Say I have a community-driven Web site with items that can be ranked by the users. When designing the ranking system, when should I allow (or disallow) being able downvote items?

For example, Facebook only lets you "Like" (upvote) photos/videos/etc. However, Reddit lets you upvote and downvote things.

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    I believe voting on "community-driven" sites is useless as people with no knowledge of the subject influence the ranking. Only comments should be allowed so fools can make fools of themselves and experts can shine. The best way, though I've not tried this, might be to allow up/down voting but not displaying the vote and sorting the posts by the votes. Voters get no visible reward but really dumb and really smart answers get moved into their respectful positions. – Rob Jan 9 at 14:55
  • @Rob: Interesting that you have this idea; I have often wished for Stack Exchange to show votes on questions and answers only after they have been around for a day and/or once a total of 5 to 10 users have voted at all. – O. R. Mapper Feb 8 at 12:53

That depends on the owner's intent. Neither is an absolute truth.

Facebook's approach is De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. Since every post in Facebook is "dead" already, we don't want to speak ill about it. (joking)

Reddit's approach is a social choice.


Only reason to not include a downvote button would be if children use the website or people post personal content on the website (this is the case with Facebook). For ranking items, one can surely include a downvote button.

Still, I would suggest using rating stars (e.g. 4.2 out of 5). This would avoid issue with downvote as well as there will be less chances of items being ranked same, hence better ranking. E.g. Google Play, Amazon, etc use rating stars for items/apps instead of upvotes. Facebook does not rank posts while Google Play does rank apps.

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