Personally I find unexplained down-votes very frustrating, also IMHO, this isn't constructive criticism. On the contrary it promotes bad behavior..

I suggest enforcing adding a comment when casting a down vote, rather than just giving a hint. It can be anonymous, at least for the person being voted on

UPDATE: If it would make any difference, please, note that this is for both the answer & question down-votes

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    Best real example on my question is the down-vote this question has now :D – Shady M. Najib Sep 10 '10 at 6:22
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    Don't forget down-votes on meta sites tend to have addition meanings. Check on Meta.StackOverflow for more discussion on voting habits. – ChrisF Sep 10 '10 at 11:30
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    @Downvoters. Although I completely disagree with forcing commenting for down voting. I think this is a legitimate discussion. Although it may have been asked on another meta.stackexchange it will not show up on a query here. – snmcdonald Sep 11 '10 at 20:18
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    The unofficial policy on Meta.StackOverflow has been that a down vote means "I don't like this idea" not that the question is unclear or not worth discussing. See: Why are people downvoting my question on Meta? – user8 Sep 13 '10 at 18:20
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    Although, I'd argue that this question isn't legitimately worth discussing because it's been hashed to death already. – user8 Sep 13 '10 at 18:22

This topic has been hashed over and over on Meta.StackOverflow:

It's a Bad Idea. Downvoting is a personal thing for the voter, is necessary for a functioning voting system (that is, down-voters should not be subject to reprisal), and should not be taken so personally that you feel you are owed an explanation. Shrug downvotes, concentrate on providing the best answers you can, and move on.

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    It's not about taking it personal, it's about knowing how I can do better.. We're here to help one another.. When someone tells you you're wrong & just runs away, what's the help in that? – Shady M. Najib Sep 10 '10 at 6:30
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    Also, reading a little about pointing systems, it really encourages down-vote "spammers" !! which is obvious bad behavior! – Shady M. Najib Sep 10 '10 at 6:31
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    The goal is, given multiple answers to a question, to provide and highlight the best possible answer. A down-vote alone provides enough explanation: the answer (or question) is not useful. I strongly encourage you to read through the threads I linked: it's not a new argument and it's been addressed many times. – user8 Sep 10 '10 at 6:34
  • I might understand that (though don't find it valid) for an answer but not a question.. I'm currently reading through – Shady M. Najib Sep 10 '10 at 6:42
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    @Shady: comment-free down-voting can't be spam. Comments, OTOH, can be spam. Food for thought... – Shog9 Sep 14 '10 at 3:20
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    It's also about removing perceived arbitrariness in the process. If I get a down vote, I really want to know why. I put time and effort into most responses, and expect respect and consideration for that. How would you feel if your boss suddenly started cutting your pay with no explanation? Just focus on doing a better job next time? A down vote should have a bigger cost, and I think that cost should be writing at least 1 line explaining the rationale. (On Programmers site, I see lot of arbtrary voting, especially as compared with StackOverflow.) – Sam Goldberg May 1 '12 at 19:03
  • @SamGoldberg While I understand the feeling, this will never change and it's something you have to get used to. If you aren't comfortable with anonymous voting, then Stack Exchange might not be right for you. – user8 May 1 '12 at 19:08
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    @MarkTrapp: "This will never change...then Stack Exchange might not be right for you." I wasn't raised to silently accept what I think is wrong (even in the context of a question and answer site). Maybe it won't change, but I feel that still need to speak up anyway. I contribute here and to StackOverflow. I think it's better for me to vent about a bad practice and still contribute, rather than take my ball and go home. So just count me in the group of dissenters on this policy (and that will never change). – Sam Goldberg May 1 '12 at 19:14
  • @SamGoldberg Stack Exchange, Inc. is a private, for-profit organization: the way you get them to change is to vote with your wallet (or, in the case of SE, your expertise) and take your business elsewhere. Complaining about a policy that will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever change on a question from over a year ago that nobody except me (who can't do anything about your frustration) will see doesn't effect change (although I'm sure it feels great). – user8 May 1 '12 at 19:18
  • @MarkTrapp: Well, at least your last comment made me smile... Thanks. – Sam Goldberg May 1 '12 at 19:38

Jon Skeet says it all here: Encouraging people to explain downvotes

Reading this: http://msmvps.com/blogs/jon_skeet/archive/2009/05/20/reasons-for-voting-on-questions-and-answers.aspx

I wonder why not use the same system in comments for voting? That's if you like a question/answer up-vote it, if not, you either comment about what you see wrong or flag it if it's such an offshoot

  • +1: Although I disagree with you on forcing comments for downvoting, I think this is a good answer. – snmcdonald Sep 11 '10 at 20:07
  • Do you think it would be worth adding either here or to SO as a feature request/ meta-question? – Shady M. Najib Sep 12 '10 at 8:08
  • Huh. As for me, I often reach for the "downvote comment" button. – SamB Sep 14 '10 at 21:04
  • @SamB What for? I thought people are here on Stack-Exchange sites to help one another not just getting opinionated about one another :D I'd only flag or down vote if I found something offensive.. If I found something wrong I'd either edit it or comment about what went worng – Shady M. Najib Sep 15 '10 at 14:59
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    @Shady: If you're reserving down-votes for stuff that actually offends you, then you're doing the site a disservice: it's much faster to view a post's score than it is to read through the comments looking for dissenting views. Especially if the comments are left by users who write poorly and require a lot of back-and-forth to get their point across. – Shog9 Sep 15 '10 at 15:07
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    @Mr. C why not help both the reader & the answerer & comment asking to fix their answer? & then if they didn't update it you can either edit it yourself or just down-vote? – Shady M. Najib Sep 16 '10 at 19:18
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    @Shady: this has been discussed to death, but... There are a number of good reasons and even more not-so-great but unavoidably-practical reasons not to comment. Off the top of my head: redundant comment, argumentative author, blatant trolling, lack of time, lack of space, fear of reprisal, poor communication skills. I'm not against commenting, mind you - a look at any of my profiles should demonstrate that. But I don't feel it should be linked to voting, as they have vastly different purposes and constraints. – Shog9 Sep 16 '10 at 20:30
  • A unique question where the -ve votes gain the right answer. – Manoj R Dec 22 '10 at 9:44

Downvoters are penalized for their down vote already. Adding a comment is optional and should be a courtesy to the OP.

Downvotes do not hurt the OP significantly and they discourage unwanted or undesirable questions. The caster of the downvote receives negative rep as well, to discourage frivolous downvoting. I feel that the voting system on stackexchange is designed to encourage positive answers.

In the case of this particular question, I feel that it was a fair question and worth discussion. I believe the reason you received -6 was not because it appears on other meta stackexchange sites or that it is a bad suggestion, but rather a demonstration that users can and will downvote without posting comments.

  • Is that also the case for your answer? – SamB Sep 14 '10 at 21:05
  • or perhaps some people enjoy irony? – snmcdonald Sep 16 '10 at 3:19

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