I am observing a trend in downvotes of questions with no comment to explain. Is anyone else noticing this? Is there anything that can be done?

In other, busier SE sites, I don't think it matters as much because because there are so many votes that it all evens out. However, in our site, where it is common for questions to only receive one or two votes if any, I think adding comments when driven to vote a question down is very important.

  • 1
    I've noticed. I suspect it may be due to the influx of new people who come from other stacks and aren't PMSE regulars, but there's little that can be done unless it's a sockpuppet voting ring. I've received a few random downvotes myself. Luckily, a downvote is only worth -2, but it's never fun to receive a random or unwarranted downvote.
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 18:27
  • I had also noticed the same - maybe if we have some specific posts, we could check with SE supermods if a trending is happening on them?
    – Tiago Cardoso Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 8:16
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    @TiagoCardoso The meta issue is that people don't like receiving uncommented downvotes, but it's a built-in mechanic and routinely supported on SE meta. See meta.stackexchange.com/q/135/185951 and ~788 other questions there. I agree it's annoying, but I don't agree comments should be mandatory. Even if I did, that's not currently how SE works.
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 23:09
  • 1
    Related: serial voting
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 11:51
  • After a couple of days here at PMSE I've received more downvotes than in > 4 years at Stack Overflow. Has the climate here always been so harsh? Or is this new? One could get the idea that is has something to do with the characteristics of a PM :) Commented May 2, 2018 at 6:36
  • It seems yo have increased significantly in the past year
    – Daniel
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 23:53
  • Daniel and @TiagoCardoso: Is this still going on? I wanted to follow up and see if it remained a problem.
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 17:41
  • 1
    I haven't seen it nearly as much anymore
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 19:48

4 Answers 4



In comments, I mentioned that comments aren't mandatory on Stack Exchange, and that there almost 800 questions on Stack Exchange Meta about this issue. In general, the mechanic that applies is that people can do what they like with their votes, with or without comments.

The exception is serial voting. However, my personal guess (I have no inside knowledge) is that it's not too hard for a serial voter to bypass the system if they're aware of it, so it's not foolproof.

While diamond moderators can see some aspects of vote history, going on a witch hunt strikes me as a solution that's worse than the problem. SE moderators may have access to data that diamond mods don't, but again I'm not 100% convinced yet (as much as I am seeing a pattern) that the ends justify the means.


My community-based suggestion is this: let's draw attention to questions and answers that we feel are drawing unwarranted downvotes. Anyone with over 500 reputation on our beta site can view vote count totals by clicking on a post's scores, and as a community we can choose be more aggressive about upvoting things that we feel have been unfairly targeted.

Everyone has their own personal criteria for how to apply their votes. In the interests of furthering this discussion, here are mine. I tend to upvote only questions and answers that have helped me personally, or that really stand out in some way. I typically only downvote questions that violate the basic tenets of our help pages, or that show zero effort. I rarely downvote answers unless they're off topic, preferring to flag as "should be a comment" or "not an answer" when appropriate. However, voting is a somewhat subjective thing, and there are certainly other ways to apply the useful/not-useful metric for voting.

If the community as a whole, including myself, starts upvoting answers that are considered useful in a broader sense (rather than just to ourselves), that will result in more total votes. While I'm not excited about the prospect of reputation inflation, I don't think it will ultimately harm our site to bring more attention and differentiation to questions and answers provided that people continue to vote honestly, and vote both up and down!

Bringing attention to questions and answers that need attention or improvement is certainly within the spirit of Stack Exchange, and could benefit PMSE greatly. It would also serve to trivialize the recent spate of across-the-board downvotes by making them statistically insignificant. However, encouraging more voting also runs the risk of increasing downvotes as well as upvotes, but while this may change the current dynamic of our site I don't think it is likely to harm it. Counterpoints on this concern are welcome, though!

Notes on Voting

It's worth noting the following:

  1. Upvotes are worth more than downvotes.
    • An upvote on answers is worth 10, while a downvote is worth -2.
    • Downvotes on answers cost both the voter and the poster.
  2. You can upvote/downvote more than one answer per question.
  3. You can earn towards the Sportsmanship badge if you upvote other answers to a question after you post one of your own.
  • Sportsmanship badge. Never knew that existed. Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 18:17

This site is getting ridiculous. The negative votes with no comments are frustrating. It is clearly an agile-centric site now with all other answer being wrong.


There's been a lot of discussion around downvoting lately, and here's the current takeouts - and what can be done (just to keep my answer aligned to the question :D)

Downvoting trending information:

  • There's an automated mechanism in StackExchange to identify serial downvoters. In case the system detects them, such downvotes are rolled back a few days later.
  • Someone can be considered serial downvoter when one specific person is having several of their questions answers downvoten based on the user, not on the content.
  • There's a shared query on data.SE where people can see the top downvoters: http://data.stackexchange.com/pm/query/844735/top-downvoters-pmse
  • People is free to downvote questions and (as previously stated) downvoting explanation is not enforced
  • People may not be contributing only for the upvotes (although let's be honest, our reputation matters!)

With all that said... what can be done?

  • We, as a community, need to understand that anyone is free of downvoting questions or answers if not in agreement with
  • We, as a community, should upvote more! That's something we can do!
  • We, as mods, are monitoring some specific users - if the amount of downvotes are considered way too high (and here a completely bias perception will be applied) - users will be approached

I hear you - but on other sites where I participate, explanations on comments are invitations to personal abuse. This leads to arguments in comments which, IMHO, damage the site far more than the uncommented downvotes do.

As a result of my experience, I'm a strong advocate for the SE system in which you get to use your votes however you wish. If you want an honest vote, it has to be a private vote. Public votes are always going to be constrained by the implicit threat of the lowest common disputation.

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