I've been using BH.SE for awhile now, and I rarely see downvotes apparently being used as they should. Rather, they seem to be used by people to express theological disagreement, instead of because an answer doesn't have important points, isn't well researched, and so on.

Should downvotes be removed from BH.SE, given the political nature of many downvotes?

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    Downvotes are an essential part of Stack Exchange, I'm afraid it's not possible to remove them. On Meta sites, they can be expressed to indicate disagreement; on main sites, all they should mean "this answer is not useful".
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 9, 2021 at 20:46
  • @Glorfindel 'Not possible' as in the SE software doesn't allow it, or because you think it would degrade the functionality of the site? For what down votes should mean (I agree!), perhaps there's a way to make that more clear? Adding a 'downvotes aren't for theological disagreement' text somewhere prominent? Adding a justification for the downvote in the process of downvoting? Mar 9, 2021 at 20:48
  • 'Not possible' as in the SE software doesn't allow it. I'm not sure of any site-specific ways to indicate how downvotes should be used, except of Meta posts like this. But the % of users who reads Meta is rather low.
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 9, 2021 at 20:50
  • @Glorfindel Ask SE to add an option? Mar 9, 2021 at 20:58
  • @Glorfindel Is the threshold at which people can start casting negative votes set in stone or is it a variable that can be changed? Mar 10, 2021 at 6:03
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    @HoldToTheRod Some rep requirements do differ by site, but I've never heard of the downvote rep requirement being changed from 125.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Mar 10, 2021 at 6:17
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    On Meta.SE you can downvote with 100 rep; that's a deliberate exception.
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 10, 2021 at 22:18
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    @One God the Father. Thank you for bringing up what is obvious. Sep 2, 2021 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


No, down votes are extremely important here.

We can delete answers, but only for a few reasons:

  1. Spam
  2. Rude/abusive
  3. Doesn't answer the actual question that was asked
  4. Provides no evidence for its claims

Down votes are the main tool you have to say that an answer which addresses the question and provides some evidence or rationale for its conclusions is still problematic. If you think it is illogical, reads the scriptures poorly, or draws the wrong conclusions from the text, then down voting is what you should do.

Now I wouldn't say that there is no one here who ever down votes purely because of theological disagreement, just as there are partisan up votes too. But I'd encourage you to try to be a little more optimistic about our site community; don't assume that all or most down votes you've received are because of theological disagreement. Also practice voting well: if an answer makes its point well, even if you disagree with the conclusion, give it an up vote.

Also this request has come up thousands of times across the network, and SE staff have never given any indication that they'd consider it. Voting both up and down is seen as essential for quality control.

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    There are multiple problems with partisan downvotes as compared to partisan upvotes, though. Someone works hours on a high-quality answer replete with many citations, only to have it downvoted because various people on the site don't like the theology is demotivating, because it actually decreases the person's reputation. Mar 9, 2021 at 22:51
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    "don't assume that all or most down votes you've received are because of theological disagreement" I'm actually not thinking primarily of my own answers here, although I would say answers I give that aren't theologically 'popular' tend to get more downvotes. It's a sentiment I've heard repeated by multiple people. It's obvious, and it's a real problem. Mar 9, 2021 at 22:54
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    "If you think it is illogical, reads the scriptures poorly, or draws the wrong conclusions from the text, then down voting is what you should do." But then it becomes a theological popularity contest. Of course you think someone is 'drawing the wrong conclusions' if they theologically disagree with you! Mar 9, 2021 at 22:58
  • I've experienced it before too. And yes it can be demotivating. I just hope the up votes can provide enough encouragement.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Mar 9, 2021 at 23:27
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    I'm hopeful that there are enough regular users voting to offset the occasional less-thoughtful downvote. If a post gets a really early downvote that can indeed discourage others from spending much time reading it (thought process: it must be bad so why bother, right?) I find one courteous tactic is to take the time to read the -1 posts and seriously consider upvoting them back to zero (unless there's clearly something wrong with them). Mar 10, 2021 at 6:01
  • @AnthonyBurg - maybe you won't see a distinction, but I plan to consistently use downvotes to dissuade a certain alpha user from asking what I believe are "devil's advocate" questions in bad faith. Mar 11, 2021 at 20:12
  • You know... once I have the rep :) Mar 11, 2021 at 20:12
  • @TheChaz2.0 I haven't noticed this, so I'm interested in who this provocateur is ... Mar 11, 2021 at 21:46
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    @TheChaz Don't do that. Vote each question on its own merits.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Mar 11, 2021 at 22:23
  • Of course @curiousdannii. Not all of this user's questions fit my criticism, but some definitely do. Mar 11, 2021 at 22:25

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