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What should I do if my answer to a question has a downvote for no reason defined?

I do agree if there is maybe some mistake in my answer but I am not able to find. Then, yes. I agree with the downvote.

But for this answer, I don’t think a downvote was correct.

Also, I did write in the comments : “ Why the downvote?“.

What else should I do in this case?

https://physics.stackexchange.com/a/645911/287551 This is the answer.

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Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do other than improving your answer or hoping that the downvoter leaves a comment. Votes are private and there is no obligation for voters to explain themselves.

However, if someone targets you and votes on many of your posts in a short span of time, the system will automatically detect and revert the votes.

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  • $\begingroup$ I have already improved the Q 2 - 3 times just so that someone notices if the downvote is not correct. $\endgroup$
    – S.M.T
    Jun 18 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ Do you from your own side think if there is Sth wrong ? $\endgroup$
    – S.M.T
    Jun 18 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @SrijanM.T I am not the one who downvoted your answer, but in my opinion, while there is nothing wrong with your answer per se, it could have been organized/formatted in a clearer and more readable way. $\endgroup$ Jun 18 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ I didn’t mean to say you down voted it. Ok. I’ll check on edit then $\endgroup$
    – S.M.T
    Jun 18 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. $\endgroup$
    – S.M.T
    Jun 18 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @SrijanM.T You might already be notified, but I edited your answer to change some formatting. Feel free to further edit. $\endgroup$
    – Jonas
    Jun 18 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jonas Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – S.M.T
    Jun 19 at 7:24
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    $\begingroup$ @SrijanM.T People who have downvoted don't get notified when you make your edits. If they come back, they could change their vote, but there's no mechanism to pull them back to look. Some people will follow a Q&A where they voted, but some will not. $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Jun 22 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ For prior discussions of a feature to notify downvoters of edits, see meta.stackexchange.com/q/1751/263383 and its linked questions. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Jun 23 at 15:31
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I call downvoting without leaving a comment cowardly downvoting, since the downvoter didn't have courage to express/formulate their critique of the answer in the comments. It might be that they even do not understand the answer.

Some reasons for cowardly downvoting
There may be multiple reasons for such downvoting:

  • Some users treat upvote/downvote as like/dislike buttons on social networks, i.e., they do not realize that votes on SE are an equivalent of peer review in scientific community - they are not to express whether the answer pleases us, but to signal to other users whether it is correct or not. (Note also that many social networks nowadays do not offer a dislike button, to avoid bullying.)
  • Sometimes downvotes come due to competing interests - the user may have also published an answer, and wants their answer to appear above yours, which may potentially bring more upvotes. Such competition may become especially sharp when dealing with bounty questions.
  • It may be a user that you have recently argued with about something else, and who is now taking their revenge, without any relevance to the content of your question.
  • Finally, in some cases downvoting is a form of a collective punishlment - the user may not like the question or the topic in general, and they downvote everyone's answer to discourage the discussion.

Remark: I do expect a few random downvotes by people who are offended by what I have written above - which would only confirm the points made.

Suggestions for principled downvoting
Here is the practice that I suggest for dealing with an answer that you do not like (which pretty much follows the tradition in scientific publications):

  • Write a comment on the answer, explaining what you think is not correct. This way you a) give opportunity to other users to understand the issues and participate in the discussion, and b) give opportunity to the author to correct themselves or argue for their viewpoint.
  • If you have discussed the issue with the author, and you still believe that the answer is incorrect/misleading, then downvote. Note however, that you will negate everything that is contained in the answer - so downvoting because of a minor issue, while the bulk of the answer is correct, is not necessarily a good idea.

Update
a few clarifications in view of the discussion in the comments:

  • The main point of this answer was to stress the importance of leaving a comment when downvoting, not to discuss particular motivations.
  • My least of reasons for downvoting that I consider illegitimate was not intended as comprehensive. I added qualifier "some" in the preceding sentence.
  • There is disagreement about some of the reasons cited, at least to rhe extent that they are not excluded by SE policy. Still, others are clearly beyond the pale. Sadly, no one seems to have a problem with those (judging by the downvotes.)
  • In any case, it is important to remember that everyone carries a moral responsibility for their own actions. When you downvote, it is your downvote. You own it, even if no one know.

Update 2
The reactions to this post seem to focus on only one type of situation - where obviously low quality content is downvoted by a high-reputation user. This was not however the situation that I had in mind when writing this post, as I hope should be clear from (re-)reading it. Given that most of the members in this community are either students or non-physicists, it could be very well that high-quality content is downvoted by the users who do not even understand it - due to the lack of background (general or specific to the question discussed) or due to not bothering to read the context freely. I wonder, if statistics is available on the number of downvotes by the reputation of the downvoters and the downvoted.

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    $\begingroup$ Your answer seems to suggest that the only reason to down vote is due to incorrect content, but that's not the only reason. There could be other issues that cause a post to deserve a down vote; as long as one thinks the post is not useful to the site for any reason then technically that is a valid reason to down vote. You also seem to suggest that if there is no comment with the down vote that it has to be due to one of the petty reasons you have listed. Of course it's always the best option to leave a comment, but lack of a comment doesn't necessarily mean an "invalid" down vote. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 9:15
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    $\begingroup$ "I do expect a few random downvotes by people who are offended by what I have written above - which would only confirm the points made." Of course, there isn't a way to actually confirm this is the case if this post were to receive down votes without comments. Maybe someone just disagrees with your answer, which is often what down votes on meta are used for, and so a comment wouldn't be needed. It doesn't mean someone is necessarily offended by what you have said (even though today many people do conflate disagreement with offense). $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ That's fine to have your own standard of voting, but not all users will have that same standard, and the intent of down votes is to be broader than your standard. The most general, valid down vote reason is that one thinks the post (question or answer) is not useful for the site. Additionally, the down votes could be paired with the other actions you mentioned; they do not have to be mutually exclusive (they usually aren't). $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ I see where you're coming from in terms of your opinion, but that doesn't change what down votes are used for on this site. The help center says "Downvotes should be used to indicate issues with quality, effort, or accuracy of a post" and additionally says flags, etc. can be done in addition to down voting (or just as an alternative, which is what you prefer). I'm not trying to discuss preference with you here, just how the site actually works. I also agree that one should leave a comment, that was never in contention here. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ "Downvote should not be a duplicate for another action" - This is generally at odds with the overall philosophy of the SE system. I cannot quickly find the meta, but there are serious proposals to make systemwide changes such that, e.g., a vote to close or a flag would automatically also cast a downvote. That is to say to force what you're calling "duplication" rather than to eliminate it. $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Jun 22 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ That would be become unbearably tedious, especially if it were extended to all sites including the really high volume sites. Whatever you may feel here, systemwide I feel reasonably confident that the number one reason for an anonymous downvote is that the person answering put so little effort into the answer that a comment isn't merited. It seems you want a different structure to the site where voting means something different than what it is on SE. That's fine, of course, but your characterization in the answer is, in my opinion, misleading and rude to users following the published guidance. $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Jun 22 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ I reject this one: "they do not realize that votes on SE are an equivalent of peer review in scientific community". This is not the point of votes on SE, ala the above. The one that you've pejoratively descried as "collective punishment" is also, at least debatably and in proper context, a legitimate process that's been discussed here in, e.g., the context of the "homework-like" questions and the (perceived) slow response time of the review process in closing them. You've also categorically called this "cowardly downvoting" - with cowardly being inflammatory and not particularly accurate. $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Jun 22 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ Beware that accusing a specific user of “cowardice” would definitely violate the spirit of the code of conduct. (I don’t mean to suggest that’s what’s happening in this answer.) For me, when I downvote without commenting, it’s because that post is worth a half-minute or a minute to me to read it, but not five minutes or ten for me to write about it. A user who described my time-management decisions as “cowardice” would be acting in an unwelcoming way. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Jun 23 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ Allowing users to cast votes (both down and up) anonymously is a feature that immensely benefits the community because it provides a mechanism by which people can express their opinion on a post without being judged for it. There are plenty of contexts in which the requirement to justify one's opinion with one's name attached to it considerably changes the willingness to actually express that opinion (e.g. think about why many elections have anonymous/secret ballots). $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Jun 23 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim I don't think anyone can doubt that rob has put a lot of time towards benefitting the community. If he decides that his time is better served doing other things to benefit the site rather than leaving comments that he doesn't think will be helpful, that's prudence, not cowardice. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 23 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim Your post characterizes certain principles as "cowardly" and represents a list of reasons to downvote without leaving a comment as exhaustive. Certainly downvoting can be abusive (and we have tools to undo e.g. revenge downvoting) but that doesn't mean there aren't legitimate reasons to downvote without leaving a comment. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 23 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim Or maybe it means you just have views about how the site should work that are different than how it actually works; which is something moderators probably feel an obligation to point out. No one has "gone after you". You made a post that has some misconceptions about the site: there is going to be some discussion that arises from that. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim " it seems that there are quite a few people uncomfortable with me voicing a dissenting opinion." -- No, there are quite a few people dissenting with your opinion. --- Regarding the topic, I learned that there's certain types of answers where it is counterproductive to leave comments when downvoting -- all it will lead to is a lengthy discussion, with no progress made. That's the cases when I by now don't comment, as I feel (like rob) that my time is better spent otherwise. (And when I sometimes still comment in such cases, I later often regret it.) $\endgroup$ Jun 26 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ I have removed a number of comments. This is a quick reminder that while speaking in generalities like the post does may be allowed here, personal attacks on specific users are not. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 27 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim If you are concerned another user is acting improperly, please raise the concern in a flag, not in a public comment. For what it's worth, there's no evidence of anything improper that I can see. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 27 at 20:45

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