In the Last few weeks, I saw some posts (questions and answers) downvoted without any comment, especially for posts coming from new comers. I agree some posts don't reach the quality standard we want on this website, but I think putting a comment suggesting edits is more constructive than just downvoting.

I think asking for explanation in comments is not productive as downvoters won't be notified and have no reason to come back to the post to leave a comment.

Is it possible/desirable to not allow downvote if no comment has been written?

EDIT: I think I have to develop some arguments:

  • I mostly asking this question because of posts being downvoted more than once with no comment from anyone. If a comment explaining why downvote, I see no problem to upvote the comment and downvote the post.
  • for the signal to noise ratio, signal can be increased by educating people, noise can be reduced thanks to the deletion and close mechanisms. Moreover those mechanisms offer simple way to provide reason for the negative feedback
  • for references for other SE website, different website already have differences. e.g. Latex.SE require MVE while stackoverflow require the smallest piece of code possible. Moreover, each website has its own community. Crockers rules are obvious for coders but not necessarily for all community. Leaving a comment explaining that is educating people and communities.
  • the close and flag button do not require much effort.
  • my goal is to share knowledge. Given that goal, commenting and downvoting come together, the first one explaining why the post should not receive visibility.
  • new comers may not be used to SE mechanisms. Orienting them to useful resources (e.g. by leaving comments) can make them understand those mechanisms without reject those mechanisms. Thus I'm more able to accept downvote if the post is not from a newcomer.

EDIT: I just add an recent example, downvoted in less than 10 minutes with no comment (so I added one so that the OP knows how to improve it): When an Airforce plane is “Stationary” should you still smell chemicals?

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    $\begingroup$ This is not something the platform supports. It's been discussed a bunch of times, and always pushed back $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Feb 13, 2020 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ I wish to close my question as a dupe, but dupes are not on meta.aviation.SE.... $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 14, 2020 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ It's fine, you can leave it or you can delete it. Up to you. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Feb 14, 2020 at 8:38
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't DV the recent example you added, but isn't edit the post already explained in the banner? The longer an unclear question remains open, the more chance a poor answer will be posted, adding to the reviewers workload. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Apr 19, 2020 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 I totally agree, that's why closing is more suited than downvoting $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Apr 20, 2020 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe not enforce, as through a digital mechanism, but enforce as through a cultural more. I, for one, find extremely distasteful that people downvote without explanation. That seems churlish and childish. If flagging and closing are not the right answers, then there's obviously a problem which is nuanced and therefore demands at least some small amount of care. It doesn't take long to articulate a brief thought, and if a pre-existing comment already sufficiently explains the downvote then other downvoters can upvote said comment. $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2023 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


I'll keep it short, and with a reference:

Commenting is an alternative to down voting.

What are the alternatives to downvoting?

  • If something is wrong, please leave a comment or edit[*] the post to correct it.

From: Help Center > Privileges > vote down

If the post is so sloppy** that it deserves a DV, then it doesn't deserve the time it takes to write a comment.

* How much should be added to an answer by another user?

** Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

  • $\begingroup$ If it doesn't deserve time to comment, isn't deletion more suitable than downvote? $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Mar 5, 2020 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH: But how is a post deleted? It's deleted more quickly if it's a negative score. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Mar 5, 2020 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ if you flag it, you attract reviewers' attention, and thus increase the chance the community as a whole delete this post. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Mar 5, 2020 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ The majority of users sometimes prefer to express their rage that their answer didn't get the desired attention by downvoting other users. How can this issue be solved? We can't depend entirely on the users. Some moderator attention would be needed. $\endgroup$
    – Super
    Apr 19, 2020 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Super: There is a system in place that catches rage downvoting. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Apr 19, 2020 at 23:23

Downvoting is not some offense or the equivalent of beating someone up. It's merely a way to say "I don't think this is a useful post".

Adding a comment is always an option, but the voting system exists for a reason. Sometimes there's not much to say, as the post was too short to comment on. Other times, it's all been said by others already.

While deletion is the best outcome for really zero-effort answers, and for most bad questions, sometimes a sensible but wrong answer is best left downvoted.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you think a post is not useful, why don't you dare explain why? If it were obvious, the post wouldn't exist at all. Explaining can be seen as education to improve the overall quality. Also note that each community on stackexchange network has its own usage (e.g. MVE on latex.se is expected to be longer than code samples on stackoverflow) thus it's up to us to complete mechanism usage to better fit this community's mindset (that's why meta is made for) $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 16, 2020 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ @ManuH It's not about daring. If no appreciable effort has been put into a post (but it has survived its likely deletion vote), downvoting is an appropriate course of action. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Feb 16, 2020 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ Yet, posts with appreciable effort (kind of subjective) are downvoted in less than half an hour (without time for review) without being flag for review, without comments, without explanation. I doubt those downvotes are useful for our community $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 17, 2020 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ManuH You don't need comments for upvoting. Downvoting already costs reputation, is restricted to experienced users, has just 1/5 the rep effect of upvoting, etc. I'm against the push to stigmatize downvotes as something extraordinary and requiring explanations. Again, it's often the case that the reason is already stated in another comment. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Feb 17, 2020 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ it is not uncommon to see downvotes on posts without any comments nor flags for review nor closing vote. Those cases are the problematic ones $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 17, 2020 at 10:37
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    $\begingroup$ @ManuH as someone who occasionally downvotes without leaving a comment, it mostly has to do with not wanting to expend the energy of commenting when my experience on this site tells me it will not be worth the effort or lead to an improvement. I'll take the small rep hit to express that I think the post is bad, and I'll do it by spending what is, to my mind, an effort proportional to what the poster put into creating it. This tends to mean that unregistered users, some newbies and certain "vets" will not get to read my reasons, and the SE model is fine with that. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2020 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ @AEheresupportsMonica the close and flag buttons don't take effort and are more effective as you just have to choose between few already well enough written explanations the one you think is best suited. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 18, 2020 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH That is not an either/or situation, though. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2020 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, i need to edit the question, the comments are not suited to expose all my arguments $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 18, 2020 at 13:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ When I downvote I leave a comment explaining why if there isn't already a comment for the same reason. If there is, then I upvote that comment. If everyone had to comment, you'd have the potential for a lot of duplicate comments.. It is problematic (and annoying) to see downvoted questions with no comments, but I think we have to live with that $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2020 at 18:49


Downvoting is protected as a fundamental tool of SE sites. Yes, it is often frustrating to recveive a down vote and not be sure of where it came from. I have walked a few miles in those shoes, yes I have.

Down Votes: Deal with them. They come, they go. The sun does not shine on the same dog all of the time.

Sometimes, you can look at your question or answer and divine what might have gotten a down vote, and sometimes you cannot. In the former case, improve your question or answer. In the latter case, grow up and accept that all is not a marshmellow treat in your life.

None of this will have an impact on how much your dog loves you.

I think you need to remember the core value of SE sites: excellent signal-to-noise ratio, not "yet another internet site where people bicker."

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with your last sentence, we should strengthen the signal (by educating people, e.g. by leaving comments) $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Feb 20, 2020 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH You asked about "enforcing" and thus creating a rule. The times when a comment to go with a down vote will be useful must be left up to the discretion of the voter. $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2020 at 13:21

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