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I understand that users dont have to explain their downvotes. Lately it has been a lot downvoting going on. I would just like to ask what is the policy on downvoting? Is there any punishment for someone who downvotes for no reason (even though the answer is correct)?

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    $\begingroup$ It’s vandalism when the answer is correct and does not violate an OP’s request for hints only, but unfortunately it’s within the rules, so there’s not much that one can do about it. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 8 '14 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ General observation: I find that many "downvoting" questions boil down to either "I was downvoted and didn't like it," or "why has [specific-user] downvoted so much?" Neither of these are good questions for meta. Behaviour's behavior, although possibly "extreme" by some measures, is certainly allowed. (My personal opinion is that the current behavior of users on this site warrants--if not necessitates--the actions Behavior is taking. But, that's a discussion for a different thread.) $\endgroup$ – apnorton Dec 8 '14 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott I consider your claim that it is vandalism to downvote a correct answer as objectionable and borderline offensive. Personally, I do not downvote much, but I do sometimes downvote correct answers that I find bad. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 8 '14 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: There are a few borderline cases, but in general I stand by my comment and am perfectly happy to offend the vandals: they offend me. The amount of vandalism that I’ve seen since I returned is shocking; had I been aware of it, and of the fact that much of it is deliberate, I’d probably have stayed away. (Note: I do not dispute the fact that it is permissible under the rules.) $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 8 '14 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott this is likely not the place to discuss this in detail, and I accept your modified statement (though I do not agree with it). $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 8 '14 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ The comment was edited after I wrote mine. I have a bit more issues with that version. But, I will still leave it there. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 8 '14 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ Stop editing back in what a moderator took out. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 9 '14 at 17:54
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Downvoting is allowed for any reason or no reason at all, as long as the motivation is not the user posting it.

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    $\begingroup$ But you haven't enumerated all the cases. Frequently, the motivation for voting an answer down is neither the answer nor the user posting the answer, but rather to make it easier to delete the question. Yes, it's allowed, but it's disgusting. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 8 '14 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ I change the sentence to what I should have written in the first place as otherwise it is odd with the "no reason" to avoid a discussion. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 8 '14 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ Although the suggestion given when hovering over the upvote and downvote arrows is to upvote when the question shows research effort and is clear and useful, and to downvote when the question does not show research effort and is unclear and not useful. These being highly subjective decisions, there can be no hard and fast guidelines. However, they do propose a moral compass. $\endgroup$ – robjohn Dec 8 '14 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ "There can be no hard and fast guidelines". True, but when a user repeatedly votes down answers that are obviously clear and useful, I'd suggest it's time for a moderator to step in. As we have seen elsewhere, what may be permissable as a one-off may be impermissable as a pattern of behavior. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 8 '14 at 23:06
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    $\begingroup$ One can interpret the "useful" as "useful to me (the voter)" and the situation changes quite a bit. If one wants to discuss this matter I think this is a key point. I am not sure this is the place though. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 8 '14 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ So, quid, it makes good sense for someone who has no interest whatsoever in Mathematics to come to m.se and vote down every answer on the site since, after all, not one of those answers is useful to that voter? That interpretation of "useful" is about as useful as interpreting "glory" as "a nice knock-down argument". (sabian.org/looking_glass6.php) $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 9 '14 at 9:02
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson a user can only downvote if they participated actively beofore else they lack the points, see math.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/vote-down Further, given that a down-vote on an answer costs a point, a continued and considerable downvoting activity on answers is only sustainable for a user with continued and considerable positive participation to generate the necessary "income" (or if essentially all their votes result in rapid deletion). $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 9 '14 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ Possibly more to the point, an approach that I do find reasonable, while it is not really mine, is the following: upvote what you find useful, leave alone what you do not care about, downvote what you find actively "not useful" in the sense of being harmful to the site as a whole according to you ideas of the site. I do not have a problem with this approach and never understood what it was or should be. @GerryMyerson $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 9 '14 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, I have a problem with that approach when it leads to the removal from the site of well-written, correct, and useful mathematical content. How some people can consider such content harmful to the site is beyond me. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 9 '14 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I do not know what gets and does not get deleted, and my repeated requests for specific examples in earlier discussion did not lead anywhere. Meanwhile, I see enormous amounts of rubbish-posts (sometimes I will confess I even contribute one, since it is too fun to play FGITW to resist it all the time). The standards of this site would need serious reconsideration. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 9 '14 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson "lots and lots" Absolute or relative? If you have 5 deletions it is what, 1 in 1000, 1 in 500. To me this is "some" not to say very few. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 10 '14 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, I find it amusing that a moderator deleted reference to an individual user from Henry Lebesgue's question on the grounds that "The (down)voting decisions of any individual user are theirs alone (excepting some extreme circumstances) and should not be subject for discussion on meta." If 12,000 downvotes and 7 upvotes is not an extreme circumstance, I don't know what is. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 10 '14 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson days ago we had an account where 1000 upvotes were undone. Was also not considered extreme. On the subject of deletion so if today the asking of questions stops completely and deletions continue at this speed the site will be empty in 25 years or thereabouts. This is not a lot of deletions. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 10 '14 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I mentioned the other case to illustrate that the exceptions to the no-names policy are pretty rare. Fine, so one good, correct, thoughtful mathematical answer is deleted, that's one deletion too many. What follows? That we stop all deletions? This would be an irrational position. I find your analogy tasteless and will thus ignore it beyond this remark. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 10 '14 at 12:46