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We all know the damage that anonymous downvoting does, especially to novice users. We have been asked repeatedly to provide a welcoming atmosphere for new users and anonymous downvoting certainly isn't part of that.

Some people prefer to hide behind anonymity but feel strongly enough about posts to downvote them. That will always happen and cannot be avoided. But if this happens in an unfair way, that is to well-researched and clearly written posts, should we not be allowed to counter the downvote by an upvote?

The particular question that prompts this one made a point why it is not off-topic and deserved in my eyes to linger around in order to attract a knowledgeable answer. Now it is on hold which prevents that from happening. Can't we all be a bit more relaxed about that?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm having trouble understanding exactly what you're asking here. Could you elaborate on what you mean by "should we not be allowed to counter the downvote by an upvote?" The post is currently +8 which is fairly positive. The issue of being closed is separate. People with sufficient rep are of course free to vote up or vote to reopen. $\endgroup$ – fooot Nov 5 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ If you're asking if it's ok to upvote something just because you think the downvotes weren't fair, it's discouraged. $\endgroup$ – fooot Nov 5 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ @fooot: Thank you for the very relevant link! When I saw the question, the count stood at -1 and I left a comment which (I think) is responsible for the current score. What I am asking here is answered by that link and the answer is I should not have done it. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 6 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ I suggested to ask this on main meta but I'll see if anyone wants to come here and answer you $\endgroup$ – Federico Nov 6 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ "the answer is I should not have done it". glad we are now on the same page at least. can I ask you to be less snarky next time? $\endgroup$ – Federico Nov 6 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Federico: I posted that before I read your comment. On main this topic has seen a lot of traffic already. I don't think I need to add more, fooot's comment was really helpful. But still, the issue is also how to deal with the discouragement that comes with anonymous downvotes (also covered at length on main). The current solution with the "new user" tag is obviously not enough, so just discouraging opposite action is not addressing the root problem in my eyes. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 6 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf going against common practice without previously checking/verifying if the idea is acceptable is not ideal as well. and I think that you should participate on main meta / communal areas more. The SE admins are experimenting with features to reduce the negative impact of downvoting for new users. $\endgroup$ – Federico Nov 6 at 12:20
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For posterity, on the question "How can luggage be lost if it has a bag tag?," Bianfable wrote:

To the downvoter: Please explain why you voted, especially to a new user!

You responded:

I'm as upset as you about anonymous downvotes. You know how I handle them? Cancel by upvoting! Just did it myself.

Federico ♦ responded to you:

that's not a proper way of using the voting privileges.

After a few more comments on that thread, you ask here:

Some people prefer to hide behind anonymity but feel strongly enough about posts to downvote them. That will always happen and cannot be avoided. But if this happens in an unfair way, that is to well-researched and clearly written posts, should we not be allowed to counter the downvote by an upvote?

Of course you can always upvote a well-researched and clearly written post; I don't see how that could be considered inappropriate. But you shouldn't upvote something just to cancel a downvote, with no regard for the quality of the post.

That's my understanding, anyway. I might be misunderstanding what Federico said.

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  • $\begingroup$ you're quite right. Any vote should stand on its own. I know there are a few people who will automatically downvote anything I post for example simply because they don't like me. That doesn't mean everyone else should automatically upvote everything I post (though I greatly appreciate the support). $\endgroup$ – jwenting Nov 19 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting FYI your <<I know there are a few people who will automatically downvote anything I post>> is not supported by data. $\endgroup$ – Federico Nov 19 at 12:21
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From what I see, you're describing the fairly common practice that more than a few downvotes can result in more downvotes, and people then cast close votes because they feel it's a "bad quality" question.

If more people had upvoted, this question might have gone the other way.

You can't really counter downvotes with upvotes (you can, but there's always going to be more anonymous downvoters). But what you can do is take a second look at the question and see if there are ways of improving it through editing:

  • Is the meaning of the question clear?
  • Is there enough information to answer the question?
  • Is there too much distracting information that prevents the actual question from being clear?
  • Would some formatting/paragraph breaks increase readability?

There's lots of people who are willing to pass judgment on questions simply by voting. There aren't many who are willing to put the work in by editing or suggesting improvements.

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  • $\begingroup$ My issue is that we should not discourage new users. The question was clear, there was no possibility for improvement. Only some people felt it does not belong here and downvoted it. The question even addressed the choice of AvSE in a plausible way, so even that was covered. An anonymous downvote happened nonetheless. So the only action that was left to me was to give it an upvote. Or do nothing (which is against my character). $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 6 at 12:15
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I don't think serial downvoting is an actual problem here. I've seen it on SO, but here and on SE in general, perhaps 2-3 "maybe"-grade examples in total.

Bad questions/answers get downvoted because they're bad, not because someone else did so, and most of them get deleted within the day.

Serial upvoting is much more common. I can recall at least 30 popular questions where a factually wrong answer was posted, heavily upvoted due to the question matching some common google search, and then all the factually correct answers were ignored because they weren't at the top. TBF, many were a bit "bad" in that they went on a tangent to disprove the wrong-but-first answer, not just address the question. Not that it would've made any difference.

That said, if an answer that appears correct has a score of -1, I think it's worth taking a closer look to, and upvoting if it's correct. Not as a balancing act, but because that +1 or -1 vote is much more meaningful than one on an already 100+ rated answer. Vote your conscience, but take the time and the attention to cast an informed vote when it might be decisive.

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If you look at my voting history, you will see that I have cast 1809 votes, only two of which are downvotes. In a few cases, I have downvoted and then retracted my downvote once the question was edited so in reality the number is probably somewhere around 10-20. When I don’t like a question, unless it’s obviously a bad question (and it takes a lot to be a bad question) and it obviously won’t contribute to the body of knowledge here on SE, I simply move on without voting either way. Likewise, I don’t drive-by upvote either. In most cases, I will only upvote a question/answer if there is something to be gained from reading it. Fortunately, I have found 1809+ good things on this site to upvote so far.

To provide a welcoming environment, I encourage everyone to be stingy with their votes and to give each one careful thought, especially when downvoting. Except for a few exceptional cases, it should never be necessary to downvote a question.

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