I am puzzled by down votes I get on some of my answers. The latest answer I provided got a down vote the reason for which totally eludes me. An earlier one got a down vote and the voter agreed that he/she was too quick to down vote. This process discourages the people like me from providing detailed and well-written answers.

  1. What is the reason for down voting an answer?
  2. Is there no way to find out the reason?
  3. How do people justify this kind of behavior?
  • Sometimes I hit the wrong button or I downvote until an edit is made... only problem is when I try to change the vote I often get locked in to my vote instead. Its annoying. So keep that in mind as well.
    – Ryan
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:27
  • Understood. Perhaps a two-stroke vote may cure this? One to vote, the second to approve the vote. To make people think twice so to speak.
    – user45605
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:33
  • We don't get to make changes like that
    – Ryan
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:34
  • 6
    After several years using SE, I've come to the following conclusion: if a downvote doesn't come with a constructive comment, just ignore it. Treat it like you would an unwashed stranger grunting at you in the street: annoying, but it's their problem, not yours. If you get multiple downvotes on one answer, check it for mistakes or quality issues - but 90%+ of downvotes are just meaningless animalistic grunts, unfortunately. Everyone receives useless unexplained mystery downvotes from time to time. Aug 25, 2015 at 9:52
  • 1
    (also, this site - graphicdesign - is in my experience one of the less bad for this problem, not to say we don't get a lot of it, but other sites on the network are even worse for it) Aug 25, 2015 at 10:06
  • 1
    I have to agree with user on this.. The horrors of StackOverflow would drive you crazy if you worry about downvotes.
    – user9447
    Aug 25, 2015 at 13:50

4 Answers 4


There's more "ego downvotes" than "mistake downvotes"; usually the ego ones offer no comments or a competing answers for the reason of the downvote. They can stay anonymous but they're obviously not working for the community. Personally, I upvote everything I know is right, even though I'm not learning anything new from that answer or question.

You can have a look at the Data, you'll notice some users simply prefer to spend more energy downvoting than voting up/down in a balanced way.

If these people are very active and you don't have a lot of answers posted yet, yes you might notice a pattern of downvotes, especially when you decide to become an active member; there's a little "tribe" attitude at the start as anywhere else, you might get judge more harshly. But as you'll post, this ratio should get smaller and the impact on your reputation will also be less visible. And the OP you helped will recognize this and usually be thankful for this. So forget about the "tribe" mentality and keep going!

I know you said you don't really care about the reputation but it still a bit frustrating when you're new or start being more active to get downvoted for no apparent reasons and as you said, you can't even improve your answer or see what's wrong with it. Or expand your answer to explain stuff you know very well but others don't.


As you'll see some users simply ignore the basics of Stack Exchange.

It's not very complicated and it shouldn't be about "liking" or "enjoying" an answers (or a user), but only about the answer being right or wrong.

When should I vote up?

Whenever you encounter a question, answer or comment that you feel is especially useful, vote it up!


When should I vote down?

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


On a personal note:

I got downvoted on hardcore prepress principles and when I post something about it, I even got a bit anxious and started to expect some resistance from people who have never worked in a print place even though they like calling themselves prepress experts because they output PDF with an overprint trapping. It felt like I shattered their illusion of perfection sometimes; they often don't know what's going on backstage at the print shop and probably have no clue prepress specialists sometimes roll their eyes when they see their files.... and just fix them because it's faster than educating some designers; when there's 4 press operators waiting for the plates and their team is worth $700/hr, you don't have time to wait for the designer's revised files. That's the reality in print places. As much as designers laugh at a rasterized images in Illustrator or Word layouts, prepress people laugh at the clumsy dielines, improvised trapping, hex rich black, missing fonts, psd or ai files as final, and especially the color profile designers send them. So now you all know the truth (haha!)

It's unfortunate because the answers such as "ask your printer" are not very useful to someone working on a project at 1am that needs to be sent to print at 6am, while I consider my "printer's answers" are actually helpful if one needs to make a decision without the printer's input or when they're sent oversea ;)

It's alright, at some point some prepress people will upvote my answers because they are right and it's going to be the same for you as I think you are very experienced in photography (I'm not!)

  • 2
    Thank you. Thank you for taking time to write this long and informative reply to my question. It addresses many of the issues I raised. I have spent my life in education, retired a few years ago from a well-known college. I am looking at this site as a learning tool and my questions stem from how I have seen myself for decades: a learning facilitator. Just as I would find it quite difficult to have an up or down voting by students, or even other faculty, in my class, I find it equally difficult to understand the purpose of it. Up or down votes create a relative position for the answers and ...
    – user45605
    Aug 25, 2015 at 1:29
  • 2
    I believe voting up by designated people to separate the wheat from the chaff would be equally effective as voting up or down. But, belief alone does not a system make! If I continue providing answers to questions that I can handle I will do so with the understanding that some people may "just vote it down" because they can. Be it!
    – user45605
    Aug 25, 2015 at 1:32
  • @ACEkin There's always something to learn & even the way of answering/teaching is a skill itself. I'm hoping more new users will stay long enough & not get discouraged by the voting system. The position of a question/answer is very relative to people's interest & entertaining value it seems; the "Why comic sans is so popular" has over 150 votes while questions like "how can I reduce the file size of my ai" has downvotes ;) I'll be polite and won't say how it's called but it starts with C & J. Really, who cares about comic sans, it's like asking why toilet paper rolls are on a cylinder tube!
    – go-junta
    Aug 25, 2015 at 3:22
  • I have answered student questions for over 40 years in college and used to tell them, "there are no dumb questions". People ask questions because they don't know. My questions were not about my up or down voted but more about the operating philosophy of the site. Down voting questions does not make any sense to me at all because it tells them their question is dumb. Simply ignoring it may do the same with in a less discouraging way. Down voting answers also does not make sense especially since there is up voting which indicates that this is a good answer. I could not run a class this way.
    – user45605
    Aug 25, 2015 at 11:56
  • By the way, I was not asking for up votes, I see a series of up votes on some of my old answers, thank you but not needed.
    – user45605
    Aug 25, 2015 at 11:58
  • @ACEkin if go-me's answer does in fact answer your question I would encourage you to accept it as an answer.
    – user9447
    Aug 25, 2015 at 13:50
  • My philosophical misgivings aside, his answer covers all the bases.
    – user45605
    Aug 25, 2015 at 14:19
  • I don't mind "dumb" questions but I won't deny I have some facepalm moments when there's ultra lazy questions or obvious lack of efforts, & the "PLEASE I NEED AN ANSWER NOW OR I'LL LOSE MY JOB!" Someone will need to post a question/answer about "time management & design projects" at some point so we can point these questions to it ;) A bit overkill though to mass downvote new users who really tried but are beginners or a bit clumsy. It's no big deal but not very welcoming. Maybe in 3 years I'll be quick on the downvote too, we'll see. By the way I'm a she, I know it's not obvious, no worries
    – go-junta
    Aug 25, 2015 at 16:14
  • @ACEkin System doesn't make sense but frankly I don't know what could be better. We can't really add "sources" as on a lot of other stacks and there's 10,000 ways to do things sometimes. I guess we have to trust the wisdom of the crowd on GD:SE!
    – go-junta
    Aug 25, 2015 at 16:20
  • @go-me, my sincere apologies for assuming a gender rather than using the long-hand her/his. That said, there is, I am sure, a governing elite of this site. They must have set the system this way for a reason. If they are willing to consider changes the community may rise to the occasion and make recommendations. My two-cents worth was to do away with down votes since they do not contribute to the separation of good from bad questions or answers as much as some may think. That is just a start.
    – user45605
    Aug 25, 2015 at 16:39

You can not control what users do, unfortunately. In general if your writing an answer because you think you deserve points for it then you are doing it for wrong reasons*. Note that:

  • Down votes have very minimal weight on you
  • It also costs the down voter allmost as much as it costs you.
  • If same person targets you for many down votes, then the system will revert your score at the end of the day.

You can't really stop down voting. Think of it this way if you never get down voted, then you dont know if your being voted up for a good reason as theres no critical thinking behind the voters.

To directly answer your questions:

1-2) Not unless the down voter decides to comment on the subject. They need not do so, they may wish to stay anonymous.

3) Its up to each member to vote as they seem fit.

* even though I have some experience with predicting what is going to happen with questions: It is still often perplexing how sometimes a sloppy answer gets voted while a well researcher and written answer does not. But again i dont answer for the votes.

  • 1
    Thanks for answering my questions. I am not concerned about my up or down votes, however, when there is a down vote that makes me wonder if I made a mistake in my steps and cannot find one. So these forums are catch-as-catch-can when it comes to up or down votes. Now that I know, I will sleep comfortably ;-)
    – user45605
    Aug 24, 2015 at 16:51
  • @ACEkin there might be something wrong yes but there need not be, you might have wrong idea or just a very unpopular approach.
    – joojaa
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:10
  • It costs the downvoter 1 rep when it costs the person downvoted 2 rep Aug 24, 2015 at 17:20
  • 1
    @joojaa, and others, good to know, thanks. This does not make much sense to me but it is the rule of the forum. Who decides on the "wrong idea" or "unpopular approach." The process does not necessarily bubble up the good knowledge but pushes down the ideas some people may not know or prefer. Not a sound way of thinking for me.
    – user45605
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:32

Most of the time a downvote will constitute:

  • Your answer doesn't answer the question. If that is the case some people do make that comment below your answer.
  • It's a link only answer. Answers should live over time so that they can be useful to people in the future. I'm not saying links are bad but an answer should be able to live without a link only.
  • Someone disagrees with your answer. After reviewing your account I do see that so that would be my assumption for it.

If I downvote a question or answer I tend to link someone to this: Why was my question downvoted and/or closed?. You also have to understand the system works by which is considered the best answer and it helps people in the future. If a question does have an accepted answer but another answer that wasn't accepted has more rep that is an indication it is a better answer. Same rule applies to a downvoted answer.


ACEKin, you are not the only one.

A Proposal

In my opinion a downvote should always be accompanied by a comment.

1) If you want to be anonimus, fine. Provide a cuple of automatic options, like a tag system:

  • Not an answer
  • Egregiously sloppy
  • No-effort-expended post
  • Is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

If you choose on not to write a comment, you should be obligated to use a tag.

2) But Why someone would want to hide? Just write a comment!, we are here to learn.

3) Something that people forget about this model is that users CAN modify or improve an answer. I have never ever done it. Yes some basic editing, like adding some spaces. But the model is ready for that... but too few people does that.

I tend to use absolute statements like "should". Yes probably someone can come and make a small change like "could", instead of downvoting for example.

So SLOOPY downvotes should be "discuraged", or at least backed up with reasons and arguments.

This site tryes to be acurate, not viceral. And yes, I "feel" that some downvotes are viceral.

P.S. I do not like either the "locked" until editing vote system.


You must log in to answer this question.