The same thing happened to me most recently yesterday or the day before. The downvotes were reversed by the system over night.
Is there anything more that can be done about revenge downvoting?
Absolutely! Make all downvotes public.
Vandals only exist when they can be anonymous. Take away anonymity, and the problem goes away too.
The current system dis-incentivizes people from doing the right thing and explaining downvotes. As you saw, you cast a downvote you genuinely believed in, and got revenge downvotes because you explained why. If you had silently downvoted, no revenge would have taken place because the revenge voter would not have known who to pick on. If the revenge downvoter would be exposed by everyone seeing who downvoted your posts without reasonable justification, those downvotes would never have happened in the first place.
Voting is supposed to be a peer-review measure that helps identify good and bad content. But who reviews the reviewers? What if someone downvoted a correct answer due to a misconception? If votes were public, then you can at least have a dialog. The voter would still ultimately decide whether to stick to his vote or reverse it, but the process would be more open. Public scrutiny tends to lead to more accurate results. After all, that's what the voting system is counting on in the first place. It just has this flaw where votes can't be scrutinized.
The only argument I've heard to keep votes secret is that people will be more likely to cast a vote. Think about that though. What kind of person would be reluctant to vote if others could see that they did? It would be someone that isn't really all that sure about the vote, and doesn't want to look stupid. Such a vote has very low information content. I'd rather have those that know what they're doing, and are willing to stand up and be counted, do the judging of what is good and bad content.
The only other argument is you don't want the recipient of a downvote to know it was from you for political reasons. That might deter some legitimate downvotes, but there is already a simple mechanism around that. Anyone can create a account with any name. Unless you deliberately tell everyone, nobody knows who the person is behind a account. However, with votes being identified to accounts, action can still be taken against vandals.
The problem with this idea is that it will make all your own downvotes also public.
Many of my downvotes are already public. In fact if the system were automatic, it might actually be less work. About the only time I don't explain a downvote is when something is so blatantly crappy that it shouldn't need any explanation, or others have already pointed out the same thing. In the latter case, I usually upvote the other comments.
I only downvote when something is sloppy, badly written, seriously misleading, or downright wrong. I have no problem standing behind such votes.
So, will the fact the downvotes are public (and the bad guys will refrain revenge) counterbalance the fact that now, much more bad guys will want to make you pay?
Absolutely, since there will hardly be more bad guys that will want to make me pay. Again, the bad guys already know I downvoted them. The difference now would be that everyone can see if they pick random posts of mine to downvote for no good reason. They will be much more reluctant to do so. And if they do anyway, everyone will see what kind of dirtbags they are.
And the main problem with non-anonimity is that there is a much higher risk of escalation
Actually I expect it will be overwhelmingly the opposite. If everyone can see what you are doing and judge you by it, you're not going to go around doing things that don't appear justified.
I've very occasionally had individual users that followed me around and seemed to go out of their way to be contrary. There are far more mysterious downvotes compared to those incidents.
Imagine, someone downvotes your post, and you think it is unjustified. You start arguing.
But that's not how it works. Almost always when someone explains a downvote on one of my posts, I simply let it be, especially if there is any judgement call envolved. I'm OK with a downvote as long as the voter genuinely believes it is deserved within the norms of the site. If it's a technical disagreement, I might add something to the answer to explain why what I said is true, but I'm not going to engage in a debate. Most of the time if a downvoter explains the reason and it's wrong, others will pile on him and I don't have to do anything.
The next day, the same guy posts something else somewhere else, but the post is pretty bad. It somewhat deserves a downvote. What do you do?
Particularly if it's a answer, I'm actually a little less likely to downvote just to avoid the appearance of retribution. Of course this only goes a short ways. If something is clearly wrong, I'll downvote regardless of whatever else is going on.
If I want to give someone a little slack, I'll point out a problem in a comment, then come back and downvote a day or two later if it hasn't been fixed and I remember.
I often hold off on downvoting when the author has a history of writing good posts. That means the error is more a small oversight, and a comment without a vote will quite likely fix the problem.
If I don't recognize someone as generally writing good posts, it's better to downvote along with the comment. It's been surprising how few times someone actually got back to me when I downvoted, pointed out the problem, and even told them to ping me after it is fixed.
having a handful of arguing comments under each downvoted post plus having to involve the mods much more regularily to solve users hating each other only because of some downvotes
But I really think that's not going to happen. This hypothetical argument comes up sometimes, but nobody can provide any concrete evidence this is a issue.
The only way to resolve this is to try it. Make all downvotes public for a month or two, and see how it worked out. The current system is clearly broken. We certainly have something to gain if it works out as I suspect. If not, we revert back to the existing system. At least then we'll know the true pros and cons either way.
Let's stop guessing and try it.