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Should we force adding a comment with every down-vote?

Why not let the site force the user to enter a comment (of min. 20 chars. or so) when demoting an answer?

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    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 1:05

1 Answer 1


Anonymous voting is a key part of how Stack Exchange sites work. If we assume for a moment that you are not suggesting revealing the names along with the comments, forcing people to explain their downvotes still would not get you any usable information. Once you make those comments anonymous, you also take away any sort of accountability for content, so in most cases you'll end up with throwaway or gibberish comments like mine. (Although is intended specifically to illustrate the point.)

This has been brought up many a time on Meta Stack Overflow. The request to force anonymous commenting was declined. The request to encourage explanations was implemented via a pop-up that every user sees when they downvote a question or an answer.

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    Thanks for explaining this, I still wish that there would be a way to get the conversation going so that the voting becomes of more value to all.
    – NoChance
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 1:18
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    @EmmadKareem There are pros and cons to that, though I personally do appreciate constructive comments and criticism of my answers whether or not they come with a downvote.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 1:20
  • I've seen down votes to answers which appear to me to have no good reason for being down voted. On the positive side, it would sharpen people's answers if they understood what it was that caused the down vote. It also might prevent people from capriciously down voting an answer, because they have some ideological axe to grind. As I said above, I've seen answers down voted where I can't see any reasonable rationale for doing so. Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 15:18
  • Down votes are extremely un-valuable without context. This question, for example, has a -7 down vote! Why? Because it's in the wrong place? Because it's worded badly? We force users to explain why they flag, why shouldn't they be forced to explain a down-vote? Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 19:59

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