I've seen more than once some downvotes of (easy) questions with no comment. I think it would be fair to force a comment to be filled out for someone who downvotes. That comment should consist of at least four words.

  • 6
    four words say nothing.
    – Shog9
    Nov 7, 2011 at 5:14
  • @Shog9 That is true - it seems there is no easy solution for this one.
    – Nils
    Nov 7, 2011 at 21:26

2 Answers 2


This has been discussed endlessly on the main meta:

You can read those for information on why this has been declined in the past, but it comes down to the fact that downvotes are supposed to be anonymous; the proposal for anonymous comments went poorly because if you want to leave a comment you should just do it, and on the rare case that somebody goes on a downvoting spree of their own the system will catch it

  • Before you convince me to vote to close my own question as double... What - in your opionion - is the reason to downvote a question instead of flagging or closing it?
    – Nils
    Nov 6, 2011 at 21:54
  • @Nils I don't know where flagging/closing came from, we were talking about leaving comments when downvoting. If I downvote a question I usually think it should be closed Nov 6, 2011 at 22:04
  • the direction the answers are taking leads imho to the solution to forbid downvotes on questions completely. IMHO flagging/close-votes should be enough.
    – Nils
    Nov 7, 2011 at 21:22

I disagree. A downvote on a question has a built-in reason: "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful."

If people want to provide greater reasoning and assistance to the questioner, great. But a downvote alone is fine. Voting is important to the functioning of the site, and encouraging that is more important than making hoops to ensure that each vote is justified or explained.

  • 1
    I am seeing these downvotes on some very basic questions that are easy to answer if you have grown up with computers. For the new generation (I call this the windows-generation) some basic concepts like interrupts, booting, memory access need to be explained. In these cases even wiki entries might be too high-level.
    – Nils
    Oct 29, 2011 at 21:25
  • Is that quote from somewhere? I disagree with it. Oct 29, 2011 at 21:39
  • 2
    @Shawn: hover over the downvote arrow for a question.
    – mattdm
    Oct 29, 2011 at 22:28
  • Interesting; I wonder if we should change that, based on meta.unix.stackexchange.com/questions/203/… Oct 29, 2011 at 22:51
  • 2
    @Shawn - I don't see a reason. The votes are meant to be (almost) democratic - which means everyone can have their own understanding of minimum research effort and vote accordingly. Oct 30, 2011 at 19:19
  • If a question is really bad, it should be closed - not downvoted. My personal feeling is that downvotes should be on comments - not on questions.
    – Nils
    Nov 6, 2011 at 21:43
  • 2
    @Nils: a downvote can be retracted if the question is edited. A close vote is permanent.
    – mattdm
    Nov 6, 2011 at 22:59

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