I provided an answer on this question last week which was quickly commented on by a user who provided conflicting information with no assumptions or evidence to support their opinion. Granted I did initially answer the question without a picture I was able to find one online one later to help substantiate my answer which was based initially on experience.

It surprised me that a user who had enough reputation to show that they had been on the site for a reasonable period to just comment rather than provide a substantial answer that would actually help the OP. I then thought what would the correct way of approaching this be:

  • vote down;
  • provide a conflicting answer; or
  • comment on it.

How do others approach this?

3 Answers 3


This is how I approach a situation where I come across an answer that I do not fully agree with:

  1. Downvote
  2. Leave a detailed comment as to why I downvoted. I usually explicitly state -1 in the comment so that the answerer knows:

    • It was me that downvoted (as opposed to the rogue downvoter who can't be bothered to leave feedback ;] )
    • There is a specific reason why
  3. Star the question. I like to keep tabs on the activity of the question so that I do not erroneously leave a downvote on an answer that might change. I think this is important and a lot of people choose to downvote and leave which can push people away especially when voters fail to leave a reason or upvote a comment that covers why they downvoted.

  4. If the answerer improves their post or if enough time has passed, I remove it from my favorites. This time varies from post to post depending on the activity on the question but usually I will leave it starred for 2 or 3 weeks to give the answerer time.

Keep in mind that this is the exact reason to downvote. It shouldn't be taken offensively, StackExchange was built this way on purpose. It should be motivation to leave good, thorough answers that can be proven and improve answers that can be ameliorated. If you feel that you cannot provide this in an answer then you probably should leave it as a comment. If it is due to the way a question is asked, consider editing the question or notifying OP that the answers to their question are likely to be subjective.

I think the option of leaving a conflicting answer is at times a good solution but, you should only leave an answer when you're able to leave concrete facts or examples.

One minor thing to add; many users don't visit a post again after downvoting so keep this in mind when providing an answer that's lacking proof/evidence that you might plan to provide later.

  • 1
    But downvoting is supposed to be for unhelpful answers, not for those you disagree with. aren't they? The two are not necessarily synonymous.
    – PeteH
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:54
  • Wouldn't it be unhelpful if its wrong? Mar 11, 2014 at 20:14
  • 1
    Yes, I expand on this in my answer. I don't think it necessarily follows that an answer that someone might disagree with is wrong. That can be the case, but doesn't have to be. (I'm speaking generally here, not necessarily with reference to the question @DWGKNZ asked which led to this post.)
    – PeteH
    Mar 11, 2014 at 20:26
  • Also it would be a brave person indeed who assumed that everything they did not agree with was incorrect ;-)
    – PeteH
    Mar 11, 2014 at 20:32
  • I'm not really sure I see the difference. In the context of Stack Exchange, I specifically mean "disagree with because its inaccurate" .. This isn't to be confused with low quality, which is another valid reason for downvoting. Mar 11, 2014 at 20:49
  • I'm with Pete - I feel that you should downvote because the answer is junk and provide a different answer when you think it's wrong. Downvoting because you disagree should be done only when you're really, really sure that there are facts and they disagree with the answer given. Even then, you need to provide those facts in another answer.
    – Móż
    Mar 12, 2014 at 0:13
  • 2
    If you read the linked help center it defines when you should downvote. "Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect." It doesn't say "you should only downvote when an answer is incorrect and you can provide a correct answer". I come across tons of new answers (on SO) suggesting usage of insecure, deprecated APIs. I usually don't answer because these questions are generally not questions I am interested in, but it doesn't mean I turn a blind eye on potentially dangerous content. Mar 12, 2014 at 13:11

in this case it was laziness & the rather vague question that prevented me from giving a full separate answer.

If you were offended at all, I'll gladly delete my comments. After our discussion I did comment on the question asking for the year of the frame, but that user seems to have gotten bored of B.SE and hasn't replied.

The Trinitys seem to have 1-piece hangers up until 2004 as far as I can see

Now, onto the question at hand.

I prefer to comment on answers I disagree with. I find an anonymous downvote rather rude and tend to reserve them for spam & what not, but I usually just flag those.

Downvotes don't add anything to anyone's understanding either. I think it's much more helpful to have a conversation about this kind of thing.

And if I had an answer I knew was on the money, I'd post that instead and let nature take its course.

Once again, sorry if I seemed rude before.

  • Not rude, but did make me think about this. Back to this question, I thought the votes were a comment on the appropriateness of an answer, make a bad answer down so good answers come up on top.
    – DWGKNZ
    Mar 10, 2014 at 3:25
  • 1
    I like to up-vote answers I agree with, I just don't like 0 feedback down-votes.
    – alex
    Mar 10, 2014 at 12:44
  • yes I think rude is a good word to use for uncommented downvotes. Also I think the appropriateness depends on the particular SE site. For example it might be acceptable on StackOverflow but Bicycles is a bit more friendly, isn't it? Well I like to think so.
    – PeteH
    Mar 11, 2014 at 19:11
  • I agree that it was lazy, but I think that makes it worse rather than better. "I disagree with your answer but can't be bothered coming up with a better one". Especially "I haven't seen..." type comments.
    – Móż
    Mar 12, 2014 at 0:23

I've seen several times where I think people get mixed up between "disagree" and "unhelpful".

My take on SE is that they are not necessarily the same thing, that the former does not warrant a downvote, and that the latter does.

It's quite easy to imagine a question that would fall into this category, for example "what's the most important factor to consider when buying a new [whatever] ?" Its easy to imagine conflicting answers as different people highlight different factors. And yet all answers could be helpful, and could be inappropriate to downvote.

I mean, you can also imagine types of questions where disagreeing with an answer, and the answer bring unhelpful, are synonymous. But I'm just saying that it ain't necessarily so.

To address your specific question, if I don't agree with an answer I would either add a comment to the answer, and/or write my own answer. Or I might do nothing, of course. But on the grounds of disagreement I absolutely would not downvote it - because I believe that I'd then be using the SE voting system in a way it was not intended to be used.

  • 1
    I've got a few answers here that are exactly this. Someone posts an answer and I think "really? You think that?", then I rescue my eyebrows from way up my forehead and start researching a better answer. I usually try not to comment on the answer unless I can post a link to a more authoritative answer (like this)
    – Móż
    Mar 12, 2014 at 0:26

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