If you ask ten users what the purpose of a downvote is, you’ll likely receive 10 different responses. Down votes don’t have a dedicated purpose. Even if they did, you can’t ensure that everyone will follow that purpose. People use both upvotes and downvotes for a variety of purposes, many of which are redundant.

Generally speaking, however, most people vote in a simple fashion - they vote on content they want to see. How they judge what they want to see is where things start to differ. Some people simply vote on content based on how it makes them feel. Some judge the “quality” of the content by some system or metric. Some vote because they think content should be or shouldn’t be seen by others. Regardless of the reason they choose to vote, they generally view upvotes and downvotes as two ways to move things on the same axis. If they up vote content that they feel is “quality”, they will down vote content that does not feel like “quality”. This dichotomy of behavior on voting by definition makes down voting inherently negative and redundant.

Most people would agree that voting in order to surface content that people want to see is important. In this context, when comparing a place with only upvotes and one with upvotes and downvotes, positively regarded content is still positively regarded. The numbers are just different. Because of this, downvotes don’t serve a meaningful purpose in controlling what content is visible. On a platform the enables downvotes, things that deserve visibility just have a lower number than on the another platform the only enables upvotes.

In the context of human emotion, however, we see plenty of reasons to not have downvotes. People react much more strongly to negative stimuli than positve. By removing the negative stimuli we increase general happiness on the website, and encourage people to be positive. We’re purposefully nudging towards kinder behavior. In addition, if people want to disagree they will need to think about how they want to approach another human being and frame this disagreement. If the only words you can find to type are hateful, we want to encourage you to instead report the comment or disengage. When a comment section is dominated by people fighting each other, we don’t find it a pleasant experience and we have no interest in providing a platform for this to happen.

Last updated 10 Sep 2023, 13:37 -0400 . history