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The voting system is built around anonymous votes without explanation, demanding one is thus impossible and a waste of time. I try to explain my down votes (but sometimes I don't) and people who down voted a question will most likely not come back later and explain. So I feel that comments by an answerer asking for why his or her answer was down voted are noise.

So would me flagging those comments (as spam?) be an OK thing to do? Or are those comments acceptable?

For me they are a waste of time reading and today I even saw a question asking twice for reasons.

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If there are no other comments and you're going to down vote the question/answer, it's polite and useful to post a comment. The FAQ specifically asks you to do so. It's part of the etiquette of the site. Without the comment, the down vote is fairly worthless.

I believe someone asking for a comment to explain a down vote is the same as asking someone to follow the rules of the site.

For example my answer here, currently has two down votes. I have no idea why it's being down voted. How can I improve my answer if I don't know what's wrong? Without knowing how to improve my answer, what's the point of the down vote? I can only assume there's nothing wrong with the answer, and maybe some people just don't like me :)


Matsemann, to address your comments:

  1. I didn't say the rules say you "always must" provide an explanation, I said they specifically "ask" you to do so, and they do: "Add comments indicating what, specifically, is wrong". While my statement in bold is a statement, it's a attitudinal statement (it says "I believe..."). Adding a comment for a down vote is as close to a rule as anything else is in the FAQ. It says to add comments saying what's wrong, I don't know how it can get clearer than that. Just because it's not enforced automatically through the system does not make it less of a rule. Being polite shouldn't be enforced. You should want to do that.

  2. I assume you're referring to the "people don't like me" sentence. I don't take down votes personally. So don't worry, I'm not having a bad time. The smiley face at the end of that sentence indicates humor. See the FAQ: "Bring your sense of humor." ;)

  3. That's your choice. It's a grey area deciding between a down vote and no vote. Since the down vote text says "This answer is not useful", those are typically the answers I reserve the down vote for. If an answer is simply not as good as another answer, I just don't vote on it at all. Though If I were to down vote, since the FAQ asks me to comment, I do. I don't think of it as "tailoring a huge reasoning", just a simple comment will usually do the trick. It doesn't take that much brain power to state why I think an answer is bad. It's also the polite thing to do. We don't have to be anonymous jerks just because the system allows it. Be a known jerk like me :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If the rules is that you always must provide an explanation for downvoting the system should ask for a reason. Currently that's not the rules and the system does not, so I assume it is okey do down vote without explaining why. Thus your statement is bold is false. \$\endgroup\$ – Matsemann Sep 23 '12 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you take every down vote personally instead of accepting that some people just didn't like your answer you're gonna have a bad time on the internet. \$\endgroup\$ – Matsemann Sep 23 '12 at 11:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ And last: often my reason for down voting is that the answer just isn't good enough. Instead of saying "copy content of nice answer above you to make it correct" I down vote the bad answers and upvote the ones I like. I'm not gonna tailor a huge reasoning every time I down vote when there are other answers that are correct/better. \$\endgroup\$ – Matsemann Sep 23 '12 at 11:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matsemann I really think that is bad practice, wouldn't it be more appropriate to only down vote answers that are wrong and misleading or simply offer no informational value? Besides I tend to agree it is better to "be a known jerk.." because than you welcome the other party to enlighten you, perhaps you misunderstood the answer/question altogether? \$\endgroup\$ – wolfdawn Sep 26 '12 at 13:57

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