Voting on the questions and answers within the Super User community has often been a lively topic of discussion. Our voting tendencies are deemed important enough that during past Super User moderator elections, scripts were created to help focus attention on the up-vote/down-vote ratio as one of the more vital statistics that could aid us in evaluating the candidates.

Our Super User Help Center explains voting in the following manner:

Voting is central to our model of providing quality questions and answers; it is how …

  • ...good content rises to the top
  • ...incorrect content falls to the bottom
  • ...users who consistently provide useful content accrue reputation and are granted more privileges on the site

It’s only through voting that a class of editors, closers, and moderators can emerge to help run and govern the site. Voting is how site leadership forms.

Taking it a step further, the Help Center guidance for up-votes says the following:

When should I vote up?

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

Conversely, the the Help Center advice regarding down-votes says the following:

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.

As we know, the up-vote privilege (available when the community member accumulates 15 reputation) is granted much sooner than the down-vote privilege (granted when the member has acquired 125 reputation). Notably, the Help Center emphasizes the following important point:

What are the alternatives to down-voting?

The up-vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

Instead of voting down:

  • If the post is spammy or offensive, flag it.
  • If the question is duplicate or off-topic, flag it for moderator attention.
  • If something is wrong, please leave a comment or edit the post to correct it.

Overall, we can see that the proper usage of both up-votes and down-votes can be beneficial within the Super User realm. However, with all of the aforementioned Help Center guidance at the forefront of our minds, the following question arises:

What is the consensus opinion regarding community members who have amassed a negative up-vote/down-vote ratio during their Super User career: does that represent someone who is effectively mentoring the authors, or have they habitually become too harsh and critical?

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    Recommended read psy.ox.ac.uk/publications/505751
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:43
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    @Braiam, while I always appreciate the community's feedback, I think that the standard Super User rules-of-the-road would still apply in this scenario: can you please summarize what you believe to be the pertinent points within that hyperlinked article and how they pertain to the current discussion, rather than just direct us to another web page that could disappear at some point in the future? Thanks for your help.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:50
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    That only applies to answers, and if I had to explain why its relevant... the battle is lost.
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:50
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    @Braiam, more to the point: if you are going to reference something that essentially has moral and philosophical overtones and apply it to something as relatively innocuous as the Super User voting system, simply posting a hyperlink with a rather curt Recommended read doesn't do it justice.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:55
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    If someone has a negative up-vote/down-vote ratio, I suspect they are a very negative and punitive person who feels like they have little power in their lives, and comes here to try to experience an artificially inflated feeling of power. That's my psychoanalysis of the phenomena. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 19:50
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    How can a ratio between two positive numbers be negative :)
    – jiggunjer
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 7:15

5 Answers 5


Downvotes on their own are terrible mentoring. They lack context on their own for a new user, and much like puppies, some other input is needed.

While comments are transient, in many cases pairing them with downvotes (or adding downvotes after a comment) may be efficient. I try to use positive reinforcement here and often comment rather than downvote, though sometimes you need extra emphasis.

That said, the 'visible vote counts' do not show the whole story.

I have over 5400 closevotes and roughly 9000+ deletions. Many of these questions would have been downvoted if I hadn't had the high reputation user/moderator powers I have.

For example - more than one person would have downvoted properly terrible posts before deletion became an option. Downvotes on deleted posts don't seem to be listed on your methodology. Even assuming these questions were so bad they deserved the downvotes, this would skew the numbers.

And well. We use the tools we have. Not everyone takes well to being mentored by comments. Some people just want answers. In many cases, looking at a post, the payoff for mentoring dosen't feel good enough. I'm fine with polishing up posts - either directly or via comments. Sometimes though (and I'm not naming names linking posts here) - the effort just doesn't seem worth it.

There's a bunch of link only answers (which the auto review queue comments should in theory handle) I come across. There's sometimes blatantly harmful answers (which I nuke) and incorrect ones (which I comment on and downvote).

This assumes, of course, that downvotes are mainly against new users. I've occationally had to remind high reputation users of basic things, (and there, I shouldn't have to be mentoring them). People sometimes have off days. Etc Etc.

So, without context, the numbers mean less than one would assume. I do agree that we can do a better job, but we always have room to improve.

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    Thanks for the good feedback. While I agree that "Not everyone takes well to being mentored by comments," I believe that is also a double-edged sword. As someone who was new to Super User five months ago, I can attest that some of those comments (and not just the built-in reviewer's template variety) can occasionally come across as impatient, condescending, and even rude. From what I have seen in various Super User and Meta discussions, others have voiced similar concerns. Unfortunately, it is rather easy to become overly defensive after a few of those brusque encounters.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 15:02
  • @Ramhound, you know that I always value your input. While we will occasionally encounter community members who are more defensive than they probably should be, I think that they are the exception. It shouldn't be too difficult to provide articulate feedback with a positive spin on it. But back to the original point of my question, I firmly believe that the most prolific contributors within the Super User realm should not have a much larger of number of down-votes issued compared to up-votes. Lofty standards for up-votes combined with liberal usage of downvotes seems counterproductive.
    – Run5k
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 18:28
  • @Ramhound, you are too modest, good sir! You are definitely one of Super User's most outstanding community members, and definitely qualify as a "prolific contributor." Your expertise and proactive nature are very well-known. Honestly, from my perspective there certainly isn't anything wrong with your distribution of down-votes. But when it's combined with a much more conservative philosophy regarding bestowing up-votes, I think the end result might be problematic (as I described in my answer). As I emphasized within the original text of this question, it goes against the Super User philosophy.
    – Run5k
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 18:52
  • @Ramhound it's safe to say that you and I will always differ on our perspective regarding downvotes. However, let me play "devil's advocate" for just a moment. While you authored a very good answer to this question, how is that query not worthy of a downvote? The tool tip specifically says "This question does not show any research effort," and if the OP had typed the same wording from their question's subject line into a Google search he would find the exact same How-To Geek article that you referenced, and much faster than posting on Super User.
    – Run5k
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 21:51
  • @Run5k - I could not stand by and allow the author of that question, to trust the other answer they received, and believe there wasn't a way to disable the effect they asked about. The fact I answered that particular question, had to do with the fact an incorrect answer was submitted, and I wanted to correct that fact.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 0:36
  • @Ramhound and your answer was definitely beneficial! But I think that you misunderstood what I said. I am wondering why the OP's question wasn't worthy of a downvote, not your answer. It definitely did not show any research effort, and as I said in my last post, he could have found the solution himself with a simple Google search in less than half the time that it took to write/post the question on Super User.
    – Run5k
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 8:14
  • @Run5k - I don’t downvote every bad question or answer. I have no particular reason for not issuing a downvote.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 15:56

Executive summary: commenting to explain downvotes is a very good thing to do. Doing that consistently is far more important than shooting for any up/downvote ratio. Fortunately, we also have plenty more upvotes going around than downvotes.

There's been some confusion regarding the statistics used in the question and its answers, so I'll take a moment to clear those up. In the bottom right of the "summary" subtab of a user's Activity tab, there is a Votes Cast section. Those counts do include votes on deleted posts; relevant MSE. On your own "votes" subtab, you don't see up/downvotes on deleted posts. (You can see closure and deletion votes on now-deleted posts.) The Data Explorer's UpVotes and DownVotes columns in the Users table are the same as the Votes Cast section. I'm not sure that there's a right way or wrong way to measure voting using these figures, but we should be clear about what we're counting.

Voting statistics are inherently difficult to measure because of the necessary anonymity on who cast what, but let's look at some SEDE numbers just for fun. I made this query to show some info on the most active voters. It includes the 50 users with the most votes who have been seen in the last month. The UpPerDown column is the user's upvotes divided by the number of downvotes. It's not possible to get "negative" ratios here, since one cannot cast a negative number of votes. To get some visible symmetry between "more downvotes" and "more upvotes," the PositivityScore column is a logarithm of UpPerDown. For example, someone who upvotes twice as often as they downvote gets a score of ln 2 = about 0.69, while someone who downvotes twice as often as they upvote gets a score of -0.69. Someone who votes up and down equally often gets zero. The CommPerMaybeDv column is my attempt to measure mentoring, but since SEDE doesn't have a lot of info on deleted posts, and because votes are anonymous, there are so many pitfalls here that you shouldn't trust it too much. It's supposed to show the number of comments made by the user on posts they might have downvoted divided by their total downvotes, but again, there's not enough public information to be certain, and deletion continues to skew results. Think of it as an arbitrary mentoring score with a ton of noise.

All data aside, I agree that it's a Good Thing to comment when downvoting. Forcing people to comment when downvoting has been requested many times, but there isn't a good way to make that work. Relevant MSE, one of many.

Voting in both directions is very important, for multiple reasons. Besides rewarding/disciplining post authors, it also signals to future readers what is good and worth reading. A negative score is a much stronger signal in that way than a zero score. Comments with downvotes would help in that department (as warnings of suboptimal practices), but unfortunately, post authors frequently become very upset at commenters that they suspect cast downvotes. Several times, I have been accused of downvoting things I didn't because I tried to help the user. High-rep users who have been around a while and subjected to that a lot could be understandably weary of it.

For what it's worth, there are some very rare cases where commenting is actively undesirable. I once dealt with a user (on a different site) who repeatedly posted non-answers. Each time, I gently reminded him of the site's requirements, but he became increasingly upset. Eventually I realized that he would not listen, and when I removed his last post with no comment (and therefore no notification), he left of his own accord.

The system as it stands allows people to vote as they please, so long as the votes aren't targeted (e.g. revenge downvoting, sockpuppet upvoting). The site is so large that one voter with unusual preferences will on the whole be counteracted by another with the opposite patterns. Even someone who only downvotes but always leaves constructive explanatory comments can be an asset to the site. "Mentoring" has far more to do with consistently commenting on individual encounters than a person's ratio of vote types.

If a user gets downvoted with no explanation, they do have one recourse: this place, meta. Generally, meta questions about specific posts get answered pretty quickly. They have the additional advantage of being far more accessible (and therefore useful to others) than comments under some post somewhere on main. I personally wish the existence and purpose of meta was made more obvious to new users.

You will be happy to know that, in general, there are far more upvotes in play than downvotes. This tiny query tells us that Super User has more than 10 times as many upvotes as downvotes (not counting votes from deleted users or the automatic downvotes on red-flagged posts, but counting votes on deleted posts). This other query counts the votes on non-deleted posts by new-ish users, those with less than 500 reputation. The upvote proportion is even more extreme here: almost 12x as many positive votes as negative ones. Of course, that doesn't include deleted posts, but it's still interesting.

More relevant MSEs:

  • "If a user gets downvoted with no explanation, they do have one recourse: this place, meta." - I will explain any vote I issue in the proper medium in detail
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 21:57
  • Nice analysis :) It's interesting that your name isn't in the list - I'm curious what your numbers are.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 22:04
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    Great feedback, Ben! Thanks for providing your in-depth perspective.
    – Run5k
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 5:56

This is a personal reflection. I recognize that a substantial part of SU's strength is that we are not all the same. But this is what I think when I see down votes in certain contexts:

My first beef is questions which are not spam with downvotes and no comments. Especially on questions from new users and low score users, this just raises my hackles.

My opinion is that, excepting the very, VERY extreme (and rare) cases of truly bad question asking, those along the lines of "it's broke", or actual spam or unwanted content which really should be flagged and reported instead, down votes should ALWAYS be accompanied by comments.

A comment doesn't take long to write, especially if the question is bad enough to get a down vote but not bad enough to be flagged. Based on the context, the comment can be a sentence of fewer than 100 characters. That's text message length. That's not going to break your fingers or your stopwatch to type out.

If I don't have the time to comment, why am I surfing bad questions?

The biggest reason I dislike drive-by down voting so much is that it turns people off to the site, and thereby deprives us of people, both with questions and knowledge.

I asked stupid questions and did bad jobs putting together even some of my better question in my earlier days here. I received deserved criticism, and thankfully much of it was constructive. I'm glad I stuck around.

The drive-by down vote just says "We don't want you here", and that is one of the worst things we can say to almost everyone who comes here.

Yes, we want them to help themselves as much as possible. We want a little bit of effort, a few searches, a reasonably thorough description of the problem and its context. But we also want them. We want them to grow from bottom-level askers who need to know how to ask a good question almost more than they need a solution to their problem, because a good question and the process of developing it can often lead to the actual solution, no question actually asked. But we also want them to appreciate and trust SU as a source of good advice, which means correct advice well given.

They won't get there if we've just slammed the door in their faces the first time they show up.

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    "If I don't have the time to comment, why am I surfing bad questions?" - If you want to help the community, by working on the review queue, you have no choice in what you review. Whle I could skip those questions/answers, somebody has to review them, otherwise they never leave the queue.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:36
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    Which is someplace I spend a good deal of time these days, and I feel the same question applies: If I don't have time to comment, why am I in the review queues? Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:38
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    As a long-time user support professional, I see the same questions (and problems with them) here that I have for the past 15 years of my career. They have the same root issue: Most people operate out of a very different context than I do. They don't think in terms of a specific program so much as a task or process. They don't think to capture the error message because their tech guy always has the answer. At work I've actually just finished putting together a talk on how to ask a good question/submit a good ticket. I expect it to be one of the more popular topics when I give talks. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:41
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    There is always that risk, about feedback being poorly received. But if the user has not received ANY feedback except a nebulous and unspecific downvote or 10, what are they supposed to think? It's like the Hot or Cold game, but all they're hearing is "COLD!!!". At the very least the first down vote SHOULD have a comment attached, and then if you agree with the comment and the question has not been improved, THEN further down votes without further comments is perfectly acceptable. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:43
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    @Ramhound, the expertise you contribute to the Super User community is a tremendous benefit to all of us. The time and effort that you have devoted to helping others on this site is extraordinary, and it certainly hasn't gone unnoticed... thank you! That being said, I completely agree with what Music2myear said within this answer. As a "newbie" myself five months ago, my own SU stay was almost very short-lived after several encounters with down-votes and/or some rather tough mentoring comments. I realize that each situation is unique, but yes, the numerous down-votes are rather harsh.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 22:27
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    @Ramhound, I respectfully disagree. First, your examples are both answers, to which different set of rules apply because answered claim to be operating from a position of knowledge, and these examples very much aren't. My main point is about new users and their questions. But, even then, the "driver" issue could be answered with "You have confused correlation with causation." This would be a succinct description of their error. The other one isn't bad advice, IF the issue were Windows remembering where on the screen a program was last open. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 22:57
  • @Ramhound, but if the user has no clue where to begin improving the question so it will get to the point where it will be reversed, how can they be expected to fix it? I assume the user doesn't know what's wrong with their question. It means more work for me, but hopefully they'll reach a point where they'll begin to see that themselves. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 22:59
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    All that said, I'm glad we've had this discussion. I don't think I could add anything more that would convince @Ramhound that my way is superior to theirs, and I am glad there are dedicated people like them (and not like them) who make this site what it is. A site run all by me wouldn't be nearly as successful as SU. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 23:00
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    @Ramhound, thoroughly studying the Help Center guides, emulating the habits of the top Super User contributors, and yes, comments & down-votes were all contributing factors. However, several of those comments were rather cold and tactless. "Were the tough mentoring comments even helpful?" Yes, absolutely! But I am quite certain that the same message could be conveyed in a more positive, supporting manner. The copious down-votes & tough comment narratives could potentially discourage new and talented Super User community members from contributing even more in the future.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 23:04
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    @Ramhound, as I said before, everyone would agree that your contributions to the Super User realm are a tremendous benefit to all of us! But please, take a closer look at the aforementioned statistics. I mentioned that the top 50 contributors from 2016 had amassed 75,346 down-votes during their Super User career. Have you stopped long enough to realize that you are personally responsible for over 41 percent of that total?
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 23:09
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    @Ramhound, while clearing the review queue is admirable, I don't think the explanation is quite that simple. If it was, why aren't some of the other avid reviewers (like Fixer1234) anywhere near you in down-vote totals? And while your down-vote total represents over 40% of the grand-total from "the top 50," your corresponding up-vote total is only 5% of the group's cumulative total... a personal ratio of approximately 1-to-5. And as Journeyman Geek said, down-votes on deleted questions/answers don't persist on your activity stats. You don't think that is rather compelling food-for-thought?
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 23:25
  • @Ramhound, even if we utilize your best-case-scenario stats, that still puts you at the far end of the scale when 86% of that list had a positive voting ratio. Again, why don't some of the other avid reviewers (like Fixer1234) have a negative voting ratio? Please don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for your expertise and overall contributions to Super User. But much like Music2myear, I am afraid that the negative perception that accompanies the "tough love" philosophy of Q&A feedback is destined to scare off some good people, and that is some very unfortunate collateral damage.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 2:19
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    This site spans a wide audience. In tech-support tiers it is 1st through 3rd, basically. There are plenty of people who should know better than to ask that question that way, but there is usually not a way to tell in their first question who they are, what level they are, what we should expect of them reasonably, and so we must assume everyone is a n00b on their first question. We can coach and then build expectations. Some of the "you've got 5 questions all closed for the same reason, what haven't you learned" takedowns are very necessary, but only after a bit of interaction has happened. Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 17:52
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    Related: Encouraging people to explain downvotes (cross-site, the canonical) Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 11:16

Before drawing any conclusions, I thought it was best to compile some data pertaining to Super User voting trends.

I decided that one good method would be to examine the tendencies of our most active community members. Essentially, their proactive nature helps them (along with our moderators) serve as the public face of the Super User community. I wanted something that would be relatively comprehensive, and as a result I scrutinized the voting careers of the top 50 people in the Super User reputation league standings for calendar year 2016. The resulting data was fascinating:

  • The average level of Super User experience among the 50 people on the list was 5.1 years
  • 43 out of the 50 people on the list (86%) had a positive up-vote/down-vote ratio
  • All five Super User moderators who made the list had a positive up-vote/down-vote ratio
  • The cumulative voting efforts of all 50 people resulted 116,497 up-votes and 75,346 down-votes, which is approximately a 1.5-to-1 positive ratio.
  • If you remove the two people at the extreme far end of the scale (the one who cast the most up-votes along with the person who cast the most down-votes) from each side, the cumulative votes from the remaining 48 people revealed approximately a 2.3-to-1 positive ratio.
  • The median up-vote/down-vote ratio on the list was a 6-to-1 positive ratio.

From my perspective, everyone on that "top 50" list should be commended for the tremendous amount of time and effort they have devoted towards the Super User community. The statistics I cited seem to support the conclusion that as a whole, the group seems to personify the Super User community goals and principles.

On the other hand, there are a small number of people on the list who have compiled approximately twice as many down-votes as up-votes, and some are actually much more strict than that. I'm sure that their actions were taken with the best of intentions, but yes, I think that the end result of their efforts is a bit too harsh. Having a critical eye for the greater good of the Super User community is certainly beneficial, but if we become so focused on that aspect of voting that we rarely think to reward notable efforts with an up-vote, it's probably a disservice to the people who did author effective questions and answers. It can potentially discourage new and talented Super User community members from contributing even more in the future.

Once again, that passage from the Help Center stands out:

The up-vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

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    Its worth noting two things for me, firstly - most things I've downvoted tend to be terrible and often deleted, so the ratio for me is skewed. I also probably vote less than I should. And if something is truely terrible I have the option of putting it out of my misery fast. I wonder how leaving any mod (or maybe even ex mod) out of the top 50 will skew the results.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 4:15
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    To quote Mart Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.". So, what's behind the numbers? For those with the negative ratio, do they also do a lot of editing on Q/A to make them better, seemingly down-voting only those beyond redemption? Do they down-vote what others would (or should) also down-vote? What may seem a bit harsh can still be for the best. My parents wouldn't let me run out in a blizzard half-clothed with a flat "NO." That seemed harsh, but it was still right. A long discussion wouldn't make it more right.
    – Chindraba
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 4:48
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    @JourneymanGeek: If you downvote something, and it is subsequently deleted, does it still count in your statistics? P.S. Congratulations on surpassing 100K! Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 5:28
  • I have no idea - should be semi trivial to check, depending on where his source is. Also, come to think of it, some of the top 50 might actually be inactive. Amusingly I don't ever recall seeing John T on the site... roughly ever. And thanks
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 5:33
  • @JourneymanGeek I believe it does. <== anecdotal
    – Bob
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 7:57
  • @JourneymanGeek, as I said within my answer, none of the five mods who made the top 50 list had a negative voting ratio. I'm sure it's possible that some of the top 50 are relatively inactive now, but I utilized the most recent comprehensive data: the calendar year that just ended eight weeks ago.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 8:05
  • From SEDE? The query may be illuminating
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 8:06
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    @GypsySpellweaver, I understand what you're saying, but based upon your analogy about the blizzard I think that you may be missing my point. I'm not saying that down-votes themselves are too harsh. I was emphasizing that the people on this list are a cross-section of the most active members of our community. If they are so proactive that they have ample opportunity to cast numerous down-votes, they probably have sufficient chance to cast up-votes, too. A few of these people had roughly a 1-to-5 up-vote/down-vote ratio!
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 8:15
  • @JourneymanGeek, for your situational awareness my data sources were rather remedial: I looked at the Super User reputation league standing for 2016, opened each user profile, navigated to the Activity tab and noted their cumulative up-votes/down-votes at the bottom of the page. After that, I simply typed them into an Excel spreadsheet and let formulas do almost all the rest of it.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 8:21
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    DV + delete dosen't seem to count.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 9:06
  • @JourneymanGeek,, so that seems to help reinforce the visible profile down-vote counts... despite Mark Twain's legendary musings that attempt to dismiss all statistics as invalid. ;-)
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 9:10
  • On the contrary, it could mean they're understated compared to upvotes.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 9:16
  • A couple of thoughts. 1) Downvotes cost rep, so you might expect that, alone, to skew the ratio. People might be more careful with downvotes, or more likely to use an alternative like a comment or edit. 2) People have different standards for good and bad. 3) Upvotes are commonly used to encourage new members. They are also often used as reciprocal rewards or to make a question seem more attractive to attract views to an answer. Using votes in those kinds of unintended ways tends to skew the ratio. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 23:34
  • 4) Interesting analysis. I wonder how rep or longevity correlate with voting patterns. A "purer" measure might be to look at the most prolific N voters, They might be a somewhat different group and would account for the highest percentage of votes. 5) The site has evolved over the years, and users' attitudes change over time. If you want a snapshot of current practices, maybe limit the statistics to votes cast in the last year or two (it could be either the same population of voters or base the population on the voting during that period).
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 23:35
  • @fixer1234, all good observations. The fact that down-votes on answers cost the voter a bit of rep crossed my mind, and I'm sure that has an impact on their habits. And yes, some people will certainly have loftier standards than others. Your third point is definitely valid and quite interesting. Hopefully those scenarios don't occur too often, though. Regarding an analysis of a different group of voters or shorter time frame for the sample, my methods were admittedly remedial. I assume that those capabilities might be available to someone with over 10k reputation, and perhaps even over 25k.
    – Run5k
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 0:38

Off all the Stack Exchange sites, SuperUser is by far the most aggressive in terms of downvoting and overzealous moderation. You are not even given a chance to explain that their opinion was wrong, extremely heavy handed. And I don't see it increasing the quality, on the contrary it became an effective barrier to entry, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one to think or experience this. Community moderation is like citizen journalism, faulty and opinionated, and SuperUser brought this to perfection. Maybe you should look up to SO instead. But no, you moderators are going to debate here whether -2 points are educational, not realizing you are the root cause of the problem.

  • "You are not even given a chance to explain that their opinion was wrong, extremely heavy handed." - How about some specific examples? "But no, you moderators are going to debate here whether -2 points are educational, not realizing you are the root cause of the problem." - Only a single Superuser moderator has weighed in on this discussion at this point. You might want to annoate your opionion in this answer.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 12:08
  • 3
    I donno. Every time I downvote, and very often, when I delete I do my best to comment and guide the user the right way. As a high reputation user and a mod, I want to use these opportunities as teaching moments. I often have given reputation away for answers that I find great from new users because I want to encourage them. I personally encourage users to take disagreements with site policy to meta. I see your sentiments - I think I disagree with many of them? How do you feel that SO does better than us, and what would be a good way to solve or mitigate the problem?
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 14:53
  • For curiosity's sake, I wrote a cross-site query (based on this template) to order all the sites by the proportion of new questions that are downvoted. It only looks at those posted in the last 9 days so that the automatic deletion won't skew the results. Unfortunately, the Data Explorer is only updated once a week, so these numbers aren't completely fresh. The extreme proportions are from sites with very few questions (e.g. small metas).
    – Ben N
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 15:38
  • Something tells me that you're not familiar with Stack Overflow. Worse, it seems like they never upvote anything.
    – Karu
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 0:46

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