We recently had somebody who is not following our proposal (at least I'm pretty sure they are not) indiscriminately go through and downvote every question that has one or more votes without leaving any comments.

Apparently (see: How many downvotes do users get?) there is no limit to the number of questions you can downvote and no penalty for downvoting. This is a good mechanism to have in place in case people are spamming your proposal with bad/off-topic questions, but in this case it seems purely malicious.

Here are some ideas to prevent this:

  1. Require some minimum level of reputation to downvote questions in a proposal that you are not following.

  2. After each downvote, popup a comment field for the downvoter to provide feedback (maybe it should be a requirement to fill out the field, but even if it's optional this will still help). This is good practice anyway.

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Which site proposal are you referring to? – thinly veiled question mark Feb 9 '13 at 5:03
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I've noticed this happening on several Science related sites. – Neal Kruis Feb 12 '13 at 16:11
    
You loose one reputation point for every downvote. A sensible daily limit could help to reduce abuse, but down voting should still be easy to flag bad answers. – Peter Kämpf Dec 25 '14 at 11:30
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There is already a requirement that you must have 150 reputation to downvote. To stop this from happening, flag it for moderator attention and in the flag say that you think someone is indiscriminately downvoting every example question. – John May 22 '16 at 20:46
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I find it interesting that I essentially said the same thing as point 2 above, and that it was downvoted 3 times and removed. – Carl Sep 22 '16 at 18:23
    
Downvoting is overrated. Get rid of it. Comments work better and positive reinforcement works on humans, negative reinforcement is most often ineffectual because of confirmation bias. That is, unless you happen to be the type of person who is skeptical of everything you ever thought, were ever taught, told or read, you will not be able to get bogus ideas out of your head just by thinking about them. The type of thinking that removes flat earth theories is some variant of scientific method wherein we systematically attempt to disprove ideas. – Carl Sep 22 '16 at 18:24
    
My experience with downvoting has been negative. Frankly, when I am in the middle of editing something, downvoting can erase my work before I complete it. Try writing something complicated for ten hours just to have someone thinking with their mouths downvote on your work in progress. One of my -3's is now a +6, and I had to copy it and repost it before the squabbling crowd of backseat pundits destroyed what they didn't have the patience for. Downvoting is broken, do something different with it, please. – Carl Sep 23 '16 at 19:05

Here is one proposal: Each downvote could be accompanied by an anonymous text message, that would register an objection. Downvotes now only mean "I do not agree." While useful in a limited sense, "I do not agree" is confrontational. Objections that would specify a reason for a downvote would be less confrontational and more constructive. That way, if the text is nonsense, the vote can be called to the attention of the moderator. As it is now, downvotes are too often of quality as poor as what is being voted upon. Moreover, a downvote should be regarded as helpful. I have experienced situations in which an author has been told that there is a mistake that should be corrected, and only after issuing a warning message that is ignored with no response or correction do I downvote.

Now another proposal: Limit the number of downvotes to one a day or one a week.

Here is another proposal: Increase the penalty for downvoting to -10 for the person making it, and -1 for the recipient.

Pick you own solution, put it as an answer, I dare you, then watch it get downvoted just because someone wants to be snarky.

Someone downvoted this thrice without saying why. That is hilarious! I guess that some people just like snarking and do not want to give it up.

Here is one final proposal. Downvoting is overrated. Get rid of it. Comments work better and positive reinforcement works on humans, negative reinforcement is most often ineffectual because of confirmation bias. That is, unless you happen to be the type of person who is skeptical of everything you ever thought, were ever taught, told or read, you will not be able to get bogus ideas out of your head just by thinking about it.

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Downvotes without comments are not snarking. They are anonymous by design. – fbueckert Sep 22 '16 at 16:45
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What downvotes are not is discussion. Without discussion their utility is limited. I pointedly did not propose breaking anonymity, I just suggested injecting some rationality into process of downvoting, and, yes, to downvote a request for reason without giving one is snarking, and, I am rolling in laughter. – Carl Sep 22 '16 at 16:59
    
Great. They're supposed to serve a singular purpose: to signal that the content is not up to snuff. That's all. Trying to make it do anything else is tilting at windmills. Strawmanning other's actions as snarking means you don't understand their purpose at all. – fbueckert Sep 22 '16 at 17:08
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If the content is not up to snuff, then constructive criticism would promote improvement. If an instructor were to tell you "You will never amount to anything," would you like that? Would you not prefer to hear "In order to make the grade, you should work more problems through"? You are giving up not only on content by downvoting, but you are giving the person an "F" for eFfort. "I don't understand" = not snarking. LOL – Carl Sep 22 '16 at 17:20
    
Yes, constructive criticism would help. I totally agree with that. But that's not what downvotes are for. You're trying to jam a round peg into a square hole. That's not at all what they're meant for. They're also never personal. It's like an instructor giving a paper a lower grade, not telling anyone they won't amount to anything. It's all about the content, not the user. – fbueckert Sep 22 '16 at 17:22
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When an instructor gives a grade, he usually also gives the work back with comments and corrections. Those instructors who do not do that are often though of by their students as authoritarian and lazy. Are you saying that you are so detached from your intellectual work that you have no reaction to criticism of the "You stink" type? If so, you are more detached than I can manage. I probably would not make it as a narcissist, I care too much what people think. – Carl Sep 22 '16 at 17:31
    
Again, it is not personal. You are portraying downvotes as judgements against the poster, which they are not. They are just judgements against the content itself. – fbueckert Sep 22 '16 at 17:33
    
Descartes: "Je pense donc je suis." – Carl Sep 22 '16 at 17:43

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