Would you avoid downvoting an answer with a factual error, especially one that is central to the answer? Is it considered "rude" or something? Sure one can leave a comment noting the problem with the answer, but if you are noting that there is a key factual problem, why would you not also downvote? You can always change your vote after the answer is fixed. Of course then the person being downvoted might have a good guess that you were the one who did it.

It seems to me that if someone avoids downvoting for valid reasons, they just give more power to people who downvote for bad reasons.

I guess I'm trying to decide whether it makes the most sense to respond to factual errors (that are central to the whole point of an answer) in which of the following ways--

A) Leave a comment noting the problem, and downvote, because it's a bad answer, and the whole point of this site is to find good answers.

B) Downvote, because it's a bad answer, and the whole point of this site is to find good answers, but avoid commenting, because I don't want the answerer to guess that I'm the downvoter. (I don't like this choice. I'd only downvote with no comment if the issue were so glaring that anyone should be able to figure it out, or if the issue has already been addressed in regard to previous answers.)

C) Leave a comment noting the problem, but not downvote, because when you downvote answers with glaring key factual errors, someone eventually decides that you are not a positive person and starts downvoting all YOUR answers, so it's better just to decide that you will never downvote, ever, period, unless someone is being intentionally wrong or just is being incredibly negligent with finding the truth; otherwise leave downvoting to someone else.

D) Downvote, but only leave a comment if you think the person making the answer is likely to understand and agree with the comment and make an improvement to the answer. If you think he/ she will likely not understand or agree with the comment, don't bother commenting, because it will likely just tend to lead to an extended discussion in the comments, which is not the purpose of the comments. Particularly relevant to cases where the person has repeatedly disagreed w/ you in the past. (But, this can be avoided simply by not responding to their comment to your comment)

I see that some related discussion appears here-- Can we stop this "I dont know the answer therefore I downvote" thing?

Also extensively here-- Encouraging people to explain downvotes

The general trend seems to be that comments are encouraged . I suppose I will generally comment. Even if I know there is NO chance the person will agree with the comment and improve the answer, it's good to show other users what is wrong with the answer. (The fact that the originally poster of the answer won't likely agree with my comment, also means that there are likely other readers who wouldn't notice the problem if it weren't pointed out.) And I don't really care that much if someone decides to serially downvote all my answers for revenge.

Except of course in cases of just complete and utter negligence w/ discovering the facts-- then why bother comment as everyone else will understand the problem anyway.

Anyway-- thoughts of others?


Well, serial downvoting for revenge is clearly a violation of terms of service. That's a situation for mods to handle.

A factual error is a definite reason for a downvote. That's what makes good answers float to the top and poor answers sink to the bottom. If there's disagreement between you and the op, that's why each person only gets one vote. If others agree that it's wrong then the answer will go down.

It's more constructive to comment as to the reason for the DV, but it's not required. As Andrew T notes in comments, there's no reason to announce, "I downvoted because..." Suggesting an edit is less likely to seem confrontational. But if I really believe an answer is just plain wrong, that's what I think DV is there for. If you think a comment will be received poorly and won't be constructive, then DV and move on.

At least that's my take on it.

  • $\begingroup$ Recommended approach when commenting on downvote is to avoid declaring that you're the downvoter because it's just not constructive. Try to suggest the correction instead to avoid confrontation. $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Nov 9 '18 at 8:34

I feel like a downvote is a little harsh for a first response. We all make mistakes, I'll try to leave a comment if something in the answer seems wrong. Especially for new users, it might be a bit off-putting to have their first answers downvoted right away. Even if I also leave a comment, a downvote may make someone read a comment more harshly than intended.

I try to save my downvotes for answers that I think are clearly wrong in some aspect and the author doesn't seem like they will be changing it. I'm not saying everyone should do this, it's just my philosophy.

  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, votes can be undo-ed/changed when the post is edited, so there's actually nothing wrong to downvote the wrong answer and to retract/upvote after the answer is fixed. $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Nov 9 '18 at 8:36

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