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Once or twice I have seen comments effectively seeking downvotes on answers, like
"Why is this getting upvotes??" or
"This answer should be downvoted hard".

Since they are clearly not about improving the answer, should these be flagged?

As general information-gathering background, do people here flag comments much? For myself it is almost never...

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    $\begingroup$ I only flag in extreme cases, spam mainly or if truly offensive (and if I am flagging something as offensive, then it must be pretty bad). With one exception. Any answer involving positive numbers summing to $-{ 1\over 12}$ with get the death flag. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Feb 6 '15 at 5:58
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    $\begingroup$ Why does the above comment have so many upvotes? $\endgroup$ – Lucian Feb 12 '15 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ @copper.hat I have only seen one such answer, and it was hilarious. $\endgroup$ – user142198 Feb 15 '15 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ I have this vague memory of flagging a comment that was clear-cut spam. Or maybe I tried to, but a bunch of other people flagged it and it was removed before my flag could go through. It's rare for me to see something that so obviously needs to be flagged. $\endgroup$ – Robert Soupe Feb 19 '15 at 15:02
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Unless the comment is constructively pointing out to a mistake in the answer or to something that can be fixed, you can flag such comments as "not constructive."

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    $\begingroup$ I would agree, however I'd also add that this is context dependent. It might be that a follow up comment was posted that explains the problems. Maybe that follow up was as a reply to someone inquiring why the first one was said. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Feb 5 '15 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree that mostly such comments are not constructive I think there can also be situations where such a comment might point to a problem, that is neither a mistake in the answer nor something that can be fixed. (At least if "fixed" is to be understood in the sense of "the post can be fixed".) $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 5 '15 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ I would also say that such comments are an invitation to appreciate the opposite opinion for a moment, and also to reflect for a moment before voting. When I looked at the Batman question, I thought "Haha, funny, upvote", then read the comments and consciously thought about whether I want to upvote this question or not, and arrived at the conclusion "No, exactly for the reasons some other comments were pointing out". I'm quite sure that the most upvotes this question earned come from quick, unreflected upvoting, and that's certainly true for other question. In that way, such comments help. $\endgroup$ – Turion Feb 12 '15 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ Can we use this flag to mark comments invoking the axiom of choice? $\endgroup$ – Omnomnomnom Feb 16 '15 at 17:08
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"Why is this getting upvotes?" is not a solicitation for downvotes. It's an expression of surprise at the perceived disconnect between post quality and its score. An equivalent form of this comment has the score of $169$ at present:

I don't understand why this question has so many upvotes.

Also, it is not unusual to see comments of the form "why the downvotes?". If downvotes can be questioned, so can be upvotes.


As for "[t]his answer should be downvoted hard", this is the kind of comment I would probably flag as not constructive, expecting it to be deleted.

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    $\begingroup$ How is "Why is this getting upvotes?" constructive? And there is a fundemental difference to "why the downvotes?" - that is looking for improvement, which I can't see in the rhetoric of the first question. $\endgroup$ – Joffan Feb 5 '15 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ "Why is this getting upvotes?" is not about improving a post. Still, it sometimes admits an answer: e.g., "because the post is linked from YCombinator". In my mind, there is some space between a comment not being about improving the post and being flagged as "not constructive". If you are going to flag all comments that are not about improvement as "not constructive", you have many long days of flagging ahead of you. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Feb 5 '15 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well, as I say, I almost never flag comments, so clearly I am doing something wrong :-) It's probably one of those loss-of-tone problems that so bedevil the text communications of the internet. $\endgroup$ – Joffan Feb 5 '15 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Joffan it can be constructive in that it can be an honest request for information on the reasons of users to up-vote a certain post with the goal to better understand the positions of fellow users or also to gain insight into some unusual more global phenomenon that might explain an unusual pattern (as already mentioned by OP). It thus can ask for "more information" related to the post (perfectly in line with the purpose of comments). Of course, it can also be a disguised complaint. However, this can also the case for "why the downvotes"; and dare I say often is. $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 5 '15 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ @quid certainly the example given didn't look like a request for information, and I would imagine those would be a small minority of cases where this sort of question/observation is left in comments. I'm not saying it's impossible though. And again, Even when "why the downvotes" is just moaning, it is also and hopefully always an opportunity for someone to provide more information to improve the question or answer. $\endgroup$ – Joffan Feb 5 '15 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Joffan following on your last sentence, why is a question "why the upvotes" not in a dual way always an opportunity to further high-light the merits of a certain post. Now, I do acknowledge that the situation is not quite symmetric. Yet, I deny it is as asymmetric as you seem to try to make it. $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 5 '15 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ I've occasionally said that I didn't get the reason for the up votes and it was never my intent to attract down votes. This should be believable from the amount of down votes I have. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Feb 6 '15 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ Why is FBR's answer getting upvotes? $\endgroup$ – Tom Copeland Feb 6 '15 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @TomCopeland because it expresseth the opinion of the many (the masses) $\endgroup$ – Mister Benjamin Dover Feb 6 '15 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ A solicitation, a lame rhetorical question, or a blurting out of emotion based on who knows what--some petty gripe with the OP, some personal bias against certain types of math, right? Does the author really expect an informative reply telling him something he doesn't already know unless he asks a more precise, well-thought-out question about the content of an answer, or pinpoints a discrepancy in the math? An alternative answer allowing intelligent, motivated users to come to their own conclusions is preferable--something conducive to constructive analysis, rather than a reflexive response. $\endgroup$ – Tom Copeland Feb 7 '15 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ @TomCopeland it is not always desirable to detail in advance or at all what it is that one finds surprising about the upvotes as this can cause upset beyond the one the simple question discussed here causes. In that sense, it can be a less confrontational approach than the one you suggest. $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 7 '15 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ @quid, if you wish to avoid confrontation, lack conviction in the appropriateness/validity of your misgivings, or otherwise can't articulate them more precisely, don't pose such a question to begin with and certainly don't bait anyone with such an open-ended, uninformative remark, generally perceived as rhetorical and inflammatory. How often has anyone replied constructively to such a question (even precise, constructive criticism is often ignored at best)? If you're earnestly seeking an answer, understanding, or to enlighten the readers, an invitation to a chatroom would be more appropriate. $\endgroup$ – Tom Copeland Feb 7 '15 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ @TomCopeland whom should one invite into a chat-room, and in which way? The questions is primarily directed at those users upvoting a post; these are normally unknown to a user asking this question. // In my experience sometimes though not routinely useful information came out of such requests. $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 8 '15 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ Whom is one inviting to respond to the question to begin with if it is actually a sincere question? An open invitation (solicitation?), right? And again, if you can't articulate an invitation, then I question/admonish the nature/intent of your initial remark. $\endgroup$ – Tom Copeland Feb 8 '15 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ @quid, I may be mistaken. At the moment, I'm using a system with restricted functionality. Can you not open a CR on MSE for anyone interested? If not, I would even more strongly suggest not submitting this question, except on Meta with a reference in the comment area for the answer if it's really important to you, since the QA site would not be set up for general discussion. Btw, I could easily make reasonable replies (Psychology 101) to the 169 question even though I did not vote on the QA or comments. The related stats are interesting, but hardly surprising and certainly not important to me. $\endgroup$ – Tom Copeland Feb 8 '15 at 2:30

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