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It is my perception that several on the site downvote my questions simply because they are mine, and not because of the content. Sometimes these are very simple questions which seem not to merit much effort and thus contain low efforts. Others they are very well composed and articulated questions if nothing else with plenty of effort.

Nonetheless they often get down votes but seldom ever with any explanation.

I think I am contempted by some for spiteful ideological reasons.

What can be done about all this?

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    It happens to us all - For example: today, soon after I made comment on a user's post one of my (well-received) answers to another of their questions got downvoted. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not. But without the downvoter being open and honest, their motivation will never be known.
    – user35069
    Oct 6, 2022 at 7:56
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    @Rick well it wasn't me - you're one of my favourite users. Oct 6, 2022 at 8:29

3 Answers 3

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What is the community's feeling toward silent/unexplained downvotes?

Unexplained downvotes are a form of shady and/or lazy censorship, at least where no one else has offered feedback that helps making sense of what might be wrong with the post.

The inability to know who downvoted (and why) makes it harder to discern their actual motive. I personally appreciate when a user comes forward and articulates his criticism, even if that criticism is inaccurate, biased, or outright vexatious.

It is relatively easy for StackExchange to implement functionality that requires a comment as condition for casting the first downvote on a question|answer. That would allow the author of the downvoted post know what to do: make the warranted improvement(s) or explain why the downvoter's impression is wrong.

It is my perception that several on the site downvote my questions simply because they are mine, and not because of the content.

To clarify, I have never downvoted your questions. I think votes, especially downvotes, do more harm than good because of the herd effect.

That being said, I hardly ever open your posts. Their title and their content are just not interesting enough for me to spend effort on them. I perceive most or all of them as stemming from random, pure curiosity with little-to-no practical use, let alone regarding a legal system of which most of us are not really knowledgeable.

I am surprised to hear of your negative experience here, given that another new user who also has been posting plenty of questions of the same sort received a rather favorable reaction. At times, the similarities in the type of questions has made me think that both profiles are used by the same person.

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    I greatly appreciate every part of this answer and strongly agree with all of it. I also find most of your posts relatively uninteresting and seldom open them, however this is not because they are yours and I totally respect all of your sentiments toward my posts. Thank you for piping up and sorry that your answer has been down voted in exactly the manner which you have described. Oct 4, 2022 at 16:14
  • I've regularly opined that such behaviour is (in my opinion in case it wasn't sufficiently clear from opined) cowardly. Speaking of censorship, I was once suspended from the site for a week because a user had complained about my actionable feedback and criticisms on their posts instead demanding that I simply down vote their posts that I don't find valuable. I responded that obeying their demand would in my opinion have been cowardly behaviour. This resulted in me being suspended by some similarly so cowardly as to act opaquely/anonymously moderators. I found this decision greatly disturbing Oct 4, 2022 at 17:00
  • And an even more unequivocal form of censorship but alas I (slightly) digress. Oct 4, 2022 at 17:01
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    Agreed with this answer; David Siegel and myself have, in the past, sought to have this implemented. @JosephP. you can rest assured, as in the past, if I have any issues with your questions, you will be made known directly, and not merely by downvoting — then you'll do as you please with it.
    – kisspuska
    Oct 5, 2022 at 2:34
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    I always appreciate your refreshingly direct style @kisspuska Oct 5, 2022 at 7:31
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    I downvoted this specifically because it mentions something very significant but then draws the wrong conclusion. "It is relatively easy for StackExchange to implement functionality that requires a comment as condition for casting the first downvote" - absolutely. However, the obvious conclusion is that this is not something that the owners of stack exchange want - ergo they want to enable anonymous voting, up and down.
    – Dale M Mod
    Oct 24, 2022 at 5:34
  • @DaleM You just contradicted yourself in a way that showcases downvoters' misreading or flawed rationale, and hence why knowing a downvoter's thought process helps in making sense what actually goes on: You agree --by saying "absolutely"-- with something you quote from this answer; immediately thereafter you depict as "obvious conclusion" something that this answer neither mentions nor implies; yet you assert that this answer "draws the wrong conclusion". BTW, the OP didn't even ask about what the owners of SE want in regard to unexplained downvotes.He asked about the community's position. Oct 24, 2022 at 11:25
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What is the community's feeling toward silent/unexplained downvotes?

They're fine. There is no requirement nor is there an obligation to explain your vote.

Comments are for clarifying or suggesting improvements to posts, not for explaining your vote. A user might consider a question irredeemable and a comment would have no value. Or there may already be comments there that say all they want to say. Or they might be in a hurry and thing "this is bad", vote, and move on.

This is just the way all Stack Exchange sites work.

Are you being targeted?

Probably not.

We can't see who voted on a post but the system can and it has algorithms that look for targeted downvotes and automatically rolls them back when found. See What is serial voting and how does it affect me?

Do your posts score well?

From the data, which you can query yourself, your posts do not score as well as the average high level (>100 post) user.

As stated, there doesn't appear to be anything systematic or malicious in this.

Your posts just seem to be out of step with the community: that may not be the fault of the community. I won't offer a critique here but if you are open to constructive feedback I'm happy to set up a private chat room.

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  • I'm more then happy to receive direct feedback from yourself or anyone else! Oct 4, 2022 at 5:30
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    My concern however is not that people are going through my profile to serially down vote but rather simply down voting my posts wherever and whenever they see one of them, but nonetheless because they're mine. Oct 4, 2022 at 5:36
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    I guess part of the difficulty is that people have different thresholds for when they downvote (or upvote) an answer. I too have noticed that @JosephP.'s questions get downvoted a lot, which I personally don't think is reasonable; I think most of his questions are absolutely fine. If it was just one or two questions getting downvoted then it wouldn't be an issue, but this is happening so often that it looks like a pattern. Oct 4, 2022 at 9:22
  • @DaleM If the same offer is extended to any other users, I would take you up on that, especially now that, for some yet unexplained reason, I am unable to submit any questions on any Stack Exchange sites. I am puzzled and don't understand why. Maybe you could also address that in a private-chat session. Thank you in advance!
    – kisspuska
    Oct 5, 2022 at 2:32
  • @kisspuska you don't have any bans at this time
    – Dale M Mod
    Oct 5, 2022 at 3:44
  • @DaleM Thanks for confirm that! Trish said the same. However, I cannot submit questions to any of the SE sites still, neither on a computer or on a phone. Can you escalate it? My other request is also maintained if you could kindly open a private chat. Thank you again!
    – kisspuska
    Oct 5, 2022 at 3:50
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Here's my personal opinion, not necessarily speaking for anyone else.

I believe that votes and comments serve separate purposes, and either can be useful with or without the other.

To me, a vote serves primarily as a signal to the community as to whether I think this post is worth reading. Most people don't have time to read every post on the site, or even all the posts on topics that may interest them, and so a post's score can be useful to them as an indicator of whether it is worth their time.

A comment, on the other hand, is feedback to the post's author about issues their post might have, or how it could be improved.

My view is that either of the two can legitimately be used on its own. As an analogy, when I read a book I don't like, I think most people would agree it is legitimate for me to tweet "I disliked Fred Smith's latest book and I don't recommend reading it", or to write a letter to Fred Smith explaining how I think he should improve his characterization, or both, or neither. But doing the former does not, and should not, lay on me any obligation to also do the latter.

That said, when I think a post has serious enough issues to warrant a downvote, I will usually leave a comment to inform the author of those issues, if I think it will be productive to do so.

But here are some situations where I may decide that comments would be unproductive, and would instead "silently downvote" without commenting:

  • The post is completely unsalvageable, bearing no resemblance to quality on-topic content.

  • The post does not appear to have been posted as a good-faith question or answer. The poster doesn't seem to really be interested in receiving or sharing on-topic information, but rather is just trolling, complaining, bragging, or seeking attention.

  • The post is actually seeking information, but shows such a lack of effort that I doubt the poster is interested in spending time to improve it. For instance, a copy-pasted homework assignment.

  • Another user has already left a comment about the same issues that I would have pointed out. In that case I would usually upvote that comment instead of leaving my own.

  • The poster has a history of making posts that are problematic in the same way as this one, has previously been informed about the issue (by me or someone else), and is evidently choosing not to change their practices. In that case I see no point in providing advice that the user has already heard and rejected.

  • The poster shows signs that they would not receive my feedback constructively, but would instead become argumentative, hostile, or abusive. This could be indicated by their language in the present posts, comments they have left, edit history, or their previous activity on the network.

To the last point, a few years ago, I left a comment on a post on another SE site, pointing out some technical errors. The post contained some warning signs but I decided to go ahead and assume good faith. The user apparently did not appreciate the correction, and responded over the following days with a stream of several hundred obscene messages targeted at me personally, posted to multiple SE sites (using Tor or some similar countermeasure to circumvent IP bans), as well as to my personal and work email addresses and my personal blog. I found it more tedious to clean up than traumatic, but even so, since then I tend to be more judicious in choosing who to interact with, and I wouldn't fault anyone else who felt similarly.

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