I really understand that down voting should not be as easy as voting up over a good question/answer but the loss of rep associated with it makes it really something to avoid by a lot of users. I am still learning how to vote up, vote down but more important of all learning to add a proper comment on any down vote given. I know that the moderators comment a lot on users that flag a question / answer that is low quality instead of just down voting, they do that because of ignorance, lack of experience or because they know that down voting will leave them with less rep.

Questions from me here are: How hard would it be to implement a solution where the user down voting would only lose rep (even more than just 1, up to 5 would be acceptable) if he / she did not drop a comment on the down vote? Would that be something interesting to have?

To avoid duplicate reasons for down voting I suggest that if you are down voting in agreement to a previous down vote one you could select a comment that already was made. The same way you get a list of sites that might be duplicate when closing a dupe question a user could choose either to leave their comment on the down vote or chose a comment that already exists that might fit the same reason for the down vote.

P.S. keep in mind this is marked as a discussion, I know that probably there is no valid answer to this (at least not 1 that would satisfy all).

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    Add to the difficulty of implementing it the difficulty of modelling the result, and finding out if it would create a better experience. It might well lead to lots of bad comments being posted for the fifth downvote on a post that plainly isn't any good. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:30
  • maybe you could just agree on an existent comment the same way a list is shown of possible duplicate sites when you are voting for closing a question. click to down vote, add your comment or agree on another persons good comment. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:36
  • Somewhat related meta.stackexchange.com/questions/111421/…
    – N.N.
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:37
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    Good point. Free down-votes on answers could also be a privilege. Assuming anybody still cares about the little bit of rep at that point. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:39
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    @stefano very good point, that would make things somehow interesting, but only for users with some rep. I want to focus hete more on the peer review and so much on the rep los. as said i understand why is the reason for the rep loss, but i believe a user that tskes time to write a comment on a down vote should really be rewarded. it sort of mekes some sense, no? Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:49
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    This is the key: "A user who takes the time to comment should be rewarded". I agree with that 100%. For me, having contributed to a question is enough of a reward, but something extra would give us better comments, thus better peer review. Yes it does make sense. I'm thinking a badge would be great for that. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:51
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    I posted Create a badge that rewards leaving a comment when you vote down on MSO. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:59
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    aparently that was already sugested :) Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 10:11
  • yes it's a fact
    – coder
    Commented Nov 13, 2011 at 11:39
  • I usually downvote spam questions. They vanish quickly. There is no time for commenting (besides, it's rather useless because the spammers know what they're doing), and also, there is no time for calculating reputation. So, such a measure - loosing a high amount of rep for downvoting, - would be nothing but another pressure on the system. Not to mention that it would be quite pointless. Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


When you downvote, a pop-up appears suggesting that you leave a comment. Mandating a comment has already been proposed many times on the main Stack Exchange meta site. It was shot down because

  • votes are anonymous, so you should not have to reveal your identity when you downvote;
  • often you're not the first to find the flaw in the answer, so you would upvote an existing comment rather than post your own;
  • sometimes “you're way out there, read the other answers” is the only thing you need to say, and that doesn't really warrant a comment;
  • you can't realistically prevent someone from posting a comment then immediately deleting it.

In short, downvoting carries a symbolic penalty (1/10 of an answer upvote); you are encouraged, but in no way obligated to comment.


As far as I can tell, one of the important reasons for down-votes costing rep is that it prevents users from voting down answers so that their own answer looks better. Even if you force people to comment, it would still leave the door open for such behaviour.

I like the idea in principle, but I don't think it would make for better peer-review. Given that down votes are fairly infrequent, your being diligent at peer-review also provides you with an incentive to post a better answer, in order to offset the lost rep from down-voting.

The interesting question, I think, is this: does anybody actually care about the rep they lose from down-voting? I can only speak for myself: The satisfaction of "sorting" answers, so that users find the right one more easily, more than makes up for the lost reputation.

Though I can understand that you might not down-vote a bad answer if you're just about to hit an important milestone, such as gaining the privilege to comment everywhere.

Lots of questions that need to be answered before you can risk implementing it.

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    You only lose one rep for downvoting, if anything, there aren't enough people downvoting in general, but it's ok, I try to make up for it. :) Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 5:25
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    @JorgeCastro I would really like to focus the discussion on the "leave a comment, get rewarded, dont leave a comment, get a penalty (maybe even bigger then just 1, I find it also irrelevant)" part of the discussion. The thing is I down vote a bit (for my "life time" in askubuntu its a lot) and I try to leave a comment on why the user got a downvote (unless its really obvious), I would like to see the same attitude towards any down vote in my direction + if I down vote and leave a comment explaining it and others dont should I at least not get an extra for good conduct? Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 10:54
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    @brunopereira81 If a comment has already been left explaining a downvote, and others downvote in agreement (not necessarily something we should be quick to do, but sometimes something really does deserve additional downvotage), then it would be bad rather than good to leave another comment that is in essence a duplicate of the previous one left by someone else. Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 18:46
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    @brunopereira81 As a separate point, while I agree that it would be nice to discourage less constructive downvoting and encourage more constructive downvoting, what about the problem that users might post their own answer and then downvote competing answers while leaving comments (instead of just leaving comments, which would often be more appropriate)? I think that since leaving comments doesn't increase reputation, the reputation loss/gain associated with downvoting should not differ depending on whether or not a comment is left. Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 18:46
  • @EliahKagan read the comments on the question itself, it was already suggested that if you are down voting on agreement to a previous one you could ie select a comment that already was made, that same way you get a list of sites that might be duplicate when closing a dupe question a user could choose either to leave their comment on the down vote or chose a comment that already exists that might fit the same reason for the downvote. Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 18:50
  • @EliahKagan Dont agree that it would not improve things compared with what we have at the moment, now everyone votes anonymous, at least with some comments the user can figure out why he is getting down voted, wouldn't be nice that the person that leaves the down vote gets some sort of reward over it? I mean, he explained the reason why of the down vote, if its true more ppl will agree with it and feel more comfortable to also down vote, just that fact will almost eliminate the fact that ppl down vote other competitors answer to make theirs look better, if he did not leave a message... Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 18:54
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    @EliahKagan then he will loose more rep then if he left, if the down vote is legit and a message is left with a good reason to down vote more ppl will do it separating fake down votes from real ones. Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 18:55

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