I'm a member for 10 months in the EE.SE but I think we still have a problem controlling the voting system! For example, look at Olin's answer in this question:

How many LEDs can you chain in serial?

It seems someone down-voted his answer. In my opinion the same behaviour can disturb super users like Olin and we have to avoid to such behaviour. So I think we have to control the up- and down-votes. Now my question is HOW!? How can we help moderators to avoid such behaviour?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Trust me, there isn't much that "disturbs" Olin. And there's no need to "control" voting; it is what it is. Any attempt to modify it would introduce undesired bias into the system. I personally feel that voting should not be anonymous, but I'm very much in the minority on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaveTweed Ok, I'm just tried to help to moderators and avoid to any clash or upset. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dave: I don't think we should control voting either. However, I agree about not allowing downvotes to be anonymous. I don't see a downside in making downvotes traceable. I doubt it would get rid of any legitimate downvotes, but vandalism and retribution downvotes would stop. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 2:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ "So I think we have to control the up- and down-votes." It's that particular sentiment that needs to be, and must be, 'controlled'. That's all I'm going to say about that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 0:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlfredCentauri Ok, I'm waiting. we are here to figure out this problem but seems someone don't want to hear our statements. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 5:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Roh Oh please! Setting hero worship aside for a moment, is it inconceivable to you that the downvote could have been for the sarcastic "It's in series, not serial" being the first point of the answer? Come on, I too was tempted to downvote for that reason alone. Perhaps I might do it too, now that you've refreshed my notice of that answer. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ In my opinion the same behaviour can disturb super users like Olin and we have to avoid to such behaviour BWHAHAHAHAHAHAH oh the poor babies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby Sound like you like this sentence! lol! \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Really, @Anindo? We're not supposed to let someone know when they are using the wrong words? There is nothing sarcastic or insulting about the simple and factual "It's in series, not serial". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 23:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ "controlling voting" is a contradictory statement. Voting is for democratic setup at Essex. If you want to control voting, it's not democratic anymore, it's autocracy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mitu Raj
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:21

5 Answers 5


Judging by their comments, silent downvotes do seem to be the one thing that disturbs high reputation users the most.

  • Whoever downvoted this, what exactly do you think is wrong, misleading, or badly written? Silent downvotes do a disservice since we don't know what you object to, and the misconception could just as well be on your end.– Olin Lathrop
  • Uncommented downvote, yay?– Passerby
  • Person who down-voted: It is proper form to state your reason, because I believe my question is stated in a completely suitable manner.– boardbite

But it shouldn't bother them that much really. Since there's no accompanying comment to counter, there's no need to acknowledge the downvote.

In the end, its just a kind of mild defacement used by people who aren't able to express themselves in a better way. But I agree with @Dave in that there's no need to control that behaviour since it's so marginal and the impact of lost reputation is so minimal.

PS. There are a few other posts already on our Meta site about the subject:

  • \$\begingroup\$ The reputation isn't important. I just want to keep EEse friendly and a society for learning knowledge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ We all agree with you, Roh, that downvoting great answers posted by our best users is disrespectful, to say the least. It would be great if we had an easy way to get rid of it. I (and others I'm sure) just think that a change in the voting system could upset the subtle balance there is on SE that makes us want to contribute to the site and that makes the site so great. That's what's really behind the resistance SE team shows when asked to make changes such as the one you proposed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ricardo
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ricardo The problem is one of percentages. It might be marginal for a person with a huge rep, but what about an expert who does not have the time to spend all day answering questions but takes the time to answer questions precicely when they do take part. The value of a question or answer is the same regardless of the lenth of time preparing it. IMO Silent downvotes should be impossible, or VERY costly to the voter (e.g. costing 100 of their own rep) It takes a few seconds to just click down, minutes to explain your downvote in a comment and hours to craft a Q/A. The balance is all wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay M
    Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 16:05

I am not a high-reputation member. I have had answers down-voted within SE.

I am more interested in why my contributions were down-voted than who down-voted. With no feedback, I have no way to improve.

I think down-votes could remain anonymous as long as the down-voter gives some feedback.

For me, an anonymous comment associated with a down-vote, or an up-voted comment associated with a down-vote are more use than no comment.

I wouldn't make anonymous comments on a down-vote mandatory. However, if folks down-vote silently, I'd value that response less than an anonymous comment, and an anonymous comment less than a comment.

If someone down-votes with nonsense, then I can put that down as a vandal, and ignore it. I might like to be able to ask a moderator to 'wash away' an anonymous comment which is vandalism.

If someone gives feedback that I disagree with, then I can deal with that.

If someone identifies errors I have made, then I would like to know, rather than a silent down-vote.

Whenever I down-vote, I either write comments, or up-vote the comments that expressed my view. I might even feel happier connecting the up-voted comments, or my comments to my down-vote.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I'm not very familier to you still but I think you can be a good friend for me like many of super reps guys in the EEse. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 13:00

To quote from the help center section on downvoting

The up-vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

The drive by down voting adversely affects new people of the site disproportionately vs. any high rep user. Those are the people that you should be more concerned about. A cohort that is inflexible and intolerant will eventually mean limited engagement and limited diversity of experience to draw upon as resources.

The anonymous downvoting is not surprising given certain group of users propensity to "Vote to close and down vote them out of existence" approach to things which clearly violates the guidelines but more importantly plants that as a form of acceptable behaviour. If you feel aggrieved by someone, replicating the behaviour anonymously is a natural response I'd think.

I would recommend following those links that Ricardo posted in his writeup. And do take the time to read the responses and comments and also look at the statistics and draw your own conclusions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, your post was useful like always. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ New users aren't going to get vandalous or retribution downvotes, so new users aren't seeing the problem we are talking about. If their content gets downvoted, there is going to be a good reason for it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 14:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ But they do, one snark infested DV from you does far more damage to individuals who have only a few points of rep than one DV (-2 pts ?) on a 46 Upvote answer (460 pts.) out of your total rep of (116K), but then this induced the histrionics above (see todays edit above). It's not the probability that is important, but the impact. And given the official FAQ quoted above, I can easily argue you are one of the primary sources of vandalous DVs (but NOT retribution) although of course you won't see it that way. You may suffer DV's simply because it is the chickens coming home to roost. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @placeholder Agree with your comment even more than your answer post: Even if not vandalous downvotes, certainly vicious ones. I think it's a bit egocentric to assume that every downvote is a retribution downvote. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ When I downvote a answer, I alsmost always give a reason. I also do it rarely. I feel a answer needs to be outright wrong, misleading, or very badly worded for me to downvote it. With the reason stated, the subject can be debated, and the writer knows who to notify if they fixed something. In contrast, vandalous downvoting is by definition without a valid reason. This would be exposed if we knew who downvoted, same with retribution downvotes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anindo: If downvoting was public, we'd actually know which were retribution votes (which of course would greatly diminish them). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Olin I would be more concerned about vitriolic rebuttal comments directed at any identified downvoter because "how dare they". Just saying. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:25

I will only add that an unjustified downvote is usually self-defeating.

If I see an unjustified downvote, I will upvote to compensate (even if I might have not voted at all otherwise), and this leaves the recipient with a net +8 rep.

Agonizing over votes and rep is kind of silly anyway. The best way to get high votes and high rep is to answer a really easy question quickly. But those are hardly the most valuable contributions to the site.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes it's surprising what gets a lot of upvotes. However, on the whole, the answers I've gotten a lot of upvotes from were ones that took more to write than a casual one-paragraph or the answer is 10 kOhms. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop, even so, when you have gotten 53 upvotes on an answer, it's really not worth worrying about the one downvote. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Downvotes aren't about the rep. Often there are several answer, each close in votes. In that case undeserved downvotes can push good content lower, which is doing everyone a disservice. It's also not right to label something as WRONG without explaining what exactly you object to. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well said. Answering trivial questions quickley will get you a huge rep fast (and make you some sort of QA god) but effectively disenfrancises people who ask/answer far fewer better. Perhaps (after moderation) the length of the question and answer should count towards the upvote reward and downvote cost? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay M
    Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 16:09

Unfortunately malicious or vandalous downvotes are a fact of life here. It's not a huge problem, but it is annoying. The reputation loss is minor, but it's annoying when a good answer gets pushed lower down due to some moron with a chip on his shoulder.

The way to fix this problem is to MAKE DOWNVOTES TRACEABLE. This doesn't keep anyone from casting a downvote, but it would eliminate vandalism and retribution votes. Vandals only work in the shadow of anonymity. I really don't see the downside to this. If you're not willing to stand behind your judgment that something is wrong, misleading, or poorly written, then it's not worth dinging the author for it either.

The current system actually disinsentivises you from explaining what you think is wrong with a answer. For example, I could have silently downvoted Wire for project with 9 volt battery, and then I probably wouldn't have gotten the mysterious downvote to my answer to the same question.

The way this should work is when you click on the downvote arrow, a box should pop up so that you can add a comment. The comment always starts with "Downvoted by xxxx:", which you can't erase, but you can add text afterwards.

Not only would this system give open traceability to all downvotes, but it would let the author know who to ping if he fixes the error. Even better, all downvoters should be automatically notified when the answer is edited. I will undo my downvote if the author fixes the problem and pings me, but few ever do, even when they do edit their post. Sometimes I notice by accident, like when the guy above "fixed" his answer but the result was just as bad.


Here is another example of a silent downvote that is almost certainly from a vandal or some dirtbag with a grudge. Once again, traceability would put a stop to nonsense like this.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "For example, I could have silently downvoted electronics.stackexchange.com/a/125813/4512, and then I probably wouldn't have gotten the mysterious downvote to my answer to the same question." ... Possibly, but in fairness to the provider of that answer, according to their profile, that person has not down-voted any answers so could not be guilty of retribution. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tut
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 11:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm completely agree with you Olin and also I would suggest the same suggestions but I wasn't sure that the site owners would do those suggestions. really these suggestions can help us to have a great site. Indeed I think you have enemy here, Olin. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roh
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 11:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Downvoted by xxxx:" could be compressed to simply "-1 " since downvoter's name is included in a comment. However, this would not work well if one would otherwise downvote the post and upvote one of the comments explaining the downvote. This might be handled by a comment by 'Community' formatted something like "-1 These users agreed with [First Downvoter](#comment-XXX): Downer2, Downer3". \$\endgroup\$
    – user15426
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 23:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ While "Reason for downvote" as a required entry is a good idea, exposing "who downvoted" is a recipe for retribution wars - Your typical reactions towards negative comments or criticism on your posts does not bode well for those "daring" to downvote you, once you know who they were! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anindo: No, publicly showing all downvoters would reduce retribution votes because everyone could see when you don't really have a good reason for downvoting. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:11

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