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Since the site allows upvoting of Comments, why doesn't it allow downvoting as well? It seems only natural.

I understand the whole point that "comments aren't designed to be permanent". That's a great theory, but in practice most comments remain in place forever.

And I understand the whole point that "comments should not be answers, but should be asking for clarification of the question or answer at hand". Again, that's not really what is happening here.

Downvoting of comments would provide symmetry for the upvotes if nothing else. And it would provide an obvious way to publicly disagree with the content or tone of comments when deserved. Flagging doesn't really accomplish that, and just leaves it to the moderators to decide to clean up the mess, or not. Adding more comments about comments could do the same, but it would add a lot of clutter (remember "Our Comment Problem") and wouldn't provide anonymity. And it would provide for a more community-responsive ordering of comment visibility.

All in all it seems to me like a no-brainer feature - all upside with no downside.

So what do you think of such a feature?

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    See this Meta discussion and this one as well
    – David K
    Feb 1, 2017 at 15:42
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    I know i'm not supposed to +1 beyond my upvote, but I'm doing it anyway. If that's a problem, feel free to downvote this comment. Oh...wait...
    – Chris E
    Feb 1, 2017 at 15:50
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    @ChristopherEstep - I see what you did there... and I liked it! Feb 1, 2017 at 15:50
  • @DavidK - thanks. I have to remember to search StackExchange Meta... I'd still be interested to hear what folks at The Workplace feel about such a feature. Feb 1, 2017 at 15:54
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    Or maybe remove comment upvotes? Parity, and without adding UI complexity for what's supposed to be second-class content to begin with. Feb 1, 2017 at 16:49
  • I completely agree with Monica's suggestion to remove comment upvotes, and upvoted her comment to indicate my support ... hmm, wait!
    – Masked Man
    Feb 1, 2017 at 16:57
  • This reminds me of the lengthy arguments that thousands of forums have had over the lack of a Dislike option on Facebook. Facebook finally conceded some ground there last year as they added other "reactions" besides "Like" (but still no "Dislike").
    – Masked Man
    Feb 1, 2017 at 17:00
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    Also related: Happiness is Mandatory. In other words, the idea seems to be that you should either agree with the comment or <s>STFU</s> not say anything at all.
    – Masked Man
    Feb 1, 2017 at 17:01
  • @MaskedMan well, you might have noticed that I linked to a post, where voting has always been supported, so if you want to show support in a place that matters, you can! Feb 1, 2017 at 18:56
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    This is more a main meta discussion, but the only viable solution I've come up with would be an automatic removal process if a comment gets X flags of a certain type. Upvotes do have a purpose, forcing more work on the mods isn't an option and a new review queue would only lead to even more discussion. I think we have it worse than most sites both because we are comment-heavy and because very often flippant or overly idealistic comments are upvoted without considering that we're talking about careers and livelihoods here. Seeing upvotes on advice that can get the OP fired is grating.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Feb 1, 2017 at 19:01
  • @Monica Yeah, I upvoted your answer as well! :)
    – Masked Man
    Feb 2, 2017 at 0:37
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    Just typing this to see if I can upvote my own comments
    – Kilisi Mod
    Feb 2, 2017 at 12:35
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    Turns out I cant :-(
    – Kilisi Mod
    Feb 2, 2017 at 12:35
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    @Kilisi - I upvoted it for you. ;) Feb 2, 2017 at 12:41

2 Answers 2

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Shog pretty much summed things up in his response to this meta question.

Allow downvoting comments

IMHO, comments provide a way to speak your mind freely; upvotes provide a way for other users to indicate their agreement without wasting space with a follow-up comment. But if you disagree, you really should post a follow-up comment...

If a comment really bothers you, you can flag it. Enough flags, and it'll be removed. This is more useful than down-voting, which would presumably leave a misleading or abusive comment visible.

There's some value in keeping wrong answers around; even unhelpful ones can and are improved. But comments are ephemeral; they can't be edited outside of a short grace period, and shouldn't be the sole repository for important information. If a comment is bad, then it should be removed - not down-ranked.

You could argue that the same case applies to answers - people leaving downvotes should really comment their disagreement instead (the prompt suggesting that they might like to do that is of course routinely ignored).

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    "people leaving downvotes should really comment their disagreement instead" - I don't think there's any good argument for the instead part. Jan 9, 2019 at 11:32
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    also, isn't that frowned upon? Comments are not for discussion (although sometimes they are used that way). Doesn't endorsing a response to a comment you disagree with open the flood gates to starting chats in comments? If you disagree with me and post a comment, I probably also disagree with you and will post a comment and the cycle continues. Jan 9, 2019 at 11:38
  • If the aim of disagreeing with someone else's comment is to improve the relevant question/answer, then it's fine. If it's disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing, then that's something else. Technically speaking, comments should only be there in order to enhance or seek clarification. However, as we all know, many people comment to disagree purely for the sake of disagreeing.
    – user44108
    Jan 9, 2019 at 13:12
  • I don't understand the concept that deleting "bad" comments as the only way to deal with them. Removing comments is removing part of the information associated with the question/answer. I can think of a few cases where removing information is beneficial, but lots of cases where being able to show that a specific piece of information was unpopular or unliked would be helpful.
    – dwizum
    Jan 9, 2019 at 14:03
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"in practice most comments remain in place forever." That hasn't been my experience :)

It not just because they aren't meant to be permanent, it's because the site currently views them as having very low value. Indeed, they will be hidden by default once a post receives enough comments so they are effectively "downvoted" by default.

Comment upvotes are there to allow the rare useful comment to rise above the flood and prevent them from being hidden by the "Show more comments" thing.

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    "Hidden" isn't the same thing as not being there. "Comment upvotes are there to allow the rare useful comment to rise above the flood" - so then comment downvotes would allow the poor comments to sink quickly. The whole "comment voting" thing seems odd if comments are meant to be temporary and solely for eliciting clarification and thus getting better questions/answers. Maybe I'm just not in tune with the whole gamification ethos. Feb 7, 2017 at 23:28
  • I'm not sure I see the meaningful distinction. Most sites which allow downvoted comments eventually just hide them anyway.
    – user30031
    Feb 7, 2017 at 23:30

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