Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: Anyone else miss not having a downvote button?
36 points by AndrewMoffat on July 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments
I recently broke the karma threshold to get the downvote link on comments. I'm finding myself not only not using it, but feeling slightly burdened by even having it, in that I now read comments, I find myself thinking (if only in the back of my mind) "is this something I should downvote?"

It's a small nitpick, and I think it's cool that downvotes are delayed from new users to prevent abuse, but not having the option to downvote for so long (~1 year) has me beginning to think that doing away with all downvotes altogether isn't necessarily a bad thing. Anyone else agree?

Stick this in a GreaseMonkey script and watch the downvote buttons disappear:

  var a=document.getElementsByTagName('a');
  for(var i in a){
    if(a[i].href &&

If nothing else, we need a way to downvote posts which are objectively wrong.

Nothing wrong with having an earned downvote if you in fact think somber thoughts about using it.

I could perhaps support a change to earning each downvote, further encouraging contemplation ("do I really want to burn a downvote on _this_?").

Rather than simply downvoting something that is wrong, explain why it's wrong. That contributes to the discussion.

I reserve downvoting for useless comments (e.g., "me 2") or ad-hominem or other offensive attacks.

Exactly. Nothing worse than when well-intentioned comments get downvoted because the downvoter is in fact wrong, or didn't bother to read the comment thoroughly. After years on Slashdot and Reddit, I've not encountered the amount of negativity toward the average comment as I have here.

I would say this meme is incredibly harmful for various social news sites.

The problem is it seems reasonable enough...it's certainly more reasonable than downvoting someone because you don't like them...

However, it's is absolutely not an appropriate use of downvoting and is harmful to discussion quality.

To begin with, someone being "objectively wrong" is MUCH more rare than you probably think. Purely in terms of mathematical probability, I can pretty much guarantee there was a time you thought someone was wrong on the Internet when in fact you were the one who was wrong. There are many times when LOTS of people thought Joe Shmoe was wrong, but Joe Shmoe was in fact correct and everyone else is wrong.

Many times even though what the person is SAYING is wrong, but there is a mis-communication somewhere. You may be reading it the wrong way, or they may not be expressing themselves clearly.

This brings up the main problem with what you are talking about: it shuts down the conversation....and that is incredibly bad for a community that is supposed to be build on discussion.

Let's say someone's wrong. You downvote them. You've accomplished effectively nothing. Some people might not see this wrong information....but that's neither here nor there.

A MUCH better solution is to reply and explain to them how they are wrong. That way the discussion continues, and they are educated (whether or not they decided to take advantage of it).

More importantly, if one person thought this wrong thing....there are probably many others who also thought it but didn't post it.

If you reply with a correction, those people are also enlightened. This ties in with my earlier point...you may have prevented some people from seeing the wrong information, but there's no reason to believe that it balances with the people you could have educated by responding.

Keep in mind, none of this is even taking into account abuse of such a feature, which would occur.

All around it is by far better for the community to correct wrong information than to censor it....not to mention the latter is impossible to do effectively.

Thanks for your comment. Please don't feel frustrated because of the downvotes you got. We have gotten some crazy people here. I hope it'll correct itself later.

Thank you very much for the thoughts. Personally I don't really care about down votes, but unfortunately they often discourage people or make them feel unwelcome; people who might have a lot to contribute.

>If nothing else, we need a way to downvote posts which are objectively wrong.

I don't know. Objective wrongness ranks low on my list of reasons to downvote, which is usually because a post is off-topic or intended only to insult the parent. Consequently, I rarely use the downvote option.

If I think someone is wrong, I usually respond with an explanation, or wait for someone else to do the same.

And you're why I'll sometimes upvote factually wrong comments - because often, the reply to it corrects the mistakes and educates someone else. If the wrong comment were pushed to the bottom, nobody might see your reply.

pg commented about this 1250 days ago,


writing, "I think it's ok to use the up and down arrows to express agreement. Obviously the uparrows aren't only for applauding politeness, so it seems reasonable that the downarrows aren't only for booing rudeness.

"It only becomes abuse when people resort to karma bombing: downvoting a lot of comments by one user without reading them in order to subtract maximum karma. Fortunately we now have several levels of software to protect against that."

There have, of course, been several years of a greatly expanded HN membership since then, but downvotes still serve a purpose, and users with sufficient karma are trusted to use them wisely. See


for announcement of a persistent problem only this year,


for an announcement of an experiment (which looks to have been successful)



to fight the problem of comments "that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb that (c) get massively upvoted." Downvotes are a way to fight such a problem too.

the only time i downvote anything is if i feel it is objectively wrong. if i simply disagree or am ambivalent, i don't vote at all.

I've noticed that there is no downvoting allowed on comments on your own submissions. I think that's a good idea. I think downvoting is important. I'd like to see when a comment has been downvoted. I also miss the karma points being shown. More indicators like that create a richer, more Minority Report feel for reading HN.

I also rarely downvote.

It's a pain on the iPad when the buttons are so small, I feel nervous unless I pinch-zoom the button to be really large... I have inadvertently downvoted when I meant to upvote on numerous occasions.

Consequently, I simply don't rate while reading HN in bed.

It would be nice to have an opt-out just like hiding dead.

Second that. I'd much rather have the ability to undo a vote like Reddit. I rarely misvote, but hate it when I do.

I guess it could be seen as an "extra vote" for HN veterans, by separating good and bad content a little further apart. I haven't really seen it being abused.

I'd really like to see downvotes removed altogether, while assigning extra weight to upvotes proportional to the voter's karma.

> while assigning extra weight to upvotes proportional to the voter's karma

if you make power users too powerful you end up with digg.

I haven't accumulated enough frequent flyer points to downvote yet. Not sure (and don't really care) how many I need, but when I do get it in a year or two, I doubt I'd downvote anything except obvious trolls.

It seems some people downvote that with which they disagree, others downvote for spelling errors. I try to reserve it for blatant abuse.

Don't use it.

But when the opportunity presents itself, you will KNOW that it's time to use it.

I agree, the only time you should use it is when you are 100% sure that the comment needs a down vote. If you have to think about it, then it doesn't need to be down voted.

"is this something I should downvote?"

Just tell yourself to be very stingy with downvotes. Then only the most egregious posts will call attention to themselves.

Be stingy.

I'm pretty cautious when it comes to downvoting. A comment would have to factually incorrect, FUD, abusive or utterly pointless and stupid for me to downvote it. If in doubt, I just leave the comment be to the mercy of other HN'ers. Another option is to upvote a child comment so there's more balance in the discussion.

I feel downvotes are cool as long as they don't affect a post's popularity and are only used to as a tool for teaching posters about this forum's tacit rules.

After that you can (maybe) pose a filter on something that has >10 downvotes. 1-3 downvotes should not affect a post(er)'s credibility.

IMHO downvotes are a weapon of last resort. I rarely downvote anything unless it's something I genuinely think adds nothing to the conversation on the thread(as an aside, I don't downvote dissenting opinions as long as they're presented intelligently), or is inflammatory.

I try and reserve down votes for abuse, blatant trolling, etc.

Sometimes I find it hard not to down vote on objective things. Especially when the poster has completely missed the point and is getting carried away - potentially they trolling, but not doing it very well! :-)

I have at times made inflammatory, sarcastic comments on topics about which I knew little, and then gotten downvoted for it.

It was annoying, and it pissed me off a little at the time, but in retrospect I deserved it.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact