I've been here for about a month and I've already realised how easy is to downvote for no reason and how some people freely do it.

This may cause some problems sometimes (mainly for questions) as a -1 near your answer/question will lead into some "hate" on you and also the lost of rep.

As I said, I've been here for a short period of time but I already saw how a well formed question gets downvoted for no reason, this one is an example of it.

So, my question is, as title says, should downvotes be moderated in any way?

  • 6
    That's not a well formed question. It's basically a load of stuff chucked at the internet screaming HALP! in the hope that someone will guide the author through reverse Q&A - That's generally called tech support not Question and Answer.
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:37
  • I probably wouldn't downvote that question, but I wouldn't call it "well-formed," either. It's definitely a step above "I followed this how-to guide [link] and it didn't work HALP!" but it's basically, "Here are my versions and configs. I see a lot of processes and think I may be running out of memory. Eventually it stops working." He includes a lot of good version and config info, but we'd need his error logs, the output of top, and things like that to see what was happening when it stopped responding in order to help him. Hopefully, he'll provide those. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:31
  • P.S. I agree with Sven, too, that if you think the person who downvoted was too harsh, you can upvote the question. It'll be a net win for the OP, rep-wise. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:36
  • 1
    Conversely, a lot of crap gets upvoted when it shouldn't, so maybe upvotes should be moderated too. Given that no one around here votes much anyway, it wouldn't be much of an added burden either, so that's another argument in favor of the idea. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 21:14
  • While it can be emotionally frustrating to get any number of downvotes, the downvoting system is critical to the function of Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow. If you are here because you like the content that you find on Stack Exchange, then you should realize you need the downvotes to work as they do in order to generate the content the way it is generated. If you don't want people to downvote the way they do on SE, then you don't want to be on SE. If you want to be on SE, then you'll be happier if you learn to accept downvotes with grace. Commented May 5, 2016 at 16:23

4 Answers 4


No, votes don't need moderation

There's no reason for voting to have an extra layer of moderation and good reasons for it not to.

A vote is someone's opinion of whether a post is good or bad. If one person downvotes a highly-voted post, they aren't doing anything wrong that needs to be prevented or corrected, they're just expressing an opinion.

Votes only have significance in bulk. If a lot of people look at a post, and indicate whether they think it's good or bad (by voting), the overall result can be considered a very objective indication of the quality.

There's already little enough voting as it is, a barrier to voting (some sort of moderation) would lower it even more.



Voting already is the community moderation system in action! And down-votes are part of that as much as up votes; or would you also require up-votes getting reviewed?

Unlike voting down on answers, which also causes the voter to lose a point, voting down on questions is free in that regard and encouraged. The Stack Exchange philosophy is that voting on questions in general and even voting down is a good thingTM.

The voting system is also already regulated in a number of ways:

  • The voting down is a privilege that needs to be earned, it is not given freely, but requires a certain amount of community participation.
  • One user, one vote (per question and per answer). The community should easily be able to balance out a single discordant vote and commonly does so too.
  • I'm not saying that downvotes should be moderated by moderators, so it can still be under community control and I don't think that people give upvotes as freely as downvotes.
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:43
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    @Alex Can you prove that? I personally have 980 upvotes vs 233 downvotes. I think though that that might be because I often come across old, useful and well written posts, and upvote the lot of them. Most of my downvotes on the other hand are on newer posts written by illiterate children in charge of things only adults should handle.
    – Reaces
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:57
  • @Reaces it's not about how many you have, it's about how fair they are but, anyways, of course there are some people that take it serously and think about it before downvoting but on the other hand is the exact opposite, people downvoting for no reason.
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:02
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    @Alex: The "for no reason" part is highly subjective. Just because you wouldn't downvote a question doesn't mean that others are not entitled to have an entirely different view of what forms a useful and acceptable contribution to the site. Your view is in no way better or more right than those of downvoters (and vice versa).
    – Sven
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:20
  • Of course, it's just my opinion, so they are all the upvotes and downvotes, that's why I made the question. To see if they should be moderated, which inheritly means objectivity.
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:32
  • @Alex: No. Moderation is always subjective as well.
    – Sven
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:36
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    @Sven wow! Always? That's something to be afraid of... So if a mod is having a bad day and missunderstands something or just feels the need to rage, he will take actions following his own opinion at the moment instead of trying to follow the rules?
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:39
  • 2
    @Alex: I wouldn't formulate it so drastic, but in general: Yes. As I mod I try my very best to be as neutral and objective as possible, but since I am only human, this has limits. Also, the site has a multitude of options to keep mods in check if they start to act actively harmful.
    – Sven
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:43
  • @Alex It's not that black and white. There isn't one side that follows the rules and another that follows their own opinion. Moderators uphold the rules based on their opinion of those rules and their interpretation of those rules at the time that they act. Have you never come into contact with law enforcement? It's like this all over the planet :D
    – Reaces
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 11:22
  • @Reaces I'm also owner and moderator of a community and I have to deal with people every day as every mod has to, but, even tho some decissions might be wrong, being objective should be a must and I really try to be it because, if not, I would end up living in caos. Idiots with responsabilities because I was in a good mood the day I met them and viceversa.
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 11:31

No, they should not!

Votes are opinions and are used not only to indicate well formed questions but also to express how the voter feels this question fits here etc. and I have to say I find the very idea to moderate this completely, utterly ridiculous.

You can compensate by upvoting if you disagree with a downvote, which you haven't done on the question mentioned. In a way, upvoting is your chance to moderate votes.

  • I get that voting is an opinion, but opinions can have better or worse arguments. For example, I already got two downvotes here just for the fact of asking, how can that be fair?
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:26
  • 1
    Votes on meta are used to indicate agreement (up) or disagreement (down)
    – HBruijn
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:27
  • 1
    Downvotes on meta are mainly used to indicate agreement or disagreement. Your three downvotes mean three people disagree with this idea.
    – Sven
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:27
  • My bad, didn't know that. Anyways, it's not any idea, I'm just asking to see what people think about how voting system works.
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:29
  • @Alex: Opinions aren't fair, or unfair, or right, or wrong... they're opinions. Users should be free to freely express their opinions with downvotes and comments as they see fit so long as they aren't personal attacks. Why should that free expression be moderated or dictated?
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 12:29
  • @joeqwerty we can start a quite long discussion here on whether opinions should be respected or not but it has nothing to do here. Anyways, I've been consulting StackExchange communities for over a year now and I always felt that answers with more upvotes than others appear to be better (wheter it is because of it's content, explanation or final result) so, I see votes as something more than just opinion.
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 12:37
  • @Alex Answers with more upvotes have a community consensus that they're useful. That's more than the opinion of just one person. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:33
  • @KatherineVillyard yeah, I know, but know, with so many specific questions, even a +2 makes a huge difference
    – sysfiend
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:39

I think it might help if you re-evaluate this as a problem of mathematics instead of one of fairness. The system operates on the principle behind wisdom of the crowd, which factors in a margin of error. The only baseline of bias being applied to the voting is a person's reputation score, with the idea being that this increases the probability that a person knows how the system is supposed to be used. "Fairness" falls into the category of "idiosyncratic noise" in this model.

One could make the argument that the sampling pool for Serverfault is too small compared to other SE sites due to lower participation levels, or that those lower participation levels offer disproportionate leverage to cliques, but that wasn't the problem you approached us with.

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