What bothers me for some time now (and has gotten worse from my point of view) is that questions/answers (which might not be perfect) get negative votes without any comment. While it is perfectly ok to negatively vote on questions/answers which are not ok, I think people should add at least a short comment with their criticism (except for obvious cases of vandalism etc.).

I started to add comments about this in this threads, but never get any replies on it. Is there anything beyond this what we can do about it?

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    $\begingroup$ I saw that one of my answers has 3 upvotes but one downvote for no specific reason. Nothing seems to be wrong in that answer. $\endgroup$
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ There is a popup that comes up when you click downvote, because adding comments is encouraged. This should be readily noticed by the downvoter, and will leave them with that choice: to comment, or not to comment. Also, lead by example. Explain politely how every downvote you cast is constructive. $\endgroup$
    – J. Musser
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


I think Negative votes without explanation are ok. We cannot suspect all users to be able to put their thoughts into words. This vote up and down system is rather intuitive -feature which reflects what the user feels about the answer/question.

Some users are most likely to downvote when they receive something unexpected or something that cannot be found in textbooks or when they step outside knowledge that can be found in textbooks. However, there are still users who see the bigger picture. I am not going to satisfy all users, it is impossible. I will do my best to answer the questions (open and closed) as well as I can, not letting the narrower questions to limit my view if open questions are there too.

So downvoting also gives a signal that something was extraordinary. Some users' expectations do not meet. Some expect answers to the title while some to the body. Some expect answer to both. I think the last one is the correct way to go if such a case is created.

I think this downvoting gerenally is related to other problems of SO generally

  • many old questions and threads die although the content improves all the time. I think those users who improve and update old questions and answers should be credited.
  • little long-term discussion done in SE sites - some think that once the answer is provided and accepted, the case is done. However, this is rarely the case. I think the accepted answer -view is not enough in sites like SE Biology. We can have another measures how to estimate the quality of the answers automatically to encourage people also to answer accepted questions or questions where good answers are already provided.
  • Another challenge here is the connection between Title and Body. They can be adequate but mostly they are inadequate: body is closed question while title open question, or vice versa.

At the moment, the SO instructs the user to ask a question in the title and be specific, but there is no instructions what and how to write in the body:

enter image description here

I think it would be great if there would be the following description in the Description of the body

This is your Sandbox. Make it match your question/topic in Title well. Feel free to Use helper questions and diagrams to describe the challenge.

Discussion about Title and Body

Title is the place which gets most attention. The user can make an eye-catching title but the body - a different story much narrower. This is the challenge for the users since they can answer openly or only to the closed question or both. However, I think the open question should receive also an answer if such a question is made. We just miss features what to do then if someone develops the topic further - also answers the open question.

I think there should be a feature by which moderator could split the question into two adequate questions.

To have adequate Title with Body is a challenge and cannot be expected from all users

Methods to encourage to this

  • users should be encouraged to answer adequately to the question in the title
  • AND answer to the question(s) in the body if more questions exists - many times, open challenge requires many questions.

I think Moderators and Users should also have power to split case into two if it is possible:

  • move open question into new thread
  • move closed question into another
  • leave either case with the original address - this is what the moderator should decide
  • leaving notice to both new threads that these two questions where together originally.
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah I have to agree that people expect explanations. Short subtle answers are generally not appreciated. $\endgroup$
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 8:18

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