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Currently, if someone posts an answer I think is inaccurate, I would put my opinion in the comment section and let the poster know. But someone suggested it would generate long arguments, disrupt the peace, confuse users, etc. I do see his point. The question is, if not the comment section, where? He suggested using the voting system to show your approval or disapproval of a post, but it doesn't answer my question. We never know for what reason people downvote a post. Since I don't know why someone downvotes me. It is natural for me to suspect that someone just doesn't like me

He also suggested using chats to communicate with the poster, so the poster can hear me out. The problem is, I want other users to hear me out too. I never disagree with an answer without a reason, and I want the public to hear mine.

Should using downvote to show disagreement be encouraged?

How about posting your disagreement with an answer in your own answer. It is better than using the voting system, A down-vote also suggests a post is of low quality or unhelpful.

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  • He also suggested using chats to communicate with the poster, so the poster can hear me out. The problem is, I want other users to hear me out too. If I'm not mistaken, chats are actually open to all users to read and contribute - the only thing that they do differently from comments is to not crowd the Q/A page with text. – dROOOze Jul 4 at 12:40
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Please take a look at the help center: comment everywhere.

There is a part that mentions when not to comment, it includes:

Criticisms which do not add anything constructive ("-1, see previous comments you scallywag!"); instead, downvote (and provide or upvote a better answer if appropriate).

Also:

Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; please use chat instead.

When should you comment?

Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;


  • If you agree: +1 and move on.

  • If you disagree: -1 and move on.

If you have constructive criticism that will improve the post then you can leave a comment.

If you feel that you can answer the question more accurately then write up your own answer.

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  • if you feel that you can answer the question more accurately then write up your own answer. It is the conclusion we agreed upon* – Tang Ho Jul 4 at 14:10
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The downvote tooltip covers when to downvote:

Questions: This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.
Answers: This answer is not useful.

In particular, it's based on usefulness, not correctness nor agreement. This means we might downvote useless posts that we agree with, and upvote useful posts we disagree with.

Over at Islam.SE this distinction was a big problem: users from one sect would e.g. downvote well-researched answers from another sect based on disagreement. It became a popularity contest.

In essence, a popularity contest serves nobody very well. Votes should reflect the usefulness, relevance, and self-consistency of posts. That might mean downvoting correct answers.
Jon Ericson, Please vote based on quality, Islam.SE Meta (see also Disagreement should not be a basis for down-voting)

This prompted the notion that we need to Back It Up, which basically means provide evidence to support claims in answers. (And it's important to note that we are all random people on the Internet.) It stemmed from the blog post Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

So when upvoting answers, we should keep an eye out for:

  1. useful: pinpointing the underlying general problem, the relevant grammar patterns, etc.
  2. useful: reliable references, e.g., textbooks and dictionaries, links to reliable websites (ideally quoted to alleviate link rot), videos by Chinese teachers, etc.
  3. useful: example usage beyond the original context (for verification [it's not just the author's at-the-time personal opinion], and help seeing the problem in a broader context), etc. [noting the OP is maybe 1% of the readership]

(And probably a bunch of other things I haven't thought of.)

And when downvoting answers...

  1. not useful: it's fundamentally incorrect, or doesn't really address the question.
  2. not useful: skeletal posts, e.g. "XYZ is correct" or "it means ABC", where the explanation is missing. This is where we might downvote a "correct" post we "agree" with---it's incomplete.
  3. mostly not useful: appeals to authority, e.g. "I'm Chinese and I say XYZ is [in]correct". Native speakers can be wrong, and often have strongly held language biases.

(And again, probably a bunch of other things I haven't thought of.)

Compare this to someone asking for help with their maths homework, and your response is "I'm a mathematician; answer C is correct". What have they learned? (This answer would probably get downvoted to oblivion at math.SE [even if people agree it is correct].)


As for commenting, I try to limit myself to at most one comment per post, and strive to pinpoint the precise problem. It's okay if the author doesn't agree (and replies such); I've said what I needed to say, and the future reader can decide for themselves. (And maybe I'm the one who is wrong!)

I think that's a reasonable way to highlight issues without long threads (which will probably be ignored anyway).

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  • In particular, it's based on usefulness, not correctness nor agreement. Does it support my argument that downvoting answers that you disagree with is not the correct way to use the voting function? – Tang Ho Jul 4 at 14:39
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    Indeed I discourage voting based on [dis]agreement (we put in a lot of effort into this Islam.SE). However, here "disagreement" is usually the result of a post being incorrect, and a post will generally need to be correct to be useful. – Becky 李蓓 Jul 4 at 14:48

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