I have noticed that a lot of times when an answer gets downvoted, there is rarely any feedback (unless the answerer asks for one or depends on the popularity of the question) for the downvote. With questions, there is a flagging option for "bad quality", but with answers people seem to retract their answers more than moderators deleting them due to the silent discouragement from the downvote(s).

This statistic is based on experience, so it may not be reliable. Also, I occasionally see questions in the Meta asking "Why are all my answers suddenly getting random downvotes (perhaps by a single person)?"

But if we can implement an incentive to downvoting, then perhaps we can eliminate these problems? We could also let a user know who has been downvoting their question/answers when there is an unusual pattern of downvoting. This I assume usually occurs when someone else makes a troll account to downvote, but the relationship between the troll account and the actual account should only be known to the mods to avoid conflict between the user and the downvoter.

I hate leaving an answer with downvote(s) and staring at the screen for $N$ minutes and realizing either I misread the question or it was just completely wrong or sometimes just don't know why it was downvoted.

I think my initial post may have sounded like a rant, but I am really trying to offer suggestions to reduce these frustrations, though the first implementation seem too extreme for anyone to even consider it.

So I suggest giving reputation points or some other type of incentive to encourage a downvoter to comment.

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    $\begingroup$ There have been several discussions related to this, for example Downvoting for no stated reason is abusive. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 3 '14 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ This is my comment. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 3 '14 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, more opportunities for people to pounce on the ones they feel are unjustly criticizing them... There are already way too many conflicts that turn personal. I especially disagree with your sentence "This should also let the user know who's been consistently downvoting their answers.". What do you think you're going to accomplish this way? Anyway, sometimes questions or answers are objectively bad and there's no need to explain why. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 3 '14 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the last part of the answer, considering that there are people who down vote for no reason, I don't even give my answers a second look when down voted. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Dec 3 '14 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @GitGud What a strange reasoning... So, you deliberately neglect the downvotes signalling serious mathematical problems in your answers because some other downvotes are unfounded? $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 3 '14 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Did The word 'some' is misleading. I neglect the down votes because almost all of them are unfounded. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Dec 3 '14 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ There's rarely any feedback when an answer gets upvoted too. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Dec 3 '14 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ I downvoted this discussion since reasons against it can be found easily by some searching. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 3 '14 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ Related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9404/in-praise-of-silence $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 4 '14 at 2:57
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    $\begingroup$ And This is mine! You're not obliged to down-vote before commenting! $\endgroup$ – Aditya Hase Dec 5 '14 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi, so possibly you can report the person who is using a fake account to downvote your questions/answers. $\endgroup$ – IAmNoOne Dec 10 '14 at 5:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl, that's probably because no upvoted answer would ever ask "why did I get an upvote for my answer?" $\endgroup$ – IAmNoOne Dec 10 '14 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ So weird this question has several downvotes. $\endgroup$ – randomgirl Mar 30 '15 at 1:46

No, I do not think the downvoter must leave a comment. Often I do, but to enforce it is a bad idea; it is already encouraged by the software for newer users.

An incomplete list why it is a bad idea:

  • It is impossible to enforce that a meaningful comment is left, so it would just be some comment.

  • There are legitimate reasons to want to downvote anonymously, for example, when the downvotee is know to be a difficult user one might not want to engage in a discussion with them.

  • Multiple downvotes would lead to multiple comments.

And so on. It is a poor idea yet was entertained very frequently; see Encouraging people to explain downvotes and or Downvoters and comments or So annoyed with no-comment, vindictive downvoting for a small selection.

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    $\begingroup$ This could start down-vote war too or unilateral down-voting in revenge. I agree of course. $\endgroup$ – Tacet Dec 6 '14 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes those indeed could be problems, so I suggest giving an incentive for leaving a comment. $\endgroup$ – IAmNoOne Dec 10 '14 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think it is never good to give a downvote without a reason, no matter how "difficult" users are or how many comments there are below an answer. I think it would be a quality improvement to require a comment when downvoting, and downvoting-wars can be avoided in many ways, for instance by increasing the reputation points lost by the downvoter. $\endgroup$ – Jack D'Aurizio Mar 7 '15 at 16:23

At least to me, implementing and enforcing a system like that sounds excessive.

Maybe add an attribute to the downvote-button that, on hover or click ...or drag, encourages the person to explain why they're downvoting in a comment? They wouldn't be required to do so, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Disregard this post entirely if I'm out of line in understanding the editing capabilities!

  • $\begingroup$ Well technically we downvote, we lose reputation, but that obviously hasn't stop people from silent downvoting. $\endgroup$ – IAmNoOne Dec 3 '14 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Nameless : I see what you're saying & agree, but, clearly, reputation doesn't matter to everyone. I don't think I was talking about reputation in my post though. $\endgroup$ – enche Dec 3 '14 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ Oh I was answering to your "encourages the person to explain why...". Actually my comment seems irrelevant. $\endgroup$ – IAmNoOne Dec 3 '14 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ there there; we all make mistakes $\endgroup$ – enche Dec 3 '14 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ Users with <2000 rep get a message telling them to consider commenting to explain their downvotes. Supposedly users with more than 2000 rep have been here long enough to understand how things work. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 3 '14 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi : I'm likely just fatigued, but I don't know what you're getting at. Are you saying that <2000 rep already get this feature I'm describing, or suggesting it? Maybe I shouldn't partake in this particular discussion for a couple more reputation points :)! $\endgroup$ – enche Dec 3 '14 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, users with <2000 already get this feature, that's what I mean. I see you can try it on arqade: downvote a random question/answer and you'll see a blue popup (don't forget to undo the downvote). $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 3 '14 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi oh ok! I just tried it. Never downvoted someone before... my answer is now moot $\endgroup$ – enche Dec 4 '14 at 1:05

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