Why do people usually notify the user that they have upvoted their question or answer by adding "+1" to their comment? Is this really necessary?

I recently left a very positive comment on a question and upvoted it but I "forgot" the +1. I got a timely reply with a request that I upvote the question (which I already did of course). Fishing for votes is probably something for another post...


Isn't implied that you have voted up/down when the tone of your comment is strong one way or the other?... Well, not necessarily - I understand that. However, it's common to see users accuse each other for downvoting if they leave a negative comment - which is often not the case (different user downvoted and didn't comment). So, it seems to be implied on negative comments more often than positive ones.

Isn't this supposed to be "private" information? I'm new here so I have no idea. I do understand the value of leaving a helpful comment on a piece of bad content, but is it expected that I constantly point out "+1" or "-1", and why do people do this in the first place?

EDIT: Apparently I need to clarify that I do know that this indicates a vote up or down. +1 = Vote Up, -1 = Vote Down - Rite Gaiz?

  • Because you can't send lube over the screen. Well, you can
    – random
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:11
  • 1
    A request that you upvote the question? That is unusual.
    – Pekka
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:12
  • 22
    +1 - Comments indicating votes can't be trusted. Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:18
  • -20 obvious question is obvious.
    – user1228
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:34
  • 4
    -1, I offset Bill's vote, comments indicating votes can be trusted Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:38
  • 7
    Related: What makes a good/valid +1 comment?
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:43
  • +1, great topic! yeah! Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 0:07
  • Because there's no Google button to do it with...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 0:21
  • 1
    It is a simple workaround for being able to vote only once. An especially good answer deserves a comment. Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 1:18
  • 4
    I do it because I like to hear myself talk. I'm just so very soothing...
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 2:08
  • 2
    @AdamDavis: Agreed... +1 Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 4:32
  • maybe, for some reasons, a person want to tell that person, or other person that they like your answer and that they voted up for you or the other way. but i dont do it.
    – jayAnn
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 7:46
  • 1
    As far as I can tell, it is also used to manipulate opinions, a sort of 'soft' canvassing.
    – Remou
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 0:10
  • People are more upset or offended by downvotes if they think it is not deserved than they are pleased or gratified by upvotes which surprise them Ergo, they seek the cause of the downvote. Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 0:17

4 Answers 4


"+1" is usually used to express complete agreement with what the poster says. Like somebody saying "hear, hear!" in an animated discussion. It is completely optional.

Prefixing a comment with "-1" usually means that you are the person who voted down, and willing to offer the reason. This is completely optional as well. It is perfectly fine to downvote anonymously.

These things have no deeper meaning than clarifying that you are voting a certain way - something a mere negative or positive comment doesn't necessarily always communicate.

  • %1 - Pekka I understand what it means, I'm asking why people do it, all the time, and if it's expected.
    – user159834
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:12
  • 2
    I wouldn't say it's expected at all, to date I think I've left about 3 "+1" comments, (1% of my upvotes)- I've always added the "why I thought so" - if I read an answer by someone, which has a lot of votes.. well that could just because (maybe it was accepted early.. who knows if it's a fairly recent Q&A), if I see a +1 comment from a high rep user that will re-inforce that the votes were at least deserved and they might've answered the same way, but couldn't without duplication. Just do what you feel, you had no need to go back and explain yourself, vote how you want! explain IF you want
    – clairesuzy
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:36
  • 1
    @clairesuzy: -1 This is answer not comment! ;) I felt the need to explain that I did vote up because I felt like the guy thought I was a jerk, and I can't have that - not on the internet!!
    – user159834
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:39
  • @Madmartigan -1 to you too ;) I did smile though.. absolutely can't have that on't interwebz
    – clairesuzy
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:46

No, it is not expected and should not be expected behavior. It's mostly the easiest way for some users to shortcut just saying "I upvoted you", because some users feel like they should let the world know.

Votes are anonymous. We can both elect to vote without commenting and comment without voting. Some people get perplexed when they see certain votes, and so other users started to use this kind of message to indicate their own stance. The unfortunate consequence is that by now, a lot of users start expecting a correlation between votes and comments, when honestly it doesn't exist. Just keep to your own practices, and you can typically ignore any "upvote requests" that occur because you left an otherwise supportive comment that did not indicate any such action.

Sometimes the tone can indicate what one is voting, but honestly given the lack of any real connection, it's simply better to avoid any assumptions on what a user has voted. One can be very sincere while still downvoting a complete junk answer.

  • 32
    – Welbog
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 20:17

Years and years ago, I read a SciFi shortstory where the plot culminated on humanity developing a form of telepathy such that everyone could tell what everyone else was thinking. The author proposed that this would lead to a new age of peace and harmony, as this trait would make it impossible to not empathize with your fellow man...

...I abandoned pulp SciFi soon after this. Green alien women with funny accents but otherwise perfect English were one thing, but you can only suspend disbelief so far.

But apparently, some folks bought into this, and The Internet has given them a home. On Stack Overflow, this manifests itself as a desire to share with the world each and every vote cast, via a little number in front of a comment. There are even those who believe that down-votes should never be cast anonymously...

My observation is that feedback - especially negative feedback - generally requires a bit of care if it is to be both useful and palatable. You may well be thinking, "Oh no, not this stupid answer again" while clicking that down-vote button, or "Squee!" while hitting up-vote... But you're better off not putting that in a comment. Voting doesn't require you to engage the little diplomat in your brain, but commenting probably should...

And once you have formulated a useful, constructive comment, putting that little number in front of it doesn't do anything for it besides prejudice the reader before he has time to evaluate your words.

In short, I've seen it start plenty of arguments. I've seen it throw gasoline on a smoldering fire, kick a hibernating bear in the 'nads, and beat Little Timmy with his own cane. I don't recall ever seeing anything positive come out of it.

And any user who would accuse you of down-voting or plead with you to up-vote is someone you should ignore. Voting is a personal matter, a private message from you to the system. It's not for anyone else to dictate how your votes should be cast.

  • 3
    +1. I however fear that the ability to read others' thoughts would only display the stupidity of humanity. Remember that movie "A Space Travesty" with Leslie Nielsen when tried that mind-reading device connected to a TV? "Richard, if you don't stop pulling your thing you gonna go blind! - But I like pulling on it mom! - Mrs. Dicks, your son is rapidly losing sight and we don't know why...".
    – user136634
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 22:16
  • I have often put "-1" in front of my down-vote-comment simply to avoid seeming like I am trying to hide the fact that I did it. I might reconsider this though...
    – Nicole
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 4:52
  • +1 Squeee!!! Srsly though, great answer, thanks for this. I completely agree and I'm glad that this is the expected behavior. I know what you mean about making your votes public leading to poor behavior, and I think it also influences other votes more than seeing a high number of votes alone.
    – user159834
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 18:03
  1. For emotional reasons when you just can't help but not keep quiet and express your strong agreement, satisfaction or perhaps the other way around

  2. To build up supportive personal relationships on a subconscious level, which is not possible with anonymous voting. This would however require a history of "+1" comments addressed regularly to the same individuals to get noticed and perceived as "friends".

  • 1
    Both of these seem like the kind of behavior that is generally discouraged. #1: If it's attached to a useful comment - sure, but if it IS the comment then why bother burying other comments that have value to readers? #2: Seems like it would lead people to upvote material simply because they are friends with the user. Or downvotes if not friends. Either way it seems like it would lead to voting based less on content and more on who is your buddy. Do I need another read through the FAQ/guidelines? This is an accurate answer BTW. +1 (I voted for you)
    – user159834
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:31
  • 1
    Well what can I say. Even in this virtual environment people stay humans with their personal notions, contradictions, emotions and passions. No FAQ/guidelines can change people. Countries, cultures and civilizations have tried for millenia to change people with their morals ans laws and have failed. What is to expect of a short FAQ?
    – user136634
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:49
  • 1
    +1 would you accept to be my friend?
    – user150926
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:52
  • Err no that's not what I meant. I meant this: Are the 2 points in my last comment accurate or not? I'm not trying to change the world, just trying to learn how to behave on the internet. I see from the question Arjan linked to that all the +1s are being considered noise and actually somewhat harmful to the site.
    – user159834
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:53
  • 1
    @Pierre 303: I thought we were already. ;)
    – user136634
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:53
  • @Developer Art: aaaaaaaaaaah ! ;)
    – user150926
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:56
  • On a side note, I had an idea of a year ago or more to add a tab to the profile page with one's buddies. I'm sure people would have loved it... but perhaps not the folks running the place.
    – user136634
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:56
  • @Developer Art: that's probably too much, but I agree that more socialization may be the missing thing here. At least, I share your feeling.
    – user150926
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 21:59
  • 1
    +1 I hate you so much.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 22:04
  • @Madmartigan: I think you are correct with your judgment. It's been that attitude since the beginning that the focus is primarily on the questions and answers while the users are not that important. Therefore any manifestation of social space, personal communication, interaction or behavior not directly related to asking and answering is undesired and unwelcome. However the voting system contradicted that position. Obviously, you can't have a community-driven space without the community.
    – user136634
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 22:04
  • 3
    @Developer Art @Pierre 303 - Not sure what a 2 week user's input is worth but one of the things I like is the lack of social fluff. There are other sites for that, and it's easy enough to be buddies without making it official via SO Friend Request. The moment I see Friends Count on my profile I am outta heere.. BTW was typing during your last comment, +1 for typing at the same time!
    – user159834
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 22:06
  • @Madmartigan: +1 For "SO Friend Request"!
    – user150068
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 22:54

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