Downvoting on WP Questions

In the post Projects that are not questions, prize money that is too low Michael Fields made the following suggestion:

I feel that another area seriously needs to be addressed. Enabling “Experts” to vote and answer up or down. No money would ever be paid to voters. I have noticed that some people who answer questions really don’t know the answers or are suggesting really bad code for the asker’s to use on their sites. This also goes the other way too. If someone geave a really great answer, I would totally vote it up. Just a thought …

Several askers have asked for a similar feature. The askers often say they lack the skill to discern which of the answers they have been given are best. Ideally, when someone posts a bad answer, full of incorrect facts, then the top experts on the site should have the power to vote it down.

We just rolled out this feature. Under each answer, you’ll see a “flag” link. If you click it, you come to a page that has this information in it:

Downvoting should be reserved for answers that post serious factual errors, or for some obvious abuse of the site (such as when someone new to the site uses the answer form to post a question). Downvoting should not be used simply to express disagreement with another expert’s opinion.

An answer can accumulate both downvotes and upvotes. The only purpose of the upvotes is to offset the downvotes. If an answer accumulates a net of 3 downvotes, then it no longer displays in the normal way on the page with the question. (An example of what I mean by net: if a answer has 3 downvotes and 1 upvote then it only has a net of 2 downvotes, and so it displays normally. But an answer with 6 downvotes and 2 upvotes has a net of 4 downvotes, so it will not display normally.)

All voting, up or down, is public. If you vote someone’s answer down, they will know it. I personally participate in some forums, such as Hacker News, that allow anonymous downvoting. I find it frustrating to receive downvotes and yet never know why people are voting me down. I find it frustrating that I’m not able to ask the people who downvote me why they did so. Therefore, there will be no anonymous voting on WP Questions.

This downvoting is something of an experiment. I’m looking for feedback. Please let me know what you think.

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6 Responses to Downvoting on WP Questions

  1. Awesome! Will definitely check this out in the future. Will users be shown the upvotes? Like say if someone answered a question with a really good answer and I upvoted it, would the asker be able to see that it got a “+1”?

  2. Sébastien | French WordpressDesigner says:

    “Once an answer receives a net 3 downvotes, then it is no longer displayed on the question page.”

    Three ! Is it not too much ?
    For example, here : you can see that mrmobile use the answer form to post a question.
    Denzel (expert n° 1 ) had downvote
    I (expert n° 9) have downvote

    And that’s not enough…

    Maybe could you :
    -take into account the rank (good idea ? i don’t know)
    -propose checkboxes. For example, if the case “use the answer form to post a question”, you moderate immediately

  3. Lawrence Krubner says:

    Michael, that is an interesting idea, but that is not how I originally imagined it.

    If you really think an answer was great, then you should vote it money.

    If you think an answer has serious factual errors then you should downvote it.

    If you think an answer is accurate but widely misunderstood, such that other experts are downvoting it, then you should upvote it to offset their downvotes.

    I’ll watch how people use downvotes for the next 2 or 3 weeks and then I’ll make adjustments as seems wise.

    I appreciate all of your feedback.

  4. Christianto says:

    Ok, I voted but nothing happen..
    Is this only applies to active question?

  5. Lawrence Krubner says:

    Sorry, I have fixed this now. Check out the last answer on this page:

  6. Lawrence Krubner says:


    I am comfortable with 3 votes. I want this to be reserved for fairly extreme cases. Obvious abuses, like the ones that you all just linked to, will garner 3 downvotes. If 3 experts do not agree that an answer needs to be downvoted, then the answer does not deserve to be downvoted. But I know that if 3 of the top experts on this site think an answer should be downvoted, then it really does need to be flagged as bad or abusive.

    — lawrence

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