I recently encountered a question where the way that the OP handled a situation seemed obviously wrong to me, but they were implicitly blaming their co-workers for the situation. Part of me was tempted to downvote out of sheer frustration, but I refrained from doing so and instead wrote an answer explaining how I think that they should have handled the situation instead.

I did notice that the question had a net negative score when I posted the answer, so it occurred to me: have other people had the same experience as me?

That leads me to the second part of my question: is it ever appropriate to downvote for that reason? Obviously, people are free to vote however they want on questions, but I would like community feedback on this point to improve my own voting.

  • Downvote because "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful". It doesn't list "because the OP handled a situation incorrectly". Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 23:51

2 Answers 2


Voting is completely open to the individual. They can downvote just because they stubbed their toe that morning. Or upvote because it's their birthday if they want.

The votes are of limited use anyway in gauging how good a question or answer is. I've seen plenty of highly voted answers which were absolute rubbish in the context of the question but appealed to our main demographic. Likewise good answers downvoted to oblivion.

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    Agreed! Voting is just part of the gamification of the site. There's no enforcement of "should" in the voting process. So the result is left to the whims of the voter with very few exceptions. Vote in whatever manner pleases you. Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 11:30

is it ever appropriate to downvote for that reason [the way that the OP handled a situation irritated/frustrated me]?

Never. You don't vote just because OP handled the situation badly. In fact, many of the post in TWP branch from situations where OP didn't handle the situation in an appropriate way.

But that's no reason to DV. You DV if the post lacks research effort, is not useful, is rude or abusive (case where you should also flag), etc.. Never because OP handled the situation wrong and you felt irritated by that.

We are here precisely for that reason, to guide and correct people in a professional environment, helping them grow and learn from their mistakes or faults.

What you did, that is, refrain from DV and post a helpful answer so OP can learn and grow, is the way to go.

Edit: I'd even go a bit further and say that DV-ing for such reasons is getting very close to revenge down-voting, or systematic down-voting, something very discouraged here and in the whole SE network.

Don't let emotions get in the way. If a post/comment irritated you or frustrated you, take a short break from TWP, and come back to the post (if you want) when the frustration has subsided. It's part of keeping a Professional attitude, something paramount for this community.

Anyways, knowing the reason why some folks DV is something we can't guess, and getting explanation on the reason for the DV seldom happens (some folks just DV and move on, although it would be way better if they provided feedback for improvement).

For a related reading, check this old MSE thread: Encouraging people to explain downvotes

Also this one: Why isn't providing feedback mandatory on downvotes, and why are ideas suggesting such negatively received?

(I can't find one which had an answer by Shog9 or Jeff I think, that illustrated the concept in a more joke-like manner... but nevertheless to the point).

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    I agree. Reading this reminded me of a few questions where the OP was a manager asking about a situation that they clearly mishandled (judging from the answers).
    – zmike
    Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 18:01
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    I agree with this answer. Voting is not punishment. It's a curation tool that allows good content to be visible, and bad content to disappear. Good content is orthogonal to the actions of the OP. Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 7:10
  • @GregoryCurrie orthogonal, nice! ;)
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 16:28
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    It may be worth noting that people may sometimes downvote a question if the author does not appear to be interested in listening to others/hearing actual answers to their question, but rather just wants to be told that they're right. (If the author did handle something badly but seems genuinely interested in what others think of how they handled it, then they're potentially likely to get upvoted instead because they're asking a genuine question.)
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 16:39
  • @V2Blast yeah, we do get people seeking self-validation here on TWP, and as you say, those posts are sometimes DVted, because of the unwillingness of OP to listen or provide feedback or even consider alternatives (you can see from miles away a post/user seeking to be self-validated)... but yeah I guess that due to that unwillingness and closed mindset is that the quality of those posts and interactions is not good, thus why they get DVted... like on SO for example, when you are told to not foo the bar, but OP insists on foo-ing it
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 18:11

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