Why do people downvote other members' content for no reason at all?

No-one can improve their content without knowing what is wrong with it. Downvoting without a constructive comment makes no sense. No-one gets any wiser or happier.

  • Don't!
    – Rushi
    Jul 7, 2023 at 11:48
  • @Rusi Don't what? Jul 7, 2023 at 12:05
  • The link shows that downvoting is misused. But frankly it doesn't answer your question, apart from the general observation that SE voting is broken on many counts
    – Rushi
    Jul 7, 2023 at 12:08
  • Because they can't downvote their own? Unhelpful comment, but thankfully no downvote. I once cast the final Close vote on one of my own Questions, edited, flagged to reopen, then cast the final Reopen vote. Just trying to speed things along...
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 27, 2023 at 0:43
  • "Downvoting without a constructive comment makes no sense. No-one gets any wiser or happier." The OP had not shown any attempt to become wiser or happier after also receiving constructive comments.
    – tkruse
    Jul 28, 2023 at 6:44
  • @tkruse I have never received any constructive comments. No-one has ever pointed out any factual errors in my content. Jul 28, 2023 at 6:55
  • And you are free to forever label any feedback you receive as non-constructive, unless it is: "Bravo, teach us more, lead us, wise one, we are desperate for your guidance". But typically that's not the feedback you can expect
    – tkruse
    Jul 28, 2023 at 6:56
  • @tkruse I do not expect worship. I expect correction of factual errors. But I receive none. Jul 28, 2023 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


Why do people downvote other members' content for no reason at all?

People don't. There is typically a reason.

This website is not intended as a game, or a personal blog. This website is intended as a means for readers to learn from past questions. Downvoting is a way to alert potential future readers of low quality content, such as incorrect information or people pushing personal beliefs. It may also help to encourage answerers to write answers of higher quality, but that is a secondary goal.

Downvoting does not help improve answer qualities for answerers who stubbornly refuse to change, and would rather complain on Meta than agree that their answers have low quality. For those, it is really just a warning to audiences.

A particular case are wrong-way drivers:

"What is the point of honking cars, honking does not explain anything" - "people told you in the past why they honk" - "I have never received constructive feedback on my driving, it's all just silly complaints" - "people honk because you drive on the wrong side of the road" - "I have never driven in the wrong side, all my life I have driven on that side, it's been taught to me." - "You're in a different country now." - "Country has nothing to do with it, there is only one right side" - "This country has different laws" - "Then clearly the laws need to be changed. I really wish those people would stop honking. Why don't they just follow my lead and drive on my side if the road. It's so aggressive."

  • I have never pushed any personal beliefs as facts. I have always explicitly warned the reader whenever I have expressed a belief or uncertainty about something. I am unable to improve the quality of my comments when I don't know what is wrong. I'm not stubbornly refusing to change, I'm always open to new knowledge. Jul 28, 2023 at 8:28
  • Maybe it would already help if you avoided words like "never" and "always" when describing yourself. As they say: The first step is admitting.
    – tkruse
    Jul 28, 2023 at 8:58
  • "People don't. There is typically a reason." Obviously the OP meant the instances where downvoters refuse or fail to state their reason(s) for downvoting. This answer incorrectly assumes that quality of a post is necessarily what prompts users to vote. The fact is that oftentimes users' votes are driven by very personal taste, bias for or against the author of the post, herd effect, or contributor's rep score. These criteria have nothing to do with quality of the post being voted. Jul 29, 2023 at 11:21
  • 1
    Good posts consistently get up votes, no matter personal tastes or biases. The OP is looking for an excuse to avoid taking responsibility.
    – tkruse
    Jul 29, 2023 at 17:57

Welcome to the Internet! Where anonymity and lack of consequence are paired to produce less than productive behavior.

You are absolutely right that in a classroom, any teacher, for instance, would be remiss in not providing feedback after grading. But a teacher is someone who has your best interests in mind, and the student-teacher bond is built into the pedagogy, encouraged by society, and theoretically is affirmed by administrators assessing instruction. The Internet is none of these things.

A forum like this is both free and has no barrier to entry other than a basic capacity to read and write English. That means participation can be in whatever manner a participant sees fit and that does not elicit a moderator response, which in the interest of fairness and in line with the fact that moderators are volunteers, means wide berth is given.

Many people read this site, and the cost of expressing disagreement amounts to a click of a button. While there are many academically trained and professionally motivated philosophers here, there are also great swaths of people who know very little. Thus, down-votes without correction are often the manifestation of people who have very little invested in the site or your intellectual growth, and who feel entitled and are empowered to express their displeasure or disagreement with you.

So, while what you claim is both true and lamentable, as long as the economics are what they are, the occasional rationale-less down-vote is inevitable.

  • Maybe it should cost something to be here, and like, affect your ability to get jobs and things? Like IRL. I like Frank Herbert's model of the courtroom where every participant is in mortal danger for any failing. Cuts down on frivolous lawsuits. "Think of it as evolution in action"
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 27, 2023 at 0:47
  • 1
    @ScottRowe 'Should' is normative and hypothetical. The reality of what is prevails here. I would absolutely prefer to operate in a community which selects out undesirable elements, be they practices or people, but none exists. If you start such a society, one where philosophical (or any intellectual) discussion is more of a community and less an exchange, please invite me. You're not the only one who has a preference of people to encyclopedias. ; )
    – J D
    Jul 27, 2023 at 15:56
  • Pertti has received huge amounts of feedback about his short, uninformative, opinionated, unreferenced and unjustified answers. He never improved. He never learns, as this very question on meta suggests. Personally i'm done wasting my time with him.
    – armand
    Nov 14, 2023 at 14:05

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