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So I come here everyday, like many of you, to learn and improve. I don't just ask questions, I take the time to answer some too from time to time. I also contribute to the community by commenting, editing, and reviewing things.

Some of my answers have been downvoted (and I believe rightly so). But I really haven't learned anything from them.

Let's say I have answered a question. My answer got downvoted. There are no other answers. How am I supposed to know what I missed? How does the downvote (without comments) help me or OP? What if it discourages the OP from upvoting or accepting my answers to their future questions?

I have absolutely no problem with my answers being downvoted. I just really want people to tell me what I did wrong and how I can improve my answer. "If my answer isn't good enough then I'd like to know why. Not only does it improve the answer for the OP but it improves my knowledge too."

I know that nobody here is obligated to post comments explaining their downvotes (i.e., why they think the answer is wrong or why it does not hit the mark). I understand this because I have read the following:

Downvotes are your friend; use them, please!
Reasons for downvoting
Proposal: Require anonymous comment with downvotes [duplicate]
Encouraging people to explain downvotes

And the three most common reasons why users don't comment on their downvotes are

OP would know who down-voted, and could revenge vote who down-voted.
Requiring that extra level of engagement would only discourage that activity.

And because the downvoter has no incentive to explain why they think the answer is wrong.


Here is what I think can be done to get some feedback on downvoted answers.

Is there a way that a downvoter can anonymously add some explanation in the comments for why the answer is wrong? Can they do it anonymously through the community user/robot?

Perhaps they could earn +5 rep (or a badge or something) for adding comments anonymously through the community user. This would work as an incentive for them.

There is another option: offer a bounty. For example, when users have say 5 (10) answers with downvotes, they can ask a question (with the links to the downvoted answers) requesting anyone to explain how those answers could be improved or why they are wrong. A bounty of 50 rep (100 rep) will be offered by the asker. This way, advanced users will have an incentive to help, and no one will fear retaliation. This will ensure that the person who is asking for explanation is actually willing to learn - they are willing to give up 50 to 100 reps in bounty.

All other rules of a bounty question will apply (i.e., upvoted answers and accepted answers will be awarded the bounty). This can be done in ELL and I don't think (I may be wrong) this needs to be brought up at the SE level.

I am willing to try this out if anyone here agrees. I can ask a question (add the links to my answers with -1), offer a bounty, and ask people to explain why my answers are wrong and how I can improve them.

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I think a bounty is the wrong tool for the job. Bounties are designed to attract new answers to questions that have not yet been satisfactorily answered, not attract explanations as to why one of those answers may have been downvoted.

What you could do is open a new meta post with a link back to your downvoted answer, and ask on meta if anyone is willing to explain why that answer may have been downvoted.

Realize, though, there may not be a good reason. Some people downvote an answer simply because they don't like the question, and feel it should not have been answered. (I'm not advocating that practice, I'm just saying that I've seen it happen.)

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  • Hi J.R. Thanks for the suggestion, I will give that a try in Meta. Why do you think offering a bounty for this is the wrong tool though? – AIQ Nov 12 '19 at 20:49
  • @AIQ - Bounties are designed to attract new answers to questions that have not yet been satisfactorily answered, not attract explanations as to why one of those answers may have been downvoted. – J.R. Nov 12 '19 at 21:08

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