It should be only fair that, when someone casts a downvote on MSE, the recipient of the downvote had a chance to respond. This is known at large as the right of reply or "the right to defend oneself against public criticism in the same venue where it was published".

I am well aware that this can't work on MSE for all downvotes, due to the outpour of low-quality questions and answers. Yet, it would be possible to add a new privilege to be awarded at some rep threshold, where any downvote to such a user's question/answer must be accompanied by a comment explaining the rationale. It could be as simple as adding a new popup to the downvote button where the casting user would be required to enter a comment.

I am not advocating for any particular threshold, be it 10k or 25k or 500k, but it would make sense to me that such a privilege existed. I am also not suggesting that the comment identified the originating user, just their reason to cast the downvote. Would be a plus if replying @Downvoter notified them of any replies.

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    $\begingroup$ Barely 20 seconds later, first downvote here, without any comment. Thank you, this makes my point ;-) $\endgroup$
    – dxiv
    May 15 at 7:07
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    $\begingroup$ Just mentioning that “mandatory explanations of downvotes” have been discussed before, e.g. here meta.stackexchange.com/q/325416/196432 and here meta.stackexchange.com/q/135/196432 on the Main Meta, and here math.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1479/42969 on MSE Meta. $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    May 15 at 7:19
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    $\begingroup$ I do find it frustrating when one of my questions or answers is downvoted without explanation. But I strongly assume that 1) this could only be implemented network-wide, and 2) that is very unlikely to happen, given the previous discussions. $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    May 15 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ I assume you know, dxiv, that a downvote on meta simply signals disagreement, not criticism. $\endgroup$ May 15 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Right, of course. But a disagreement weighs more with even the barest of justifications. Plus, it was too tempting to take a ̶c̶h̶e̶a̶p̶ ̶ on-topic shot ;-) $\endgroup$
    – dxiv
    May 16 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ @dxiv: From your question it is not clear for whom this privilege should be: for the downvoter, or for the downvoted? $\endgroup$
    – Alex M.
    Aug 19 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexM. Privilege would be for the downvoted i.e. the poster of the question or answer being downvoted: "add a new privilege to be awarded at some rep threshold, where any downvote to such a user's question/answer must be accompanied by a comment". $\endgroup$
    – dxiv
    Aug 22 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


I down voted this proposal, because people who cast "bad" down votes, the ones that this proposal strikes me as as seeking vindication against, are extremely unlikely to write out any sort of decent comment worth responding to. You can't compel them to do any better than type "this sux" into the proposed new mandatory comment box.

We all get irritated by cheap down votes. Heck, I've asked exactly one question here. It was closed (correctly) like three years ago, and every so often it picks up another down vote. Nobody is organically stumbling across it - I think it's the most provable case of targeted down voting I've seen. First time it happened I wrote the mods, but by now, with 7+ years and +5k rep, it's like losing a penny down a drain - I don't even have to be concerned about it.

dxiv, if you're willing to take a bit of personal advice: don't worry about these. I know you as a frequent and high quality contributor here, and that opinion is not going to be changed by a few baseless down votes here or there. I'm probably not even going to notice them.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your thoughts on this. I've been around for too long to worry about drive-by downvoting, though it can still be annoying at times, enough so to foment a meta post. That said, there is probably no good solution, so I'll just leave it at that. $\endgroup$
    – dxiv
    May 16 at 1:07

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