It’s no secret that newer (and older) users on the SE network don’t really like being downvoted. There are tons of Meta posts about how someone being downvoted made them feel unwelcome, or how they perceived the downvote(s) as a personal attack. Of course, we could just become YouTube and essentially get rid of downvotes, but that would make it difficult to curate content, since everything would have a score of at least 0.
A big problem with downvotes on the SE network is that they’re used to signal so many different things. There could be any number of reasons someone downvoted:
- Clarity issues
- Someone’s having a bad day
- Obvious duplicates
- etc etc etc
When you see ambiguous negative feedback, it’s easy to think, “oh, they must not like me.” The curators know that’s not the case, but the person asking the question might not. Contextual tutorials would help with this problem, but I think it’s possible to go further.
Instead of a single downvote function, what about something more granular? I can think of a few possible scenarios:
Have flags and close-votes count as negative feedback, and let the author see which reasons have been selected. There might need to be separate weights for flags and CVs.
Have a pop-up when downvoting, asking the downvoter to specify roughly why they downvoted. Maybe a list similar to the CV reasons, with the option of entering a custom reason or just not leaving any specific feedback at all.
Instead of a single downvote arrow, have different negative feedback buttons. This is basically just a variant of the second scenario, with more buttons instead of a popup. Each version is still negative, but it’s more specific than an all-encompassing downvote.
Obviously, all of these scenarios have their issues. With the first one, there could be problems if someone wants to both upvote and close (a good duplicate, for instance). With the second and third, it adds more clicks to the process.
I personally think the general idea if better than a normal downvote, though. Getting more specific feedback on the votes (without removing anonymity) means the post author knows roughly what they need to do to improve their post. It also specifies that the vote isn’t about them personally, but about their post.
How could these be improved? Are they better or worse than a simple downvote?