Q: what commenting norms should we adopt when downvoting?
I have noticed, on a couple of recent occasions, the following sequence of events:
- a question or answer receives a downvote (or, for a Q, a vote to close),
- the original poster, or another poster, asks why the downvote happened,
- the downvoter does not leave a comment explaining the vote.
I'm not sure that we have consensus norms in this situation, nor am I sure what those norms should be:
- if I get a downvote, I'd obviously like to know why (fixable or unfixable problem with the Q or A? capricious voter?)
- but if the downvoter leaves a comment, it breaks anonymity (fear of retribution or embarrassment? unsalvageable Q or A? too busy?)
So: what do we want the norms to be here? I can see principled and practical reasons why we would want to protect the anonymity of the vote. But, in the interest of the "let's get smarter together!" ethos of the site, it also seems worthwhile to encourage a norm of downvote + explanation. For the latter to work, we'll need a meta-norm along the lines of "thou shalt not punish a thoughtful downvoter."