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I think it would be nice if the people who downvote comments were exposed. Two people in a bad mood (holding a grudge against you, etc.) are enough to make your comment (and the whole discussion tree) virtually disappear. A recent example for this: https://lobste.rs/c/4wb5vy Though a bit cynical, as kghose says himself, there is no direct reason to downvote it and hiding the subtree as side effect.

I think exposing downvoters would require them to think twice before clicking that button. It would also fit the lobsters style of transparancy, imho. It could lead to a downvoting contest, but there isn’t anything to prevent this aside from common sense.

(Extra transparency: I’ve been downvoted on two comments, the first was a reply in which I’ve stated that a comment didn’t deserve 0 points. After that comment was downvoted into hiding for “trolling”, I responded with a second snarky comment, which also got downvoted but I expected that.)


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    I disagree with the concept of exposing downvoters.

    However, I do think that if the parent comment has negative points but the responses have high scores (more than 5 or something arbitrary), only the parent comment should be made semi-transparent, and not the child comments. Also I don’t think threads like that should be autocollapsed like the typical low-scoring comment threads.

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      The problem with that level of transparency is that it just leads to arguments and meta comments about why things were downvoted. The fact that a comment was even downvoted is hidden until the score goes negative specifically to avoid bickering about it. A comment can have 10 upvotes and 1 downvote and the author focuses on the 1 downvote.

      Moderators are shown usernames and scores for every comment, so if you feel like someone is specifically downvoting your stuff out of some grudge, message a moderator to look into it.

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        Personally, I feel, in a community like ours, a down vote (which basically means you want to prevent other people from seeing something) should have a high barrier for comments. It really should be spam comments, offensive posts, personal attacks, slander and blatantly incorrect information (which could lead readers to do wrong things, like a comment that says “use rm -rf * from root to solve this problem”.

        Everything else should stand as a testament to the power and inclusiveness of free speech noting in fact, that we have already restricted speech with even these rules.


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          I think it’s also useful to consider a down vote as a form of feedback. It doesn’t have to mean “others shouldn’t read this”, it can mean “please consider staying on-topic next time”. It’s a bit of a strong tool for that purpose, of course.

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            If I think a post is incorrect I’ll downvote it with that marking. I won’t sugarcoat that or try and pretend that I’ll always be in the right when I do it, but if I think a post is incorrect, I will mark that I feel as such.

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          I am against this, because for as long as I have visited, not once have I felt that there was any sort of wrongful downvoting on this very friendly and constructive platform. There were of course times when I disagreed with a comment’s 0 or negative karma, but in all of those cases I felt that adding my +1 was enough for me to do. Lasty, I dislike the notion of naming and shaming and feel that this proposal would invite it, as well as more drama and butt-hurt.

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            I’ve been seeing this debate since downvotes existed. In Everything2, which was made by friends of the Slashdot that as far as I know gave birth to the downvote, we used to have endless debates which roughly centred on eliminating or reducing downvotes. The end result of this is roughly Facebook, where you could only become a fan or later give likes, but even they have recently introduced something that roughly translates as a downvote, which is a frowny face.

            From my experience, removing anonymity or requiring a reason to downvote doesn’t help. If there was a problem before, it just turns into a vocal screaming match after showing faces and reasons. With the anonymity you can shrug it off a bit more. You think, “oh well, some person doesn’t like it for inscrutable reasons, that’s their problem.” If you expose names and reasons, it becomes more personal and devolves into flamewars. The people who felt negatively enough before to downvote will still feel this way without anonymity. Giving reasons and identity is not a deterrent to downvotes.

            I wish I could give you “sticks and stones”, but we know that doesn’t really work. Words really hurt, as do downvotes. The only real change I think will help is complete elimination of downvotes. But then again, people still managed to be thoroughly unpleasant on Facebook even without downvotes.

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              It’s worth asking why people care about down votes. Because the broader community is being deprived of valuable information? Or because their feelings are hurt?

              The first problem is corrected by people up voting. The second is alleviated by not caring so much about Internet points.

              Personally I quite rarely down vote comments. Less frequently I think than I am accused of down voting in poor faith. I find those accusations a useful signal all their own, indicating the other person isn’t being reasonable.

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                I think I’ve only ever used the “troll” down vote. Though… why? I suppose in the same way as slamming a receiver down on the fork is a more satisfying way of hanging up than pressing the disconnect button on a mobile. It feels more final if you’ve down voted. That told them!

                Thanks to @Irene, who mentioned something along those lines elsewhere today.

              2. [Comment removed by author]

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                  This is a rabbit hole. This means that the reply also needs to be subject to up-downvotes. Or if they aren’t, it might lead to “well, troll, obviously” replies.

                  Much downvotable content that goes into the negative for very obvious reasons and attaching a short notice to the downvote button already helps a lot.

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                    Perhaps the downvote comment should be reserved for specific downvotes, like imcorrect?

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                      For incorrect things, there will usually be one commenting and many downvoting.

                      Which is fair: please note that non-display because of downvotes also means that the comment will be less downvoted, as it drops down and is greyed out. This also protects people from receiving too many downvotes if they are just plain factually wrong.

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                        Amusing typo: when somebody disagrees with me, I will down vote their comment as “I’m correct.”

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                          If you click the downvote icon, it will give you a drop-down list of reasons to downvote. The reasons today are:

                          1. Off-topic
                          2. Incorrect
                          3. Me-too
                          4. Troll
                          5. Spam
                        2. [Comment removed by author]

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                            I’d like to note that I’ve never seen evidence that non-anonymity actually makes people behave better. Discussion on Facebook is very, very toxic despite the fact that most users are showing their legal names.

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                          This is how Usenet and discussion mailing lists have worked for decades - the only thing you can do is respond. The result is that you end up endlessly rehashing the same flamewars with the same trolls.

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                            What if the downvote comment was required, but also anonymous?

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                              you’d get stuff like “you have been downvoted for the following reason: ‘potato’.”

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                                I imagine you’d get that with non-anonymous downvotes as well though.

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                              Downvote comments also sound like a reasonable idea. I think it just has to be harder to downvote because downvoting has a significant impact on the discussions, while the one downvoting stays anonymous and doesn’t have to fear consequences if the downvoting isn’t justified. I for one quickly loose my motivation to add something meaningful to a community when getting downvoted for dodgy reasons.

                            3. 3

                              Personally I would also like public votes, but anonymity seems to be where it’s at. Which is why I suggested an alternative solution to the situation with the comment you refer to, apparently at the same time as you: https://lobste.rs/s/u2uext/show_comment_vote_counts_only_authors_not

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                                yes, i noticed your post after i hit the submit button :)

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                                I strongly disagree with having this information available on a comment during normal use–perhaps off the page in a debug view, or accessible via an API, but leaving it in during normal usage is only going to piss people off.

                                Let me state the obvious: we should never let ourselves get to the normalized usage of downvote (“I think you’re wrong”, “I dislike you”, etc.) that is prevalent on sites like HN or Reddit. That was one of the most unfortunate things that the former site owner ever did. :(

                                That said, we can assume that all downvotes are in basically good faith…thus, it doesn’t really matter who is downvoting, because the downvote should be enough without that context.

                                Now, requiring that people who downvote certain types of things as “Incorrect” must comment to correct the poster might make sense. But then, people are more likely to end up having long sprawling “I’m right” “No you’re not” “Yes I am” slapfights.

                                Then there’s the idea that people would need to justify “Troll” or “Spam” or “Me-too” downvotes, and that would directly inject meta discussion into threads.

                                And remember, meta kills communities.

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                                  I feel like down/up voting shouldn’t be subject of discussion, ever. In my opinion, it leads only to attention whoring and a lot of drama over something so trivial, as an counter next to each message.

                                  Do you have high counter? Nice for you. Low counter? Well, who cares. I think that worst possible reaction is to start threads on the subject why is your counter low and why did others decreased it.

                                  In my opinion, even if the up/downvote itself may be useful, discussion about specific counters is almost never and degrades to „why don’t you like what I said, your opinion is wrong“. Especially in high-frequency temporarily relevant discussions like here, where no one really cares what happened month before.

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                                    How about a budget of votes? This could perhaps be limited to down votes? Though that opens up the possibility of gaming the comments by making a couple decoy comments first, then letting rip your real troll comment once you’re confident that the people in the thread has already spent their down votes…

                                    Alternatively exercising a down vote also cost you rep, like on StackOverflow. Of course, it won’t stop people who don’t care about their own rep from down voting, but if they don’t care about their own rep then perhaps it would not be too much of a stretch to think they’re not the kind of person who would down vote someone just for kicks either?

                                    Thirdly, perhaps down voting should be unlocked when you reach a certain amount of reputation? StackOverflow does this too, but I’m not sure I like it TBH. I also don’t know if it would have helped in this instance, as we have no way of knowing how much reputation the initial down voters had.

                                    Le sigh

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                                      I’m strongly against anything that feels even more like a game mechanic. The problem with voting at all is that it’s psychologically difficult not to think of it as something to “win” instead of participation in a community. Complicated systems like Reddit and Stack Overflow encourage people who are genuinely interested in community to leave, and they encourage people who are willing to treat it as a game to stay and play by the rules that require pretending to be “friendly”. If that sort of thing were to happen here (which I think there’s no chance of), I’d leave.

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                                        How about a budget of votes?

                                        We used to have that on Everything2 as well (probably partially modelled after Slashdot). It created more of a gaming system because people felt compelled to spend all of their votes per day (there was a karma reward for doing so).

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                                          Community is hard—let’s do maths!

                                      2. [Comment removed by author]

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                                          I’m more open to this than I am to other changes. I don’t see it making a large difference in either direction.

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                                            yes, that sounds like a nice option too :) it would at least remove the negative connotation of downvoting. if you don’t like something you can ignore it.

                                          2. 1

                                            It would be interesting to change the way comments are voted on to be similar to how stories are handled. Upvote/downvote feels like agreed/disagreed. Why not removing the downvote button and having a ‘flag’ action like on the main story? This brings more weight to performing the action itself carrying the notion that rules were violated in a way that a sysop is being called for.