Regarding downvotes, I think its helpful for the writer to understand why he/she was downvoted.

There may be a legitimate reason that will help the writer in future posts. Its also respectful to the writer, and would help to understand/reduce the number of bogus or serial downvotes.

My question: Is it possible in SE/ELL to require an entry of a reason for the downvote? It does not need to display the downvoter's ID, and could have restricted access only to the downvoter and recipient (not displayed in the question itself).

  • 5
    This has been proposed several times on stack-exchange. You might want to read some of the discussion here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135/…
    – Matt
    Mar 18, 2013 at 19:33
  • I think it should be courteous leave a comment after down-voting a question or an answer, but there is nothing that requires a user to do this. It is by design that downvotes and comments are not associated.
    – user114
    Mar 18, 2013 at 19:38
  • Most of the times, comments about down-votes turn into debates, and sometimes who comment after a down-vote gets down-voted too. Most of the times, the OP keeps thinking it is a good post, and the down-voter thinks it is a bad post.
    – apaderno
    Mar 20, 2013 at 11:18

3 Answers 3


More than explaining the down-vote reason, the comment should explain what is wrong in the post.

Forcing the down-voters to leave a comment has a negative effect: the OP would know who down-voted, and could revenge vote who down-voted. This is particularly true when nobody else comments on what is wrong in the post.

In my experience, comments explaining the reason for down-voting are generally not very constructive, as they are perceived by the OP. In most of the cases, the OP takes the down-vote as an offence, not remembering that the vote is for the post, not for the user.

Comments about what is wrong in the post are better, but those can be left by any user who thinks the post can be improved in some way. Thinking the post needs to be improved doesn't necessarily mean thinking the post deserves a down-vote.


We've added features to encourage people to explain down-votes where someone feels they can help the original author. But ultimately people each have their own criteria for why they vote, and it becomes tricky business to require one group (down-voters) to justify their vote while the other one doesn't.

If the voter chooses to leave additional feedback, we all appreciate the effort. But requiring that extra level of engagement would only discourage that activity. Overall it is much more important to encourage wider-spread, balanced voting than to put these disproportionate restrictions on the folks who are taking the time to point out incorrect posts.

Require anonymous comment with downvotes

  • Thanks, I reviewed the referenced pages and have a good idea where this issue is. In meta.stackexchange.com/a/2373 it mentions a comment request popup was implemented in stackoverflow. Does/could this function exist in ELL? I haven't downvoted anyone yet and I don't want to just to see how it works.
    – user485
    Mar 19, 2013 at 3:59
  • 3
    @user3169 That is a standard feature in all sites. Mar 19, 2013 at 13:24

I’m not against the downvote function that originates from the techie site (stackoverflow). But I believe people should not be allowed to downvotes on ELL unless they are willing to provide a reason or justification. My biggest concern is not the serial downvoters. We do have a system in place that can detect such unproductive behaviors. I’m mostly concern about regular people like me, who think they know English language quite well, but still have lots to learn. Do we really want people downvoting replies based on gut feeling, a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of prejudice?

Secondly, I don’t view English language similar to computer/software programming at all. English language is very subjective with many exceptions to its rule that makes it harder to understand and learn. It’s far easier to discuss and vote why your program is correct/wrong than vote on English sentences. There’s a feedback mechanism inherently build in the programing language (via compiler/error reporting) that can validate every assumption you have about your program. We don’t have that in the process of learning English language. We also don’t have to deal with dialects in computer programming.

Rather than downvoting something, why not leave a comment detailing what’s wrong. I’m learning as much from comments as the answers. I also like it when I see experts pointing out mistakes in some of the answers. Most people would take this opportunity to edit their original (possible incorrect) answers. Eventually, you’ll have good quality answers on ELL rather than low quality downvoted replies that don’t help anyone.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment ;)

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