I, and perhaps some other people, feel that we are being unfairly targeted by a particular user, who has cast (as of this writing,) something like 16 downvotes to 14 upvotes.

My understanding is that downvotes are for content that is down right bad, not just "mediocre." I understand that we do want to get rid of the worst content on this, and other SE sites, with the worst being perhaps the bottom 10 or or 20 percent. My further understanding is that downvotes should consist of a relatively small portion of votes, perhaps 10 to 20 percent, to this end.

I have deleted one (of eleven) of my posts with the lowest score, and can reasonably see my way to deleting one or two more. That would serve the purpose of the "getting rid of the bottom 10 or 20 percent."

A person that casts more downvotes that upvotes "likes less than he dislikes." This person appears to have advanced training in Earth Sciences, but has made very few contributions to the site. If he has more to offer than I do, he appears to be "holding out."

Unlike others, I do not have a degree or "advanced" training in earth sciences, only a curiosity about the subject from my school days. Such people are more likely to be "consumers" than "producers" on a site like this. Even so, we have a role in providing "mass."

Should people vote in such a way ask to chase out the "bottom half," rather than the bottom 10 to 20 percent of the content on the site?


3 Answers 3


We're rehashing the same thing here: downvotes aren't personal.

It's okay to downvote things, and it's okay to have more downvotes than upvotes. It's not okay to serial vote, but that's a whole different matter.

I'd suggest you read this Meta Stack Exchange post: What purpose does downvoting questions serve? It talks about why we downvote posts. And really, it's just a measure of quality. People downvote things to say that they are Unclear or not useful. And remember, that's one person's opinion on your post.

So really, it doesn't matter your downvotes to upvotes ratio, as long as your helping the community to determine what is good for the site and what isn't, and not just voting because you like/don't like the person (not the case here).

  • $\begingroup$ What you said is true in "moderation." By a greater than 50 percent downvote ratio strikes me as being very zealous. (No high rep individual on the site has a ratio anywhere close to that.) A site where 50 percent of the content has net downvotes might not survive. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ @TomAu Quite a few people (including me on Stack Overflow) have a <50% downvote:upvote ratio Stack Exchange. Now that's usually just because people see the bad stuff, and downvote it since they don't think it's clear or useful. $\endgroup$
    – hichris123 Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I understand where you're coming from, on Stack Overflow. On the sites that I frequent (e.g. History), moderators actively discourage people from downvoting "too much" (more than 10-20 percent), and encourage people to give others the "benefit of the doubt." I guess we've had different site experiences. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ @TomAu Yeah, you know, it's really up to the person. I usually see crap on Stack Overflow (unintelligible posts, complete not an answers, etc.) so that's when I downvote. Now, on the other hand, on sites like this I do give people the benefit of the doubt (unless it's just a downright off-topic post). But that's not to say that I don't like downvoting, I just prefer to help improve the post by commenting or editing before voting. $\endgroup$
    – hichris123 Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ I've read your voting statistics, and would consider your 1 to 4 ratio of downvotes to upvotes "tough but fair." It's the 1 to 1s (or worse) that I worry about. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ The help is quite clear about downvoting and it is not ok to downvote just because you do not like something. This is not facebook, we are trying to be a serious site and therefore voting should be taken seriously. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 6:39

One thing to add: votes are the property of the caster. Of course, serial voting (i.e. down/upvoting systematically most or all of one user's post just because you thought they were rude to you/helped you a lot) is never okay, but this is a totally different situation.

Also, how would you change this? I can't imagine getting this error after logging in:

You have been banned by user ♦ because of the reason "You downvote too much."

It's really hard to do anything about this. I can't see what he/she downvoted personally, but if they did it to get a higher ranking on the page for reputation ("slowest cheater in the east"), that's not okay, but the person may be tough to impress, therefore not upvoting much, but downvoting anything that is factually incorrect or incomplete.

You never mentioned the radio of question vs. answer downvotes, so they might be downvoting questions that they don't want to see on the site and/or should be closed. With the downvoting only questions combined with "tough to impress," it's not hard to get a radio like this. In the end, that user is only trying to make the site better by disagreeing with bad content/noting the question should be closed.


Downvotes are just as important as upvotes.

That doesn't mean that a 1:1 ratio is correct. No particular ratio is correct.

But it does mean that voting is most helpful, if your criteria for voting up are just as stringent, or as relaxed, as your criteria for voting down.

A larger quantity of considered feedback is more valuable than a smaller quantity. If a question is not useful, unclear, or shows no research effort, vote it down. If it's useful, clear, shows research effort, vote it up.

If it's a duplicate, too broad, off-topic, spam, or offensive, vote to close if you can; flag to close otherwise; and vote to delete when it's closed and unsalvaged.


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