An upvote has a an inherent "I concur" value here at Skeptics or at least an "I like this question or answer". I believe that a user should be required to leave a note (and thereby take ownership) of a downvote in order for it to "count".

Perhaps users should still be able to a 'drive-by' down vote for free, and that says "I don't like your answer, but I don't care enough to say why." That won't count against the "reputation" of the commentator being voted upon. But that isn't the same as being held accountable for your downvote, but it would remain an anonymous action.

(Of course I am also guessing that those who like do drive-by downvotes will probably close this question so fast it will make my head spin... but I think their names get listed with that vote anyway...)

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    This belongs on Meta…
    – F'x
    May 22, 2011 at 21:43
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    On Skeptics, votes usually are a measure of accuracy and quality (this is a good answer/question), not of agreement. We wouldn't be very good skeptics if we upvoted something because we agree with it.
    – Borror0
    May 22, 2011 at 23:02
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    Oh, also, -1 because on meta downvotes means "I disagree with your suggestion."
    – Borror0
    May 22, 2011 at 23:02
  • @Borro0.. I didn't put the question on meta, somebody 'migrated' it (with good reason, but still they changed the context from skeptics to Meta.Skeptics. So far, it has been my observation that alot of downvotes on skeptics are NOT measures of accuracy. If they were, the voter would be willing to sign their name to it.
    – Cos Callis
    May 22, 2011 at 23:51
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    If you want to encourage comments, then create a comment friendly environment. If you dogpile comments with counter-argument and vitriol then there will be less comments (and users leave). "Forcings" comments won't help, you have to create an environment where people feel comfortable speaking. May 23, 2011 at 1:10
  • @Cos: The downvotes that are not for accuracy are usually for being of low quality (i.e., it's a comment, not an answer). Feel free to dig up examples to prove me wrong. Without evidence, you cannot persuade me that there is a problem.
    – Borror0
    May 23, 2011 at 15:56
  • Yea well, all evidences are deleted. Hiks hiks.
    – user4951
    May 28, 2012 at 8:49

2 Answers 2


This gets asked on Meta.Stackoverflow roughly once every week (see one example here with links to other examples). The specifics vary, but every request to somehow force users to explain their downvotes has been declined by the SE team.

I also don't see how your solution would help with undeserved downvotes, the effect on reputation is minimal anyway, the only important part the downvotes affect is the final answer or question score.

Forcing users to leave comments would just clutter up the posts with useless, repeating comments. If someone before me already explained why the post is bad, I don't have to do that again. This is just adding noise.

The following answer from Grace Note on a very similar proposal explains the problems with it very well:

It has been discussed multiple times, and I'm certain this is actually repeating things I have read from a resident sage. Probably in way too many words, though.

Downvotes and comments are completely separate entities. They are not, and should not, be associated! There are way too many holes that are present in this kind of solution, all of which ultimately do not reward explaining the downvote.

In a much more difficult example than what ChrisF provides, suppose someone downvotes and leaves a comment along the lines of "Why are people downvoting this answer?". You can stop complete gibberish, but you can't differentiate otherwise legitimate comments without betraying anonymity.

More problematic is the fact that this system will imply that the presence of a comment about the problems of a post indicates a downvote was cast by that user. We already have problems with this association being made, and revenge downvotes miscast to otherwise helpful and innocent bystanders.

To conclude, there's also a noise production. Sometimes downvoters don't comment because someone else addressed it already. You'll promote people to post "me too" and "Like @dood said, fix your post" comments, which should be flagged and deleted. [...]

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    -1, stupid answer. (Not really, but this is the sort of forced comment we'd be likely to get. I actually upvoted this answer.) May 24, 2011 at 3:15

Really, on Skeptics? — I'm having a hard time understanding the logic that an up-vote should be taken at face value while a down-vote somehow requires some type of justification… particularly on Skeptics.

An up-vote says "I believe this is right". A down-vote says "I believe this to be incorrect." Why would you assume agreement on a "skeptics" site is automatically a valid expressions of someone's understanding of the subject, while disagreeing is not?

What about the other side of the argument: If I believe something to be wrong (particularly on Skeptics) and someone up-votes it, should they have to explain their up-vote to me? Of course not.

I find the disparity curious… particularity on a site for "skeptics."

  • I’m not convinced. A thoroughly researched answer can easily be upvoted (legitimately) without an explanatory comment. Downvotes without comments (either from the downvoter or somebody else) are never legitimate. I realize that implementing such a restriction may be technically challenging (read, impossible); and there’s no need to discuss this yet again. But your explanation doesn’t hold water. May 23, 2011 at 10:26
  • @Konrad does make a good point: if the answer is wrong, then by all means leave a comment explaining why it is! I don't think the system should make it mandatory, though. Usually, people are quite eager to share their disagreement on the Internet.
    – Borror0
    May 23, 2011 at 15:52
  • @Borror0, @Konrad Rudolph: Another point of view regarding "down-votes require comments" from @Shog -- meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/144/… May 23, 2011 at 18:00

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