From the comments on this question, is it okay for one to downvote a question in order to compensate for apparently too many upvotes? This seems like an abuse of the voting system. This is what I wrote as a comment to the question:

The score of a post is not meant to be compared to that of other posts. It is an indication of how useful the community finds a post. A vote is not intended to be used to compensate for an opposite vote. A downvote is meant to indicate that there is a problem with the post, not to compensate for heavy upvoting.

This doesn't appear to be the intended purpose of the voting system. How should this be handled?

  • 8
    -1, cause you've already had too many upvotes Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 3:50
  • Seriously, why is this necessary?
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 4:08
  • 3
    +1 Just to compensate for the downvote. Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 4:28
  • 1
    Is this like the weird cousin of the sympathy upvote: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/93356/… Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 4:42
  • I think they're just playing games. This seems like little more than a joke.
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 4:44
  • @Peter don't EVER do that! You're screwing Jeff's statistics up! meta.stackexchange.com/questions/93356/…
    – Aleadam
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 4:50
  • Well, the way I vote is based primarily on the content, usefulness, and detail of the question. I usually don't consider the current score in deciding whether to upvote unless it is negative, but I would never downvote a post unless there is a nontrivial issue with it.
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 22:07

5 Answers 5


Certainly downvoting a question because it has too many upvotes by itself sounds positively ill-humored. The only interpretation of such an action is "I resent that the asker and/or the question is getting a lot of upvotes." A voter like this would be an all-around poor sport.

But people can have many motives when they decide to downvote. They might express their reasoning in simple terms like "I'm downvoting this because it has too many upvotes" but their actual motives might be more complicated. Perhaps they thought the question was a poor one and were already considering downvoting it for perfectly legitimate reasons. Then to their amazement the question received multiple upvotes. "Don't people realize this is a bad question?" That tips the tables and they go ahead and decide to downvote. Voters like this think it was their duty to weigh in with their opinion of the question.

If our impression is that the person is in general a good sport, we should probably "cut them slack" and assume that it just came out wrong when they said it. Just ask yourself, "Have I ever taken how many votes a question or answer already had into account when deciding to upvote or downvote?"

  • +1, I think the commenter who downvoted was doing so in protest of the "quality" of the question.
    – user7116
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 3:13
  • 2
    I'm downvoting this because it has too many upvotes MUAHAHAHAHA... jk +1
    – user541686
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 3:34

I won't downvote something because it has too many upvotes. I absolutely, positively, without a doubt refrain from upvoting something if I think it has too many upvotes. As such, I obviously disagree with the argument that you can't have too many upvotes. I would simply encourage folks to apply some perspective. The answer to the 4000th form of the question "how can I pad an integer?" does not deserve 15 votes. I mean, I've gotten a few too many upvotes for many, similarly easy answers.

Vote for what seems right, certainly, but there does come a time when you can say "yeah, dude's milked that one for a bit more rep than it arguably deserves." If reputation is supposed to be a measure of how trustworthy a user is for providing quality information, then it stands to reason that we should be a bit reserved on how we dole out such reputation. If an answer is trivial and already has 5 or 6 upvotes, that's plenty enough of a reward, in my book. No need to pile on just because I agree that it is correct.

  • +1, I hadn't really looked at it like that and I think you're right. However, there was quite a shift recently in asking visitors to the site to upvote questions if found through a search etc...in that sense, it would be encouraged to keep upvoting questions (ignoring the user aspect of it) that were found regardless of there current upvote. There also might be a limit on how much rep can be gained through questions (2000?)...might not be right on that one. Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 4:23

No, downvoting because of too many upvotes is not Okay.

A question can never have "too many" upvotes...the concept doesn't even make sense. Obviously really popular questions (or otherwise) get a lot of upvotes and people who disagree or who have some issue with that (who knows what) may downvote...but that is up to them and it isn't the right behaviour.

If the upvotes are suspicious (perhaps some gaming of the system) you could flag for moderator attention but I believe there are processes in place to detect this and any suspicious behaviour will be reversed at some point.

  • 1
    Sometimes the line between popularity and good question gets blurred and that is why downvoting occurs in these cases. Some questions that could be resolved by a 1 second google get closed rather quickly while others get +75 votes. Often a downvote is a protest like this: people supplying upvotes for the wrong reason. Closing the question leaves a bad taste in one's mouth because all that reputation remains and the situation is not resolved.
    – demongolem
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 19:12

I think the answer to your question is worthless because downvoting is an entirely subjective thing which users don't have to explain to anyone.

So even if you say "let's add a policy that prohibits doing this" there is absolutely no way you can enforce it.

The truth is that users can upvote and downvote for any or no reason, including too many upvotes.

  • I actually have to agree with your statement - there really is no way to enforce a rule that prohibits it.
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 22:09

Absolutely not. The purpose of votes is to express what you think is a useful post and what you think is not a useful post. If you factor the current number of votes into your definition of usefulness, well, why not?

This isn't a new debate; Rosinante's answer here summarizes the two voting models well:

  • You compare the content to the current tally. If it's 'too high' you vote it down, and if it's 'too low' you vote it up. If it's 'just right' you leave it alone.
  • You only look at the content. If [it's good], you add +1. If [it's bad], you add -1.

These models have been discussed on Meta since before it existed, but I suck at searching Meta, so if you want older discussions, go and search for yourself. I happen to mostly follow the second model myself, but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the first model.

As long as your vote only depends on the post (and not, say, on the poster), you may vote as you want.

Several sites in the Stack Exchange network even have a policies that involve downvoting posts that match certain conditions (e.g. lacking references), but only if they are positively voted.

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