Having been here for a while now, I understand the futility/meaninglessness of this question. Becoming accustomed to how this place works and how much and fast I have learned from the people here, I do not see a need for this request any longer, thank you all.

Is it possible to establish a convention for up/down votes to be accompanied by a comment? That way posts are not up/down voted for the same reason multiple times, The Authors will be able to see what and why is good/wrong with their posts, The emphasis will be shifted to reasons of gradations rather than a some posts being subjectively up/down voted excessively. Of course at times there will be exceptions , e.g. a 10 line elementary proof of PMT or simple beautiful proofs of course should not be considered subject to this policy.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see any reason for this question to be downvoted. This is a natural question for someone whose question gets downvotes to ask, and I don't see why we shouldn't make an honest attempt to answer it. Cut it out, guys. $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2010 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Qiaochu: Accusing people of cronism is as illogical as the question claims regarding the other events. Besides, the comments are taken out of context, lot of comments are missing etc. If the question was about downvoting only, and it didn't have the accompanying accusations and finger pointing, I would agree with you. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 2, 2011 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Moron : I no longer want to go on with the line of who did what and when. Of course I can not account for others recollection not matching mine and vice versa. If I could redo this topic I would remove everything except how to in future have something more constructive. This being a math forum, we should be able to come up with some base logical forum etiquette ( maybe incomplete and inconsistent but just good enough ). Changing the direction from what happened to what can we do. $\endgroup$
    – jimjim
    Jan 2, 2011 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ You can always go back and edit your question. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 2, 2011 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ A similar/related FAQ on RPG.SE: Why is an answer being downvoted without any comments? $\endgroup$
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    May 4, 2021 at 5:28

3 Answers 3


You make several assumptions about the purpose of up and down votes that I don't agree with. For example, you write

That way posts are not up/down voted for the same reason multiple times.

Posts are never up or down voted for the same reasons. Namely, I up vote a post because I like it and I downvote it because I dislike it. I can always be sure that nobody else has so far upvoted a post for the reason that I liked it and nobody will, and nobody has downvoted it for the reason that I disliked it.

The mechanism you suggest would run roughly as follows: somebody writes a long and thoughtful answer. Somebody else upvotes it and writes "+1. This is a very thoughtful and good answer". Everybody else who comes along will read the answer and think "Wow, I have to upvote it, but let's check the comments first", he sees that the answer has already received an upvote for being "thoughtful and good". Since he has no other reasons for upvoting it, he won't, so the answer will be stuck with a vote count of 1. Similarly with down votes. That's non-sensical.

The voting system gives everyone the opportunity to express his/her opinion. The comments system allows you to express your opinion more verbosely and possibly more constructively (or more destructively, depending on how you choose to comment). These are two different mechanisms and you are free to use them separately or together. E.g. I can easily think of situations, where I leave a critical comment but upvote the question.

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    $\begingroup$ “These are two different mechanisms and you are free to use them separately or together” hits the nail exactly on the head, in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Jan 20, 2014 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ “nobody has downvoted it for the reason that I disliked it.” The problem is, many people do downvote because somebody else disliked it. This is called hive mentality. Now I’m not saying that all downvotes should require a comment, but something should be done. If anything can be done, which I’m not sure about, $\endgroup$ May 3, 2021 at 17:45

The answer to the question in your title (ignoring the specifics of the situation you're complaining about) is that downvoting is supposed to be a quick and easy way to indicate whether you think the material in question is good and/or useful. The fact that it is easy to do is precisely what makes it a good aggregate of public opinion. Requiring that every downvote be accompanied by a comment explaining the downvote is essentially unenforceable, and the best we can hope for is to encourage people to leave such comments if they have something specific to say.

I agree that it is difficult to improve your question or answer if nobody is telling you what you're doing wrong, but in this case there were several people in the comments attempting to tell you precisely that, and my impression is that you weren't listening to them (or that you were talking at cross purposes). Nobody realized you were asking a historical question and giving a historical answer; the burden is on you to communicate more clearly, not on them to read your mind.

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    $\begingroup$ I think we are referring to different posts, The post you are referring was the post I sent as a consequence to down-voting I received in math.stackexchange.com/questions/15556/is-zero-odd-or-even/…, Now that question was not asked by me, and clearly had a math-history tag on it. It was deleted after the comment by one of the reputed people caused it to become unpopular. That response was correct in math-history context of tag, But that tag was ignored by others and decided to to treat the post by following a person rather than following logic. $\endgroup$
    – jimjim
    Jan 2, 2011 at 0:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Arjang: Your interpretation of events is inaccurate. Your answer was downvoted before the comment that offended you was posted. Note how that comment references the fact that your answer was downvoted. $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2011 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonas Meyer : Fair enough, by the way I am no longer worried about the comment nor the result of the down votes. How can this be turned into something useful, i.e. in the math forum down vote being sign of something being incorrect, and letting the author know what is wrong with logical arguments, rather than just disagreeing on a non logical reason? $\endgroup$
    – jimjim
    Jan 2, 2011 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonas Meyer : I would like to completely edit,delete this main topic leaning only something about what would be useful to the forum in future, this can be as simple as just having an agreed protocol for accompanying the down votes with a reason and if the reason is already there then there is no point to down vote something even further. Like having a common etiquette for the forum. $\endgroup$
    – jimjim
    Jan 2, 2011 at 15:37

Whenever I offer a reason why I down-vote a question/answer, I get an argument and/or revenge downvotes on other questions. So now I don't write anything (but then again, I don't down-vote very much).

[PS. As a philosophical aside, why is there such a call for down-vote comments, but not for up-votes?]

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    $\begingroup$ Upvote is generally the sign of idea being in sync with the common mutual reality. It just means the author and the audience agree, mostly there is nothing new to be discovered. However if the reason for the upvote is something different than the original authors base idea, then that reason is a must to have as well. With the down vote, one is surprised why his/her version of reality being out of sync with others. In subjective matters that might not matter, but in objective subjects such as mathematics in most cases a reason can be shown to improve the idea. $\endgroup$
    – jimjim
    Jan 2, 2011 at 15:20

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