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(The title is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek)

To preface things:

  • I do not think it should be compulsory for downvoters to explain the reasoning behind their downvote since some might be doing it to help the site have better questions/clean it up and may not have the time to explain their reasoning for each and every downvote.
  • I support the idea that voting is and should remain an anonymous feature.

I wanted to understand why some downvote a question by a new user and do not explain the reasoning behind the downvote in the comments. My objection to the fear of revenge downvoting is that new users will not have enough rep to downvote. I also think that explaining the reasoning to new users may help them and future new users understand the site a bit better.

The only reasoning I can think of right now is the lack of time to explain each downvote, and they might feel they have to repeat everywhere since new users might be repeating which would be quite frustrating.

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  • $\begingroup$ for context I received two downvotes on this question: chemistry.stackexchange.com/q/174307/130029. (I am not complaining about this, just thought that it would be a bit nice to understand why it was downvoted) $\endgroup$
    – AtoZ
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Feature request on asking a user for the reason on downvoting a question $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ @NilayGhosh not really I don't want this to be a feature, I just wanted to understand the thinking process of the people who downvote but don't comment $\endgroup$
    – AtoZ
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ then please see: chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4449/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ There's a chat room for this! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ @AtoZ Hello AtoZ. If you read the suggestions similar to yours, they are not well received and disregarded, always, $\forall$ cases. I also get downvoted a lot, so here is my recommendation given that the system will not change: study harder, write better, and think more deeply. Don't get frustrated or sad by your first interaction. I hope we read more of you on Chemistry.SE! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ @NilayGhosh yup that helped, thanks $\endgroup$
    – AtoZ
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ @MetalStorm thank you for the encouraging words, I do genuinely appreciate it $\endgroup$
    – AtoZ
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 4:12

1 Answer 1

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If someone down-votes, just assume it is for one of these three reasons:

  1. They feel that "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful". This is the text on the ugly newly-designed circled downward-facing triangle button someone clicked. The text is the same for all StackExchange sites.
  2. They feel like the OP did not follow the good advice in the site-specific help and in the quick start help provided for new contributors (or did not bother to read it).
  3. They did not like the question for another reason. Maybe they were hoping that it would get sufficient down votes to get off the front page of the site.

If you get down votes, check if you can address 1. or 2. and edit your question accordingly. If there is nothing you can do to improve the question, accept the reality that some people read it and felt sufficiently strongly about it that they decided to spend extra time to click the down button.

Another thought (not mentioned by the OP, but this is meta):

Take a look at the views and at the vote tally (and if you have sufficient reputation, the number of up and down votes). Here is a random example:

enter image description here

So 178 users saw this question, and 2 answered (they must have thought the question was worth their time). There were 178 chances to get an up vote. When I looked, there were 3 up votes and 4 down votes, and I did not vote, even though I wrote an answer (I try to remember to not answer if I don't like the question, and to up-vote if I like the question and write an answer).

So when you post a better question (or update it and with that push it to the top of the question feed), you have to chance to convince the e.g. 171 non-voters to chime in. This is a better goal than trying to understand why individuals down-vote. Even if you knew their reason, chances are low that you could change their mind, and chances are high you would get into an argument about it.

If you are still reading and thinking about voting, here is a plug to vote more often. If you do, votes will better reflect the entire community's evaluation of questions and answers. For this reason, SE changed the appearance of the buttons (to entice us to click, not to have a beautiful layout).

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  • $\begingroup$ @Karsten Thanks this was what I was actually looking (I might not have been very clear in the question), I was mainly interested in understanding the psyche of the users of Chemistry SE. $\endgroup$
    – AtoZ
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ on a side note I would just like to say that I find it so cool, that the people that I have been seeing (stalking) on this website are answering my question and interacting with me. I just to thank you all for answering questions in general because it does genuinely help and is greatly appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – AtoZ
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AtoZ Yeah, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky had a pretty cool idea when they started this, and it works well when there is a strong community that is excited about asking good questions and providing reliable answers. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'd add that the "not useful" clause is too ambiguous and therefore not very useful. Obviously it is useful to the person posting it, unless they happen to post nonsense or it is off-topic. In addition, if you edit a post those who downvoted are given a chance to change their mind and the down might turn into a non-vote or upvote. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 3:48

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