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I am not sure if I am imagining things, but some people might be downvoting questions illegitimately, so in order to prevent them from doing that can we force them to comment and tell people what's wrong before giving them the right to downvote, because I don't think users should discourage people from asking questions, because it's the lifeblood of the website.

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    It just got downvoted and I am not sure why. It just proves my point. – repomonster Feb 18 at 2:29
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    la la la la la la la (this has been a demonstration of why enforcing comment before downvote wouldn't work) – Monica Cellio Feb 18 at 3:55
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    This meta question is probably getting downvoted because you tagged it feature-request, meaning you want to change the behavior of the system. On feature requests, a downvote means "I disagree" or "case not made". – Monica Cellio Feb 18 at 3:56
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    I rarely downvote questions on a regular site (it's different on Meta because it has a different meaning and doesn't affect rep) but I try to explain why or to explain a close vote (the latter is more common). I've been called names/screamed at badly once and many other times simply argued with ("I wasn't doing that!"). Sometimes I just don't want to deal. Other times, people have already said why they're VTC or downvoting and I agree, so I don't bother to duplicate. – Cyn Feb 18 at 4:01
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Down-voting is a fundamental part of the SE ecosystem

Down-votes are a core part of the site. Requiring comments for downvotes is bad for a number of reasons. This question has been asked on every meta on SE at some point. Here is the official main meta question for your information.

Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are ideas suggesting such shot down?

To summarise the top answer:

  • Votes are a content rating system, downvotes are a required part of that
  • Comments don't always add anything the downvote did not
  • Comments can lead to negative reactions

As to why this question is receiving downvotes, see the tool-tip for downvotes:

This question shows no research effort, it is unclear or not useful

A quick google search of this question would have brought up the linked question and a number of others from various other SE sites.

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In short: no, because that wouldn't solve anything.


I can understand where you're coming from. It's frustrating when you get unexplained downvotes. I had it happen to me on Arqade.SE last week and had to restrain myself from demanding an explanation. That's why I always try and explain my downvotes, close-votes, and (having just gained this privilege here) delete votes. I even try and leave comments to the effect of "I didn't downvote this, but the downvotes may be because..."

Your proposed solution - forcing people to comment before downvoting - has no doubt been brought up dozens of times before. Unfortunately, the answer will be the same every time: no. Because not only will it actually not solve the problem, it'll create a whole new problem: comment spam.

As Monica Cellio demonstrated with her first comment, there's no guarantee that downvoters will leave comments that are actually constructive or useful. They may instead just mash the keyboard, or type something abusive, or copy-paste an existing comment, or enter the first 600 characters of the Bee Movie script, or...

You get the idea. So not only will you still be none the wiser about why your question/answer was downvoted, but now the mods will have to come along and clean up all those useless comments, which means more work for them. SE has been trying to crack down on such useless comments - certain Stacks having the "add a comment" prompt replaced with "suggest improvements", for example - and there's no way they'd agree to any proposal that would generate more of them.

So unfortunately, this proposal just isn't going to fly. Some people are always going to leave downvotes without providing useful feedback, and there's really not much we can do to stop them except ask. Forcing them to leave useless "feedback" will just make everything worse.

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Yet another issue: you do not actually give people a chance to comment. Twice I downvoted your questions, and was in the process of leaving a comment and explaining why, when you deleted the question.

If you believe that "some people might be downvoting questions illegitimately", why would you delete the question? Wait, and some other users, who see your question as a good one, would upvote it. For example, my own Why are there no Jews in the Star Trek universe? on neighbouring Scifi.SE has 13 downvotes. And 58 upvotes.

For cases that are really illegitimate, as in serial downvoters, it is considered a form of harassment. It gets caught by the system and reversed. Which again means, you shouldn't be deleting a question just because it got a downvote.

As for "not discouraging people from asking questions", a downvote isn't meant to discourage. I a system with ratings, if you have upvotes, you've got to have downvotes. As @linksassin says, they're the lifeblood of the system. Once in a while, someone would consider your question unclear, or not useful. Maybe they think your underlying premise is wrong. Once in a while someone will disagree with an answer you give. Are you discouraged every time someone doesn't see things the same way you do?

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