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O.K, so I have at times shown an ugly side of my personality when posting angry comments when being downvoted, and having had the impression that the votes were undeserved.

I understand that it is not good for the health of MSE to have "false positives", i.e., posts that have incorrect answers, and that downvotes are a disincentive to these false positives. Still: how about the problem of false negatives? By this I mean posts that have been downvoted so that they have a net negative score, but these posts have been eventually corrected. Is this something helpful to MSE ? Doesn't this deprive some of the opportunity to learn from posts that are actually correct, believing that there are errors from the net negative score?

I have to admit I am upset too, at the lack of effort to post a comment of the sort of "please check, you got something wrong in last line of 2nd paragraph", and waiting to see if the OP has corrected the mistake(s), and downvoting only if these have not been corrected. Moreover: isn't there an issue of fairness in having downvoters return to the OP to check if the post has been corrected and , if so, removing their downvotes? This last would not only be fair, but it would help rid MSE of false negatives --if, that is, MSE does not want these false negatives.

EDIT: Could we have a truce? I admit it, I blew up, reacted in a way disproprtionate to the situation. My apologies if I came off too aggressively. Still, just to explain, I received 5 downvotes on old questions in less than 24 hours after I did this meta post. How can one interpret this? O.K, so the tribe has spoken :) , I accept that most people do not agree with me, and I do not want to impose my will. I thought I had a valid point, but it seems more likely I don't.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, self-reference! Downvoted anonymously on a post on anonymous downvoting. I will call my psychic and ask her why I was downvoted. Shame on me for not being able to read the mind of the downvoter! $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 22 '11 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ I guess there's someone around who does not like me, so I guess I should expect a few downvotes in my next posts, no matter what I write. BTW , is there a way of telling if one has received downvotes in a given post? Clearly, the identity of the downvoter will remain anonymous, but can one tell if the post was downvoted? $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 22 '11 at 7:12
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    $\begingroup$ Firstly, fear not from downvotes on meta. They mean only that the voter disagrees with you post. Many times people don't read fully the post and just vote against it. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '11 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ Secondly, even after correcting an answer some people will not bother to come back to read it and undo their vote. That's just how things are, don't get too excited about it. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '11 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ There is no requirement that people explain their downvotes (just as people do not have to explain their upvotes!) and, whilte I think it is nice when they do, it would do wonders for the general ambiance of the site if we did not post angry comments about this (or about anything else, really...) We are talking about points!!! $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 22 '11 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ -1 because the questions in this complaint are only rhetorical. The rhetorical questions are an implied incitement to changing something about voting without saying precisely what, except "don't downvote my posts". $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 22 '11 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ Phira: I appreciate the fact that at least you bothered explaining. Still, I think I am actually asking some questions, like: don't false negatives also hurt the MSE community, by depriving them of correct answers? $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 22 '11 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ gary, votes on meta do not change the reputation on the main site. As I said on my first comment: this is just a way to express support for/against the discussed idea. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 23 '11 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ If you feel someone has got it in for you the right way to react is to contact the moderators. See the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 23 '11 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ @gary Please justify your incendiary use of "passive-aggressive", "intimidation", "personal" or apologize for it. Or do you want to pressure people in not downvoting your posts if they think that they are unhelpful? Why should they change their opinion because you attack them? And why are you surprised that people stay anonymous if you attack people who disagree with you? $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 24 '11 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ @gary The goal is to indicate to other readers that the voters find this post unhelpful. What else? Noone here even knows you. I repeat: Please explain your use of the above-listed words. As to the errors: Since you wrote yourself that you got it exactly wrong you can hardly not know what the serious error is. And obviously you get the downvotes now when people look at your posts to get an informed opinion. If someone was after you personally, they would not need a meta thread to go after you. $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 24 '11 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ If you complain about downvoting on your questions in whatever context, people will look them up to see if they were justified. If they consider the answer bad enough, they may downvote themselves. $\endgroup$ – jprete Oct 25 '11 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ Bloody Hell, gary - if you believe someone is retaliating against you, TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! TELL THE MODERATORS! Time to put up or shut up. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 26 '11 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ The whole whining is built on the assumption that the only reason for downvoting is the presence of an error in the post. Another good reason for downvoting though would be to discourage posting false and/or unverified claims. This reason doesn't disappear after you correct your post. For example, I would often leave my downvote, because I don't want to encourage posting false claims and then correcting them. Instead I want to encourage thought out thorough answers. Anyway, everybody decides him/herself what to upvote and what to downvote. If you can't live with that, this site is not for you. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Oct 27 '11 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex B Whining? My claim is that an unexplained downvote represents a loss of information; the answer may be mathematically-correct, but considered unhelpful by a downvoter, but some readers may not be aware of this. These readers would/may appreciate an answer that is correct, even tho not insightful to some. If you cannot bother to read posts carefully, maybe MSE is not for you. $\endgroup$ – gary Nov 9 '11 at 21:54
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I most certainly will downvote an incorrect post and I strongly disagree with waiting while an error stands without downvotes.

Downvotes are not for you, they are for other readers. It's not all about you. And it is other people's decision where they spent their time and effort.

Obviously, it is annoying if a correct post is downvoted because the downvoters are mistaken, but you are talking about "corrected" posts, so this is about actual errors where you don't want to be downvoted.

If you don't want to be treated "unfairly", maybe you should just make less errors in your posts.

Personally, I don't feel that the number of votes on my posts corresponds extremely well with the different amount of effort and thought that has gone into each. It has happened that throwaway remarks and easy answers have gathered more enthusiastic votes than well-thought out original contributions.

And the reason for this is that the voters don't reward my inner thoughts and good intentions, they evaluate the post based on what it does for them which depends on all kinds of complicated factors.

On the whole, it works well enough for me to continue to contribute when I find the time and it works well enough for the site to continue to function. If it does not work for you, then it doesn't but you cannot change whether other people find your post helpful or correct by insisting on fairness. What kind of "fairness" should that be? Amount of time you spent on typing the answer?

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    $\begingroup$ "Personally, I don't feel that the number of votes on my posts corresponds extremely well with the different amount of effort and thought that has gone into each. It has happened that throwaway remarks and easy answers have gathered more enthusiastic votes than well-thought out original contributions." - indeed, sadly enough. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Oct 22 '11 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @J.M. absolutely. The general trend is for trivial answers to very elementary questions to get a lot of upvotes, while detailed answers to research-level questions get almost no attention since much fewer people click in. My most-upvoted answer for instance, is math.stackexchange.com/questions/74347/… which required almost no time or thought. $\endgroup$ – user7530 Oct 22 '11 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Phira, do you bother to come and undo the downvote once a correction has been made? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '11 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ Depends on what you mean by "correction". It is not as if one is notified by an edit of a post one has voted for one way or the other. I don't feel responsible for checking down-voted posts for edits although I certainly undo my downvotes most of the times in practice after an edit. I strongly reject the idea that is implied by the use of "bother". And I have checked the only two posts by the OP that have negative votes and I disagree that they have been "corrected" in a sense that makes them a useful answer. $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 22 '11 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Phira: my definition of fairness here is that once the original reason for downvoting disappears, so should the downvote. Still, what really bothered me is that I had explicitly stated that I was posting something as an answer because I did not have enough points (because of some complications with my account) to post as a comment. $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 22 '11 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ Phira: in defense of Asaf's use of "bother", as a nonnative English speaker, he may not be aware of the connotation of the word. $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 22 '11 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ @gary: I am fully aware of the connotation of the word. I do know that many people act as "fire and forget" in voting. This is just me, being cynical. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '11 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ @gary: there are at least two connotations of "bother" I'm aware of; it was quite clear to me which one Asaf was using. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Oct 22 '11 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Phira:Re: "If you don't want to be treated 'unfairly', maybe you should make less errors in your posts". don't you mean alleged errors? I don't mean this is done neither purposefully nor out of ignorance, but an actual effort to describe the error may help the downvoter as well as others better determine if there really is such an error, not to mention that both I (and the poster in general) may get some insight. $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 23 '11 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @user7530 Or perhaps worse than your easy answer getting 17 upvotes is that Didier Piau's mostly useless answer (useless to any one who needed to ask the question) got 58 votes simply because it was one character. $\endgroup$ – Graphth Oct 23 '11 at 2:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Graphth It got 58 votes because it was amusing and it is not misleading. People who don't understand it will hardly spend a long time reading it. $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 23 '11 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ @gary math.stackexchange.com/questions/73810/… There is nothing alleged or minor in the error in your above answer and your comments below it including "And, by the way, I never downvote without including comments, and I pledge not to do it. To do so seems to be motivated by a desire to punish, more than to enlighten and help." show that this is exactly what you are referring to with your complaint here. Downvoting a totally wrong post does in your mind come from a desire to punish. $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 23 '11 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Graphth I don't think that the W post is problematic. If it were the only answer, I would feel inclined to post another one, sure, but anyone who needs the answer to the question finds a more elaborate answer and then can also think about why the W post gives an answer. It is important to think about this kind of question graphically and not only in formulas. Also, the top ranked posters are top ranked posters despite the fact that they did not have fluke posts like this and 60 votes on a post does not necessarily mean 600 reputation. $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 24 '11 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ @gary I don't get it. You are arguing that since you edited in "This is wrong" under your wrong answer, it is a correct statement now, and cannot have downvotes? $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 24 '11 at 7:10
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    $\begingroup$ @gary: I believe the critical word in Phira's last comment is under. In fact, I believe that it can be beneficial to leave an incorrect answer to prevent others to fool themselves same way you did originally. But if you decide to do so, please add a big fat disclaimer at the beginning of the post, preferably with some further explanations. This prevents people reading your post from scratching their heads before getting to the line in which you indicate that you goofed. One shouldn't do this on a regular basis, but occasionally I believe there is some pedagogical value in doing this. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Oct 24 '11 at 10:34
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This is why a downvote only removes 2 reputation, and costs 1 reputation.

I think forcing downvoters to return to posts is a bit much. Although, I am in favor of giving some sort of notification when the post is edited so that they have the option to return.

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    $\begingroup$ So how about the idea of a pingback system that alerts downvoters of an edit? $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 22 '11 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ @gary, Eric: That is an interesting idea, one of you could propose it on meta.SO as a feature to add. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Oct 22 '11 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Zev: While none of my feature requests on this meta has been completed (or even got a response from an SE employee), it is well established that one no longer needs to go to meta.SO for feature requests. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '11 at 19:32
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I don't think there is any real false negative problem. Answers with negative net score tend to accumulate pity upvotes quickly until they reach 0, unless they are genuinely incorrect or misleading.

A corollary is that having a fresh answer drive-by downvoted will usually cause a net win in reputation.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, then maybe my answer:math.stackexchange.com/questions/73810/… with 3 down votes is one of the exceptions. Would someone please explain what is incorrect/misleading about it? $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 24 '11 at 2:34
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    $\begingroup$ @gary, Henning is talking about "fresh" answers, not "old" answers to questions that have gone off the front page (especially, I think, if they've been answered with an answer accepted). If no one looks, no one gives "pity" upvotes. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 24 '11 at 4:45
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I'd just like to point out that if users really are trying to help out with their downvotes, which I don't exactly believe of many downvotes, then they would explain why they gave one. A new user who asks a question that does something that is deemed poor form by someone gets a down vote with no explanation. That may tell people not to look at that one post. But, it does nothing to teach this user how to make a good post. So, that user could easily continue to make "bad" posts. This is worse than making one bad post and learning why it is bad and learning how to make it into a good post. On the other hand, if someone actually explains why they think the answer deserves a downvote, hopefully the user reads it and thinks about it and becomes a more productive member. In other words, if downvotes really are for other users, as Phira says, then an explanation would accompany them.

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    $\begingroup$ +1, right: constructive vs. non-constructive criticism. "Your line #2 is ambiguous; the inequality does not hold " vs. "Your post is no good" $\endgroup$ – gary Oct 24 '11 at 4:36

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