I am really bored of seing questions downvoted with no comments left. I can understand a question might not be clear, but if no comment is left for the OP to improve it, what's the point of downvoting?

Wouldn't be better to make commenting mandatory (even with prefilled in comments) when downvoting?

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    $\begingroup$ One problem I can think of is that this would lead to a bad post receiving the same comment many times over as people downvote. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ While I do agree that it is good to help the poster understand why something is wrong, I don't believe there is any fair way to implement enforced commenting that would really work. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon IF that is true then maybe there needs to be some education to the users about the being able to +1 a comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya That wouldn't help if downvoting made commenting necessary as every downvoter would have to leave a comment.. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon Noooo .... You either add a unique comment as to why or you +1 the one that meets your objection. IF you want a better example of my statement see the one I plugged into Monica's answer or we can chat about it :) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ anonymity is important I think. I've been on the site less than 2 days and I have become inordinately pissed at being down voted, with the temptation to find and revenge myself somehow. However some preset reasons for a downvote might be good, at least for self correcting purposes. maybe not a comment, but a separate list you could look at $\endgroup$
    – Eloc
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ I agree wholeheartedly: often there are great posts (I see this more on physice SE, but it still applies here) you get a great question that gets downvoted, or you get well researched answers that get a few downvotes with no explanation and no obvious cause for downvotes $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


This is an oft-declined request on Meta.SE. For example:

And the duplicates therefrom.

Required comments would have two undesirable effects:

  • Votes would no longer be anonymous.

  • We'd see a surge of "afjajflajfsa;af" comments to bypass the rule.

Anonymous voting is pretty fundamental to SE's model. The signal you should take from silent downvotes isn't "oh, how unfair!" (I'm not saying you are) but "ok, something's wrong here -- let me try to figure out what". In my experience, a single downvote isn't worth worrying about, but if you get more than one there might be something to improve.

All that said, it is far better for all involved if somebody clues in a well-meaning user who just got it wrong somehow. We should strive to leave helpful comments. Even if you're not the downvoter, if you see a downvoted post and have a pretty good idea of why, try to lend a hand, especially for new users. Let's all try to help people make their questions and answers as great as possible.

(Except if it's trolling or something like that; in that case it's best not to engage. Downvoting and flagging are the best tools for that.)

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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking more of something like what I see when I flag: a set of predefined hints. If the OP see the downvote and the hint (not the downvoter's name) can better figure out what to improve. example: downvoted because googling can provide an answer $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ I would also add that, while I agree a note describing the problem is typically good form, there are many users who only view such comments as an opportunity to further litigate their posts' correctness. People who complain about commentless downvotes seem unusually likely to fall into that camp too. Its tough to blame people for not commenting when they have sensed (often rightly) that doing so would not ultimately be productive. If you get an improvement suggestion, try treat is as the rare jewel it is. Perhaps that will garner you more consideration in the future. $\endgroup$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @T.E.D. very good point. I once asked because I was completely mystified, and I phrased it as "I would like to understand the issues leading to downvotes so I can fix them" or similar. That got me the info I needed without, AFAIK, anybody thinking I was complaining. (Which I wasn't; usually when I get downvotes either I can figure it out or I just shrug it off.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ Honestly, most of the time when I get downvotes, I've got a pretty good idea why. I might not agree, but I understand. There've been a couple of times I wasn't saying what I thought I was, and was too close to the text to see it, but those are rare. $\endgroup$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ afajfjafjajfafj; +1 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ "And the duplicates therefrom." This should not be a problem, one way or another why wouldn't you simply .... aggressively negotiate that the +1 on a comment is the correct way to go vs straining yourself to find a way to say the same thing differently. The other two are note worthy and my experience is that it just leads to "Block Down voting" in retaliation and that of course leads to "Block Upvoting" to correct it (may not be applicable here). I see where the OP is coming from and I agree with @T.E.D. "good form" comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @T.E.D - commenting on down and close votes is often, if not usually, counter productive and leads to flame wars instead of improved questions. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ @T.E.D. Please see this: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4729/809 $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ Can "afjajflajfsa;af" be translated into English, please? $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android From the original danish "afjajflajfsa;af" one interpretation is that it means "afjajflajfsa; of". Hope that helps. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @LioElbammalf Thank you. But strangely it doesn't exactly help. Mainly because I am no clearer about "afjajflajfsa". One translation says "afjajflajfsa" is Maltese, but translates it as "afjajflajfsa". So still baffled. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 11:36

This is sort of a philosophical question. Should there be rules enforcing good behavior or should the community enforce good behavior? This is a fundamental divide between people that extends to many areas more important than forums.

I, personally, am all in favor of community enforcement. First off, we do have a strong community here. I joined not too long ago, and have taken a pretty active role in trying to enforce community standards. Flag and vote for deletion non-constructive posts, comment on answers that aren't up to muster, ensure that I comment when I vote to close, and leave nasty comments when I see close vote with no comment.

I am not the only one doing this stuff. Frostfyre and Molot, for two examples, were doing this when I first joined (and still are) and their frequent commenting help me as a new user understand the site 'culture' to the point that I can now help enforce it. In turn, newer users like Secespitus and Mrkvicka are now doing the same thing.

Look at the editors tab. People like SRM, Zxyrra, and Brythan do a lot of work keeping the site tidy and organized, as have the people with the deputy badge. This is all the work that goes on 'behind the scenes' so to speak, and isn't strictly reflected in reputation.

Moral of the story: we don't need rules in place to make this site what we (the users) want it to be. It just takes some dedication. We, collectively, by our actions, can discourage the kind of bad behavior we don't want to see, like offensive questions, comments as answers, and un-commented close and downvotes.

  • $\begingroup$ Glad you mentioned me. I try. But I'ts getting hard. See this, please: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4729/809 $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ This seems like a false dichotomy, rules vs community. Why not both? They are both tools to improve the community sometimes one is better than the other, sometimes both are warranted. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Rules remove the responsibility from the community to police itself. That is the argument. Like I said, it is philosphical; if you don't agree with the philosophy, you won't buy the argument. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion You're correct that not buying the premise that "rules remove the responsibility from the community to police itself" makes it hard to believe in the rest of your argument. When discussing philosophy the criticism "Your premise is incorrect" is just as valid as "Your reasoning is incorrect" unless your argument explicitly states that you are taking a premise to be true (regardless of it's actual truth value). $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Fortunately, arguing philosophy is not the purpose of Worldbuilding, or even Meta, so as a responsible user, I will have to discourage that :) $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion I was attempting to talk about encouraging good behavior on this SE. My mistake for getting sidetracked into a tangent :) $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 15:50

Building on @MonicaCellio answer:

I would suggest the following to bypass the stated problems:

Votes would no longer be anonymous.
We'd see a surge of "afjajflajfsa;af" comments to bypass the rule.
  • Votes should remain anonymous, but they are recorded by system.
  • Downvoters are required to leave a comment.
  • Downvote comment may be challenged by author.
  • Moderator will decide if comment is "utter nonsense" or not (should not decide if it is correct, justifiable or whatever, just if it is a real comment!).
  • If it is intellegible challenger will get another downvote.
  • If it is gibberish or something like "-1" it is deleted together with downvote and downvoter (without anybody knowing who he/she is) get a point penalty together with a message from system stating reason.

This should make everyone happy at the expense of a bit of web procedure implementation.

note: is this the right way to propose such a thing?

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    $\begingroup$ This is not the kind of job moderators signed up for. It would add a huge workload. Also, current system basically works. So it is not justified to add a lot of boring, tiring work to volunteer moderators to fix something that's not really broken. Also, we do not need a lot of "same here" comments. Requirement to leave a comment was removed from VLQ review queue a year or two ago, for example - because even true comments was not beneficial. And we are talking about comments by relatively high-rep users. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 8:13

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