Downvoters should necessarily review the downvoted question once the question has been revised/improved and the new version of the question meets MSE guidelines.

It is very common that someone downvotes a question (that deserves a downvote) but when the OP or anyone else fixes the issues of the question, the downvoter never comes back to undo their downvote. This gradually kills the enthusiasm of the OP leading to a (probably) self-deletion or disinterest in posting questions. So, I wanted to propose that the following feature (or any other more efficient idea) be added to the site:

Once someone downvotes a post, the system automatically would put the downvoted post in the downvoter's "Followed Posts" list. This way they can be reminded of edits to the question. Once the OP has satisfactorily improved the question, the downvoters should then be mandated to either undo their downvote or leave a comment mentioning exactly why they think the question still deserves a downvote.

I think this is not too complicated to implement. This would reduce number of users who primarily downvote posts without careful reading, and also ensure the authors are being communicated of the precise reasons for the received downvotes.

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    $\begingroup$ "he downvoters should then be mandated to either undo their downvote or leave a comment mentioning exactly why they think the question still deserves a downvote.". How is this different from somehow "mandating" that anyone making a downvote also leave a comment explaining exactly why they think the question deserves the downvote (an oft made request/lament that has never been seriously considered or implemented)? Also, how about a queue for upvoted posts that get edited, and the upvoter is mandated to either confirm the upvote or undo it and leave a comment explaining why? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ If someone upvotes a post, that is an approval that is good enough. What more needs to be said? I have yet to see a post on this site which was edited into lower quality (other than obvious case of vandal). The downvote says, your question has some deeper issue you need to take care of, so if the issues are no longer there, shouldn't it be lifted.. or some information to? $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 1:21
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    $\begingroup$ I've certainly seen edits that lowered the quality sufficiently as to merit me taking back an upvote. If an edit demands / requires a re-evaluation because the downvote applied to a previous version, then an edit should also demand a re-evaluation of an upvote because the upvote applied to a previous version. This "mandate" is just a big a problem as demanding comments of explanation with downvotes. That's different from having a functionality/queue somewhere of "posts you've interacted with [or even downvoted] that have been edited" for those who wish to re-evaluate. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ This is a nice behavioral pattern. Everyone may not adhere to it, but to those who do, thank you. I did this for some time, but unfortunately the followed posts cluttered up and I had to remove deleted material, which was like $85$% of the posts I voted on. After that, I realized that one could instead follow posts that one is mathematically interested in , and hopes to see improved after their voting. This is something I'd recommend to everybody. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ Some related previous discussions on this meta: Notification after a downvoted answer was edited and Edited-and-Reopened Questions Should Ping Downvoters. (And probably you can find some other questions related to the same topic.) In both discussion this post on Meta Stack Exchange (now marked status-completed) is linked: Allow me to get notifications on specific down-voted questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 7:03

1 Answer 1

On broad downvoting patterns

There are two basic reasons why I downvote questions (and I hope that these are the same for others as well).

The first is to elicit improvement. I do this about $40$% of the time, and generally tend to leave and follow up on comments on such posts.

The second is to reduce the visibility of what I consider relatively unsalvageable questions. These are questions that, for one reason or another, cannot be brought to site standards easily. For example, they could be objectively off-topic (asking for personal advice), or be closable for more than one reason e.g. being a duplicate and lacking context.

When I close for the second reason, my priority is towards the visitors to the unsalvageable post, and not towards the OP of that post. I would like people to answer the next better phrased question and give that their best, rather than attempt to repair what I see as a major flaw in that question's design, something that would take time and effort on both sides to repair and is too unlikely to occur on a consistent basis.

On how I responded to the two categories of downvotes

I would recommend following down and close votes on questions of the first kind. In fact, if one holds a vested interest in such a question , then one would follow it for that reason alone and would want to see it improved and act accordingly. I think a lot of users already do this, and I applaud that. I've recently found myself doing it on a small scale as well, but thanks to my good choice, they improved fairly quickly and I removed them from my list within an hour or so of following them.

However, there do exist posts of the second kind, and I do not see a strong reason to follow these. Some posts transcend into discussions, where the intention is to not really improve the question but instead sort it out in the comments. I don't need to follow that conversation if it isn't about improvement.

So , with that in mind, I would say the following :

  • If you think a post is unsalvageable, then you should downvote / vote to close it and move on.

  • If you think a post can be improved, then I would recommend the entire protocol i.e. downvoting with comment, and then following the improvement to completion. This is ideal for situations where one can converse with the OP.

For me, the split between salvageable-unsalvageable that I visit is like $40$ - $60$. Based on one's definition of salvageability, it is difficult to say what those percentages are like for others.

My experience doing this some time back

I did this profiling religiously for $10$ days in $2019$. In detail : I followed every post that I down or close voted in this period, and followed up every such discussion that I could. While that's a small number of days, I still went through about $200$ posts. Some observations :

  • I had an about $15$% success rate of reversal of downvote or close vote/reopen vote overall. That was doing this blindly, of course. With a better selection criteria, I recently reversed $8$ of $21$ downvotes on various questions that I'd followed up by commenting.

  • I got plenty of useless messages not addressed to me but just conversations between various users. I can't make out what's addressed to me in the middle of all that.

  • The followed posts swelled up and I had to spend a lot of time disposing them after some time. Seeing that build up alone made me quit this practice slowly.

After that experience, I would recommend this practice on a selective basis. I think it works wonders when we can figure out (perhaps, with experience) what actually is salvageable and what isn't. Having said that, enforcement or making a mandate of it is impossible unless we are able to come to a consensus on what is unsalvageable and what isn't : another Herculean task for another day.

  • $\begingroup$ To illustrate the split between users on what the purpose of downvoting is and what it should be followed up with, see this, this, this (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and this. This answer shows that there may be factors which are far too personal associated to downvoting. One could write a thesis. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 5:44

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