There has been discussion about this on meta SE, but I want to ask about it here too. Comments do not serve the same function on all sites on SE, and this leads me to wonder if this sort of 'one size fits all' approach is really the best way. What works on SE might not be the ideal solution for smaller communities about foreign language.

The current rationale seems to be that good comments can get upvoted, and that comments that are bad, too off topic, or otherwise rude or offensive should be flagged for removal, but I feel like there's enough gray areas where a comment might not necessarily be a candidate for removal but still might display characteristics that the community wishes to discourage. At present the only real option is to leave a comment or call someone out in chat, but leaving more comments can derail discussion and callouts in general are prone to creating site drama.

So how do we feel about comments here on JLSE? Does the current model work, or would we be in favor of the addition of the comment downvote?

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    Personally, I think JLU already suffers from too much negative feedback and not enough encouraging and supportive feedback. – Questioner Mar 9 '14 at 3:48
  • Wow I find Japanese.SE these days to be one of the more positive SE sites I use. Last time I was a regular here I did find it more negative. There is one negative thing here now though, and that is the "Serial Anonymous Downvoter", which I suppose could be one example of exactly what you're addressing. – hippietrail Apr 3 '14 at 10:28
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    Here's the relevant question on MSE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3615/… – snailboat May 4 '14 at 4:23

I think any proposal to allow downvotes on comments needs to be much more specific about what message you are trying to send with the downvote.

Offensive, offtopic, or otherwise unacceptable comments should be flagged for removal.

For the most part, I think what we're talking about is cases where people are answering questions in comments, rather than answering them in answers. People can upvote these, but cannot downvote. In this case, this is more of a symptom of the problem (uncertain answers in comments instead of answers), rather than a problem itself.

Another case involves comments that attempt to correct an answer, but are themselves wrong. Feel free to point this out either in a responding comment, or edit the answer to address the concern.

I have certainly not thought of all the cases where you would want to downvote a comment... but I suspect these are the two most common ones.


Personally, I think the current system for comments works fine. Many times people comment instead of answering because they don't have the confidence to be able to draft a full answer, and don't want the rep hit that comes from someone coming along and saying, "FOOL! Don't answer if you don't know what you're talking about! Downvote for you!"

By making comments a safe place to express ideas or work out thoughts, it allows for more constructive input that can, among other things, jog the memory or provide ideas for people who do have the ability to provide a fully thought-out answer.

Lastly, I've noticed the comment sections to be largely self-policing anyway. Non-constructive comments get ignored, harmful ones generally get replied to, and the ones that are genuinely useful get upvoted. In the end, the only reason I can see for allowing downvoting of comments is to allow some members the chance to vent their ego.

  • However, for this particular SE comments have become the de-facto way to start answering a question when in fact they should just be used to ask questions/give some extra info to the original question. People have stopped attempting to answer a question on here because of other people downvoting. Please see here (everyone who even considers downvoting) stackoverflow.com/help/privileges/vote-down – user5083 Apr 7 '14 at 16:43

I don't think this proposition will be approved by the SE team. This has been discussed many times on SO meta and always rejected. I don't really see why comments would work in a different way here.

Comments are second class citizens compared to posts and they are intended to be so. For that reason upvoting comments doesn't follow the same stricter rules of upvoting posts which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Giving ability to downvote comments would give them unnecessary greater focus. It would become too easy to concentrate on comments instead of producing good answers.

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