Too often do I see a question that is downvoted, without any explanation for why it was downvoted, and I cannot find anything downvote-worthy about the question.

Often times I consider (and sometimes actually do) upvote a question merely to negate that downvote, however I feel like this isn't how upvotes should be used.

What are some good ways (if any) to deal with these unexplained downvotes?

  • 6
    upvoting will not only negate the downvote but also give the user some extra rep that maybe he does not deserve..! Because as you said, the question may not be downvote worthy but at the same time it is not necessary that it is upvote worthy..!
    – IcyFlame
    May 26, 2013 at 7:10
  • This question meta.askubuntu.com/questions/6206/… is a bit the same. It deals with unexplained close votes. In essence, it is polite to comment, but you can't force it.
    – don.joey
    May 28, 2013 at 8:23

3 Answers 3


There's nothing we can do about people's voting patterns. Nothing about the site requires anyone to explain their voting patterns.

I try to leave a comment when I see someone has put in at least some effort or is having a hard time using the site, or is maybe not a native English speaker and needs some editing to make the question better.

However there are still incoming questions that are pure crap and a downvote is there to remind other community people that the question sucks before they waste their time on it.

I'm not going to leave a comment like "Please use punctuation, capital letters, and more than 40 characters so I can read your question"; that's just internet common sense.


I also vote for things I see being down-voted when I don't agree on the votes. Similarly, I'm fairly sure that isn't what you're supposed to do but when people drive-by down-vote and there's nothing wrong, what other option are you really left with?

Ideally everybody would leave a comment when they down-voted... But that's clearly not what happens. There is already a little prompt that pops up, asking them to do it. From here the only real step is to force people to leave comments. It's something I'm on board with but it's not my decision. That's system-stuff and that's all down to Stack Exchange.

This has been suggested and shot down by the meta.stackoverflow* people a million times over. It's rather sad how hard it is to have a proper feature suggestion discussion without a hundred negative votes. People seem against forced commenting because:

  • "It should be obvious - it's a terrible post!" I agree that there are posts like this but if you're not editing them because they're unsalvageable, you should be flagging them so we can remove them. Just voting against them does nothing and it's sucky communication. The poster needs to be told what to do to fix the problem.

  • "My votes should be anonymous, G-Man!" If we were voting for anything worthwhile, I might agree but I'd laugh in the face of anybody who said that sincerely here. This is tech support, not the UN.

    I doubt this aspect will ever change as it's a guarantee from the system. However it would be possible to add a downvote_reason that is anonymously tallied against each answer. Generic comments about detail, quality, punctuation, spacing. By no means a replacement for every comment but something required in order to negatively vote.

    I've no idea if that has ever been suggested. I'd post it on MSO but I honestly feel I'd get further by telling the radiator next to me.

*MSO is where all the Stack Exchange -wide conversations happen. It's a legacy thing.

  • 4
    I can't upvote this because I really don't agree with forcing people to leave comments when they downvote.
    – Seth
    May 25, 2013 at 17:58
  • 1
    everything should have a reason , In my opinion specifically for why downvoting that too in a polite way.
    – Raja G
    May 26, 2013 at 15:01
  • 1
    Yeah, I like the idea of the anonymous downvote reason tally, similar to flagging.
    – ananaso
    May 26, 2013 at 18:35

Differentiating between upvotes and downvotes might be something that will prevent this behavior. Someone can upvote with 15 rep and to down vote you would need at least 100 rep points (minus associate bonus points) to ensure that the person has had enough experience on the web site to know what is worthy of a down vote.

  • 1
    Actually, you need 125 reputation to downvote, so this is already implemented.
    – Seth
    May 28, 2013 at 15:40

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