We get a lot of questions and answers down voted without the voter commenting as to why they down voted.

This is really frustrating because at the lower and of the spectrum it is not constructive criticism and at the other end it could be people with vendettas against other users, which we don't want around here.

A down vote without reason is pointless because the other user doesn't know how they can fix their question/answer to make it better. If you don't have a good reason to down vote, you shouldn't be allowed to do it.

We're supposed to be helping people here and that includes helping people to construct useful questions and answers as much as helping people with Drupal.

I can understand it if someone else has already commented with an explanation but it seems like maybe it would be a good idea to force people to comment if they down vote and there are no existing comments, or maybe have a pop-up when down voting, for the user to enter a comment (kind of like when voting to close or something). This field could even be optional (although in that case I would think the the optional nature should not be made obvious).

I understand that there are also things like spam posts but even if you were forced to enter a comment just write "This is spam" or something (and use the flag spam link).

What do you think of this?
Do you agree it is a problem?
Do you have ideas on how it can we can combat it?

  • 2
    A fair number of downvotes are the automatic ones that come from AVLQ and VLQ flags.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 13:05
  • Yeah thanks, I didn't think of that. I only ever think of the spam flag in that way.
    – rooby
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


A down vote without reason is pointless because the other user doesn't know how they can fix their question/answer to make it better

That isn't what voting is for - voting is a quality indicator for the larger community. It's designed so that people can see at a glance whether the community has deemed a question well researched and useful to our repository of knowledge, or not. We get more of the "not" here then I'm sure we'd like, unfortunately.

Besides, every downvote does have an implied comment, which is the tooltip text for the downvote link:

The question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

The request to force comments on downvoting comes up on the main meta site at least once a week, and since time immemorial it has been roundly rejected, both by the community, and Stack Exchange staff. If people want to leave a comment they can do, obviously, but they shouldn't be forced to explain their democratic, anonymous right to vote (which, don't forget, they've earned).

If people were forced to leave a comment, they'd just leave whatever rubbish they needed to to get the dialog out of the way ("efweterferferfer", for example). No one gains anything. It also encourages so-called "revenge downvoting".

I appreciate that you're only trying to help new users not to feel a (in my opinion unjustified) sense of outrage, but that isn't our primary concern here. We're focused on content, not people. New users are encouraged to read through plenty of literature before they ask their first question. That literature explains why this site is different, and what sort of quality we expect. If they choose to ignore that, or can't be bothered to read it in the first place, that's their look-out. That shouldn't stop those members of the community who do care about the quality of the site from expressing such.

There are scripts running to detect targeted voting, so there's no need to worry about things from that angle.

I won't re-hash every single argument against this feature request here, instead search for "downvote leave comment" on meta stack overflow, and have a read through the many, many discussions about why this would be a bad thing for the site.

  • 1
    Oops, I didn't think to look at other exchange sites. I've read a lot of the other posts relating to this and it seems there are a lot of people on both sides of the argument. I still have the same opinion on the topic as before and it still frustrates me to see new users get downvotes without explanations, however I can understand both sides. The main thing that I previously didn't consider is that different people place different meaning on downvotes and downvote for different reasons. Originally I was thinking of it only from my own perspective and how I would use the downvote feature.
    – rooby
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 15:29
  • Yeah it's a pretty contentious issue @rooby, has been for as long as I can remember. I do understand it's frustrating to been on your side of the fence too, as you can show your opinion passively (not downvoting), while the opinion of those who disagree is right there in your face. To call it the lesser of two evils would be over-simplifying, but it's a 'rule' that's evolved with the site over the time. I think it would be hard to change now, even if it was proven to be logically correct to
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 16:06

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