I answered this question: Synthesizing fuels with excess energy and received a downvote.
I asked in comments why and got a response that demonstrated the poster did not understand my answer.

I have been very hesitant to downvote others (on this site) because I do not wish to have to argue with people whose answers display ignorance on the subject they are answering.

The last time I received a downvote, that I thought was unreasonable, I merely avoided the site for awhile.

If I am going to get downvoted for sound answers on the basis of ignorance, then what is the point of reputation on the site?
My understanding is that voting is supposed to ensure higher quality answers. If answers that I can solidly support are downvoted then the reverse is occurring.
Why would I want to be a top ten percent contributor if I get ignorant feedback and downvotes?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Why do people downvote but refrain from commenting the reason? $\endgroup$
    – Vylix
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ I read that before posting my question. Why don't you re-read my question? $\endgroup$
    – steverino
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 2:32
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You might have read that question and its answers, but at least I don't see any indication in this question of you having done so. In that case, it's usually better to highlight the differences from your understanding between the two, than simply shooting back a "Why don't you re-read my question?" at the person who thought the answers to an existing question also would answer yours. Remember that even in disagreement, be nice. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 9:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @steverino It's interesting to read your response in light of dot_Sp0T’s answer. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ Note that this answer is now in VLQ queue: "This answer was flagged as low-quality because of its length and content." $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 13:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "I have been very hesitant to downvote others (on this site) because I do not wish to have to argue with people whose answers display ignorance on the subject they are answering". You don't have to leave a comment if you don't want. It is better to leave one as it can help the person understand the problem. Arguing starts after a couple of messages usually. Just stop responding or flag for a moderator if it starts to get ugly. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ "My understanding is voting is supposed to ensure higher quality answers." It is often not the case. IIRC, our top voted answer is about 2 our 3 lines long with around 300 upvotes. Be helpful to the asker, that's the point of the site, don't care about rep too much. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 15:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Vincent Actually, it's at +550/-0... You can search is:a and sort by votes. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @steverino Pretty much what Vincent said. Just like you have found, it's often a good thing to leave an explanation for a downvote, but (despite having been suggested zillions of times) doing so is not required. Keep it civil, keep it helpful, and if it starts to deteriorate into an argument, flag it for moderator attention and disengage. We'll look at it and take appropriate action, whatever that might be in the particular case. Feel free to look through our flagging tag here on Worldbuilding Meta. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 20:49

5 Answers 5


I am pretty sure I was the first to downvote your answer!

Note, I am also the person that asked the question.

I downvoted your answer because it changes the premise of the question.

In a black-box question about how to utilize excess energy, your answer talks about reactor efficiencies and $/Watt ratios. You might have valid points, but you don't even try to answer the actual question.

I didn't think it necessary of a comment to explain my actions as the reason seemed rather obvious to me. Heck you even start your answer by explaining that you won't answer the actual question - so what did you expect? Praise?

I can not talk for other downvoters though.

On another note your answer, at least to me, has a hostile/superior overtone:

The normal solution to this question is handled from an economic viewpoint rather than an engineering one.

The reasons why are fairly simple to see. Consider a few facts, then an economic picture emerges:


The steverino paraphrase of the three laws is thus:

  1. There is a game.
  2. You can't win.
  3. You can't break even.

emphasis mine

You might have had intended these as funny banter or something along that line. But the outcome, combined with your answer not even addressing the actual problem, came out quite differently.

Another example of this would be in your very question on here:

If I am going to get downvoted for sound answers on the basis of ignorance, then what is the point of reputation on the site?

You're instantly assuming that the downvotes must be due to misunderstanding of your answer. You don't even consider the possibility of the downvoting party being smart enough to understand your answer and still downvoting it.

Looking through the comments on your answer as well as this question on here you spend numerous occasions to call out the other party/parties ignorant or outright dumb. People don't like being called stupid.

Heck you even call them out on their own answers being inadequate. Yet you don't do that on their answer, no you do it in the comments of your own answer - which is a form of deflecting the actual subject of the discussion.

You lash out on all sides yet are the only one getting struck by these hits.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ As another downvoter I would like to say my reasons were similar to dot_sp0ts. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 18:14

I upvoted Dot_spots but had my own 2 cents:

I didn't downvote your answer simply because I avoid highly answered straight forward questions like that (little room for improvement). But when I do down vote answers its largely because I find your answer wrong. In the case you mentioned, I too would have downvoted you simply because one glance at the OP's question and you can tell what you answered with was completely off topic.

Sometimes its incredibly helpful to provide unrelated information if it helps improve understanding of the topic however you must still tie in a valid attempt at addressing the question otherwise you are basically spamming.

Also down votes are a completely subjective mechanic. I could down vote you simply because I feel like it without reason. Similarly the mob could down vote you simply because they feel like it.

there's no point in trying to fight it, maybe you can divine a reason everyone dislikes you and adapt a response to reduce or counter (like editing your response based on comments).

Not everyone agrees, that is why we have a voting system, to perhaps come to a mutual agreement on what's right and wrong.

Heck, I've had posts voted for deletion and im sure ive rubbed some people the wrong way, all you can do is adapt and move on.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the question would've been more about what to do with excess power in general, then the answer would've been spot on actually. The point is that the question was defined very specifically about one way to deal with excess power and to explore that simple narrow avenue of ideas some more - so there's not much breadth for any other answers indeed.. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T exactly, his point was valid and provided helpful information on the root topic however his answer was no where near the realm of the OP's actual question. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 13:27

If I am going to get downvoted for sound answers on the basis of ignorance, then what is the point of reputation on the site?

You've written 30 answers, two of which are deleted. Of the remaining 28, 17 have a net positive score, 10 have a net score of 0, and only one - the one you're referring to - has a score below 0. That's really not that terrible. Heck, your latest answer has eight upvotes and no downvotes. On the whole, a lot more people thought your content's been helpful than unhelpful.

So, when you think that someone's misunderstood your answer, and you can't make them understand your point . . . consider that that single vote is going be lost in the positive feedback you get on the majority if your posts.


What is the point of the reputation in this site? Nothing!

Well, almost. Rep point actually tells you "nothing" about the quality of a post. Rep point only dictates what you can and can't do in community moderation. Don't get clingy on your rep points. It's just a gamified system so users earn "something" in return of their contribution. It actually means "nothing" in regard to someone's posts (which should be judged objectively regardless of the poster's reputation)

If answers that I can solidly support are downvoted then the reverse is occurring. Yes, but it depends on other factors too!

I visited your answer, and found that it is a wall of text. I'm not someone who downvote because of this, but I know someone does. Maybe you're just unlucky that someone downvote just because your answer is hard to read. Try to play a bit with formatting options that allow people to read your post easier. Bold, italic, quote, paragraph.

First, please understand that voting is a privilege to users that have earned it. You can give upvote and downvote to any post you want, without telling any reason, at all.

The post is funny? Upvote. The post shows an attempt of research? Upvote. The post is poorly written? Downvote. The post conflicts with your personal view? You can always downvote that!

Be objective, though. If you don't like the post, you can downvote. If you like the post, upvote. The only thing forbidden is voting because you like/don't like the user. The system can recognize that and reverse it.

Second, please do downvote bad posts. This may be a poorly written post (mostly unclear ones), extremely short question or answer, troll/spam question/answer. (and flag them!).

This is by-design, to allow users to differentiate good posts from bad ones.

Third, don't be discouraged by downvote. Downvote just means someone disagree with you, not a punishment. Do evaluate your post compared to the community standard, though. It's a helpful reminder if you gather a bunch of downvote that you might have posted something that the community doesn't agree.

There's a funny post about someone losing a key, that eventually led him to accidentally downvote a post. This means that a downvote doesn't mean much. The world still goes on.

tl;dr Downvote is not the end of the world. Even if it does, we can always build another one ;)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Speaking as someone with a gold badge for what can only be described as a penis joke, humour gets votes. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix which post do you mean? $\endgroup$
    – Vylix
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 9:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This one, for which I got populist $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 9:34
  • You will always get a few downvotes, the first few will upset you more than later ones
  • The more questions you answer, the more downvotes you will get
  • You will get most of your downvotes when you say something challenging

In this case you have challenged the question, this will get you a downvote or two. You have also refused to answer the question even though standard current solutions exist. This will bias you towards downvotes.

  • $\begingroup$ ...when you say something challenging or the quality is just super bad. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Green I think we might delete more than we downvote for the really bad stuff $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 8:11

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