# Should downvoters have to comment on why they did it?

Inspired by the fact I got downvoted for this answer and cannot tell exactly why given the question was pretty vague and I don't think the OP was the one doing it either.

I am starting to think that it should be mandatory to comment on your downvotes. Now I am not saying I have never downvoted without a comment but that said, I do wonder whether sneaky downvoting is really in the spirit of improvement when it is not always obvious why it has been done.

Is it ever constructive to just downvote people and not even tell them why?

• Possible duplicate: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/1372/2451 – Qmechanic Dec 10 '12 at 22:30
• Well I am open to hear the argument against whereas they seem to have made up their mind more. – Magpie Dec 10 '12 at 22:39
• This has been brought up and shot down literally dozens of times on the mother meta. You won't get any traction. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 10 '12 at 22:43
• It would be a really bad idea to require a justification. I have placed something close to 1,000 downvotes and some extra paperwork to "justify" each of them would be pretty excessive. It's wrong and skewed to require justifications for negative votes and not positive ones. It's important that people can vote both ways as wrong answers may be caught in this way. This is key in all the science, too. You seem to be driven by a suspicion that some downvotes are illegitimate. And some of them surely are. But one must simply believe that most votes are legit and at least honest if not correct. – Luboš Motl Dec 11 '12 at 10:50
• Cross-site duplicate (the canonical): Encouraging people to explain downvotes – Peter Mortensen Feb 14 '17 at 4:38

No, they should not. It is encouraged you leave a comment (and undownvote if/when the user improves their post). But it is never mandated--and I really doubt it ever will be.

## Privacy

Votes are supposed to be private. If a comment is forced on a downvote, it's pretty easy to figure out who did it by looking through the comments. And users can get pretty vengeful.

On StackOverflow, over a span of two days, I once downvoted ~50 bad posts, leaving a comment. I had 4-5 cases of revenge downvotes, 1-2 cases of enough "revenge voting" to trigger the auto vote invalidator, and a bunch of angry comments. Users should be free to vote without having to be afraid of this.

## Smoothness

Voting is integral to the SE system, thus the process of downvoting needs to be smooth. A user need not have to jump through hoops to downvote, people will downvote less if it takes more time to do. And we can't have that, people need to downvote.

As for your answer that was voted down, it really should be a comment (I converted it). A few points:

• Really short answers are discouraged here, it's always better to provide an intuitive explanation
• Answers that only provide a link are even more discouraged--due to concerns of link rot/etc. You should summarize the link in your own words (few paragraphs-is) so that the answer can stand alone.
• But if a post has only a solvable issue I thought it is encouraged to leave a comment (together with the downvote) and after the problem with the post has been fixed, the downvote can be removed. – Dilaton Dec 10 '12 at 23:11
• @Nemo: true, added. Thanks :) – Manishearth Dec 10 '12 at 23:15
• I see - So, we have to read the minds of authors (whether they're good or bad and if we are a good mind-reader), before commenting on our downvotes. I think, this maybe the problem that I got a lot of revengy downvotes for my posts. For all my downvotes, I have inserted a comment. I mustn't do that from now. I have to start mind-reading... :-P – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Dec 11 '12 at 6:25
• So if I've only ever gotten two downvotes, that's probably a sign I'm not downvoting enough, given that I usually leave comments? jk. btw @Manishearth Is there some way, official or through a script of yours, I can see a summary of votes I've received, rather than expanding my entire rep history question-by-question? – user10851 Dec 11 '12 at 7:40
• @ChrisWhite: Fortunately, the community at Physics isn't that vengeful ;-). But this is a network-wide feature, so network-wide concerns hold. Re:summary: If you open your reputation list, scroll to the bottom, and hit "mobile", you get the timeline of votes received. It even counts votes that do not give you rep (reputation cap/community wiki... These have no number next to them but they have an entry in the rep timeline). I actually like this view much better than the others :) – Manishearth Dec 11 '12 at 8:42
• Btw, typing javascript:\$('.expander-arrow-small-hide').not('.expander-arrow-small-show').click() into the browser URL bar and hitting Enter expands all the questions at once. – Manishearth Dec 11 '12 at 8:44
• @CrazyBuddy: Don't stop downvoting+commenting because of the revenge stuff, a small loss of rep isn't too much to worry about. :) – Manishearth Dec 11 '12 at 8:48
• @Manishearth: Nah, I don't care about rep. But, I don't like to keep -2 or lesser answers. BTW, I won't stop downvoting. But, I'll stop commenting. Once I understand something about that user, I'll insert a comment... That would be my motto He He :-) – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Dec 11 '12 at 8:53
• @CrazyBuddy: Hmm, I try to comment unless someone else already has. (possibly flag if the post needs one, though now as a moderator I only need to flag is I want to spamflag-bomb a post). But it's your wish in the end, so you may stick to it :) – Manishearth Dec 11 '12 at 8:56

Anonymous downvotes should not be allowed. I also think that if you do issue a downvote you should be required to state why you did it in the comments. That will give the person who asked the question a chance to respond. There should be some risk to issuing downvotes. Right now there is no risk at all to the person who is issuing the downvotes.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. A moderator issued a downvote. Fortunately, he did add a comment. That gave me a chance to explain. If you read the comments they will explain what happened.

At the very least, downvotes should not be anonymous. Maybe you should not be required to post a comment explaining why you did it, but who you are should be recorded somewhere. That is the only way to see if a member is being targeted. There should be a list in every users account that shows who were the members who issued the downvotes to each question and answer made by the user.

• This is not the way that SE is designed to operate, as noted in answers and comments above. It just isn't, and is not going to change. Also, preemptively, note that downvotes on Meta indicate disagreement with the proposal. – Jon Custer Feb 13 '17 at 15:35
• Why isn't it designed to operate that way? What,exactly, are you trying to hide? Everything else carries a risk on this site. Everything but that. It calls into question the credibility of the site, in my opinion. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 15:43
• Those discussions happen over on the mother Meta site (Meta for all SE sites). It has always been shot down. Primarily because not all feel it calls in to question the credibility of the SE model. Your approach would seem to quickly lead to chaos and tit-for-tat revenge behavior which would be far worse. – Jon Custer Feb 13 '17 at 16:06
• I strongly suspect that if downvoting was not anonymous we would find out that a very large percentage of all the downvotes were carried out by a very, very small minority of posters. You do not have to downvote, you can remain silent. For instance the user @Manishearth admits to issuing 50 downvotes in 2 days. Not only is it anonymous and carries no risk, there is no limit on how much destruction a single member deliver. It is clearly wrong. And can EASILY be abused. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 16:14
• And if you are going to make the claim that "voting is private", then you are going to have to make voting equal for everyone. One man one vote. But I cannot vote. There are 1000's of people on this site that cannot downvote, 1000's. What you have here is a class system or club. It is not a democracy. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 16:29
• The revenge votes towards me have already started. I am positive that the person who just downvoted the link to my question in SE could not justify that downvote. Positive. It was a revenge vote because of my position in this thread. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 16:40
• But its ok, I have a degree in Physics and I know what physics students are like. Most physics people, who really know, use the downvoting option very seldom. They choose to say nothing rather than downvote. As I said most of the downvoting comes from a very very small number of people. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 16:45
• WOW, you have rules for everything don't you. I just found out that you fade out an answer that has -3 downvotes. What you are really doing is, you don't want people to read these comments. This site is complete and total manipulation. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 17:07
• It is not the "community" that faded out this question. All it took was 3 physics students, sharing the same class, banding together. That is all that happened. But you have a rule for it that can be exploited. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 17:14
• Why only DVs? Why not require comments for UVs? Also note that DVing takes rep from the DVer, so it is not like a free lunch. – Kyle Kanos Feb 13 '17 at 18:14
• This answer is an excellent example of what I am talking about. This answer does not deserve 4 downvotes. I have provided evidence for my position and some strong arguments. Obviously the downvotes are not due to the quality of the answer, but rather, are because you do not like the answer. – hooch Feb 13 '17 at 20:49
• I DVed because I disagree with the answer. I think all voting, up or down, should be completely anonymous. – Kyle Kanos Feb 13 '17 at 20:58
• Stack Exchange is most definitely not a social media platform. Not being social media was part of the design. That is the reason that there is no general IM system, no way for ordinary users to establish a private conversational space and no on-site way to 'follow' another user. The focus is on content not people. Which, BTW, is a perfectly good reason to not tell people how you voted even if you feel the need to explain the shortcomings you find in a post (something I would encourage). – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 14 '17 at 1:27
• I won't enter into a debate with you (particularly because there seems to be no way you'll begin to listen to the possibility that any of your posts are incorrect), but my point stands. There are indeed some 7,500(14,800) users who cannot up(down)vote out of the 18,300 registered users that visited within the last month. This is for specific design reasons (in large part to prevent gaming of the system) that are set by SE and which this community cannot change; until you understand all three of those points there's little point in further discussions. – Emilio Pisanty Feb 14 '17 at 14:44
• I also find your claims that "there's no penalty" for downvotes pretty ironic: there is a -1 cost in rep for each downvote to the voter (and -2 to the poster). Your whole corpus of posts has gathered +30 rep in upvotes and the downvotes have cost the voters -23 rep, a full 75% of the rep penalty you have incurred (a fraction that only looks set to increase). However, even given that 20+ have disagreed with your posts, you have yet to take the invitation to rethink any of them. Regarding a user realizing their answer was incorrect and removing it from view, I'm not sure what else you expected – Emilio Pisanty Feb 14 '17 at 14:59