Let's imagine there is a very persistent member, with a high reputation (above 10k for example). This member is capable of giving good answers sometimes, but also capable of expressing opinions that are just wrong, and sometimes even dangerous (sometimes the two in the same answer). Let's also imagine that this member is so persistent that everyone seems to be tired to correcting him.

What would be the correct attitude?

  • Just let go, but in that case the "credibility" of the voting system is somehow impacted. For a newcomer who doesn't know this particular member, the reputation alone makes the answer authoritative.
  • Downvoting and explaining in the comment? Most can do that kind of things within limits, but our imaginary member is more persistent than anyone else, so they'll "win" by attrition anyway. And also, downvoting costs reputation (at symbolic level), I understand that it has been done to avoid abusive downvotes, but in that case, it's also punishing those who want to improve the quality of the answers given our imaginary member is extremely prolific and manage to compensate the downvotes by enough upvotes.
  • Flag the answers?
  • Editing the answer and keep only the good part? A bit abusive for non moderator I'd think, I give it for reference.

I've seen this question, but I'd like to add a nuance, linked to the high reputation. How to handle answers you don't agree with?

  • It also doesn’t help that there are certain other users who make a point of antagonizing this user as much as possible.
    – MaplePanda
    May 30, 2022 at 19:56

3 Answers 3


The user you highlight is plainly knowledgeable and capable of writing quality answers. My view is that the user has learned what works for them in cycling, but consistently translates this narrow view into a universal advice. The trope being, 36 spoke wheels, which we would all agree are strong and suitable for some applications, but that doesn't make them the only one applicable to all situations.

This lack of discernment brings conflict with the lived-experience of other site users.

They plainly don't let any amount of downvotes discourage them from posting - which you kind of have to admire - so I don't see the situation changing any time soon. If our imaginary user will 'win' by attrition - that is gain significant reputation - then really they have contributed knowledge to the site and deserve all the upvotes just like everyone else and we all 'win'. It's not like there's any suggestion of abusing the privileges earned by reputation, otherwise there would be a different discussion. I get the frustration though.

But to answer the question, I think the answer is voting and not being reluctant to use the downvote button. There are two buttons, one should be used when the 'answer is useful' and the other when the 'answer is not useful'. An answer can only be one of those two options, so we should pick one! We should review each question and answer and give a vote accordingly. Answers which we disagree with don't need flagging, only spam etc. does.

Downvoting maintains the 'credibility' of the system, so that our reputation is not the only factor giving authority to an answer. If our user has a high rep and the answer given gets a high score, then the reader is reassured. The small amount of reputation lost when downvoting isn't that meaningful in the long run. My 241 downvotes so far means 241 rep lost, not that huge. Then I get it back if the answer is deleted anyway.

I will downvote an answer if I think its inaccuracies make the answer not useful. Or if the narrow viewpoint is restrictive to a fault. I will also downvote if an answer is written in a way which I think doesn't actually answer the question. Those are not useful to the OP.

That said though, I don't often add a comment explaining my downvote. Perhaps I should be braver in my convictions and offer reasoning. It might help readers discern what information I think is misleading in the answer. It needs to be constructive and respectful though and that's another skill in itself.

Step 1, consistent voting. Step 2, comments when appropriate.


Every answer should be taken on its own merits, and if its factually wrong then it deserves a downvote.
It is frequently worth using the Comment function to clarify or question specific parts of an answer.

If the question is such that it gets both Yes and No answers, then it may be too-much in the realms of Opinion, and the whole question should be flagged as Opinion.

If the answer has fundamental flaws that are unsafe, then flag it for mods to action.
Example "yes it is safe to salmon on the road" when that's just bad advice.

A couple of users give answers that are always worth an upvote, most I read normally, some I read carefully, and occasionally its obvious the answer is spam or twaddle and gets an immediate delete.

There was an experiment a while back where SE hid the current score of an answer until after you'd voted. That made it clear I was more likely to be critical of a low-voted answer and more accepting of a high voted one. If the answerer's ID was hidden until after the vote was locked in, we'd have to take the answer purely on its merits.

SE is all about the Question and its Answers, and the good answers rise to the top. New or unregistered viewers see the highest-rated answers first, so up AND downvoting is important in ranking answers.

A downvote costs you one rep point and loses the answerer two rep points, while an upvote costs you none and awards the answerer ten points.

Both Up and Down voting are important and probably the single best way to support good answers while minimising the bad ones, regardless of who answered.

I've got a couple of decent answers to my credit, and some definite stinkers that missed the mark completely. Sometimes I will delete my own answer, or annotate it clearly in the first line for why its incorrect/irrelevant but left because other readers may misunderstand the question like I did.

Aside - there's a reluctance to edit "other people's" answers for improvement.

Don't feel shy about editing, as long as it improves the answer without changing the poster's intent, and isn't frivolous. Edits for formatting like adding paragraphs and punctuation are definitely improvement. Regional spellings like fibre/fiber or aluminum/aluminium are fine and not really editworthy.

The rollback function exists to make undoing an edit easier and the edit history is public too to figure out what was meant. And you earn +2(?) rep for an accepted edit.

  • 4
    As a general rule, unless a large number of useful changes are made concurrently, I will always reject edits that merely change one set of regional spellings to those of another region.
    – DavidW
    May 30, 2022 at 14:38

A slightly different take to other answers - comment, and if necessary downvote.

Here's why: I tend to reserve downvotes for answers that are clearly and objectively wrong, or even dangerous, rather than (arguably) expressing an unpopular opinion . I prefer to respond with a comment to make my disagreement clear. This is especially the case when there's a nugget of good sense in the answer, even if outdated good sense.

Downvotes without comment are quite unhelpful, though of course someone may already have said exactly what you were thinking - that comment could then be voted up.

Editing to change the sense of an answer is a bad idea. In the review queue there's a reject reason: "clearly disagrees with author's intent" or something like that, which is also available to post authors - and that's there for a reason. I'd far rather have downvotes on my answers than have people put words into my mouth.

  • 1
    If this is the user I'm thinking about, then on certain topics, they are really set in their ways and thus comments won't necessarily change their mind. Obviously the platonic ideal is that you would comment and downvote, though, plus you do at least leave an explanation for readers. Although sometimes the problems might go so deep that you can't really rebut in a comment...
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jun 19, 2022 at 21:39
  • @WeiwenNg I don't expect to change the user's view, but to attach a rebuttal for the reader. It's tricky when they're not totally wrong, just outdated or right in a very narrow sense that's rarely optimal taking into account other factors
    – Chris H
    Jun 20, 2022 at 6:47
  • @WeiwenNg To be fair, some level of change has been shown--the ratio of upvoted answers to downvoted ones has noticeably swung towards the former lately.
    – MaplePanda
    Jun 22, 2022 at 6:50

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