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I see how the answer method works here and on all Stack Exchange sites, but, can someone explain to me why those who have answers to a question can downvote other answers. Doesn't this seem a little pointless?! Can someone explain. I'd appreciate it.

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    Why is it pointless? – Sathyajith Bhat May 16 '13 at 13:57
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    Precisely, explain why you think it's pointless. Other than revenge downvoting, people generally don't go on a downvoting binge. Besides the (minor) loss to the downvoter's rep, pulling down other valid answers provides no great advantage that I can think of. Perhaps you can and would like to share? – Karan May 16 '13 at 14:29
  • Because the ones who are answering a question will constantly downvote all other answers. This would be a false voting process because the person who voted had an agenda (not that the answer was not written well). When someone downvotes others answers, his answer would transitively raise to the top. – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:30
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    Please show specific evidence of people generally downvoting all other answers to a question they've answered themselves, just to make their answer stand out better. While the system does allow you to do this, I'd be very surprised if you could bring up any examples that show this behavior on a large scale. – slhck May 16 '13 at 14:33
  • No, no you don't understand. I'm just saying that it is possible to do so. What would be the downfall of preventing those who answer the question themselves from downvoting other answers to the same question? – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:35
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    @HelpingHand: Downvoting costs your reputation. And just because you downvote something, doesn't make your answer right. People who would behave in the way you describe, would be very unlikely to even earn the privilege to downvote, as you need 125 reputation to even be able to do it. – Der Hochstapler May 16 '13 at 14:43
  • Why did you guys downvote my question?? Does it not show research effort?? How can you research this?? – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:43
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    See FAQ: On Meta, voting is often used to express agreement or disagreement, not to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness. – slhck May 16 '13 at 14:44
  • Oh, okay. But what is there to agree to? Its a question!! – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:45
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    People disagree with your premise that it is pointless to allow users to downvote competing answers. – slhck May 16 '13 at 14:45
  • And so do I now?! So if I edit it to not say that, will you upvote it? – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:47
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    I'd say, don't worry about getting downvotes on Meta sites. It's not like you're losing reputation over it or you'll be banned from asking further questions. Editing your question to change its original meaning would probably do more harm than good here. – slhck May 16 '13 at 14:48
  • Alright, yeah, I didn't notice that I wasn't losing reputation. Anyway, thank you for the help. Good day to you all. – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:50
  • We actually had a user a year or two ago who downvoted most questions about topics he didn't care about (because they clearly were bad and took up valuable space that could be used for questions about his favorite topics). I wonder how long he managed to do that. (Question down votes don't even cost reputation now, but I don't know whether that was back when that cost 1 rep too). – Daniel Beck May 16 '13 at 17:16
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  1. There's a system in place to detect serial down voting. I'm not positive, but I would suspect it would detect this behavior as well.

  2. It costs 1 rep to downvote an answer. If you're constantly downvoting other answers, I would actually suspect you to lose reputation overall versus leaving other answers alone. Mostly because:

  3. Downvoting someone else's answer doesn't make your answer suck any less. :) The questioner is not likely to be fooled by numbers; they typically accept the solution that works for them regardless of the numbers. In fact, it's not uncommon to see a highly upvoted answer yet a different accepted answer.

And for the most part, frequent users don't see this as a competition. We're here to learn and to teach.

  • Alright, you convinced me. If there is already a system to stop this, then you answered my question. Very good. Your answer is confirmed. – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:40
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First of all, yes, the system allows you to downvote any post, regardless of whether you're involved answering the same question. But no, this is not a problem. If somebody was really going on a downvote spree we'd be able to detect that.

And here's a very important point: If you're experienced enough in a topic to be able to sufficiently answer a question, you should actually be one of the first to have the privilege to downvote any wrong answers given to the same question.

Let's contrive an example where I answer a question that asks for a Bash script to achieve something. It so happens to be that I know Bash, and somebody else posts a script that isn't working due to some syntax error. Why should I not be able to downvote it? What good behavior would it encourage if I couldn't point out that a post is simply wrong?

Note that quite the opposite is encouraged. The Sportsmanship badge is given to those who upvote competing answers.

  • Very good explanation as well. Thank you for your help. I understand. – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 14:42
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Downvotes on main sites usually should mean there's something drastically wrong with the question. We arn't here to punish users who don't toe the line - the downvote/upvote and even the closure system is designed to encourage better questions and answers. I personally like to accompany my downvotes and closures with comments designed to help users work out what went wrong, in order to fix it.

If you DID get a downvote, editing it to fix issues there allows uses to undo said downvote should quality be sufficient to. As such, a downvote isn't a slap on the wrist, its an incentive to do better. We prefer positive reinforcement (upvotes! Badges!), but sometimes a little negative reinforcement would do.

Downvotes arn't the end of the world. Stop worrying and Do Awesome

  • From your instruction, I shall go forth and "Do Awesome". Thank you for implanting "the force". And the force be with you as well. USE IT WISELY. Cheers. – HelpingHand May 16 '13 at 15:13

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