I'm trying to figure this site out. So far, I understand that the negative number next to the questions is the number of times someone didn't like the question. Can someone tell me why this happens without any feedback from the person who didn't like the question? Sorry, I've never encountered a site like this. Thank you in advance.

How to ask a girl out who is intern at same place

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    A wild guess: Some users downvote answers to off-topic questions. – NVZ Mar 12 '18 at 6:36
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    Define visitors? What makes you think it's visitors to the site that cast the downvotes? Most visitors don't have sufficient reputation to downvote. – JAD Mar 12 '18 at 7:26
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    @NVZ Did people think that question was off topic? – MelissaA Mar 12 '18 at 20:57
  • @MelissaA Perhaps they did. It's closed as "too broad" for now. – NVZ Mar 12 '18 at 20:58
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    @JAD Now I'm really confused. Is there a way to "cast a downvote" from some other website? – MelissaA Mar 12 '18 at 20:58
  • @NVZ, I'm assuming you didn't read the question or answer before posting your comment so I'll disregard it. Thanks. – MelissaA Mar 13 '18 at 9:43
  • @JAD, visitors are people who are viewing the web site. I'm not sure how much more specific I can get, given that I didn't know the content was displayed anywhere but on this website. – MelissaA Mar 13 '18 at 9:45
  • @MelissaA ah, so any users. It's good to specify this, because my first interpretation was that of regular users versus visitors, where visitors are users don't visit regularly. – JAD Mar 13 '18 at 9:48
  • @MelissaA Why would you assume that? I read posts before I comment. Reading is all I do here. I have stopped asking or answering questions for a while though. – NVZ Mar 13 '18 at 18:36

Though, it is asked to leave a comment (for <2k on graduated sites and <750 on public beta sites) when someone downvotes any post. However, it is not compulsory.

The message upon clicking the down arrow says (with emphasis of mine),

Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved.

So, if someone thinks that there is a chance to improve a post, they can leave a comment, else they can move on.

However, it rarely happens when someone takes comment upon downvote in a positive way and improves their posts. Sometimes, they will engage in arguments in comments (I've seen many and TBH, I did it a few times). Therefore, not many users leave a comment if they think there is a room for improvement.

In the end, it's never been about liking or disliking, but the usefulness of the post.

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    Probably the most accurate answer. "The message upon clicking the down arrow says (with emphasis of mine), Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved." __ so the system is explicitly encouraging users to explain the downvote with a comment, but it should try to be constructive and seek to improve the post. "However, it rarely happens when someone takes comment upon downvote in a positive way and improves their posts. " __ I learned to do this, because once we have created a post, improving our post is our primary goal on Stack Exchange. – English Student Mar 12 '18 at 9:42
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    @AJ How is the individual who posted the question supposed to know this? Has this model been used successfully somewhere else, besides in situations where references can't be sited in the answers provided? – MelissaA Mar 12 '18 at 21:01

Visitors don't tell you why they like or dislike your post because comments like that are explicitly discouraged.

Comments are for requesting clarification from the author, to leave constructive criticism, or to add relevant minor or transient details. They are not for compliments, discussion, or criticism that isn't constructive. Saying "I don't like this answer." isn't constructive. Neither is saying "I think this answer is wrong for reasons".

Downvoting is for sloppy, low effort, or obviously incorrect answers. Voting is kept anonymous so the only way to know why someone voted a particular way is to have them come forward and explain it to you directly. It seems likely to me that the downvotes on your answer came from people who felt that your answer was incorrect in one way or another.

nb. The number next to the post is the total number of upvotes less the number of downvotes. With enough reputation (currently 750) you can become an established user which lets you see the exact number of upotes and downvotes a post receives.

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    Can you site a reference? Everyone seems to have slightly different answers – MelissaA Mar 12 '18 at 21:57
  • @MelissaA Follow the links in the post to the sources I've referenced. – sphennings Mar 12 '18 at 21:59
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    @shennings Duh! Didn't realize they were links! Sorry! – MelissaA Mar 12 '18 at 22:02
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    @shennings I think you guys are misunderstanding the rules. You should not be downvoting answers just because they are not useful to you. There are billions of other people in the world. – MelissaA Mar 14 '18 at 0:15
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    @shennings Downvoting without comment is like telling someone who baked you a cake that you didn't like the cake, while asking for another one, but refusing to tell the person why you didn't like the cake to begin with. Of course people will get upset. Of course people won't like that kind of "welcome" message from your users. – MelissaA Mar 14 '18 at 0:18
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    @MelissaA Voters are always going to vote based on their own experiences. We can't expect individual voters to consider the perspectives of 7 billion people so we don't bother. In aggregate they do a good job of reflecting the views of the site. I wouldn't get too bothered by the 4 downvotes your first answer received. – sphennings Mar 14 '18 at 0:47
  • @MelissaA The problem with requiring comments on votes is that it would lead to a lot of useless comments like "-1 this isn't useful" or "I'm only commenting so I can vote" Neither of these are good comments. – sphennings Mar 14 '18 at 0:48
  • then you can downvote the comment or set the question to "protected" mode, like they do at Stack Overflow. These problems being mentioned are all cop outs for what I see as the real problem... people just don't want to be accountable. – MelissaA Mar 16 '18 at 12:09
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    @MelissaA There's no mechanism to downvote comments. I don't see how protecting a post to prevent comments would help get feedback from voters since their only way of doing so (commenting) is now impossible. Votes are anonymous by design across the entire stack exchange network. While it may be frustrating at times, not knowing why your post is getting downvoted that's just how the system works. – sphennings Mar 16 '18 at 12:19
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    If you look at the top 5 comments under this post, you'll notice a 2 or a 1 beside the comments. Those were voted up (or down and then offset with other up votes). I don't know when or why you can not longer upvote comments. 2) Not knowing why a question is downvoted is the reason this site CAN'T work. You need return visitors to keep a website alive. You don't get those by insulting them, right off the bat like that. – MelissaA Mar 16 '18 at 13:09
  • Do me a favor and downvote this comment. Or do you mean answers? – sphennings Mar 16 '18 at 13:12
  • All votes tell you is how many people find a post useful or not. It's a very rough and imprecise tool. Ideally if someone finds an answer unhelpful they will, up vote another answer, or post their own answer to highlight their own views on the subject. We can't force people to answer questions, and we can't force them to provide constructive criticism either. – sphennings Mar 16 '18 at 13:16
  • There's no mention of this to the person who just posted a question about Interpersonal Skills, mind you. The idea that people vote on a question someone posts about Interpersonal Skills, is crazy. It's only a matter of time before this site goes away. – MelissaA Mar 16 '18 at 14:00

Downvotes on Stack Exchange sites aren't really so much about "liking" the question/answer or not. The tooltip that appears when you hover a mouse over the downvote button says:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

Or simply:

This answer is not useful

It's not so much about whether people "like" the question or answer it's about how "useful" the post may be.

Stack Exchange isn't your usual forum, discussion is strongly discouraged, but more often than not someone will take the time to explain what was wrong with a downvoted post. Sometimes it's a factual error, sometimes the post is unclear, sometimes a question doesn't fit the site, or an answer doesn't really answer the question...

Basically it's Stack Exchange's mechanism for signaling that this isn't great content. Ideally users upvote good content and downvote bad content, this helps future readers sort the content based on how valuable it is. It helps people answer the question "is this worth reading?" Or, again ideally, "is this likely to help me solve my similar problem?

We don't require people to comment when downvoting because it tends to lead to a lot of redundant useless comments. And of course there are those that would just mash keys into the box if it was required...

A half dozen comments that say:

-1 This isn't useful.

Wouldn't help anyone. Nor would:

-1 ajdhdnwsus

Beyond that... Some folks don't take criticism very well... Even when it's actually constructive criticism like:

What did you mean by XYZ? We can't help if we don't understand the problem.

These are the kinds of comments we want to see on Stack Exchange. They clarify the question/answer. Unfortunately some folks get tired of getting their heads bitten off over and over and over so they stop posting the good comments... They just downvote and walk away, hoping that some other kind soul will come along and do the dirty work.

Then again an awful lot of the time someone else has already done the dirty work and posted the good, kind comments and we add our vote and continue on with our day.

On the admittedly often occasion, Tim loses his keys. This is the definitive reason for unexplained downvotes.

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    The downvote is not plainly obvious to people entering the site for the first time. Also, a dozen "This answer was hot useful" is more helpful than nothing at all, so that's not a valid argument. If folks don't take criticism well, that's their problem. When you don't give feedback because you're afraid of the response, you should just stay quite because that's rude. – MelissaA Mar 12 '18 at 21:07
  • @MelissaA Just pointing out the reality of the situation... – apaul Mar 12 '18 at 21:54
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    @MelissaA Also seems a little rude to be a brand new member of a community, who admits that they don't fully understand how the community works, to go around claiming that people are being rude for using it as intended. Might be worthwhile to take a step back, and try to understand how the community works before criticising it. – apaul Mar 12 '18 at 22:36
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    that tells me everything I need to know. I'll leave this site to it's own demise. I see it's in good hands. lol – MelissaA Mar 13 '18 at 9:55
  1. The guidelines for downvoting indicated by the above answers, state that it is more about the quality of the post, rather than liking or disliking it. But it is notable to see that there is no actual way to ensure that downvoting is done for the intended purpose mentioned in the guidelines.

Close-voting and delete-voting have to be done according to their respective guidelines, because issues can and have been raised in meta when a person feels that his question has been unfairly closed. But you cannot raise a post in meta saying that your question has been unfairly downvoted.

  1. Leaving comments under a post explaining a downvote, might cause the OP of the post to engage in revenge-downvoting, where the OP downvotes the downvoter's posts to take revenge. Users with a very high reputation may not care about such downvotes. Such users might be more inclined to leave comments than others.

There is a script that runs once everyday to prevent serial-voting, but I don't know the mechanics of it, or how efficient it is in reversing revenge-serial-voting.

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    Given that the OP has only posted one question on this site it definitely cannot be any form of serial or revenge downvoting. Given the OP's reputation there is no risk of retaliatory voting either. – sphennings Mar 13 '18 at 8:31
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    @sphennings The title of the question isn't Why was this particular question downvoted without feedback The title reads Why don't visitors tell you why they didn't like an answer or question? That's means_ any question or any answer_ And I never claimed that their answer was voted down because of that. I think posting a general answer like this should not be construed as off-topic, especially since the wording of the question title, also seems general. – user13878 Mar 13 '18 at 10:22
  • This is a perfect example of why this model isn't going to work for this type of subjective content. Downvoting was created so that we tech people don't have to waste time reading answers to tech questions that won't work or don't add anything to previous answers. – MelissaA Mar 16 '18 at 12:12

More so here at IPS, a subjective SE site, than at the technical sites such as math or physics, I've noticed that comments from downvoters seem to be more frequently labeled as "rude", so I am guessing that people would rather just "downvote and walk away", instead of engaging the OP and others in some non-constructive argument ... because often it's too complex to say who's "right" and who's "wrong" on IPS topics.

Whereas over at, say, math.se, comments are a very "healthy" and productive activity; and there is a lot of tolerance for it (and even a bit of debate) -- and all the comments are usually kept underneath the question or answer that is being scrutinized ...

So, just a different SE site culture -- one that is cultivated to minimize unnecessary and unproductive drama.

Last, but not least, thanks in advance for any downvotes :)

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  • Yay - I love downvotes ;) – D.Hutchinson Mar 13 '18 at 3:45
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    I just saw the edit history, wow ; ) – user13878 Mar 13 '18 at 7:09
  • @simpleton yeah ... I was insanely bored 😕 – D.Hutchinson Mar 13 '18 at 7:34
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    I've gotten to the point where I look at downvoted answers first. They seem most rational to me. – MelissaA Mar 16 '18 at 12:13

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