show me my reputation log? it should show my votes to within the hour if not less. Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:15
  • If you look at your own profile it indeed shows where you downvoted. If I look at yours then I do see multiple seperate downvotes a day, but it does not mention what you downvoted. But indeed, it is grouped by question, even though the title itself is not shown...
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:17
  • 2
    Here you go: i.sstatic.net/Dd5Ow.png Your score for yesterday (and the things for the user you mentioned) indeed does seem to indicate things are grouped by question. (Ah, Sachin has a point, I guess.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:19
  • 2
    @Arjan thanks - the rep page seems to be snapshotted at intervals (for performance). Regular snapshots means voting patterns are now a lot clearer and to use Sachin's term "trapped" Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:21
  • 1
    @Richard "Technically" being the operative term ;) Also, no, it doesn't say where you voted.
    – badp
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:28
  • 1
    correcting my immediately prior comment - downvotes are listed at the bottom of the list for the day, so they are identifiable only by day. but they do get grouped by question which is significant Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:43
  • @Richard, as it seems you investigated, maybe a self-answer then?
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 13:34
  • 2
    Cookie for anyone who can figure out what I down-voted on Meta today...
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 17:51

6 Answers 6


Given the problems of exposing votes here (evidenced by meta posts), we're now hiding these unless you're the owner. So looking at your own profile, you'll see a detailed list of votes (as you did already, this hasn't changed). Anyone else looking at your page will not see any indication of downvotes, either in the detailed list or in the day totals.

Even site moderators can't see your downvotes (they couldn't before this change either, to be clear).

The main reason this was ever present was so that you could see how your rep broke down (as the /recent page showed in detail), exposing downvote info for revenge voting or any other type of abuse was certainly never the intent...and we're removing their visibility to eliminate any possibility of abuse.

  • 16
    A unicorn gave this a thumbs up. Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 23:44
  • Three, you mean. Dancing merrily
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 23:57
  • Ah, what's with this unicorn thingy?!! I thought the days of GIFs (cutesy little web animations) were well and truly over.. !@#!@$!. Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 0:00
  • I guess this also puts paid to the related feature request then? Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 0:01
  • @Richardakacyberkiwi: These are .pngs! Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 0:05
  • 1
    Never mind. It's April 1st.. Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 0:42
  • The part will not see any indication of downvotes, either in the detailed list or in the day totals is false (nowadays): each daily total implicitly shows downvotes, as it does not add up to the details that are shown below it.
    – Arjan
    Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 7:16
  • It seems this has been fixed?
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 15:25
  • @Arjan - I'm not sure what the issue was there, it was a bad cache or something, can't tell...sorry! Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 15:48
  • @NickCraver, it's back again, like -6/+5 showing -2 as the total here earlier today. (As reported in yet another question.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:41
  • And it's not just visible for a very limited time: I can also see it for yesterday's daily total for another user (which I assume is this downvote).
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:42
  • 2
    @Arjan - This should be fixed in the next build, in the pre-expanded situation it was using some behind-the-scenes calculation to ensure totals matched...totals which in that case included hidden votes. Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 23:40

When you see this:

+5 19 mins ago upvote   sql query construction issue__
-5             downvote

...you seem to be reading:

  • +5: upvote received 19 minutes ago on sql query construction issue
  • −5: 5 downvotes given [19 minutes ago] on [sql query construction issue]

...assuming that you can fill in the blanks from the previous lines. Well, you can't.

What the table instead is actually telling you is

  • +5: upvote received 19 minutes ago on sql query construction issue
  • −5: 5 downvotes given today

No, your voting history is still (partially) confidential. Other people can speculate on what you might be voting on, and the new report can make it easier for people to make better educated guesses, but it's still that: a guess.

  • I read it exactly as "how it is telling you". But compared to a straight upvote/downvote count only (prior to this change) it speaks volumes louder. Hence the question title "Revealing", as in much more than before Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:35
  • from looking at Marc Gravell's and Jon Skeet's rep pages, you are right - all downvotes are recorded only by day (no time of day) Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 11:42
  • @Richard Sorry for my reading wrong between the lines, then :)
    – badp
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 12:02

Actually in the case explained, it is true that you can almost certainly tell that the OP had downvoted on all the answers he got. However, if the OP had chosen to downvote maybe in an interval of around 10 mins each, then probably it would be difficult to say that the OP really did downvote on his obtained answers.

Somehow the interval between downvotes seems to have trapped OP in this case.

  • Given Richard's latest comments above, this seems to be false?
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 20:14
  • @Arjan - Seems that only for the case given in question, this would hold true which enabled Richard to make "intelligent" guess as badp's answer suggests. Othen than this, there is no way anyone can reveal who had downvoted on any question. Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 5:29
  • I thought you implied that, when using a larger interval, the votes would not have been grouped when looking at someone else's downvotes?
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 7:57

Yes, technically the voting is still anonymous but with the new information it's pretty easy to 'guess' who downvoted a post, especially for the combination of users with low activity and questions with low views.

You can never be 100% sure of course.


Here's what I think the following is saying:

Reputation report

-1  Today  

Net rep today (he gained 7 and he lost 8 so -1)

+2  6 hours ago     accept   

He gained 2 for accepting an answer.

+5 / -4         3 votes      sql query construction issue 

He received 3 votes (1 up/2 down) on his question.

-4      4 votes     

He downvoted 4 times.

  • @Arjan: This describes a different report than the question? I copy-pasted from the link in the question... Also, I'm not seeing the screen capture...
    – John
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 17:36
  • It's the same one from the link, John. The difference is that @Arjan expanded the 3 votes by clicking the arrow next to the "sql query construction issue" title
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 18:02
  • It's not describing the image that was posted in the question. (Not seeing the image might be related to blocking of imgur.com?)
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 18:27
  • @John he has retracted one downvote (mine, rightfully so!) so the last line now reads -4 / 4 votes. The other parts are not important Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 19:29
  • @Grace, @Arjan: Just making sure I'm relevant because I can't see any of the pictures. (I just checked, imgur.com is blocked.)
    – John
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 22:16
  • @John, beware that only the first @user will be notified. Doesn't using the filmot.com mirror fix your imgur.com issue? Anyway: the picture I added matches what you describe (and it shows the line for +5/-4 expanded into -2/-2/+5/-4, as shown when clicking the little arrow).
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 11:07
  • @Arjan: Yeah, I wasn't quite sure how @ notifications worked. I must have missed the mirror fix the first time I looked. It works like a charm now.
    – John
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 15:35

Technically (that word is getting thrown around a bit here) anyone who was stalking your profile could have gotten nearly the same sort of info before this change was introduced. Since it is only listing how many downvotes you gave, but not where you gave them, then anybody keeping close tabs on the total number of downvotes on your profile would know approximately when you had downvoted. This new change does however make it easier to spot when a change in downvote total occurs.

One new piece of info is the grouping of downvotes by post, and this does appear to get grouped by post, not by question. For example, if you look at my reputation timeline and go to November 21, 2010, you should see 3 separate downvotes. The first and third are on separate questions. The second is on an answer to the second question.

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