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I asked a question. Then I submitted my own answer to that question because I had an idea and wanted to throw that in to the answer mix, see if I could get any feedback on it.

The answer got down-voted. That was it. No comments, no feedback. Nothing.

I don't know if the down-voter was objecting to the answer itself, or the style it was written in, or anything.

I'm fine with being down-voted if it was genuinely a bad answer but I don't know that it is because the voter hasn't commented on it. I feel cheated without any explanation.

Is there a way to find out who down-voted me so I can ask them why, or is there a way of changing the stackexchange format to 'encourage' people to comment when they down-vote?

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    I laugh when I see that this question has a single downvote with no explanation. – Gregor Thomas Feb 1 '13 at 20:45
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I can't know for sure why you were downvoted, but if I had to guess, it's because that answer just isn't very good. You happen to be the asker here, but that shouldn't be a factor in how you answer.

If this answer had been submitted by someone else, would it have been downvoted? Probably. Perhaps you yourself would have downvoted it. The answer is a single line. There is no explanation of why it may be a good idea. Why do we expect it to help? What happened when it was playtested? What are the possible shortcomings? Why are you asking another question in your answer?

I understand that you put the idea out there as an answer in order to get feedback. But that's not how the system is intended to work. We don't provide answers hoping for feedback. We provide answers because we think they answer the question. An answer is proposing a solution to a problem, and asking that viewers take the time to read it and consider it. That means that the burden is on the answerer, always, to justify and support their answer, and provide something worthy of being read.

To be clear: the solution (use a D8 house rule) may or may not be good. But the answer is definitely not great.

Maybe an example would help:

Q: How do I find the length of the hypotenuse of a triangle?

A1: Use Pythagoras' theorem.

A2: Guess.

Both of these answers are lousy. Neither has any real content. One happens to actually be a better solution than the other, but a naive reader cannot know that from the answer! A good answer would expand A1 to explain how, or why, or add a diagram, or work through an example case. It might also point out places where this solution would not apply ("if the triangle is not right-angled, options include...").

In the case of your question, since there is nothing substantive to the idea, you could legitimately have included it as part of the question, and someone could comment on its feasibility in their answer. Alternatively, you could remove the 'what do you think?' part, and expand your answer with some content.

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  • thanks for the feedback. I've attempted to improve my answer and will update it more when I can – E_L Jan 29 '13 at 22:42
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There already is a system to encourage people to comment on downvotes. You really don't want to force people to do so. My advice is just to not worry about it. A few downvotes don't have any significant impact on your reputation. Some people dislike answering a question that you asked. They're wrong, but there is nothing to stop them from voting that way. If your question/answer is good, the reputation you gain from it will far outweigh any downvotes.

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  • Unfortunately this person counts for about 1/3 of the voting on my Question/Answer so it makes a difference. But thanks for the comment on the answer, and I will do as you say, give it ago, and then update my answer accordingly. Thanks – E_L Jan 29 '13 at 15:41
  • @E_L: Up votes are worth more than down votes, so you still come out with a net gain in rep. – Wipqozn Jan 29 '13 at 20:56
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    @E_L, specifically downvotes are worth 1/5th what an upvote is worth. – user1873 Jan 30 '13 at 2:52

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