I've noted the same user on several occasions asking in comments (rather rudely) about who downvoted his answer. Is this acceptable behaviour?

Just an example:

@xxxxx: Are you the downvoter?

and one minute later when there was no reply

@xxxxx: You did not answer the question!

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Just move to the facebook model where there are only upvotes. Everyone's a winner! (or the comments here also have no downvotes :P) –  Peter Sheldrick Jan 29 '13 at 15:01
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A downvoter should leave a comment and explain what the downvote for. –  Mhenni Benghorbal Feb 17 '13 at 1:57
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5 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

This kind of behavior is rude and unacceptable.

On the other hand, asking for a reason for the downvote is reasonable as long as no accusations are made.

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I agree. The etiquette section of the faq suggests that people giving a downvote should comment on why they have done so. As such, I see nothing wrong with asking why a downvote was given. –  user1729 Jan 28 '13 at 10:27
    
(Also, it is better to have a good answer than a rubbish one with lots of downvotes. One says "the community cares about your question" the other says "the community has seen this answer and knows it is rubbish". And so, downvotes should be accompanied by an explanation of what is wrong with the answer with the idea that the answer will be improved.) –  user1729 Jan 28 '13 at 10:30
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Succintly put. I agree that it's perfectly fine to politely ask for a reason for the anonymous downvote (and that downvoters should normally comment), but that it's ok not to start a witch hunt. –  mrf Jan 29 '13 at 10:53
    
It is a common sense when one downvotes an answer, they should leave a cooment. –  Mhenni Benghorbal Feb 17 '13 at 1:54
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I'd like to take a moment to say that downvoting is not inherently bad. Both upvoting and downvoting have played a very important role in the day-to-day operations of the site.

While there are many reasons a user might downvote a question/answer, the thread binding them all together is that the user does not like an aspect of that question/answer. Perhaps it is technically incorrect, or unjustified, or shows no effort, etc. Regardless of the actual reason, the downvoter found something wrong enough with the post to downvote it as a sign to the community that there is something wrong.

But a downvote alone does not fix the problem. Downvoters should let the OP of the downvoted question/answer know how his or her post should be improved. Usually, this is done with comments. And in this way, downvotes aren't usually anonymous (at least, not some).

I should also mention that it might not be necessary for every user who identifies a particular question/answer as wrong to downvote that question/answer. Piling on downvotes can be incredibly discouraging, and can get away from their purpose, which is to increase the quality of the site and help others learn math.

With all that said, I see no reason why a user can't ask what was wrong with their post, causing a downvote. The goal of this action is to learn what's wrong and correspondingly fix it. But to go after the downvoters aggressively is poor and, in my opinion, unacceptable.

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Personally, I see little point in downvoting an answer just because it is factually wrong. In that case, I would comment. I reserve downvotes for those who are unresponsive to constructive comments. –  Michael Greinecker Jan 28 '13 at 10:56
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I will downvote answers if they are factually wrong, and there is a correct answer with fewer upvotes. –  user7530 Jan 28 '13 at 18:43
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@user7530: If the answerer corrects their post, will you retract the vote and/or replace it with an upvote? –  Asaf Karagila Jan 28 '13 at 22:27
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@AsafKaragila of course –  user7530 Jan 28 '13 at 22:50
    
@user7530: If only that was so obvious... Thanks for answering, though. –  Asaf Karagila Jan 28 '13 at 22:51
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I, too, take user7530's approach when downvoting: If there is an answer that is factually wrong (and not corrected somewhat quickly when "@" notified), I downvote to help the correct answers float up. However, if the answerer edits it to make it correct, I retract the downvote... –  anorton Jan 28 '13 at 23:19
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I realize that I’m probably in a minority, but I do not consider downvoting useful, and I do not downvote, full stop. I do leave comments if something is actually wrong. If they lead to improvement, well and good, and I can remove them; if not, the comment is there to be taken into account by readers. If a reader fails to read the comments, that’s the reader’s problem. –  Brian M. Scott Jan 28 '13 at 23:45
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I do not, however, defend the discourteous behavior described in the question. –  Brian M. Scott Jan 28 '13 at 23:55
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No. You should remind the user making such comments that voting is anonymous for a reason.

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yes, and we all know what the reason is! –  David Holden Dec 23 '13 at 18:37
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The comments "why the downvotes?" do not contain anything of value for others users. To them they are nothing but annoying clutter. It's unfortunately not uncommon for an OP to add a forgotten assumption in the comments. But in order to find that assumption, readers have to go through questions about OP's accept rate, about how it's rude to not accept good answers, how it is rude to demand answers to be accepted, questions about who downvoted, mentions of how it is rude, or perhaps that it is rude to say that downvoting is rude, etc.

I wish people would show less emotional attachment to their posts. A post is not a baby or a puppy, it is an entry in some SQL table, contributed to the site under a certain license. There's a "votes" field in that SQL table, which provides a way of sorting entries.

To anyone reading this: when you come across any of my posts (such as this one), feel free to upvote if you liked the post; downvote if you did not like it; comment if you want to; don't comment if you don't. Simply - and rudely - put.

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The original post should be edited to include the assumption, no? –  user1729 Jan 28 '13 at 14:45
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@user1729 In a perfect world, yes. But the comments may also include insightful remarks and links that do not constitute an answer, yet may help others arrive at an answer. –  user53153 Jan 28 '13 at 14:53
    
+1: Well said, and I agree. –  Jonas Meyer Jan 28 '13 at 19:21
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The comments "why the downvotes?" do not contain anything of value for others users. First, I disagree: the comment indicates that the downvote may not in fact have been justified, since the person posting the answer sees nothing wrong with it even after the possible existence of a problem has been brought to his attention by the downvote. Secondly, it’s of value to the person posting the answer if the downvoter responds. Granted, downvoters who don’t leave a comment in the first place rarely do respond; I consider this omission more than a bit discourteous and very unhelpful. –  Brian M. Scott Jan 28 '13 at 23:50
    
Can't agree more with @BrianM.Scott here. I recently asked why I'd been downvoted, for the simple reason that I have no idea what would annoy/signal poor quality to the downvoter. I can live with the -2 rep and lower question tally, but would like to avoid repeating mistakes. This is the post, in case anybody cares to examine it for constructive criticism: math.stackexchange.com/questions/289538/… –  Brett Frankel Jan 31 '13 at 18:19
    
@Brett: Beats me; seems a very reasonable question, and we’ve certainly had similar ones. –  Brian M. Scott Jan 31 '13 at 18:21
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I think instead of asking who voted negatively, people who ask or answer should focus on improving your question or answer. A negative vote is not given on a whim.

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It is also not necessarily given for legitimate reasons, unfortunately. I’ve seen: what might be called competitive downvotes, made by someone posting another answer to the same question; downvotes made by people who didn’t know enough to judge; and downvotes with no apparent basis other than a dislike of the poster. If there is a good reason for a downvote, a comment giving that reason is of far more value to everyone. –  Brian M. Scott Jan 28 '13 at 23:53
    
exactly Brian. I am new here. I am 65 years old. I am a musician, an artist, I have seen a lot of life. and I am frankly shocked at the respect given to the petty-minded, the spiteful. mathematics is a wonderful intellectual adventure. if someone has a beef, let them nail it to the community post with their name attached. anonymous downvoting encourages the witch-hunter mentality, and cannot possibly encourage creative thinking. honest criticism, on the other hand, is simply a part of the teaching/learning process that does seem to thrive here, despite the minority who wish to stifle it. –  David Holden Dec 23 '13 at 18:42
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