On any given day we get about 1% downvotes compared to upvotes (for instance, 7 downvotes for 220 upvotes) across the site. This strikes me as a very low number of downvotes, but I don't have any data to compare it with.

While I can't share it with you, I can tell you that our moderator analytics tools indicate that our downvote to upvote ratio is very, very low. As aforementioned, my estimates put downvotes per day at roughly 1% of upvotes per day.

Regardless of how it compares to other Stack Exchange websites: is downvoting being used "correctly" on UX? How do we want downvotes to measure up to upvotes? Are we getting enough or could we use more?

Remember, downvoting is a great way to help organise content and indicate to people which questions could use some work, especially when you don't have time to help improve things otherwise.

  • Interesting, 1% is almost exactly my % of downvotes. I rarely downvote on other sites either though.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jan 26, 2012 at 19:05
  • I kind of hate to tell you this, but that graph you've pasted up there is not supposed to be print-screened and shared. I've edited it out.
    – Aarthi
    Jan 26, 2012 at 23:03
  • Data point: about 2.5% of votes are downvotes on Science Fiction & Fantasy. Jan 26, 2012 at 23:03
  • @Aarthi Oops, sorry! I didn't know :-( Where can I find a reference to this not being allowed?
    – Rahul
    Jan 26, 2012 at 23:14
  • @Rahul I was about to get sassy with you when I realized that the reason you hadn't seen it was because it's a design bug! I'll get Jin to fix that. No worries, you're not in trouble or anything.
    – Aarthi
    Jan 26, 2012 at 23:17
  • Just wondering if these stats have changed over the years, and if so what are the current trends?
    – Michael Lai Mod
    Oct 14, 2019 at 22:56

7 Answers 7


There should definitely be more downvoting on UX. Here's why: The point of voting is to make the best answers stand out and flow up to the top and the worst answers (note: not necessarily wrong, just worst) flow to the bottom. If you disagree with a subjective answer, even if it may have some validity, you should be downvoting it. If you want to explain why you disagree with the answer, more power to you.

There's a reason that the SE folks stopped making downvoting questions cost you rep - they want more downvotes. Downvoting helps increase the separation of the truly good answers and the rest of the fluff.


I think that the reason there is less downvoting here is twofold. Firstly, we are a lovely group of people and, maybe, more tolerant of alternate approaches than some places. Secondly, pretty much all UX questions are specific to a particular situation. A range of answers that may not be relevant directly to the initial questioner, but are appropriate to the question in other contexts, are good at making the site one that is valuable for others. The range of opinions and approaches in a set of answers is helpful when someone new is looking for a solution to their problem. There often is no one right answer, and even where there is, this answer only works for the one given situation. As a Q&A site, that is not actually that helpful, wheras providing a range of ( good ) answers will help someone find the solution to their problem if it partly matches the original one.

The other aspect is, do we have a surplus of bad questions or answers? I don't think so. They do appear, and are quickly dispatched, but they are not common. I don't even think we have a lot of mediocre Q&As. And I think this comes from the nature of those people who are liable to be here and engaging with this site, something that may differ with other SE sites to an extent.


It's possible that the UX community is friendlier and more helpful, but we could be more a bunch of milquetoasts, less willing to criticize than in other communities. Your quantitative data is interesting, but it doesn't offer any qualitative context. Perhaps UX people are better at offering feedback instead of downvotes; maybe they jump in more often than in other sites.

I wrote a question on english. that started out with a couple downvotes. It was disheartening at first, since nobody commented. I just got a little mad and asked "why" in the comments. I got some good feedback, made changes, and it turned into a "good question" by the end of the week.

If I had been feeling less bold or invested, I would have probably said "eff this" and walked away. I think downvotes are useful when coupled with feedback. Without feedback, they're just discouraging. It's the same as "you're doing it wrong" … not helpful.

So, were the FAQ to suggest more downvoting with comments, I would say go for it. Ask yourself this: are you trying to week people out, or encourage everyone to be successful? Both are valid approaches, depending on the circumstances.

  • 1
    For more that you ever wanted to know about why down-voting and commenting aren't linked see this Meta Stack Overflow post
    – ChrisF
    Jan 26, 2012 at 23:07
  • Thank you, @ChrisF! I love reading this sort of thing. And I see now that there is a prompt to 'splain downvotes.
    – Taj Moore
    Jan 27, 2012 at 15:55
  • I think the most important think to consider is "what value do we gain from downvotes?" As we're not (IMO) awash with terrible answers, and bad questions generally get closed in a timely manner. I don't think there's much of a need to encourage more downvotes.
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 4, 2012 at 22:50

I think it's a lot trickier to judge whether or not something deserves a downvote or not, particular when voting on answers.

If a response is a subjective comment on an issue related to the question itself but without actually backing anything up, does that deserve to be downvoted? If it sits alongside a response that includes sources and references but isn't directly related to the question itself should that too be a downvote?

With the other SE sites it's pretty straight-forward to determine the rules: if the answer is blatently incorrect then it should be downvoted but it's harder to determine what is incorrect in UX.

  • 3
    I would say that both situations you mention should be downvoted. Anything that doesn't provide an answer to the actual question being asked should be downvoted. If it does answer the question but is a subjective answer, that's where I would say it gets tricky. Feb 20, 2012 at 17:40

In UX, there's often more than one right answer. Different research given different situations or constraints can turn up different (potentially contradictory) results.

That's why the UX community generally insists on proposed solutions being tested on real users, as opposed to simply designed to adhere to best practices.

Since it's difficult to be provably wrong it's difficult to downvote answers, unless (presumably) they contradict their own data or some established standard.

Inflammatory or derogatory posts can be either edited or flagged as appropriate.


I don't think a down-vote is an awful thing and I think the community needs to start using them more freely.

Perhaps part of the reason people don't use them as much as they could / should is that there's confusion about what constitutes a 'real' question?


It's possible that downvotes are reserved for things that are seriously wrong--almost treating it as a Flag, rather than as a vote. Instead people tend to just upvote other things. Downvotes cost 'money' and social capital, both.

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