# Specific Downvoting

DISCLAIMER: I understand that the consensus of the community about downvoting is that each one has its own personal reasons to downvote, and should not have to justify that.

That said, I recently gave an answer where another user (let's call him $X$) also gave an answer. I found the answer by $X$ unhelpful and misleading. I downvoted the answer. After a short while, I explained why I downvoted.

Shortly after I explained the downvote, my answer was downvoted with no reasoning. The question had approximately $14$ views when that happened, and it was really in a short time span after my explanation. I can't help but feel that this was retaliation.

My question is: Is this under "fair use" of downvoting? Do I have to deal with this, and move on? (I am not being sarcastic, the answer to these questions may very well be yes).

If not, what can I do? Is flagging appropriate? My first thought-reaction was to flag, since I believe moderators can see downvoters and would be able to solve this without exposing anyone etc. Is my reasoning innapropriate?

PS: I didn't link the answer because I don't like unnecessary exposure. If it is necessary for the context of the discussion, I can link it.

• If it is a retaliation, of course it is not fair. On the other hand, invalidation of votes is an extreme measure, and flags should not be used for such a purpose. A script deals with the reversal of serial downvotes, so there is a safety mechanism in place. My suggestion for dealing with isolated war events really is to move on. If it will turn out not to be an isolated event, please notify us. – Jack D'Aurizio Dec 2 '17 at 16:25
• This is why I never explain my downvotes. I've had completely separate questions and/or answers downvoted within minutes of claiming a downvote. Actually for most of the downvotes that I have explained, I have had this happen. – Morgan Rodgers Dec 7 '17 at 23:55
• As far as I can tell, you always have to deal with all downvotes and just move on. It's the only way to not quickly hate contributing to Stack Exchange. – Todd Wilcox Dec 9 '17 at 13:31
• That was definitely retaliation, but it's part of how people act on the Internet and there's not much you can do about it. My next door neighbors do some very petty stuff even though they know I see them. I can only imagine what awful things they feel emboldened to do behind the anonymity of a screen name. – Robert Soupe Dec 13 '17 at 22:30

I understand that the consensus of the community about downvoting is that each one has its own personal reasons to downvote, and should not have to justify that.

Yes, but there is one major exception, which is that one must not vote based on the identity of the post-owner.

Shortly after I explained the downvote, my answer was downvoted with no reasoning. The question had approximately $14$ views when that happened, and it was really in a short time span after my explanation. I can't help but feel that this was retaliation.

This seems plausible, but it is not certain.

Is this under "fair use" of downvoting?

If the vote was actually cast in reaction to your vote, it is not admissible. This use of votes can be, and has been, penalized in the past.

Do I have to deal with this, and move on?

In case it stays an isolated instance, there is nothing much to be done locally.

If not, what can I do? Is flagging appropriate?

You can still flag and explain the problem. It might be that for you locally it is isolated but the user in question exhibited a pattern of behavior of this form already. Yet be prepared that we cannot do anything. (It also makes sense to phrase your flag in this spirit, as information, as opposed to a call for action.)

My first thought-reaction was to flag, since I believe moderators can see downvoters and would be able to solve this without exposing anyone etc. Is my reasoning innapropriate?

As said, feel free to flag to let us now. But actually we elected moderators can neither see the origins of individual votes nor can be undo them. Only if there is an accumulation of votes, then we can do something.

Technically, SE staff could do that or give us the means. But it is not really feasible for them to track individual votes. Moreover, there is also the issue that even if it should be the case that the origin of the vote is what you suspect it is a bit tricky to ascertain the motivation based on a single vote. Surely, the voter could come up with some excuse like: "Of course it was not a retaliation, I would never do that. It is true my attention was drawn back to that thread because of the comment, thus the temporal coincidence. But my vote is perfectly justified, because {some argument why they downvote}." What do you do then? Say the reasoning is not credible enough? But maybe it is not completely implausible in a given case, rare is the answer that is so perfect that one could not cook up a reason to downvote. Anyway, it would just lead to all kinds of discussion and make the problem grow and grow.

Thus, to recap, if it stays at one downvote, just move on. It's not nice, but it is not that big a deal either. But if it becomes a persistent or bigger problem, do inform us, and we have means to deal with it.

Generally, isolated and somewhat minor conflicts are often best handled by just disengaging and letting the thing slide away.

• "This use of votes can be, and has been, sanctioned in the past." "sanction" means "to authorize, countenance, or approve; to ratify or confirm". If it's not admissible, then I don't think it has been sanctioned. – Gerry Myerson Dec 2 '17 at 22:35
• Thank you for the remark. I believe(d) but might well be wrong that "to sanction" also means "to penalize". Anyway I changed it to "penalized" to correct or at least clarify. – quid Dec 3 '17 at 1:25
• It's a funny word. To apply sanctions is to penalize but (at least according to the Macquarie Dictionary) to sanction doesn't have that meaning. – Gerry Myerson Dec 3 '17 at 1:41
• @quid Thank you very much for the thorough attention to the points I raised. – Aloizio Macedo Dec 3 '17 at 2:18
• sanction: (noun) a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule. (verb) impose a sanction or penalty on. – Alexander Gruber Dec 3 '17 at 3:08
• Also means official permission or approval. What an inconvenient double meaning – Alexander Gruber Dec 3 '17 at 3:11
• @AlexanderGruber "(verb) impose a sanction or penalty on" is a rare use and apt to be misunderstood. As a verb it almost always means to authorise. Furthermore, to sanction an act ALWAYS means to permit or authorise it. When sanctioning somebody as a punishment, the object of the sanctions is always the subject of the verb to sanction and the sanction itself is not sanctioned in the sense of punished. – samerivertwice Dec 4 '17 at 20:43
• Slightly speculative on my part, I'll grant, but my impression is that the negative meaning is typically applied to actors (e.g. "US Sanctions North Korea"), while the positive meaning is typically applied to actions or events (e.g. "FIFA sanctioned the match"). That said, many times clearer noun constructions get used instead ("US Issues Sanctions Against North Korea", "The match had FIFA's sanction."). – Kaji Dec 7 '17 at 0:24