The main purpose of the voting mechanism is to sort the responses within a thread, so that someone can skim a large comment section by reading only the first comments at each level of nesting. If it's working right, it should include the most interesting/relevant/accurate comments.
Tom_mellior, I can't quickly find any heavily downvoted comments of yours. One that's slightly downvoted is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21417799, which is kind of low-effort. A downvote reasonably reflects the fact that it doesn't belong near the top of any list of the most interesting/relevant/accurate comments on the subject matter of the paper that a busy reader shouldn't miss if they're skimming quickly.
Most of your comments are great, so thanks for your contribution!
Yes. But often it's not clear, and would be useful to know, whether it's the "interesting" or the "relevant" or the "accurate" part that was lacking. These are all along the lines of the categories that I mentioned. I do want to stress that I did not propose a "you are a worthless human being" category.
> Tom_mellior, I can't quickly find any heavily downvoted comments of yours.
It doesn't have to be heavy for the reason to be interesting. And for whatever it's worth, there is this one: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21362694 where I was downvoted for explaining why I downvoted someone. This is OK, since the HN guidelines discourage discussions about voting. Still, I think some sort of "-1, ad hominem" feedback would have been useful for the original poster.