This is related the the questions "Wearing earrings to office" and "What is rude on The Workplace?".

I placed a comment in the earrings question that looked like this:

"Down voted: [reason for down vote]". I didn't call the OP a name or anything, I list gave the reason for the down vote.

Chad reply to my comment as follows:

"It has been declared rude to post in comments that you down voted. You can suggest improvements in comments but you should not include down voted or -1"

As I replied to Chad, for now I'll consider the words "down voted" as being forbidden by somebody or other's 'declaration'.

I'd suggest that 'declarations' be listed in the FAQ, but that's not the point right now.

I personally appreciate it when someone replies to one of my questions and tells me words to the effect "I down voted you and here's why ....".

Chad's comment implies that the act of down voting is rude. I don't think that's really the case, and banning use of the word seems silly.

Professionals should have at least a slightly thick skin IMHO.

So here's my bottom line question:

Is it banned to explicitly say in a comment to a question that the commenter down voted the OP's question?

Why or why not?

  • 2
    The down voting is not rude just posting it in a comment. FWIW I argued at the time to leave it, though I now see the difference with it mostly absent from comments. Comments are more constructive sounding and are more likely to be taken constructively if you do not include the -1 or downvoted. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:34
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    So JimInTexas, after reading the answers below, I want to clarify that the "why" part of such comments is extremely important, as is the "here's what you can do to fix the problem" part of comments. Beginning a comment with "-1" or "Downvoted because..." tends to prepare people for the punch to the solar plexus, and for some folks, all they may see is the -1 or "downvoted" and miss the more important points in the message, such as the suggestions on how to improve the post. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 1:11
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    I wouldn't worry about it. You did nothing wrong.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 1:51
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    Good question, because leaving the +1 for using the word awesome comments don't seem to attract negative attention.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 18:44

4 Answers 4


It's not explicitly banned, per se, though as Jim says, comments saying just "+1 for an awesome answer" or "-1 for a terrible answer" are not of the purpose of comments.

Interestingly, I don't think I do this except very rarely (in spite of downvoting a lot...).

Without fail I leave a comment indicating why I downvoted and comments like this one which might be deleted soon, or upvote a comment that indicates why I downvoted.

It's just really rare to find a situation where adding "downvoted" or "-1" to the comment adds any additional value.

  • "It's just really rare to find a situation where adding "downvoted" ' - In the -7 example given that's probably true. But what about a question that has both up and down votes. Why do you want to make the OP guess which comments correspond to the down votes? How does that help the questioner? Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:18
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    +1 for an awesome answer I deleted soooooooo many of those
    – Zelda
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 19:40
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    @JimInTexas I suspect almost all people can understand differences between positive/constructive criticism comments.
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 0:19
  • There is an issue here: often, comments which do not explicitly state their own meta-information (ie: "-1 because") are mistaken for discussion. I have seen lots of comments of this nature get deleted, including some of my own on other SE sites. If the otherwise exact same comment had been prefixed with "Explaining my down-vote:" it is less likely to get deleted and more likely to result in an improved answer.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 21:09
  • Another reason why it can be good to know who down-voted is so that you can tell who did not down-vote. In fact, I sometimes suffix criticism comments with "Note that I did not -1 though." One of my reasons for doing this is that I have sometimes noticed a correlation between leaving criticism and being down-voted. The correlation is sometimes strong too, for example, I have left constructive feedback that puts an answer in a negative light (because it was bad), only to notice that within the hour I have a 1 extra down-vote on my Qs&As all across SE. I assume that is retaliation.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 21:17
  • And, while I understand that the retaliation is itself something that should not be happening and which we should not have to account for in discussions like this, the reality is that it does happen.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 21:18

The use of "downvoted" is not itself rude, but most comments of that format aren't the best comments. There is a related discussion on Meta: Is it OK to indicate that I downvoted in a comment?

To quote the accepted answer:

https://stackoverflow.com/privileges/comment describes the legitimate use cases for comments.

They are:
• Requesting clarification from the author;
• Leaving constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
• Adding relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).

That's it. Notice that discussions about voting are not in the list.

Explaining the reason you are downvoting is perfectly fine, but it's not necessary to indicate that you downvoted. It's about the post, not about the votes. Stating that you downvoted them is contentious, and invites discussions that you don't really want or need to engage in.

So if you are able to constructively comment according to these guidelines while mentioning that you downvoted, go ahead. If your comment is simply "Downvoted: Assumption XYZ is wrong", you should stop and think about a way to write it that would lead to improvement of the question (particularly the kind that would lead to you removing your downvote (such as "Assumption XYZ seems questionable; where is it coming from?").

  • 1
    I couldn't have said this better myself. :) In short, it's not the word "downvoted" that we wish to avoid, just the punitive tone that comes with such comments, especially when a more helpful tone would more likely generate a better response from the op.
    – jmort253
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 1:08
  • 1
    Personally, I would much rather have people leave me a reason with their downvote than to downvote silently and move on. But I agree, the comment should explain what's wrong (and ideally how to fix it), and should not just be along the lines of "-1 you're wrong"
    – Rachel
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 11:55
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    "Explaining the reason you are downvoting is perfectly fine, but it's not necessary to indicate that you downvoted." While I agree it might not be 'necessary', I think it is helpful to the OP who sincerely wants to fully understand why others reacted to his question the way they did. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:19
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    See also this answer, sharing how you voted (whether you voted up or down) is junk. Sharing why a post is good/bad/indifferent is potentially useful.
    – Zelda
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 19:40

I will point everyone to this post: What is rude on The Workplace?

I disagreed that this type of thing was rude but was overruled.

I now see the reasoning. If you have a comment to help the poster improve post that. There is no need to tell them you down-voted or -1. If you just disagree with the post you can explain why you disagree but just saying you are wrong is not constructive and a down vote does that just fine.

If someone asks why you down voted then certianly I think it is appropriate to explain if you desire. We have far to many comments that just basically say your post sucks. If you can not offer constructive criticism to help the post then consider not leaving a comment at all. That note is a suggestion to help improve the post not to tell the poster that there post is wrong or that their post sucks.

  • 4
    " but just saying you are wrong" - I think the phrases'down voted" or "great question!" are not very helpful if that's all that is said. I think "Downvoted for [reasons listed] is NOT rude at all. Unless down voting itself is rude. Which I guess it is to some folks. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:21
  • It is only rude when you down vote them I think. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:37

See no reason to consider being frank about why you are downvoting something any different from saying you voted to close the question.

Very often closing is correlated with a spate of downvotes, or a notice in chat, so it is not very difficult to see the link between the three phenomena. Although StackExchange gives the ability to keep votes anonymous, but it does not enforce it (same as in real life).

Being frank and helpful is not the same as being mean and rude. I can see the problem where putting a -1 into a comment may lead to subsequent downvotes, but the line is too thin, in my opinion, to ban the symptom. The underlying cause is group downvoting and the example of Wikipedia shows it is really hard to avoid clique formation; the only viable cure is self-control - asking yourself why you are putting a vote this or that way? Do you judge the question or the answer solely on its merits?

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    Upvoted because I'm in a good mood :) Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 2:59

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