Another rant about downvoting, thanks for listening :)

+48 votes
I know there are bigger priorities for wikitree at the moment, but down voting makes me sad. I have twice apparently inadvertently down voted an answer or question, I can't see what these were to change them?

I understand why I can't see who down voted me but when I click on my G2G profile to see I've had another down vote I take it personally every time (I know I shouldn't)! What did I say? Who did I offend? Was it an accident like mine?

I only have 6 down votes but this is a huge number in comparison to my activity and makes me feel like I don't know why? I ask this now as I've just received another down vote from somewhere!

I know this has been raised again and again but could we not have a system where; if an answer or post offends someone they object straight to the person who posted?
in Policy and Style by Lizzie Griffiths G2G6 Pilot (132k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I just gave you an up vote to cover one of those 6. I personally hardly ever look at the block with the my points, ranking, votes etc. It is just not important in my life. You can not control what other people do or think. My way of thinking is the enjoyment and knowledge I get out of Wikitree out weighs some voting system. You go have yourself a great day.

I believe that the majority of down votes probably ARE accidental, but how is one to know?  What was the reason for the down vote, if it WAS deliberately pressed?  The primary effect (in my opinion) of the down vote button, is to make a person bewildered and sad and inclined to avoid participating.

Perhaps occasionally someone on Wikitree says something truly outrageous or provocative, and I suppose the down vote button was intended to address that. I still think the button is far too vague to have any possible positive effect, and I wish it didn't exist on the Wikitree forum.   

I agree with you. The down vote should not exist. There are far superior methods for dealing with untoward comments, etc........say like the Rules and Policies. It is like a mean girl using it to punish imho.
Thanks Reba, agree entirely. Thanks Rodney! I know I shouldn't care, I can't help it lol
I for one don't ask questions or give out answers anymore. I just make comments. WikiTree was getting to negative with all the down votes without knowing what I did wrong.
Stop worrying about what some clowns on the internet think. Your upvote to downvote ratio is about 100:1 so you're obviously making a very positive contribution.
To the best of my knowledge, I have not used the down vote.

I have used the flag for personal information in G2G posts and comments. When I have I have put a comment on explaining why I did so.
Please don't use the flag to mark interesting or useful posts. The flag is intended -- and used -- to identify items that are offensive, or spam, or similarly problematic, and that require Moderator attention.

Use the plus sign in the upper right to mark discussions as Favorites. And go to your G2G profile (click on your linked name here to find it) to see a link to "My Favorites."

11 Answers

+19 votes
Best answer
The downvote has been and is used maliciously. I have been a victim of it and know of others in the same boat. It, and other negative feedback about my uplifting messages, has caused me to stay off of g2g for a while.

There is absolutely no good purpose to the downvote. If a person can't take the time to comment as to why they don't like what has been said, then they need to simply move on. We don't need to feed people's lack of/poor communication.

The only time I have given down votes is when a person has been mean. We have the flag for this purpose and it could certainly be used more in these cases. Facebook has done away with the down vote. I think it is past time we catch up with the times. Plus, If we are supposed to be the friendliest genealogy website, the downvote does not reflect well on us.
by Emma MacBeath G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
selected by Martin White
I'm sorry you've been the target of maliciousness.  

But I do worry that we are conflating malice with disagreement.

I may respect and like the heck out of you (which I do Emma), but I might disagree with a particulate point you make somewhere. That was how I used to use the downvote. However, because so many people believe the downvote is always used maliciously, I stopped using it.
No, I do meant maliciously. Have you seen the number of down votes I have? those were all received within a couple of days by a small group of people who were targeting me and and several others. Hundreds of down votes were given in this case. It was not on one post and not due to disagreement on something I said. All my posts were targeted.

As to down votes being given because someone disagrees with another, I find this to be counter productive. Why does that person disagree? What do they have to say that may give another view to the topic? If the other person thinks I am complete idiot, then I hope they would just walk on by and say nothing because total silence speaks for itself.
Hi Emma,

That sounds horrible! I agree with you about it being used in disagreement as counter productive.

I suspect that small group of people whoever they are are just resentful of the huge impact you made on wikitree in such a short space of time. Basically they must be small enough people to have resentment towards someone who contributes more than they do! Keep doing what you do please :)
Big Smiles. Thank you Lizzie :-)

As to down votes being given because someone disagrees with another, I find this to be counter productive. Why does that person disagree? What do they have to say that may give another view to the topic? If the other person thinks I am complete idiot, then I hope they would just walk on by and say nothing because total silence speaks for itself.

It would be far more productive if one knew what it was one did or said that caused them to mark a negative.  It seems I have now offended someone.  I don't know why, or what it was I said.  I was just beginning to feel comfortable in this community, but now I'm just going to crawl back into my little hole and stay there.  It may be only one negative, which, to some, would be nothing at all, but for me right now that's one too many.  I hope all those who give out downvotes and never say why are never left wondering what it was THEY did to offend.  .. .. Peace, out.

Melanie, you've received 75 up votes and only one down vote.  The one down vote could be any number of things, including an accident -- many of us use smart phones and tablets and it's easy to press the wrong button -- or simply someone disagreed with an opinion you shared.  It rarely means you offended someone.  Please try to focus on those 75 upvotes, not the single down vote.
I have 153 down votes and it hasn't slowed me down...  ;-)
+20 votes
Try not to take it personally...and if it makes you feel better, there is a good chance your downvotes were accidental. I know I've accidentally flagged a post when I've been using my phone, so can see how easy it is to accidentally down vote someone. But I agree, it would be good to do with the down-voting completely.
by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (176k points)
Thanks Michelle :)
+24 votes
I agree, perhaps the downvote button should raise an alert  ("You have down voted this question. Would you like to confirm this action? Yes or Cancel") to ask the user to confirm they actually meant to click it. This might reduce the number of accidental down votes. To expand on this, if yes is clicked, it could bring up an optional text field that sends a message to the commentor for additional notes on why the down vote was given.  I agree that down voting is ultimately NOT constructive unless it comes with an explanation (constructive feedback), and preferably  a way for the commentor to correct or explain.
by Tannis Mani G2G6 Mach 2 (21.0k points)
I love this idea!

...down voting is ultimately NOT constructive unless it comes with an explanation (constructive feedback), and preferably  a way for the commentor to correct or explain.


I spend some time on another forum (not genealogy related - so not mentioning names), but in order to down vote anything (an article, a comment, etc.) the user MUST provide a comment on why they are downvoting. If they do not fill out the comment, the downvote cannot be processed.

This does two things:

  1. Confirms you are trying to down vote the article or post; and
  2. Forces the downvoter to explain why they are voting in that fashion, and allows for debate/further discussion to take place.

I have also handed out a few downvotes here on WT, and for the life of me, I cannot remember ever doing so. Would be nice if I could back through those and figure them out - but oh well. For those who have given me negative feedback, I wish I had the opportunity to understand why.

Exactly right! In my view you have you have hit the nail on the head! What is the point? We don't know why, who, where or when so how is this helpful or constructive feedback?
I think the major issue is that WT uses an open-source php software for G2G. Many of the features we have now are through the use of plugins already established by other users. So any time taken to code a plugin for G2G by the WT team takes away from time coding new features or enhancements to WT itself.
+19 votes
I understand your frustration. Down votes should either be eliminated or require an explanation.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (685k points)
I strongly prefer the "explanation" option.  I did once down-vote something and agonized about how to change it, knowing someone was left hurt and bewildered.  I believe I subsequently went to their profile and sent a personal email.  Probably should have posted a comment on their profile?  Still, there is no way to "take away" the insult.
+15 votes
If down votes aren't able to educate, then why are they there?  If they are to modify behavior, they are not very specific.  I'm way in favor of up votes.  But down votes seem, well, unfriendly unless they require an explanation.
by Robin Anderson G2G6 Mach 4 (44.2k points)
+13 votes
A down vote doesn't means you offended someone. Up votes indicate agreement or approval; down votes indicate disagreement or disapproval. They are a pretty common feature these days - see, eg, youtube thumbs up and thumbs down votes. I don't think you should be offended if you get one. I fully expect to get some for this post because some people will disagree with me, and that's OK (although it would also be highly ironic ;-)  ).
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (321k points)
I agree with your comments, Chase - hence the Up-vote.

I will occasionally give a Down-vote if I strongly disagree with an opinion expressed on G2G. You cannot expect everyone to agree with everything you say and a Down-vote is simply a way of saying that.

A Down-vote is not an attack on you as a person, so you should not take as such.

If you believe that every Down-vote must be accompanied by an explanation, then so should every Up-vote be explained.
+7 votes
Lizzie, you can't please all of the people all of the time, and mistakes are made with clicking buttons.

What really counts, is that you are a lovely person, have been noted a wonderful Wikitreer -( that shows you are appreciated), you participate in a number of projects, and devote your Wikitree time to helping people and making Wikitree a better place. For my money, that far outweighs any downvotes.

You are valued and appreciated Lizzie, so please try and not get disheartened by what was probably a mistaken click :)


by Wendy Sullivan G2G6 Pilot (162k points)
Thanks Wendy, I just think the function should be removed, as it stands it doesn't add any value other than to make people wonder if they have caused offence!

 Generally I've only met wonderful wikitreers on here such as yourself and 99.9% of people I've interacted with on here all want the same thing, and hold similar values, "sigh" you're right I should probably just get over it :)
Lizzie in my experience, if someone is truly offended by what you type, they usually send a pm to sort it out, which is why I am pretty certain these are misclicks.

I have down votes too, but like you, it won't stop me trying to help people the best way I can :)

+9 votes
Prompted by this post, I have just checked and it seems I have 11 down-votes?????  I cannot think of anything I have posted that could be deemed to be wrong or objectionable.

These must be mistakes. Using small screen mobiles, or tablets, its easy to hit the wrong button on a touch screen. (I hope)

Personally I would like to see the down voter killed off. If you like a post... up_vote it.  If you don't like it...  leave it alone.

Nuff said.
by Dave Welburn G2G6 Pilot (145k points)
I agree wholeheartedly! An up vote means you agree and support the post or answer. If you don't have anything good to add don't add anything at all!
You may not have posted anything wrong or objectionable; someone may simply have disagreed with something you shared.
+10 votes

I see that I have received seven downvotes, so clearly I am a worse person than you are, so you should feel better about yourself.

Okay, seriously now, if you are taking downvotes (or upvotes, for that matter) personally, then you are doing it wrong. Or at least partly wrong. Because people like me don't vote on people, we vote on ideas. 

If I give an upvote on a post, it means "I like this idea", or "I agree", or "You have expressed this very well" or something along those lines. An upvote from me does not ever express the meaning "I think you are a good person", still less "How about dinner and a movie?"

Similarly, if I give a downvote on a post (which WikiTree claims I have never done, but I'm pretty sure that I have at least once, so I'm giving WikiTree a downvote on this issue ;-) ), it means "I don't like this idea", or "I disagree", or "You could have expressed this better" or something like that. A downvote from me never expresses the meaning "I think you are a bad person", nor "You are getting a lump of coal in your stocking this year". (In fact, there are people on WikiTree whom I have come to like a lot, but I don't necessarily agree with everything they say.)

Now, granted, not everybody thinks like me (now that would be a scary thought...) but you should allow for the possibility that, quite apart from people hitting the downvote button by mistake, at least some of your downvotes are due to people disagreeing with a particular idea (or at least the way you expressed it), rather than not liking you as a person.

But even then, people on WikiTree are pretty easy markers. With all the ideas I post here, only 7 downvotes is a really astoundingly small total. (Unless all the people who think my ideas are crazy are just hoping that, if they ignore me hard enough, I'll go away.) If I ever had marks in school that were as high as the proportion of my upvotes to my downvotes, I'd actually be smart!

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (714k points)
All that being said, I do think that WikiTree should tell posters which posts of theirs have received downvotes, so they can see which posts might need to be rethought, or at least expressed better.

I also think that we should be allowed to take back accidental downvotes.
Agree 100% with the last two points in your comment; however I do not agree with your answer, here's why...

I have upvoted it, because you expressed yourself well, it was well worded and thought out, it was balanced and used humour. I enjoyed reading it even though I believe we should remove this button. Surely we should encourage intelligent and balanced debate not hide behind a down vote?
Lizzie, I hope nobody's trying to hide behind downvotes, and you're quite right in saying that we should encourage discussion.

On the other hand, I can't escape the feeling that having upvotes without even the possibility of downvotes would leave the system kind of unbalanced. To me, collecting upvotes would be a lot less meaningful if downvotes weren't even a possibility. I'm afraid that it would turn into something like Facebook, where for a long time "Liking" a post was the only possible reaction (other than sharing it, or commenting on it, which -- in my opinion, anyway -- is the response I'd prefer to see).

On Facebook, Likes are as devoid of content as Pokes: ("Okay, so you liked my post. Is that because you agreed with it, or because you haven't seen any posts from me in a while and you're glad to see that I'm still on the system, or because you want to reassure me that you're still my friend without taking the time to write an actual comment, or because you're just generally in a happy mood, or what?")

I can see ditching the voting system entirely, because that might encourage people to post actual messages (Gasp!)

Ah. I just did a little testing, and tried clicking on the voting box beside a post that I had upvoted. When I did that, the score dropped by one, and the single up arrow was replaced by both up and down arrows. I'm assuming that the same thing would happen on a downvoted post. So apparently we can take back accidental downvotes.

I think I have only ever downvoted twice, both times after someone made an explicitly political statement, when I certainly didn't want to 'encourage debate', but just the opposite. I think I automatically assumed that downvoting a post would it less likely to be seen and start a flamewar, but on reflection I don't know whether G2G works like that. If it does I think downvoting has a place, exactly for things we shouldn't debate.

+5 votes
If there are a lot of WTers like me, than the down-votes were certainly accidental! Perhaps there shouldn't even be a down-vote option. I can only see if used legitimately in extreme circumstances, such as flagging something inappropriate. I think we should seriously consider taking the down-vote option OFF!

In the meantime, try not to take it seriously (though I do the same!). It was most likely an accident and the person probably felt bad when they realized they couldn't undo it (also something I do, lol).
by E Childs G2G6 Pilot (135k points)
+8 votes
I think I would be hurt by a down vote button also.  A double alert should be asked to make sure it was not a mistake. There is a double check on most other items.  I have been here a couple of days and haven't gotten any votes.
by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)

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