It would be really useful if people who down voted could say why they did so. Even better, add a hint as to how they would improve the question. Since the site is in beta, some questions/answers may well be outside of what the down voter thinks is appropriate but unless they tell us so, we cannot improve.

Since then, I have come to view the above as naive. Clearly, I was not jaded enough. After doing just what I suggested, about half my comments were plainly ignored while about the other half resulted in abuse. In the middle, maybe one or two comments did help… However, they were not worth the torrent of abuse.

3 Answers 3


In a perfect world? Yes. However, this clearly isn't a perfect world (e.g., I'm not its Empress).

The truth is that there are times and places that people will downvote without a comment, and that's okay.

Some reasons why people don't comment:

  • Other people have already commented about the post, and adding more would feel like piling on.
  • The post clearly demonstrates that the OP never read the FAQ. If the OP passed up their first chance to learn how things are done on Stack sites, are they likely to read further instructions?
  • The downvoter believes that the reason for their downvote is obvious (maybe the OP asked about history based on a conspiracy theory, or asked an obviously argumentative question, or…).
  • The downvoter also voted to close the question, and believes that a close message will show sufficient reason.
  • The downvoter wishes to be anonymous.
    • There are a wide variety of reasons why, one of them being that the voter suspects that the OP is the type to retaliate.
  • And so on…
  • All of these are perfectly good reasons, and considered acceptable behavior.

If you're the OP, and you're wondering why you were downvoted, here's some things you can do (in no particular order):

  • If it's just one downvote, and you've also received two or more upvotes, don't fret about it.
  • Make sure you've read the FAQ.
  • Add a comment on your own post requesting help improving the question (you always can, no matter how little rep you have).
  • Ask for advice on the site's chat.
  • Open a post on meta pointing to the initial post on main and ask for advice on if/how it can be improved.
  • 1
    I'd hate to see what meta on SO would look like if everyone posted a question after every anonymous downvote ;) But yeah these all make sense, and I've done some of these myself
    – DForck42
    Oct 14, 2011 at 14:49

I absolutely agree. This is an important process, especially during the beta. We really need to get feedback from the community on the type of questions and answers we are creating here.

I have downvotes on both my questions and I have no idea what the issue was with them. It would be great to learn how they could be improved.

  • 2
    I asgree too, but alas, years of StackOverflow and SuperUser and other StackExchange activity has shown that there will always be a substantial portion of unhelpful users who refuse to comment/explain their down-votes. At worst, "drive-by" down-voting has often become a problem. I'm not sure we can do much about it for now.
    – Noldorin
    Oct 14, 2011 at 1:10

Also, sometimes people downvote because they don't like the question. It's not necessarily that there's anything wrong with the way the question was written, they just don't agree with the subject matter of the question, and downvote.

But really, until you start getting vtc's or multiple downvotes I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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