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In my opinion it's okay to ask why a question/answer was downvoted. It can help the person in the future or possibly change the downvoter's mind.

However

A vote is locked in after five minutes. After that, unless the question/answer is edited, the downvoter can't do anything about it, even if they were wrong and clicked the button on accident.

So if you're going to ask for an explanation, please edit and improve the post so that if they change their mind the downvoter can change their vote.

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    Another way, this one for the downvoter: IF the downvoter has enough rep to edit, he/she. can make a very minor edit in the question -- for example, insert a single space at the beginning of the question -- and then change his/her vote. – ab2 Feb 21 '17 at 23:54
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    @ab2 That's a good idea. Also, even if the downvoter doesn't have full editing privileges, an edit that's significant enough to pass review will do the same thing. Lots of times it doesn't have to be really major, just not so minor as to waste the reviewer's time. It actually especially makes sense if they downvoted because they felt the post was missing detail that they could offer. – Sue Feb 22 '17 at 3:36
  • What does PSA stand for? – Erik Feb 27 '17 at 7:59
  • @Erik Public service Announcement – Charlie Brumbaugh Feb 27 '17 at 15:48
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There is nothing wrong with asking for an explanation for a down vote. Particularly if the post is showing a negative vote count. If you made a post and it's not obvious to you why it is getting down voted, asking is the only way you will get a clue. Assuming that the down voter(s) did not leave a comment.

Even if the person who down voted does not indicate why, one of the core community members who is choosing not to up vote can probably explain what the issue might be. (i.e. "I am not the down voter but I consider this..")

A casual down vote that, leaves the post with a net up vote is probably not worth addressing. As an example I have a question on a sister site where I know very little. Currently it is showing 27 up votes, and I have gained 138 rep from the question. I don't have enough rep to see what the actual vote tally is, but I know it has collected some down votes. It really doesn't matter what the few detractors think. There is no reason to modify the question. Over all the community finds value as written.

There is no reason to edit the post just for the sake of editing. If you ask for an explanation of a down vote, and responses causes you to edit the post, then so be it. If not it is highly unlikely the someone will come back and change their previous vote.

What will happen with a small pointless edit, is that the question will circle back to the top of the question queue (new edit). The core community who did not up vote your post last time will get it brought to their attention again.

Personally if I see a poor post, get edited without a net improvement I am more likely to down vote it the second time. In my case that probably means I will leave a comment as to why as I try to usually leave a comment with a down vote... But in general I think that a pointless edit to a poor post is only going to net more down votes from the community.

  • The last part of this refers to the comments on the question correct? – Charlie Brumbaugh Mar 2 '17 at 15:30
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    About comments and this "So if you're going to ask for an explanation, please edit the post so that if they change their mind the downvoter can change their vote" it seems to imply that a poster should make a pointless edit every time they question a down vote. If it intends to indicate they poster should edit improvements into the question, that message is not relayed. – James Jenkins Mar 2 '17 at 21:19
  • I edited the question – Charlie Brumbaugh Mar 2 '17 at 21:21
  • Much better, now the ending of mine is just about some other words on this page. – James Jenkins Mar 2 '17 at 21:25

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