I have seen various down votes on my answer, without stating what is the problem with it, in last days. Similarly, I have seen some down votes on some questions/answers of other people without explanation. I mean, down-voting is normal, but it's also good to comment and let the user know what is the problem in the post rather than silently down-vote, am I right?

I mean, is it not helpful to the user if he is not aware of the faults of his post so that it can be improved.

  • Are you talking about on meta or on main? The meaning of votes is somewhat different between the two. Oct 16, 2013 at 13:06
  • @MonicaCellio main. Oct 16, 2013 at 13:07
  • 6
    It's ironic that this question is currently downvoted. It's a fair question, one that comes up on many sites. I disagree with a requirement to comment (I realize you haven't said "require"), but I'm going to upvote this question. Oct 16, 2013 at 13:09
  • @AnkitSharma chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/10964/conversation/…
    – user87
    Oct 16, 2013 at 15:47
  • @Skippy its obviously not for you, i asked it for general. Oct 16, 2013 at 16:20

4 Answers 4


That has been implemented. When a person down votes, a pop-up message shows


This encourages the user to add a comment.

Take a look at : Encouraging people to explain downvotes on main meta.


Some people simply don't want to spend the time that is needed to justify their downvotes with the comments.

While an unexplained downvote might seem not helpful, it still is as it voices the opinion of the person that something with this answer is wrong.

  • 3
    And I doubt these people spend a lot of time on meta …
    – Baarn
    Oct 16, 2013 at 8:56

I used to always comment with my downvotes on Stack Overflow. I quickly found that people don't like constructive criticism and will get hostile in the comments and revenge downvote. Granted, only a tiny fraction of people react this way, but when they do it's annoying enough to make you never want to comment with downvotes again.

In any event, most of the time it should be obvious why the question did not show any research effort, was unclear or not useful, and then the comments are just noise.

  • But shouldn't they be flagged for those reasons ? Oct 16, 2013 at 12:25
  • 4
    @woliveirajr No, those are exactly the reasons to downvote. Flags should be used for more serious problems. (Of course there is some overlap or a grey area)
    – Baarn
    Oct 16, 2013 at 13:05
  • 1
    Unless you mean the hostile response, which of course can be flagged. Revenge downvotes, not so much, since they're anonymous and you can only guess who's doing it.
    – Wooble
    Oct 16, 2013 at 13:06
  • @Baarn: I thought it was more like: When should I vote down? (...) whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect. What is flagging? Flag to close (questions only): Duplicate question, Off-topic (with sub-reasons), Unclear what you're asking, Too broad, Primarily opinion-based. Very low quality (i.e. no amount of editing can salvage the post) Oct 16, 2013 at 13:20
  • 1
    @woliveirajr Flagging to close should only be done if you have insufficient reputation to VTC. "Did not show any research effort, was unclear or not useful" is almost verbatim from the text you see when you hover over the downvote button on a question.
    – Beofett
    Oct 16, 2013 at 13:30
  • @Beofett got it... Oct 16, 2013 at 13:32
  • @Wooble everyday I would go on to SO and another couple of my posts would be downvoted, different ones everytime. Eventually some were reversed, as serial downvoting, as the person was, obviously not as smart as they thought they were. But I closed the account, when offered to remap my posts from SO, I said no. It gives me a chance to post unharassed by vengeful voters. And that was over 2.5K in rep I gave up. It means nothing if you're having a bad time. You were one of the first people I met on SMO
    – user87
    Oct 16, 2013 at 17:18
  • 1
    @woliveirajr you have been a member of SO for over 4 years and you seriously need a huge discussion about this?
    – user87
    Oct 16, 2013 at 17:19

Interestingly enough, after have some conversations and reading about this question (that is a valid question, and was downvoted!) I decide to read again the Help from Stackexchange.

It's available here: https://stackoverflow.com/help/privileges/vote-down

And I could rephrase it all, but just quoting it is sufficient (with some bold and italics made by myself):

When should I vote down?

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

You have a limited number of votes per day, and answer down-votes cost you a tiny bit of reputation on top of that; use them wisely.

What are the alternatives to down-voting?

The up-vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

Instead of voting down:

If the post is spammy or offensive, flag it.

If the question is duplicate or off-topic, flag it for moderator attention.

If something is wrong, please leave a comment or edit the post to correct it.

  • 1
    I'm not sure how up-to-date that is, but community consensus seems to be that "Down-voting is not a bad thing. If the answer is not useful as it is because, for example, it contains something that makes it not correct, or not 100% exact, then you can down-vote it."
    – Beofett
    Oct 16, 2013 at 16:12
  • This question may have been downvoted, because it is asking a question that has been thrashed on SMO over and over.
    – user87
    Oct 16, 2013 at 17:21

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