A bit to my surprise this answer got downvoted. It is generally accepted as a good answer (16 upvotes so far).
I'd like to know why it got downvoted, but the person who did didn't leave a comment. How about adding the downvoter's id to the rep page next to the vote itself, so that I can contact him in chat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In case you're wondering, I downvoted your question because I don't like your proposed solution, and downvotes mean disagreement here. Please don't go on a revenge downvoting spree against me, or yell at me in chat :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1: Of the SE sites I read or contribute to, this one is the toughest on new folks. Drive-by down-voting is just one of the manifestations, but it's a place to start. This gets my vote. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRobert
    Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 16:39

3 Answers 3


Just a guess, but it's quite possible that someone took exception to your assessment that

The derivation of
\$ cos(\omega t) = \frac{1}{2} \left(e^{j\omega t} + e^{-j\omega t}\right) \$
is all very nice and such (thanks, Mark), but it's not very intuitive

(maybe they're a verbal rather than visual learner, or felt that it was rude), decided that the answer was consequently not useful, and proceeded to downvote your answer.

Proposals like this have historically been declined on the grounds that they could allow and encourage users to harass dowvoters and make it unnecessarily difficult to cast downvotes when the reason is obvious or already explained. I imagine that you, personally, would be civil and aim for a constructive discussion. Unfortunately, quite a few users would use this feature to engage in serial downvoting in revenge against whoever downvoted their posts. In your case, you only have one downvote, and the post contains some content that could be improved (and is otherwise generally upvoted) so this is not abuse.

There's already a suggestion, not a mandate, that encourages comments by showing a banner to <2k users suggesting that a comment be added if the post can be improved. Users with >2k rep should already know to do this when it's necessary.

Stolen shamelessly

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess you're right, I didn't think about possible harassing. My interest is in improving my answer where I can, but this requires that I know what it's lacking. So it's maybe a bad idea, and I don't mind the downvote ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh, I am sure you have experienced it before, someone downvotes you in missunderstanding, considering your knowledge to be incorrect. It has happened openly to me before on Android.SE, it is a frustration, but any community like this will have those that upvote also, we are only in trouble if we do not have enough experts to bring forward the correct answer. Note, upvote is +10, downvote is -2. As long as for every upvote you do not get 5 downvotes, you are rewarded. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 9:14

We already have a shift in balance between upvotes and downvotes because the latter cost reputation. Disallowing anonymous downvoting would shift it even more, to the point where almost every answer to a popular question would have a positive score, giving it an appearance of being legitimate. Perhaps a better idea would be to make all votes public, so that people upvoting bad content could also be asked to explain their reasons.

I'm not sure if making all votes public will benefit the site (after all, we have secret ballots for a reason), but I'm pretty certain that disallowing only anonymous downvoting won't do any good.


I disagree with Kevin. I understand the fear of revenge downvoting, but with anonymous voting we have the possibility of vandalism. I've definitely seen it happen on other sites, although I don't have clear evidence it has happened here.

In general, accountability is a good thing. Remember that any would-be revenge voter would also be accountable, so that's quite unlikely to happen. All the abuses I have personally seen were on sites that allowed anonymous down voting or equivalent. Has anyone actually seen revenge voting in action, or is this just a theoretical fear?

I've also had some of my answers downvoted without explanation or obvious reason. That does everyone a disservice since it is anonymous and not peer-reviewed like the answer is. Is there something truly incorrect in the answer, does the downvoter have a misconception, or is this a topic of debate and the downvoter happens to be of a different opinion (not a legitimate reason for a downvote)? We'll never know, nor will the author know how to correct the post or get to "face his accusor". This seems worse to me than the remote chance of a downvoting war, which can then be dealt with by other means anyway.

When I see a answer get downvoted for no apparent reason, I make a point of upvoting it just to ballance out the anonymous (vandalous?) downvote.

Here's a possibility: Have the system force anyone that downvotes a answer to leave a comment to that answer. I suppose this could be done with the name stripped if you really want to keep voting anonymous.


Here is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. My answer got mysteriously downvoted without explanation. I suspect (but of course can not know), that this was done by someone that has demonstrated misunderstanding of voltage and current in another answer. I don't know if this was just retaliation for my finding fault with his error (I did downvote his answer because it was wrong, but also left a comment explaining), or he truly believes my answer is wrong due to his misconception. If we knew who the downvoter was and his reason, everyone could judge its validity.

This system therefore provides a dis-insentive to explain the problem with questions when downvoting. I think I did the right thing, but it would have been a lot less trouble, especially in hindsight, to just downvote the answer anonymously. That's not what we want to encourage people to do though.

Votes are sortof like peer reviews for answers. That's a good thing. But who reviews the reviewers? The system only works when everything is open for all to see, judge, and debate. The consensus will generally reach the right answer even if a few people with misconceptions get into the mix.

One argument for anonymous voting is to avoid retaliations, but here we have a case where it looks like it happend exactly because the system is anonymous. If someone won't stand behind what they say, how much value does it really have? What's the loss if we don't hear from people with insufficient conviction to identify themselves? On the flip side, we'll lose the vandals and probably most of the retaliation downvotes.

The current system doesn't work right. It's time to do away with anonymous downvoting at least as a trial.

  • \$\begingroup\$ any would-be revenge voter would also be accountable - Excellent point, I hadn't considered that. Personally, I'd like a comment sink separate from the current "comments as responses" system like this one so that votes could be explained. Normal comments are only good for explaining downvotes most of the time, and they're a poor place to add "+1 very clear", "+1 worked for me", "-1 this is deprecated" etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ However, I was mostly parroting the official response based on these ... multitudinous ... Meta ... Stack ... Overflow ... posts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ (continued) I ... ran ... out ... of ... room. Seriously, though, your answer has caused me to doubt my agreement with the multiply linked overwhelming trend. I've revised my answer, and will have to think about this some more. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin, There is a fundamental difference in whom the system is designed for. Do we design the system for the .01% or less, I would fathom, significantly fewer that downvote for dislike of the person? The function of a vote is to cast an eye on technical quality. You downvote when you disagree with the technical quality of the post, or upvote when you agree. I often do not vote if it is not strongly either direction. The messy area you entered involved directly referencing and siting your opinion of another answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin, You have already stated that you did not feel the other answer explained it by writing your own answer, further pointing out in your answer that someone else did not explain it well. At this point someone may downvote you because you made this point, which they may feel is technically inaccurate and think the other method was a good way of teaching you. Our community seems to often make links like this to give credit for some "groundwork" answer that was already written, but even I have felt someone was snubbing their nose at someone before. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @olin, if someone does serial downvote, on that note, they disappear within a few hours from the person's account they were voting against. This applies for serial upvotes, if you find someone whom you really like their answers, go to their profile and read more and continue upvoting as you like them, it clears those also. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 21:39

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