As shown in comments section under Enforcing mandatory comment when downvoting people don't like to comment on downvotes because it is not productive.

If someone comments on down or close vote, do not start a discussion

He did it to help OP recover. Trying to argue he is wrong is going nowhere. All you can get is frustration downvote following close vote, flame war or other unpleasant effects. So please just don't.

"But I disagree!"

It's your right to cast "leave open" vote. Or reopen vote. Or not to downvote. It's your right to edit that post, if, let's say, it's clear to you but accumulates "unclear what you are asking" votes. Or, if it's not your right to do so just yet, it is meant not to be, by design. Deal with it, earn more reputation and come back to edit or vote as you see just.

Please note that it is not allowed to upvote only to cancel downvote you disagree with.*

"I asked for explanation and..."

From my (and not only my) sad experience, people who asks to provide explanation on downvotes are high-risk. Chance they will argue is much higher than normal. Sorry guys, to some people here your "please explain" is a giant red flag encouraging to stay silent and say nothing. If you want to change that, please start being supportive to people who commented. Do not forget the "assume good intentions" part of the rules. And don't forget that you asked for it.

Bottom line: If you want down and close votes explained, then do not start discussion. Thank, show gratitude, work on what you got and move on. Anything else works against people commenting.

* I know it's from meta stackoverflow but it was posted before SO meta and SE meta split, as far as I can see.

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    $\begingroup$ I can almost see this as being useful advice for a new user, when it's their post being voted on, but there have been plenty of times where people have voted to close or ranted under a post unjustifiably and more experienced users or moderators needed​ to step in and say something. $\endgroup$ – apaul Mar 25 '17 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ "I know it's from meta stackoverflow but it was posted before SO meta and SE meta split, as far as I can see." then why is it here?? $\endgroup$ – Alex Robinson Mar 27 '17 at 18:33

I disagree but mostly because you assume we have no choice but to carry on getting involved once we start.

TLDR: If you give constructive feedback and the OP is getting belligerent then you don't have to respond. Don't let the fear that someone may disagree hold you back from trying to help.

From my (and not only my) sad experience, people who asks to provide explanation on downvotes are high-risk. Chance they will argue is much higher than normal. Sorry guys, to some people here your "please explain" is a giant red flag encouraging to stay silent and say nothing. If you want to change that, please start being supportive to people who commented. Do not forget the "assume good intentions" part of the rules. And don't forget that you asked for it.

So there are a couple of points here that are 'red flags' to me:

  • If someone honestly doesn't understand and wants an explanation you're trying to block that in-road to not let them know how to improve. It shouldn't be essential that we hold their hands but generalising to say it is a bad idea makes this more of a closed group.
  • You essentially say that someone disagreeing with you is a reason not to speak up.
  • If it is heating arguments that you have a problem with...why do you carry on having them? The process should be something like:
    • Identify someone's post doesn't fit in with worldbuilding:
    • Inform them, either through close votes (which do provide an explanation) or through downvotes - which don't. If you think they haven't grasped something then it is helpful (not mandatory) to provide an explanation to help them better fit their questions to the site.
    • If they disagree you can better explain (or review your own opinions...perhaps you're wrong in some cases) or if they're obviously not accepting of any alternative ideas then just stop commenting. If you continue you're feeding that fire just as much as them but that isn't a reason not to start the discussion.

Also I think sometimes the "be supportive to people who commented" bit needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. If you make a new user feel like they're being ganged up on then you're further alienating them from the community rather than offering them a constructive way to contribute.

Over all it seems a little like your views close off worldbuilding to new users who don't understand. Sure it is easier to get rid of people who don't get it straight away but is that the sort of community you want? The policy should just be to not comment unless it is useful - that way you avoid flame-wars in the comments.


Engaging in civil discourse is extremely important.

I'm going to have to strongly disagree with the "don't argue with close votes" part of your suggestion. It's a fantastic idea to explain specifically why you're voting to close, and I think a lot of people do that on a regular basis. However, if we ask people to do that, it only seems fair to let those who disagree voice their responses. Otherwise, you can have a question closed without any rationale against it. And while we definitely need to close off-topic/broad/opinion-based questions quickly, that doesn't mean that there isn't time to discuss it.

Now, there's a difference between arguing and discussing. The former is generally bad; the latter can be good. Internet arguments are often pointless and unproductive. But a civil exchange of conflicting ideas in order to produce a better result is productive, so long as people are willing to think about other points of view. That kind of thing I can strongly encourage.

Comments are sometimes good for this if you're just responding pretty briefly. Longer discussions can and will get moved to chat. As a mod, I'm actually sometimes a bit reluctant to move comments to chat for questions with pending close/reopen votes, because people voting to close probably won't go to the chat room, and so they'll miss out on a lot of crucial discussion. So it's definitely good to leave these sort of remarks in comments. However, if something's getting long, and it's mainly between two people, chat is the place for it.

Downvote conversations can be good . . . and bad.

If I get a downvote on a post, I won't complain. It's not productive at all, and generally it just makes everyone a bit more touchy. That's unnecessary. However, if I get a couple downvotes on a post, I might leave a comment under it like

Explanations of downvotes, while absolutely not mandatory, can be helpful, because they let me improve a post. Please do downvote if I've made a mistake somewhere - I'd rather people downvote me if I'm wrong - but if you have the time, I'd appreciate it if you can point out where I've gone wrong. Thanks.

I'd only post something like this if I've gotten quite a few downvotes and I really, after re-reading my post a couple times, can't see what I've done wrong. As such, this is a last resort to try to improve my post. It doesn't attack anyone and makes it clear that downvotes are a good thing. I'd just prefer to write a correct post than an incorrect one.

That said, that's usually it. If someone does comment, I'll make the changes and thank them for their time. If not, then so be it. I move on.

Forget about it.

Actually, I'd say that's my best piece of advice - move on. No matter what your response is to any of the things discussed in this meta thread, you should always think about accepting that sometimes things don't always work out the way you want. Maybe the downvoters are right and maybe they're wrong. If you're not going to get some advice on how to improve your post, then accept that and move on. Ask, answer, vote, comment.

But we always have to remember that in the end, a downvote or two (or three) isn't all that important, and there's no reason to force people to comment when they vote. Move on, help people, and try to gain some more fake Internet points.

  • $\begingroup$ "Forget about it" is impossible until we'll get an option to opt-out of @ notifications. Possibly a verbose one, that will tell the next commenter that person he tries to ping with @ won't be notified. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 24 '17 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot I don't mean to imply that a person should actively ignore someone if they comment. But if they aren't getting responses, then they should move on. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Mar 24 '17 at 14:09

When someone is responding to a downvote with explanation, there are two overlapping conversations happening simultaneously.

  1. The merits of the downvote.
  2. Refining the question/answer.

Having conversations on how to improve answers benefits the community. Arguing about the downvote is disruptive. The problem with asking "why?" is that it's impossible to determine the motives behind asking the question.

It's probably for the best if we encourage people to use comments to improve the question and not to discuss voting.

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    $\begingroup$ And then try to get the results into the post via edits as soon as possible. If the author of the post is answering questions or making clarifications in comments, please either ask for an edit or (if it's clear what needs to be done) do it yourself. We sometimes get 20-comment discussion threads where we should have gotten a couple questions and then an edit. Please help. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 24 '17 at 18:36

Eh, yes and no.

I prefer to leave comment votes when its a fixable matter. It dosen't matter whether I downvoted it. One of the nice things about these places as I use it is there's very little purely negative reinforcement.

If something is ... so bad there's nothing that can be done or if its comments have (and I lift this almost wholesale fromt he official wording) - degraded into pointless bickering or noise, and they are all unsalvagable they should be gone.

However, lets not forget the role of comments as a teaching tool.

You could always go "I did not downvote this but ...." or just point out what's wrong.

Telling folks not to comment at all, is a bit counterproductive

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not telling not to comment. I'm telling not to argue with people who show good will to comment on downvotes. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 24 '17 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, about "teaching tool", don't you think it's weird that people who argue usually have only a small fraction of rep the people who commented on their close votes do? Who should be teaching, who should be learning?... $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 24 '17 at 9:44
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    $\begingroup$ Well, the initial comment might not be accurate, and I've had surprising luck over the last 6-7 years on SE using comments that way. Its sometimes worth trying to turn an argument constructive and its sometimes worth walking away. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Mar 24 '17 at 9:46

I agree with Molot. While I think there can be good reasons to argue a close vote, since that vote is based on an established criteria, the entire point of the downvote is that it is left up to each user's subjective judgment.

Collectively, the judgment of all the users of this site is better than the singular judgement of any one of us. By contributing your downvote, you are contributing to the collective wisdom of the site.

If you disagree with another user's downvote, the appropriate action is to give that post an upvote (assuming that post merits an upvote, in your judgement).


Let me interject my personal experience, because arguing from authority makes no sense.

I tend to pop onto WorldBuilder for a few days because I like thinking about hard problems. People like my answers, it's fun enough to rack up a thousand points or more, and both questions and answers usually make me think.

Sometime within a week, I'll start seeing a raft of closed questions. These are marked as "too opinion based", "too much science, should be r/science", "not enough science", "too narrow", or "too broad". I haven't seen a reason translating to "too polka-dotted" but I expect that I will. Usually, the question has a dozen people commenting and thinking first.

This gets boring, and I leave WorldBuilding for another month or two. I point out that closing questions, while there can be an upside, can have a downside.

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. It makes me wonder if some take things a bit too seriously. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Apr 14 '17 at 20:03

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