Force user to comment on downvote
I've seen a number of answers downvoted for no good (or at least apparent) reason. I think the downvoter should have to give a brief reason for the downvote. It could be anonymous, or even private.
It seems that the -1 rep just isn't enough to dissuade people from downvoting without any clear reason.
Just because an answer isn't spectacular isn't reason enough for a downvote (just don't upvote it), so if you can't think of a few words to explain the downvote, surely you shouldn't be downvoting?
if people want to leave comments, they can; forcing them won’t achieve anything except prevent participation IMO
Bad questions and bad answers deserve negative points. The rep system is setup correctly to handle this.
Spam or offensive posts should be flagged right off the site.
I would suggest only forcing to comment when the answer/question gets downvoted from 0 to -1 (I think NO answer - except for blatantly offensive or otherwise spam like stuff - deserves to get less than 0 without at least an explanation why). That would encourage those that don't want to give an explanation to upvote all the other answers and leave this 'bad one' at 0. Which is - IMHO - a better option. Maybe the "comment" can come in the form of a combobox filled with pre-existing reasons like when you vote to close a question (I'm not sure if it's like this as i haven't got rep enough to close questions, but I suppose it is something like this).
I agree, downvotes without comments are usually pretty unhelpful.
Bruno Alexandre commented
At least one yellow bar on top saying something like: "Don't you want to give a motive why are you down voting?" remark ... that will never hurt no one, and at least SO mention it :)
aaron hinni commented
The other benefit for being forced to leave a comment, is that it will help someone from accidentally down voting someone, and earning that automatic critic badge.
@tvanfosson - If you had a private & anonymous option you could have left your feedback without them being able to track you down and downvote stuff.
I think Robert Gamble and Sunnybg are onto a good idea.
For awhile I thought this was a good idea but then I notice that some people are vindictive. I've had a few times where someone sought out some of my answers and downvoted them simply because I left a comment that disagreed with their response.
As for downvotes getting lost in the noise - yes, but this is tough on new users to the site and a good contributor may be put off by malicious downvotes.
I think criticism always merits more explanation than praise, but more importantly I'd like to know if I've made a mistake. If I can see their reasoning is flawed / they have none, then I can safely ignore their downvote.
just to clarify what I meant by "anonymous" since a number of you have misunderstood me. There's no reason why it can't be private between the downvoter, downvotee and mods. This should stop abusive comments.
I think the idea of a lesser penalty if you're prepared to speak on-the-record is interesting.
Robert Gamble commented
I also think that you should have more time to revoke a downvote than an upvote. Right now you only have a couple of hours or so to undo an upvote which is fine, but often you downvote an answer and the person later corrects the post but it is too late to adjust your vote, I think this should be changed.
Robert Gamble commented
I would expand on sunnybg's idea:
-0 if you provide a non-anonymous comment
-1 if you provide an anonymous comment
-2 if you provide no comment
When you click the downvote button, pop up a little box that prompts for a comment with the option of not displaying your name with it. Comments left in this manner obviously should not be allowed to be deleted unless the downvote is revoked.
Something else: a lot of times the first or an earlier person to downvote already commented on the reason, and your comment would only echo that.
I can agree with the need for (at least optional) anonymity - but I think that people should be required to articulate a reason for a down vote.
@steinman: That could be avoided if you only could select the reason from a list like: off topic, do not apply, bad code, etc.. and of course "file not found" ;)
-1 for the voter if commented
-2 or -3, and maybe reveal identity, if not commented
Meh, I just think you have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes I've had answers downvoted multiple times with no explanation. I've had my answer upvoted while an answer of identical qualtity is downvoted in the same question. There is some snowballing going on, I'm sure.
Anyway, would you expect everyone to justify their upvoting too, or why you upvoted him and not me? I think not..
Greg Smalter commented
If the response is not idiotic, I usually try to leave a comment and give the person an opportunity to respond or fix their answer before I downvote it. This is obviously self-imposed, and most people probably don't do that. If this feature were to be implemented, the comments would have to be kept anonymous so it didn't start fights, but stienman is totally correct in how that could be abused.
Besides - there's another way to game the system with your method. If I want to leave a funny or offensive comment without repercussion, I would simply downvote your item so I could post my comment anonymously.
If you want to know why you were downvoted, compare your post with those that weren't and those that were upvoted.
If you are complaining about one downvote, don't worry about it - it's noise. Someone may have simply misunderstood your post, or got finger twitchy. They may not have had a good reason.
If you are consistently downvoted and rarely upvoted then consider your posts more carefully