Often people downvote what seems like perfectly legitimate questions or answers. Comments asking for the reason for downvote are often ignored.

Should it be mandatory for a downvoter to supply a reason? It would at least let the others aware of the downvoter's viewpoint, and open up new lines of discussion.


This has been done to death on Meta Stack Overflow.

The consensus is that while it would nice if people did, there's not a lot we can do to enforce this.

  • @Chisf - when you say, "...there's not a lot we can do to enforce this." I am confused. I think you mean that the choice was not to enforce this. So many times I hear of the 'democratic' nature of these sites, but if the consensus is that it should be required then why isn't it? – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 17:52
  • @dbasnett Votes are completely anonymous for privacy reasons. There's no way to track who down-voted but didn't leave a comment. – user8 Jul 18 '11 at 20:00
  • @dbasnett - also any scheme to try to force users to leave comments has too many drawbacks to make it worth while. – ChrisF Jul 18 '11 at 20:02
  • @mark - Why is it a big secret? – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 21:20
  • @ChrisF - What drawbacks? Maintaining anonymity? – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 21:23
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    @dbasnett We want people to vote on the merits of a question or answer without fear that someone is going to enact reprisal on them for misinterpreting a vote. Keeping it anonymous takes the politics out of a key metric and value to the SE network. – user8 Jul 18 '11 at 21:30
  • @dbasnett - people leaving rubbish "adkasdjaksjd" type comments or even just as unhelpfully "this question is rubbish" (or similar). Check out the answers, comments and linked questions on my MSO question I linked to. – ChrisF Jul 18 '11 at 21:42
  • @Mark - and without a comment how do we know that the vote had merit? I know Jeff drew an analogy between these sites and a playground, but I'd like to believe that most people here are adult enough to entertain criticism without seeking retribution. I try not to say anything about anyone that I wouldn't say to their face. – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 21:44
  • @ChrisF - and if you allowed down votes on comments that wouldn't happen. – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 21:45
  • @dbasnett - see twitter.com/#!/lizardbill/status/93074064654073856 – ChrisF Jul 18 '11 at 21:48
  • @ChrisF - and if you allowed down votes on comments that wouldn't happen here. – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 21:57
  • @dbasnett - then down-votes on comments would have to penalise the commenter in some way and up-votes would have to reward them to compensate. Not something I can see Jeff agreeing to. – ChrisF Jul 18 '11 at 22:00
  • I just don't understand how the score is kept. So are you saying that upvotes in comments aren't scored? I did not know that. It took me years to understand the finer points of scoring in golf. – dbasnett Jul 18 '11 at 22:05
  • @dbasnett - the votes are kept, but they don't confer reputation. Anyway, we've just hit the "move this discussion to chat" limit, so probably now's a good time to stop. – ChrisF Jul 18 '11 at 22:06

There is an AJAX <div> reminder for users under 2000 rep on each downvote:

Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved.

After the first downvote, we can't say we didn't remind them, and honestly that's as good as it gets. Forcing a comment will end in even worse results.

  • "Forcing a comment will end in even worse results." Is this a fact or opinion? Most, because you are the 'Jeff', will assume fact. Old guys from Missouri need more. – dbasnett Jul 19 '11 at 11:48

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